Xavier Fulton’s on-field reception in Thursday’s game – the first of his career – came as a bit of a shock, but his other weekend reception was more sweet than surprising.
The Roughriders left tackle married his long-time girlfriend Ashley Longpre (now Fulton) in a small ceremony on Saturday.
“Technically we were only engaged for 28 hours,” Xavier said when asked about his engagement. “But we had started planning the wedding during training camp.”
In Xavier and Ashley’s case, distance had made the heart grow fonder. In the off-season Xavier returned home to Chicago and completed workouts with some NFL teams. It kept the couple apart for seven months.
“It was so difficult that we decided, you know what, we don’t want to do this anymore. We just want to get married,” said Ashley.
But before they could get married, they had to figure out where Xavier would be playing. At that point it was far from certain he would be back in Saskatchewan. However, just days before the start of training camp, he re-signed with the team. It gave them about 48 hours to get organized before he went to Saskatoon. They had three weeks to plan the wedding.
And while everything was complete and meticulously planned by Ashley for their July 2 nuptials – including handmade decorations with help from her mom and stepmom – there was one step that Xavier didn’t want her to miss.
“(He) proposed the day before the wedding because he said no matter what that I was going to get a proposal,” Ashley said. “It was very cute.”
The Fultons met about four years ago, shortly after Xavier first became a Roughrider and he came to town for mini-camp. However, it wasn’t love at first sight, at least not for Ashley. Xavier was out with some teammates at karaoke – a favourite pastime of his – and they were talking to one of the girls at the bar, but it was Ashley that stood out to him.
“I noticed (Ashley) who just looked out of sorts, just kind of upset,” he said of their first encounter. “She was on her phone not paying attention to anyone and out of concern I said ‘are you OK, is everything alright?’ and she looks up at me, scoffs and goes back to her phone.”
But in love, not unlike football, persistence and dedication pay off, and Xavier didn’t give up. They exchanged numbers and he ensured she didn’t forget him by stopping in at the bar where she worked, singing songs like Aqua’s Barbie Girl and Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks.
“I can’t sing. I’m monotone,” Xavier laughed. But Ashley was undeterred by that fact.
“Xavier came in every day I worked to sing karaoke until I said yes to a date,” Ashley said. “The rest was history. He was pretty sweet. I couldn’t resist him.”
“Xavier is the big gentle giant,” she gushed. “He is a sweetheart. He cares so much about everybody … he does anything to try to make me happy and feel safe.”
Xavier and Ashley were married in her dad’s backyard on Saturday in front of about 35 family, including Xavier’s mom and brother who flew up from the states, and several of his offensive line mates.
In general, Ashley said the pair of them are pretty low key and one of the biggest worries they had about the wedding was what they were going to eat. The menu included baked beans and a pile of smoked meats and sausages.
“Xavier and I really enjoy eating. He may be 300 lbs and significantly larger than me, but I can definitely hold up my own when it comes to eating,” Ashley laughed, calling the entire day “the most magical thing (she) could have ever imagined”.
In a social media post about his wedding, Xavier said he was the “luckiest man alive”.
“I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend and soulmate,” the post continued. “Everything that we struggled and triumphed over together was all made worth the journey once I saw her walk down the aisle.”
“My wife’s an amazing woman,” Xavier smiled when asked about her on Tuesday. “She pulled it off, and we had lot of help from family and it turned out really nice. It was sweet.”
And even though they’re only three days in, married life is treating them well.
“We’re really enjoying calling each other husband and wife,” Ashley said. “We say Mr. and Mrs. Fulton as much as we can.”