To celebrate Halloween 2004, Cara and her four roommates - all Drexel University students - had a party at their house.
Matt, another Drexel student and a friend-of-a-friend of the party hosts, noticed Cara right away. She made one fine-looking police officer! But it wasn't until the party was winding down that he approached her.
"We were kind of talking and he asked for my number," Cara said. She gave him her digits, and he gave her his. But Cara admits she wasn't all that interested. They hadn't talked long enough for her to realize how funny he was, Cara said, and his Fidel Castro costume included a huge mustache that disguised his cuteness. She had zero expectations.
The next day, a friend showed Cara photos from the party. In one, the roommates posed together - but there was one goofy-looking Fidel making a silly face.
After she stopped laughing, Cara texted Matt that she had a photo to show him. She e-mailed it to him, and he asked her out on a date. Cara liked the glimpse of his personality the photo gave her, and so they went for drinks at Bridget Foy's and then to a comedy show.
Matt was really cute without the mustache, Cara said.
At evening's end, they kissed in front of the Headhouse Square Wawa. And that was that.
After completing his five-year program in mechanical engineering, Matt, a Cleveland native who is now 28, went to work for the Shaw Group in Moorestown.
After finishing her Drexel studies in nutrition and food science, Cara, who grew up in Maple Glen, worked for two years as a research coordinator at Drexel College of Medicine. In 2007 she began medical school at Jefferson Medical College.
Happy birthday, Cara! Today is her 28th.
How does forever sound?
In early November 2009, with their fifth dating anniversary approaching, Matt kept telling Cara he had big, big plans for the following week.
"Tonight, let's just go out for happy hour," he told her when she got home from school.
Even the fact that happy hour happened at Bridget Foy's didn't make Cara suspicious.
"When we left, it was pouring rain, and we were literally running for the car, through Headhouse Square," Cara said. "At the Wawa, he said 'Wait! Stop for a minute!' and I was like, 'What do you mean, stop? It's pouring!' But then I looked back, and he's on one knee, in the pouring rain."
They got engaged in soaked clothes, with their hair plastered to their heads, at the site of their first kiss.
Cara immediately tried to reach her parents, but they didn't answer their phone. "I do have dinner reservations," Matt said. When they arrived at Pumpkin, her parents, Nancy and John, and her sister, Allison, and his parents, Sandi and Steve, were waiting to celebrate. It was the first time their families had met.
It was so them
One of the couple's favorite parts of the wedding was that so many friends and family members helped make it happen. Her friend Meredith designed the invitations as part of their wedding gift. The couple's friend Chris is in a band, and he and his eight bandmates played at the wedding for little more than the cost of transportation from Brooklyn. Cara's mother's friend Rita made a bevy of desserts, accepting payment only for the ingredients. And Elena, the mother of Cara's good friend Marsha, performed the ceremony.
The couple were wed at the Masonic Temple. The space is so ornate that Cara was looking for a simple chuppah that wouldn't compete with it. She was lamenting that she couldn't find one that didn't cost a fortune when her friends, Kaitlan and Cameron, said they'd make one for her. It was a simple white cloth held up with wooden poles, and it was perfect, Cara said.
Michael, the friend who brought Matt to the Halloween party where the couple met, was a groomsman.
The symbol of the wedding of this couple who met and fell in love in Philadelphia was the Philly soft pretzel. There were little pretzels on their invitations and place cards, and the bridesmaids received canvas totes that read "I (heart-shaped pretzel) Philly." Cara's mother made chocolate-covered pretzels for favors, and the bag tag read, "Thanks for helping us tie the knot." Get it?
After the ceremony, the couple's 150 guests walked to Reading Terminal Market for the reception. It was held in the center court area. "You could pick any vendor to stay open, and that was our food," Cara explained. Guests had options at DiNic's roast pork, Hershels East Side Deli, Mezze Mediterranean, and Beck's Cajun Cafe.
"They were all open all night, and it really gave the feeling of the market," Cara said. "It was really cool."
This didn't happen at rehearsal
The organ player never showed up for the ceremony - he thought it was an hour later. The couple's friend Cameron - the guy who made the chuppah - downloaded traditional Jewish wedding music to his iPhone and played it through the temple's speaker system.
Nothing beats dancing with your new spouse on your wedding day, says Cara. "I made sure to say hi to everyone at the cocktail hour, so we could have fun together at the reception," she said. "I was just so happy."
At the end of the ceremony when Cantor Elena draped Cara and Matt in the tallith, Matt felt that Cara was finally his wife. "It was a real spiritual connection, a very nice moment," he said.
The bargain: The couple decorated their own tables. They used burlap bought on Amazon as table runners. Table numbers were written on small blackboards that Cara and her sister made of wood and blackboard paint. And instead of having floral centerpieces, the couple arranged artichokes and candles. Cara's friend's father, a vegetable importer, provided the artichokes for free. "They were much cheaper than flowers, and they were beautiful, and fit in with the market," Cara said. Cost: $500 for 20 tables.
The splurge: The bride's minty-green, jewel-encrusted, six-inch-heel Badgley Mischka shoes.
A week in Punta Cana, which was followed immediately by a move to New York City, where Cara is doing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Medical Center. "The plan is to move back to Philly when I'm done," Cara said.
Love:BEHIND THE SCENES
Cantor Elena Zarkh, Abington
Ceremony: Masonic Temple, Philadelphia
Reception: Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market vendors, with desserts provided by Rita Moffat, Sugar Coated Sweets, Hatboro
Christopher Hockensmith, Photography by Christopher, Yardley
Marc Indelicato, Philadelphia
Beth Savidge, Beth's Flower Boutique, Horsham
Meredith Brenner Design, Philadelphia
Love: DO YOU HAVE THE DATE?
Tell us in a short e-mail – at least six weeks before your ceremony – why we should feature your love story. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted in the weeks before your wedding.