In September 2018, when Jessica Friedman Bendit and Dickran Walter Jebejian first met, they knew they would be just friends. They were newly-enrolled graduate students in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles.
They were also polar opposites in almost every way. She wanted marriage and children; he was agnostic about both. Ms. Bendit is a huge personality; Mr. Jebejian is reserved. She is Jewish and wanted to marry within her faith; he doesn’t believe in religion. She’s a self-described “party girl”; he is sober. She likes pop music; he prefers rock and hip-hop and has a vinyl collection. She doesn’t have a single tattoo; he sports a fair amount of ink.
Mr. Jebejian’s first-generation Armenian-American parents raised him in Los Angeles, where his mother worked as a teacher and his father owned an interior design and custom furniture business. Ms. Bendit was raised on the Upper West Side by her mother, who left J.P. Morgan to raise her children, and stepfather, who is a real estate developer. She is a member of Resource Generation, an organization that helps the wealthiest 10 percent of young people redistribute their assets.
The two would see each other often, albeit only platonically at first. But soon, they realized, the duo could open up to each other in ways they hadn’t experienced before, particularly for the reserved Mr. Jebejian. A month after they met, he helped Ms. Bendit move a table into her apartment. A few days later, they went to see the movie “Wildlife,” followed by burgers. At the end of the night, they were so immersed in conversation that they didn’t want to get out of the car. Finally, Mr. Jebejian uncharacteristically suggested he come upstairs. The evening ended with a kiss.
The next morning, Ms. Bendit found herself crying, while sitting on the rim of her bathtub, listening to a “cheesy love song”: “I Think I’m in Love” by Kat Dahlia. Ms. Bendit spoke of that moment in her vows: “I remember feeling so overwhelmed that the person I’d been looking for could just show up like that unannounced.”
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Within days after that first kiss, they were analyzing if they could work as a couple, and how they would raise their future children.
In December, during a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, Ms. Bendit told Mr. Jebejian, who goes by D.J., that she was thinking of interning in New York that summer; Mr. Jebejian asked if he could join her. “Meeting Jess rearranged and challenged the things I thought were important, and showed me what things truly are important in a relationship,” Mr. Jebejian said. The couple spent the summer living with Ms. Bendit’s parents on the Upper West Side.
In September 2019, he moved into her apartment in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles. “D.J. is such a fundamentally good person,” Ms. Bendit said. “I trust him more than I trust myself.” Soon, they began talking about marriage, involving both sets of parents as well.
Ms. Bendit, 33, who goes by Jess, has a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies from Brown University and two master’s degrees, in social work and public policy, from UCLA. She is a senior social worker for the Center for Justice Innovation, a nonprofit in New York City.
Mr. Jebejian, 34, attended Santa Monica College for two years and graduated with a bachelor’s in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has a master’s in public policy from UCLA and is the food policy manager for the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, a social services organization also in the city.
Theirs is an egalitarian partnership, they said, so Ms. Bendit knew she wanted to propose, too. In March 2022, the couple proposed to each other, near the spot where they first met at UCLA. They now live in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn and are moving to Park Slope next year.
They were married on Aug. 26 in front of 190 guests at a private property owned by the bride’s parents in Salisbury, Conn. The Jewish ceremony — which included Armenian rituals — was conducted by Rabbi Jen Gubitz, the founder of Modern Jewish Couples in Boston that caters to interfaith couples. The couple wore beaded Armenian wedding crowns that were tied together, while they were wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl during the priestly blessing. A friend of Ms. Bendit’s created a Jewish wedding contract with Hebrew and Armenian text.
“As many of our friends and families have noticed, we do things a bit differently, and I love that about us,” Mr. Jebejian said in his vows. “In you, I have found the one thing that I did not know a partner could offer: balance.”