Mia Cammisa and Anthony Briglia
April 15, 2018, in Philadelphia
They met in 2003, their freshman year at CAPA — the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. Mia studied creative writing and Anthony visual arts, but alphabetical order put them in the same advisory period. A common interest in the work of Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese, and the entire B horror movie catalog, gave them much to discuss.
These conversations thrilled Anthony – but he was not thrilled by Mia alone. "I was a little, pudgy, awkward boy," he said. "When you're like that, any girl that shows you a modicum of attention gets your interest."
As for Mia: "I had a crush on an upperclassman who didn't know I existed."
She hung out with the writers and he with the artists, but there were hellos in the hallway for the remainder of high school, and a rare few after graduation on Philly's streets.
Mia was in her last year of journalism studies at Temple when she saw Anthony's Facebook post asking if anyone wanted to catch Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. She walked into the UA Riverview theater hoping Anthony didn't think it was a date. Then she saw the new, grown-up version of him: Tall, broad-shouldered, long-haired. "I'm not attracted to him," she told herself as they sat down, with his kid sister Marina on Anthony's other side. The startling parts of the horror movie were the reason she kept grabbing his hand, she rationalized.
Anthony thought something might be up: "She seemed to show a lot of joy to see me again," he said. "And, also, she was holding my hand during the movie, which I liked."
He had graduated from the University of the Arts and was working night shifts as an apartment building doorman while doing freelance illustration and design. He and Mia began hanging out with his group of artist friends.
By fall 2012, Mia knew she liked him, and Anthony knew he liked her. She suspected she was liked back, but also that he would never act on it. So one day, when Mia wanted to walk many blocks to meet up with a friend, she told him she'd hold his hand the whole way if he walked with her. Then one night when they were parting, she kissed him right on the lips.
"I got the message," Anthony said. They began talking and/or seeing each other daily, and about a month later, he called her his girlfriend. "YESSS!" Mia thought.
Mia loves Anthony because he is always true to himself and encourages her to be herself. "Even in high school, he would not compromise who he is to be cooler. He likes what he likes, he talks how he talks," she said. Anthony encourages her weirdness and embraces her flaws, Mia said.
From the time Mia made that goofy offer to hold his hand if he walked with her, Anthony knew that things between them had changed, and that he wanted to spend more time with her. The realization that he loved her came slowly. "When I stopped thinking of my life and her life as separate, when I realized we were of course going to be together and I was very happy about it and always excited to see her, that's when I realized that this is The Person," he said.
Not long after graduation, Mia knew journalism wasn't her thing. She worked as a medical clerk for her uncle, then found her true calling while volunteering with the Special Olympics. Mia, now 28, studied occupational therapy at Harcum College and recently became a certified occupational therapy assistant at St. Monica Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare.
Anthony, now 29, is general manager of Painting with a Twist Philadelphia.
Three years into their dating lives, Anthony and Mia had a big talk about marriage. She was ready. He loved and wanted to marry her but wanted to be together for at least five years first — he didn't ever want to get divorced. "Let's live together," he suggested. They moved to Girard Estates, and then to East Passyunk Crossing — short walks from where each of them grew up.
On their five-year dating anniversary, Anthony gave Mia a book, and Mia cried hard.
"What's going on?" Anthony asked.
"I want to marry you, and I feel like we've waited long enough, and we should get married," she said.
"OK," Anthony said. "We'll do it!"
Two weeks later, Anthony took Mia to Macy's, where she chose an aquamarine and tanzanite ring. In the store cafe, "I held the ring out to her, made a little speech, and asked her to marry me," Anthony said.
The couple wed in front of the sphinx at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Mia's mom, Donna, walked her down the aisle to "So This Is Love," from Disney's Cinderella.
They wrote their own vows.
Mia told Anthony she knows that, to him, it has often felt she was rushing things. "I said I felt like all of this rushing led to this, that all of my life, he is what I've been rushing toward."
"It's hard to follow a writer," Anthony quipped. Then "I told her how much I appreciate all the moments when she's really been there for me," he said. "It means a lot to be vulnerable in front of someone and be met with love and support, and I promised that I will return that for her."
Anthony's mom, Deanna, cried throughout.
Their 75 guests enjoyed cocktails in the same room, then dinner in the Chinese rotunda – Mia's father, Gary, said grace. Dancing and dessert happened in the Upper Egyptian Gallery.
Anthony's dad, also named Anthony, is a tough-on-the-outside guy who has long teased the couple that their sweetness would give him diabetes. They obviously could not resist his first dance suggestion: The Stylistic's sweet "Betcha By Golly Wow."
Anthony could hear the little clicks of Mia's heels as she walked down the stairway toward him. Mia could seem him, waiting. "He was all dolled up to perfection," she said. Then she said his name.
"I turn around and see her, and she gave this huge smile," he said.
"He was beaming," Mia said. "I thought, 'That's my husband! There he is!' "
"We hugged for the first time. It was the first big 'Boom!' of the wedding," Anthony added. "It set everything off right."
Best bargain: Mia bought her dress off the rack at the Dress Matters. It was on sale, and with alterations cost less than $1,000.
The splurge: There are cheaper venues, and ones where the catering and other elements are included in one price. But after seeing the museum, no other place would do. The couple even moved their planned date from October to April to make it happen.
A five-day trip to Disney World in Orlando.
Officiant and DJ: Ben Ostroff, EBE Events & Entertainment, Philadelphia.
Venue: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia.
Food: CxRA, New York City.
Photography: Denise Marie Photography, Norristown.
Flowers: Quinn's Florist, Philadelphia.
Dress: The Dress Matters, Media.
Hair: Mandy from Contemporary Styles by Mena, Media.
Makeup: Jacky Talotta.
Groom's attire: A Man's Image, Philadelphia.