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Couple gets married at Dunkin' Donuts 27 years after a memorable French vanilla coffee

Jason Roy and Valerie Sneade say their vows in front of friends and family at the Dunkin' Donuts on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Worcester, Mass. The couple reunited for their wedding vows at the Dunkin' Donuts where their young love splintered nearly thirty years ago. (Photo: Rick Cinclair, Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
Jason Roy and Valerie Sneade say their vows in front of friends and family at the Dunkin' Donuts on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Worcester, Mass. The couple reunited for their wedding vows at the Dunkin' Donuts where their young love splintered nearly thirty years ago. (Photo: Rick Cinclair, Worcester Telegram & Gazette)

WORCESTER, Mass. – In 1992, a young couple’s heart-to-heart conversation over coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts led to broken hearts.

More than 27 years later, their story had a happy ending, when Valerie Sneade and Jason Roy were married at the very same Dunkin’.

“It had to happen here,” Roy said during an interview with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “We think it’s an absolute riot,” said singer and actress Sneade, who is taking the name Valerie Roy. “Has anybody been married in Dunkin’ Donuts before? Maybe we’ll start a trend.”

Dunkin’ was still open for regular business as the nuptials took place. At 1 p.m. Friday, invited guests were on one side, waiting for the bride to arrive as cameras  clicked and a couple of TV crews lined up shots. Regular customers  got their orders at the counter as coffeemakers whirled.

Sneade sang part of the song “Marry Me” as part of her vows before she and Roy were pronounced man and wife.

A French vanilla coffee in March 1992

The high spirits were a stark contrast to misunderstandings and words that didn’t come out right after Roy bought Sneade a French vanilla coffee at Dunkin’ a few days before Sneade’s 21st birthday in March 1992.

The couple met at a party at the house of one of Sneade’s friends, where she grew up. Roy, who grew up in Worcester, came to the party with a mutual friend. “He walked into the room, and he said to me, ‘You have the most beautiful eyes,’ ” Sneade recalled.

“We were madly in love,” she said.

Roy is “very old school,” Sneade said. He asked her to meet at Dunkin’ because he wanted to talk about a plan he had for them. Sneade was going to college. Roy was supportive of Sneade pursuing a career in the performing arts. “The most important thing for me, I wanted to provide for her,” he said.

“He felt the best best way for him to do this on our behalf was to join the service – the Navy – since his father and grandfather had previously served,” Sneade said. “He would acquire skills and provide a good life for us with many opportunities.

“I felt like I didn’t know what to make of his decision,” Sneade said. “I was flattered and overwhelmed by his commitment, but equally felt he was placing a burden on himself in taking care of me. I said the wrong things. ‘Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?’ I kind of crushed him. I felt awful.”

Afterward, they talked on the phone and agreed to take a step back. Except for a couple of chance encounters, they didn't see each other for more than 25 years.

Roy joined the Navy and married and is the father of three children. Sneade appeared in local musicals and developed her own cabaret shows, which she performed in Boston, New York and Florida. She also had a first marriage and moved to Florida.

“We led two very different lives,” Sneade said. “I wouldn’t want to change a thing that happened. Jason has three beautiful children who he adores. I had a different way to give to the world through music.”

“Everything happens for a reason,” Roy noted.

They were gone from each other’s lives, but not forgotten.

Sneade put on a musical, Roy showed up

Sneade returned to perform in the area, often accompanied on the piano by Jim Rice, a pianist, musical arranger and music director who has known Sneade for years.

Sneade and Rice put on four performances of her Valentine’s Day musical revue “A Hollywood Valentine” in February 2018. Roy’s mother read a story in the Telegram & Gazette about the upcoming shows and told her son. Roy showed up.

“I saw him sitting on the front row. I looked out almost like a deer in the headlights. I thought ‘Oh my goodness,’ ” Sneade said.

“When I got there, I was shaking, I was so nervous,” Roy said.

“Jim Rice said, ‘Who’s that?’ I said, ‘That’s my ex-boyfriend from 25 years ago,’ ” Sneade recalled.

Three months later, she packed her bags and moved back from Florida. Roy proposed to Sneade on New Year’s Eve 2018.

Jim Rice, a minister, officiated at Friday’s wedding.

“When you’re 18 or 19 years old you don’t understand love until you’ve lived,” Valerie Roy said. “I think we’re going to appreciate each other more so much later in life because every day is a blessing. I can’t imagine my life without him. Something led me back.”

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