Anthony Huebner and Stephanie Thompson were understandably surprised when, after their wedding at St. Rita of Cascia Church in Aurora, Illinois, a group of bikers burst into the church lobby.
Turns out, it was a pleasant surprise: the bikers were from a group called Warriors' Watch Riders, a nationwide group of volunteers that welcomes home military service members with celebrations and motorcycle escorts. The group congratulated the couple, presented them with a gift of honorary beads, and followed them in a celebratory caravan -- mostly in cars, given the harsh cold -- from the church to the reception.
Huebner and Thompson were married on Saturday, just a few days after returning home from a year-long deployment they both served in Afghanistan.
The two, both lieutenants in the Army, served together in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, CBS Chicago reports. Huebner, 26, fought as an Army Ranger, and his new wife, 24, is an intelligence officer. The wedding was a military affair: Huebner wore his Army dress blues, and it was officiated by a chaplain from the Illinois National Guard.
College sweethearts, Huebner and Thompson first met at Marquette University, where they were both in the school's ROTC program.
They're stateside for about two weeks following the end of their deployment, during which time they plan to have a quick honeymoon in Washington, D.C. and celebrate the holidays with their families before heading to Germany for their next deployment.
"We're lucky we got back just in time for the holidays, but there's definitely still a lot of soldiers over there that don't get to spend this time with their families," Stephanie said to CBS. "Keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
The Warriors' Watch Riders weren't the only ones to surprise the young couple. Operation Welcome You Home came to the rehearsal dinner Friday night at Luigi's pizzeria, where they celebrated the couple's safe return and happy nuptials with a surprise bagpipe performance, according to NBC Chicago.
Watch video of the happy couple: