Ariel Wade Trajtenberg, CCAS BA ’06, LAW JD ’10, remembers immediately noticing Ben Trajtenberg, GWSB BBA ’06, when she walked into a party hosted by mutual friends during their sophomore year at GW. “He was so ‘stylish’ with his tie-dye t-shirt and shaggy hair,” she laughs, “but I somehow agreed to a goodnight kiss anyway.”
It didn’t hurt that he was so cute and played her a song that he had written on his guitar, she admits.
Ariel and Ben casually dated just for that summer, but they remained friends over their years together at GW, supporting each other’s passions and talents along the way. Ben attended GW basketball games to watch Ariel dance as a member of the First Ladies Dance Team, and Ariel was always on hand to watch Ben rock out at one of his band’s shows. Even international borders didn’t hamper their friendship.
“We were pen pals while Ben studied abroad in Argentina and while I taught English in Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies,” says Ariel. “But whenever we were in DC at the same time—even after graduation—we hung out here together.”
Eventually, Ben’s job took him to Dubai, while Ariel accepted a job working for a federal judge in South Florida. Despite the distance, they continued to keep in touch, emailing and talking together until soon they realized that there was something more, something really special between them. But how do you go on a first date—well, a second “first date”—when you live across the world from each other?
Attend a destination wedding together, of course!
“We planned our first official date at Ben’s friend’s wedding in Costa Rica in early 2011,” Ariel says. “The romance blossomed from there, and the following year, we both moved back to D.C.”
In December 2014, Ben took Ariel on a seemingly normal walk to Washington Circle. He suggested they retake a picture they had taken in that same spot more than 10 years earlier during a coffee date back when they first dated at GW. But this time, when he snapped the photo, Ben snuck a ring into the picture.
As he showed Ariel the picture to ask if it looked right, and as she spotted the addition of the ring to their retake, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
Ariel and Ben were married on September 6, 2015 at D.C.’s Union Station, in a ceremony that was officiated by GW Hillel Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth and attended by family and friends, many of whom were from the couple’s days at GW.
Today, Ariel and Ben live in Foggy Bottom—not far from campus—and continue to remain involved at GW: Ariel serves on the GW Law Alumni Association Board of Directors, and Ben is a member of the GW Alumni Association Board of Directors. They also love to travel together and spend time with their family and friends.
Nearly a dozen years after their journey together began, Ben still plays guitar and sings to Ariel (occasionally still wearing the same tie-dye t-shirt from the night they first met), and Ariel still dances along.
—W. Gray Turner