Justina Calgiano and Ted Meyer
June 24, 2017, in Wallingford
She saw him in the Strath Haven High School halls in 2000. "I thought Ted was the cutest guy I'd ever seen," Justina remembered. He was a senior, and she was just a junior — but she had friends with connections. "I asked a friend to ask her friend, who was friends with Ted, to ask Ted if he would ever consider dating me."
He would. There were football games and a homecoming dance, but their relationship fizzled before the school year ended.
In February 2006, Justina and Ted were two of the four people who braved a blizzard to hang out in Quotations bar in Media.
"I think even after we broke up in high school, I still always had a thing for her," Ted said.
Justina watched him walk across the bar to her table. "How are you?" he asked. "Can I get your number?"
"Whoa!" she said. "It's nice to see you again, too."
She liked this new, bolder version of Ted.
They talked about her time in Florida studying journalism at St. Augustine's Flagler College, and his at Ithaca College, studying sports management and media. They soon spent as much time as possible together. She worked in Philly as a copywriter and editor, and he'd go in to town to have lunch with her. At night, she'd head to the Iron Hill Brewery in Media. "I'd stare at him while he worked, waiting for him to be done for the night," she said. Weekends were for many, many Phillies games.
Justina loved his brain, his heart, and his love for family. She was all-in. Ted really liked everything about her — her beauty, her sweetness, and how much fun she was. But he was holding back.
Justina knew Ted had lost his mother, Lesley, to brain cancer three years before and was still hurting. She didn't know he was planning to fulfill a long-held dream to move west. He told her in late spring 2006 that he and a buddy were moving to Colorado for snow season and then to California.
They saw each other only a few painful times before he left, then they tried for a clean break.
When spring arrived, the two couldn't resist texting about baseball. The Phillies' 2008 playoff run made it worse.
When Harry Kalas died in 2009, "I felt compelled to call him," Justina said. "That was our first actual conversation since I left," Ted remembered.
Ted returned home annually for "Watermelon Day." In 1983, Lesley was on her way to meet Ted's dad, Richard, at the adoption agency to pick up baby Ted when a truck spilled thousands of watermelons onto I-95. Lesley made it eventually, and when the family got back home, they and their friends and neighbors ate watermelon to celebrate. Watermelon Day was born.
Ted invited Justina, and she attended that year, and also the next, bringing a friend to remind her to keep her feelings in check.
Justina is director of special events and public relations for the Providence Animal Center in Media. In September 2013, work sent her to San Diego for an animal welfare conference. She reached out to Ted, a charter boat captain, on Facebook. "Want to take my friend and me sailing?"
He wrote back immediately: "Can we go out to dinner, too?"
Ted picked her up in the same red Honda Civic he drove in high school. As soon as she saw his smile, she knew she was in trouble.
"I always enjoyed when people from home came to visit, but this was so different," he said. "I was so happy she was back in my life, even if it was only for a few days."
One night, he took her hand. It was electric. "In that moment, I knew that we were just going to figure it out," Justina said.
Ted came home at Thanksgiving to see her, "Before I left, we made a commitment," Ted said.
At Thanksgiving 2014, Ted came home for good. He's now a deckhand/engineer for Wilmington Tug.
In July 2015, the couple, now both 34, bought a house in Swarthmore, where they live with dogs Kalas and Whitey and cats Stan Lee and Bradley – all adopted from the shelter.
Justina has known Kristin, a volunteer at Providence, for years. Ted had never met Kristin in person, but knowing she works for the Phillies, he reached out through Facebook to ask a favor.
"Kristin volunteered to give us a tour of Citizens Bank Park on Friday," Justina told Ted a few days later. "We should definitely do that," Ted said, feigning surprise.
On Aug. 5, 2016, Kristen showed them the park and led them onto the field. Just outside the Phillies dugout, Ted took Justina's hands and told her he loved her. She attributed his outpouring to their standing on hallowed ground. "I love you, too, and this is amazing!" she said.
Ted knelt and asked her to marry him. "The feelings were indescribable," Justina said.
He gave her a three-stone ring – one diamond for each try it took them to get it right.
The couple married on the lawn of Ted's childhood home in the Rose Valley section of Wallingford. The Rev. Chuck Holmes, a family friend, officiated.
"I promised her that I would always stay positive, especially when the Phillies weren't doing very well," Ted said. "And I promised to always be a good TedDad to the animals."
Dog Kalas has Addison's disease, and the couple has adopted "YOLO" — you only live once — as her motto. "I promised Ted we would YOLO every day with ice cream or French fries, and that I would always think he was the most handsome guy in the room," Justina said.
Her sister Jayma read a poem, "How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog," and Ted's dad played "Somewhere" from West Side Story on his guitar.
Ted gave Justina his late mother's engagement ring — a band with a row of diamonds — as her wedding band.
The reception for 170 was crafted with a Watermelon Day vibe. Flowers were red, pink, and green. The bridesmaids wore pink dresses, the groomsmen green ties. Treats included watermelon cocktails, salad, sorbet, and a watermelon piñata — filled with mini bottles of booze.
Best man Andy played guitar and sang Chris Cornell's "Finally Forever" for the couple's first dance.
Among the wedding gifts: Frosty treats from Springer's Ice Cream and brews from 2SP Brewing Co. (Friends of the couple are part owners of the businesses.)
Before Justina walked down the aisle with her parents, Jim and Fran, her event-planner brain kept interrupting her happy thoughts with details. She shut it down. "As soon as I did that, I got this rush of emotion. It was all of my hopes and dreams, and all of my parents' hopes and dreams for me, and walking down the aisle and seeing everyone we love, and then Ted at the end of it. It was just incredible."
After the ceremony, photographer Ashlee Mintz asked the couple to walk down the driveway. Ted was getting impatient when a giant, furry, green arm hugged him. "I realized I had just married the girl of my dreams, and I was standing there with every single person I care about surrounding me, and the Philly Phanatic had his arm around me. It was truly awesome." His appearance was a gift from the bride's sisters, Jayma and maid of honor Julia.
A bargain: Justina bought her Badgley Mischka gown on oncewed.com for $150.
The splurge: Renting padded, wooden folding chairs and a fancy pole tent.
A two-day Stone Harbor minimoon, to be followed by a longer trip later this year.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: The Rev. Chuck Holmes.
Ceremony venue: Ted's childhood home in Rose Valley.
Reception venue: The lawn of the groom's childhood home, with a pole tent from Ryan Party Rentals of Newtown Square.
Food: Williamson Caterers, Willow Grove.
Music: Lisa Parks Entertainment.
Photography: Ashlee Mintz Photography, Havertown.
Videography: Chris Raab of Green Gate Entertainment, West Chester.
Flowers: Devon & Pinkett, Philadelphia.
Dress: Badgley Mischka via OnceWed.com.
Hair: Corrine Donnelly.
Makeup: Nirvana Hair Gallery, Springfield.
Day-of coordinator: Shannon Wellington Weddings, Chadds Ford.