Saturday, December 20, 2014

Love: Candace Jean-Louis & Carey Burnett

October 7, 2011, in Philadelphia

Gallery: Love: Candace Jean-Louis and Carey Burnett

Hello there

In May 2005, Carey, manager of a McDonald's in Deptford, had just one question: Who was this woman eating up the drive-through french fries?

She was Candace, who grew up in Harrisburg, had a psychology degree from Villanova University, and was a newly hired human resources specialist. As a new McDonald's corporate employee, Candace was required to spend seven weeks working at a restaurant.

Oh yes, Carey harassed her about munching at his restaurant, where the Elmer Borough native had been working since he was 16. Candace could take it - she has the same wacky sense of humor. "We say things that normal people wouldn't say, but it's all in fun," said Carey, who holds a business degree from Rowan University. Candace gave as good as she got.

When her time in Deptford was almost up, Carey had another question: Might this funny, smart, beautiful woman be interested in him?

"Maybe she is," he thought when she asked him to burn her a copy of his Mariah Carey album. "Definitely," he decided when she asked him to burn a second copy.

"I broke it," Candace told him. It was a two-CD set.

"You broke them both?"

Candace told Carey she had run them over with her car.

"It was the worst lie ever," she said recently. It was an excuse to have more conversation with this funny, handsome guy with the killer work ethic, she said.

The two kept in touch after Candace's training ended. After hanging out a few times, they knew they had found something real. A talk with a supervisor assured that Candace would never be assigned HR duties at Carey's restaurant. (Before long, it was restaurants, plural. Carey was soon overseeing half a dozen stores in the Philadelphia region.)

She's been laughing at his Michael Jackson impersonations ever since.

How does forever sound?

When they met, Candace, now 30, lived in Manayunk and Carey, now 32, in Deptford. About a year into their relationship, they got a place together in Conshohocken. Three years ago, they bought a home in Delaware.

They had been in love for the better part of four years when the 2009 holiday season rolled around. So Candace was "a little cranky" when no proposal came on a November cruise. She was even less thrilled during Christmas shopping, when they stopped at a jewelry store and she and the saleswoman tried to show Carey a ring she really liked.

"He was sitting in the chair, on his BlackBerry, typing e-mails and paying no attention," Candace said. Even the woman behind the counter seemed frustrated. "Let me just write my contact information down on this card," she said, handing it to Carey.

On Christmas day, the couple were at Candace's mother's home in Harrisburg, and everyone sat down to watch what was billed as a video from the November cruise.

"Instead of a videotape of the cruise, it was him standing in our living room," Candace said. "He was talking about how we've had a great, solid relationship . . . and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me."

The woman who had so wanted a proposal didn't recognize it when it came.

"Why are you on the TV screen?" Candace asked Carey. "Just watch the screen, please," he said.

Before she knew it, video-Carey popped the question, and next-to-her-Carey gave her the ring she thought he had ignored at the jewelry store. Her mother served champagne, her sister cried, and then Candace jumped up and down with tears in her eyes.

It was so them

They planned to get married in September, but then came Hurricane Irene. The picture they took in the rain, with her bouquet, his boutonniere, ponchos and a "Thanks Irene!" sign, became their new save-the-date card.

The rush to reschedule vendors, the phone tree to reach guests, and the emotional letdown were not fun. But the cancellation did mean that Carey was home to bail out the basement the night the sump pump failed, thus protecting their home from potentially significant damage. "It worked out," he said.

The new date also meant the couple was able to wed on the Constitution Center's terrace, overlooking Center City, at sundown. The modern terrace and the historic view were the perfect blend of their tastes, they said.

Once inside for the reception, the couple's 110 guests saw images of themselves and each other in a giant slide show that was projected on the walls all night. Carey and Candace made certain that everyone was in at least one picture. Images of the couple showed them riding four-wheelers in Vegas and posing with Ronald McDonald.

Pictures of the couple's beloved pups, Mistro the Boston terrier and Coco the Yorkie, were at every place setting, along with a paw-print cookie and a note telling guests a donation to the SPCA had been made in their honor.

After Candace smooshed some wedding cake in her new husband's face, he heard the strains of "Fly, Eagles, Fly!" Carey was delighted when the staff wheeled in a groom's cake shaped like an Eagles helmet.

Toward the end of the reception, one of the guests picked up more than 100 pre-ordered cheeseburgers from a nearby McDonalds. The guests ate them up. "My dad ate four," Candace said.

This was unexpected

The bride's sister and a bridesmaid sneaked out of the reception to decorate the couple's hotel room with rose petals. They left fancy chocolates and champagne, and wrote "Congratulations" in lipstick on the mirror.

Awestruck

When Candace walked toward Carey on the terrace, "I couldn't say anything," he said. "All I could do was smile. This was what we'd been waiting for."

In the moments when Carey and Candace were waiting to be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Burnett, Candace felt a sense of calm joy. "I was really looking forward to our future together, and happy that we could finally celebrate our marriage," she said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Candace's dress. She, her best friend, her sister, her mother and Carey's mother camped outside Filene's Basement in Chevy Chase, Md. for the Running of the Brides sale. They were the fourth team in line. Candace tried on about 75 dresses and got her $2,500 gown for $700.

The splurge: The couple estimates they could have saved 15 percent had they held their wedding where they did not have to pay a separate venue rental fee.

The getaway: The couple took their honeymoon trip to San Francisco and Hawaii at the time it was scheduled - so before they were actually married. Right after their wedding, they moved to Atlanta, where Candace is now the HR manager for 60 restaurants and Carey is a business consultant who oversees 30 franchises.

 


Behind the Scenes

Officiant

The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Frumin, Narbeth

Venue

National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

Catering

Brulee Catering, Philadelphia

Photography

Firefly Photography, Kathleen Ferry, Philadelphia

Music

Schaffer Sound Productions, Media

 

Flowers

Creations for Celebrations, Bear, Del.

Dress

Designed by Pronovias, purchased at Filene's Running of the Brides in Chevy Chase, Md.

Invitations

Papyrus, Marlton


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 weddings@phillynews.com. Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted in the weeks before your wedding.

Kellie Patrick Gates Inquirer Love Columnist
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