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All Their Kids Make Wedding Special : Ceremony: Hundreds of guests, mostly current and former students, attend the schoolyard marriage of two teachers.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The idea was elementary. She’s a kindergarten teacher, he teaches art. They both love their students, their jobs and their lives at Welby Way School. And yes, they love each other, too.

So why not get married at school--and invite all the kids?

“It was, like, totally a natural thing,” said Keith Levey, the art teacher’s best friend. “I mean, where else would they have a wedding?”

So on Saturday the couple tied the knot on the patio outside the school cafeteria.

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“All these people are our friends,” said the groom, Mike Herzog, 36, known to most of the guests as “Mr. Mike.” “I really wanted it here. It’s just a natural place. I know all the kids and we love them. We couldn’t expect them to go to someplace that was indoors and stuffy.”

The bride, 30-year-old Claire McKee-Herzog, said: “We’re usually here until 5 or 6 at night anyway, so we kind of live here. All the parents, all the kids wanted us to get married, so why not here?”

About 300 attended the school wedding, which was decorated with the art teacher’s sketches of Peter Pan, Mickey Mouse and other characters.

Most of the guests were students or former students of the couple. During the ceremony, guests sat on plastic school benches. Afterward, they ate cake and took home refrigerator magnets as mementos.

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Despite the grade-school setting, the couple dressed as if they were being married in a grand cathedral. He--with hair gelled and mustache trimmed--wore a black tuxedo with a lavender flower in his lapel. The bride wore a white wedding dress with a veil and sweeping train.

Afterward she showed off her ring to admiring students.

Kelly Skidmore, a former student, now in sixth grade, gave one reason why the bride was everyone’s favorite teacher: “She barely yells.”

“She made everything fun,” added 10-year-old Shannan Manley. “When you lost a tooth, she would put it on the board so everyone could see it. Or with the alphabet, we would bring in things that stared with A, like an ant.”

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The two teachers said their families approved of the wedding plans.

“The children are their life,” said Dorna McKee, Claire’s stepmother. “Even when they don’t have to be at school, they’re at school. This couldn’t be more appropriate.”

The couple met when Herzog’s daughter was a student in McKee’s kindergarten class. Herzog was divorced and McKee wasn’t seeing anyone.

“I think I waited until back-to-school night,” Herzog said. “I got there and told everyone to kinda go ahead of me, so I could be the last one. When I asked her out, she said, ‘I’ll give it a thought.’ ”

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After she agreed, Herzog said, “We spent our first date watching the Doo Dah Parade on TV.”


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