In 2006, Debora finished her first year of painting and drawing studies at the University of the Arts.
Eight years before, she had immigrated from Portugal to South River, N.J., with her mother, Maria Eduarda, who is known as Eddie, and her two older brothers. Debora loved her family, but was determined to stay in Philly that summer. She signed up for summer classes so her mother would go for it.
Debora's first adventure was hair-related. She had always had long hair, but took her roommate's offer to cut it short. Debora was so stunned by the person in the mirror that she couldn't leave her hair alone. Snip snip. Snip snip. Soon, there wasn't much to work with. She gave up and shaved her head.
Around this time Adrian, who grew up in Langhorne, was moving back in with his parents, Eleanor and Gary, who had moved to Bella Vista. Adrian had recently returned from two months in California, playing his guitar on every beach he could. The trip was financed with money he had saved from gigs as an assistant disc jockey. When the money ran out, Adrian came back east to determine his future. Among his first decisions: He cut his shoulder-length, surfer-boy hair down to barely military length. "I needed a fresh start," Adrian said.
One August night, Debora and some friends walked along Broad Street so one of them could meet up with a boy. That boy was Adrian.
It didn't take long for Adrian and Debora to spot each other's short hair. "It was an opportunity for us to talk about what had happened to our hair," Debora said.
The meeting point was near Cirque de Soleil's big tent at Broad and Washington Streets, and as Debora and Adrian talked, they spotted a ticket on the ground. The two went off to find someone to give the ticket to. Along the way, they learned of their mutual love of music and adventure.
The group headed to Rittenhouse Square to play music in the park, and then wound up at someone's house, listening to Adrian and others jam on their instruments until very late. Everyone crashed. In the morning, Adrian left early for his counter job at the Marathon Grill, leaving his flute and drum behind.
Debora quickly volunteered to return the drum, saying she would need his phone number to do so.
Adrian was "pretty darn happy" when Debora called. She returned his drum. They went to an open-mike night, and were then inseparable for a week. "We were just hanging out with each other, ignoring other people's calls," Debora said.
Adrian realized he hadn't seen much of his parents. He called to tell them he would cook that night, bought the ingredients for a fish dinner, and invited Debora.
Adrian's mother and Debora were soon sharing laughs and wine at dinner.
Debora soon persuaded Adrian to move into her apartment. "It sounds crazy, but we started living together within two weeks of knowing each other," she said.
How does forever sound?
In fall 2010, the couple invited tons of friends and family to their apartment to celebrate Debora's birthday. Adrian approached Eddie, Debora's mother. "Can I have your daughter's hand in marriage?" he asked.
A massive group hug and cheering erupted so quickly that a stunned Debora never had a chance to actually say yes. "We had already lit the birthday candles, and they were melting on the cake. I kept saying, 'I'm getting married?' And everyone hugged me and said, 'Yes, you are!' and it felt great."
A month later, Debora chose her own engagement ring: a thin white gold band with 42 tiny diamonds.
It was so them
Adrian, now 28, is Jewish, and he and Debora, now 24, were married in a mostly Jewish ceremony.
The couple, who live in Queen Village, wrote their own ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract. Debora, who teaches art at the Joshua Tree preschool, did the calligraphy. Adrian, a full-time kinesiology student who works part time as a massage therapist and yoga teacher, drew an Arabic-influenced geometric design, with flowers, winding branches, and animals.
At the wedding, Adrian placed two bands (one rose gold, one yellow gold) on Debora's finger above her engagement ring. This stacking of thin bands is a very old Portuguese tradition, Debora said. If she continues to follow it, another thin band will be added for each life milestone until there are seven.
To honor Debora's Catholic roots, each of the couple's parents lit a small candle and then simultaneously lit a large one, symbolizing the joining of the two families.
Debora and Adrian both wore Indian garments. They stuck to the American tradition of wearing white, however.
A musician played the hang, an ethereal-sounding instrument similar to a steel drum. To allow their 120 guests to converse, the couple kept the dinner music at a background level. Then a 20-member Brazilian band played. The couple began their first dance alone, but after just seconds, urged everyone to join them.
During the ceremony, after the couple read their ketubah aloud, the rabbi asked them to make eye contact with all of their guests.
Looking around the room and seeing everyone else they love made the wedding very real. "It was 'Oh, wow! Yes, this is really happening,' " Adrian said.
"It really felt like time had stopped at that moment, we were so engulfed in each other's love and everyone present became part of this radiant and magical space with us," said Debora.
A bargain: Seven florists all gave the couple a quote of about $3,000 for the mix of fresh flowers and potted plants they wanted. Then Adrian had an idea. "What about Whole Foods? They always have really beautiful flowers," he said. The couple got everything for $500, plus a $20 delivery fee.
The splurge: The 20-piece band and hang player together cost about five times as much as a DJ would have.
The getaway: Three nights in a little cabin near the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Rabbi Marcia Prager
of P'nai Or, Philadelphia
Summit Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, and Artesano Gallery Events and Catering, Philadelphia
Joe Longo, JoeLongoPhotography, Philadelphia
Ceremony: Dante Bucci, Philadelphia
Reception: PhillyBloco, Philadelphia
Sheetal India, Iselin, N.J.
By the couple
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