Rules of Engagement
A slam dunk wedding: Big screen proposal sets stage for first-ever Toyota Centermarriage
Editors note: Throughout the month, editor-at-large Shelby Hodge scopes out heartwarming, endearing or just plain funny engagement stories.
To say that Todd Nelkin is a Rockets fan would be gross understatement. Just ask his fiance Ula Baldwin.
A long-time season ticket-holder, Todd broke their first date to attend a Houston Rockets game. She thought he was blowing her off. But Ula soon realized that Todd was absolutely hardcore. And the moment he invited her to her first game at Toyota Center, she knew that this relationship had possibilities.
Todd would never share his seats with anyone who wasn't special.
Several months into their courtship, Todd confessed his love for Ula — at a Rockets game, Houston vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. Two and a half years after they started dating, the duo was in the stands at another Rockets-Bucks contest. Suddenly, their image was on the big screen above the court, a videographer was right in front of them.
"Will you marry me?" Todd asked for the entire Toyota Center crowd to see and hear. After much carrying on amid the shock waves of such a public request, Ula said yes and accepted the ring. They posted the engagement surprise on YouTube (see below).
This took planning and cooperation from the Houston Rockets. Todd first contacted his ticket agent and the request was sent to management. The team loved the idea and arrangements were made for Todd's brother to enter the arena with his video camera, for the Toyota Center announcer to be on board and for the big screens to be ready for the action.
On March 5, Ula and Todd will be the first couple ever to be wed in Toyota Center. The traditional Jewish ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in a private banquette room where 200 guests will witness the couple's vows. The Rockets are so enthused with the concept that the team has allowed the Rockets logo to be used on the wedding invitation and is offering discounted game tickets (tipoff at 7:30 for the Rockets-Pacers game) to wedding guests.
Otherwise, the wedding will be followed by a catered dinner with the basketball game televised on a few flat screens and video of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Eddie Fisher looping on others.
Todd sells baseball and basketball cards through his family's HLT&T Sports, in business in Houston since 1978. Ula is a floor manager at Memorial Hermann Hospital.
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