Kristina Kazanjian and Adam Belcastro
September 22, 2018, in North Wales
Although a Drexel student, Adam spent most of his weekends at Temple with his best friend, Andy, his pal since they were kindergartners in Nazareth. Andy introduced Adam to his new friends, including someone Adam found especially intriguing: Kristina.
"She had four different colors in her hair and wore these crazy outfits," Adam said. "She has an electric personality and was somebody I knew I wanted to get to know more."
The feeling was mutual. "He was so cool and confident — the first example of a man my age who was truly a man," said Kristina, who grew up in Newtown Square. "He was different from anybody else I had ever known."
They spent the fall of their freshman year getting to know each other within their group of friends. They kissed that spring, on Kristina's 19th birthday. Then, about six weeks later, Adam told Kristina he was leaving Drexel and Philadelphia. Engineering was never his calling. Firefighting was. They were both disappointed their goals were taking them to separate places but realized a relationship so new wouldn't survive the distance. They wished each other the best.
Adam returned home and resumed volunteer firefighting with the Upper Nazareth Fire Department. He trained and studied hard, becoming a firefighter and EMT and achieving the rank of captain. To earn money, he worked in the television industry, appearing in Independence U.S.A. — a show about self-sufficiency on a small farm that his dad, Frank, created and starred in.
Two weeks after her 22nd birthday, Kristina's phone buzzed with a text. For the first time in nearly three years, it was Adam. A friend's cookout would soon bring him to Bucks County. Would she like to go with him?
Adam had never forgotten her. He wondered how she was, and, yes, what might have been. His phone buzzed with her yes.
Kristina told her mom, Ramona: "I think my dating life is absolutely over. I think this is going to be it."
She took a bus to a train to a Bucks County train station, and there was Adam, leaning against a post. "He was standing out there, looking how he always looked, with this subtle smirk on his face and in a state of total calmness," she said.
"Kristina floated off of the train, this hippie girl with long black hair and her Ray-Bans on, like the world was hers," Adam said. "She was exactly the same."
They ate hot dogs, talked, jumped on the trampoline together. "It was awesome," Adam said.
Kristina soon graduated with a communications degree. She had planned to spend summer at the Shore as always, but instead spent it with Adam, exploring one Pennsylvania forest after another. They split their time between Philadelphia and the regional countryside.
She went to work for the family business, health-care support company Curtain Care Plus. It was supposed to be a short-term gig, but Kristina discovered she liked it and was good at it. She built the company's Philadelphia territory.
Tired of dating long distance, Adam and Kristina moved into a Queen Village trinity on Valentine's Day 2014. He enrolled in a paramedic program at Jefferson and continued searching for a paid, full-time firefighting position. In June 2015, he was hired by the Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services and moved to Virginia. Kristina followed a year later and is now in charge of Curtain Care Plus expansion in Baltimore and D.C. The couple, now both 29, live in Richmond with Rocco, an Olde English Bulldogge.
In late summer 2016, Kristina and Adam came north to spend time at the Shore and in Philadelphia. On Sept. 1, Adam said he had planned a Philadelphia date that was something they'd never done before. He took her to the Liberty One observation deck. "The sun was just setting, and it was absolutely beautiful," Kristina said. "I remember thinking, 'I really love this guy. I had such a hard time leaving Philly to live in Richmond, and he brought me here, and this is fantastic.' "
They looked west, to where the sun was setting over Kristina's hometown; north to Temple, where they met; and east to the Jersey Shore. Adam then asked her to look south to Queen Village so she could see the neighborhood where they first merged their lives in a little trinity.
Adam said he wanted to continue sharing their lives together. "We need to always stay a team," he said. When Kristina turned from the view to look at her boyfriend, he was kneeling.
In 2013, Adam's mom Kim was diagnosed with lung cancer caused by a genetic mutation. In 2016, her health was failing. Kristina quickly made some calls, and the couple gathered their parents, aunts and uncles, and siblings at HollyHedge Estate in New Hope. Andy — the friend who introduced them — led a commitment ceremony. It was not an official marriage, but it allowed them to share a most important moment with Kim.
To the delight of all, when Kristina and Adam legally wed on the first full day of fall 2018, Kim was in the front row.
Kristina's dad, Jimmy, walked her down the aisle to a pavilion surrounded by trees at the Joseph Ambler Inn. It was important to the couple that everyone feel welcome, and that the person who performed their ceremony be someone who would happily marry any loving couple, regardless of faith, gender identity, or sexual orientation. That search led them to Alisa Tongg, who created a ceremony centered on their love story and infused with references to the natural world they love exploring together.
Adam's dad presented them with a large fossil of a fern, and the couple took their vows while holding it, symbolically setting their promises in stone.
The couple recessed to "The Imperial March" and entered the reception for 130 dueling with lightsabers to the Star Wars theme.
The celebration space was decorated as an enchanted and timeless fairy garden. Kristina and her mom made most of the decorations from mason jars, galvanized buckets, moss, ivy, and wood.
The couple's first dance was to Whitley's "More Than Life," and that was the only slow song of the night.
This was a weekend event, and from Friday night, when Kristina first saw Adam's Canadian friends at their 4:30 a.m. post-wedding pizza order with the more than 60 people who stayed for the after party, this couple felt incredibly loved and lucky.
That struck Kristina especially hard right before the ceremony. "I saw all of the people who had loved me and loved Adam, who we loved, and who taught us how to love by their example, all in one place," she said.
"Everybody was so committed to celebrating us," Adam said. "There was so much happiness and positive energy."
Money was saved through Kristina's craftiness and the work of Carousel Flowers. The florist had done such an excellent job whipping up gorgeous and affordable blooms for their quickly convened commitment ceremony the couple hired it again for the wedding.
The splurge: Kristina's engagement ring featured her Mom-Mom Gloria's diamond. Using a diamond brooch that belonged to her Grandma Ramona, she had a custom wedding band and other matching pieces created.
They spent a week in Savannah, Ga., and Hilton Head, S.C. — a honeymoon Adam planned as a surprise for Kristina.
Officiant: Celebrant Alisa Tongg, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Venue: Joseph Ambler Inn, North Wales.
Music: Signature DJs, East Norriton.
Photography: Weldon Wedding Photography.
Videography: Keystone Productions, the company the groom worked with on his dad's TV show.
Flowers: Carousel Flowers, Doylestown.
Dress: Joplin Gown designed by Daughters of Simone, purchased at BHLDN, Philadelphia.