Christina Kaissi and John Wells
October 13, 2018 in Philadelphia
From their connection via Match.com in late 2010, her conversations with John were “commonplace” and “ordinary,” Tina said.
From “How was your day?” to “How would you handle this?” they talked like people who had known and trusted each other for a long time and truly cared how the other was doing, John agreed.
It was wonderful. Within weeks, Tina and John stopped talking to other potential suitors — before they met in person.
Now program administrator for behavioral health rehabilitative services at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, Tina then held the same job at the Chester County Intermediate Unit. John is director of new business development and innovation in the Arcadia University College of Global Studies. A series of business trips delayed their first date until April 2011, when they finally met for Thai food in Ardmore. Three hours later, they had talked about everything from their previous marriages and John’s kids (Mara, 17, and Jonah, 14) to the differences between presidential and parliamentary forms of government.
“We were there quite a long time, but it didn’t feel long at all,” said John, who grew up in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., and who first moved to Philadelphia in 2000.
Their second date, on a Monday, was equally great. Date Three was that Thursday, and, because John was set to travel again the following week, they met on Sunday, too. John was leaving that Tuesday for a week and a half, and before he returned, Tina was leaving on her own business trip. They were looking at 15 days apart. “Is there any way we can do dinner tomorrow night at my house?” read the email Tina received after Sunday’s date. She joined him at his Glenside apartment.
He went on his trip. She went on hers. When Tina came home, John joined her for dinner at her Ridley Park condo. The next day, he called as he was leaving work: “Honey, I’m on my way home. Do you need anything?”
“We are still on our sixth date,” Tina said.
In 2012, their ongoing date moved to the Glenside home they share.
Tina, who grew up in Houston and who has lived in greater Philadelphia since 1999, has always been an introvert; even after being with people she loves, she needs alone time to recharge. John is the exception. “I’m more content with him than without him,” she said. “I’m just completely at ease when he’s around.”
John loves how easy it is for them to be together, doing anything or nothing, and how caring Tina is to both him and his kids. Daughter Mara has lived with them since 2016. John’s ex moved to the area that fall, so son Jonah also spends much time with his dad, his sister, and Tina.
In July 2017, the couple took a long-weekend trip to the Hudson Valley. Tina, who is now 49, excused herself to freshen up for dinner. When she finished, John, 51, was standing in the middle of the room, holding a ring. “You look beautiful,” he said. “We’re going to have a wonderful dinner tonight, and I want to have a wonderful rest of our lives together. Will you marry me?”
Does this man know his favorite introvert, or what?
Upon learning they were newly engaged, their waiter brought a little cake and took their photo.
“It was completely perfect,” Tina said.
The couple’s short and simple ceremony included a Bible reading about love from Corinthians. After officiant Elizabeth Frumin led them through their vows, Tina and John shared words they had written for each other.
“I promised that I would always try to be the best version of me,” Tina said. “He accepts me unconditionally at my worst, so he deserves nothing less than my best.”
“I promised to try to keep everything simple and comfortable, and to make sure there is never any pressure to be something that we aren’t,” John said.
Tina and John chose Joshua’s Catering before selecting a venue. During wedding planning, they were waiting to see a venue and a man they thought worked there waited with them, asking how they met, and what they were looking for in a reception. Only after 45 minutes did they discover David Hall is in fact the owner of the catering company. The couple left knowing whatever venue they chose would be one where he provided the food.
Bahdeebahdu already had the look they wanted, so additional decor was kept to a minimum. The bride placed bouquets of dried lavender in mercury glass vases, then added faux ivy and fairy lights. Each table also bore two silver frames with quotes about love, including her favorite from Jarod Kintz: “With my last breath, I’ll exhale my love for you. I hope it’s a cold day so you can see what you meant to me.”
Tina’s dad, Robert, gave a speech about John, and John’s dad, James, gave one about Tina. Robert said he loved and admired John for his integrity and compassion and was so happy that John and Tina’s relationship had brought their two families together. James said he knew Tina was clearly part of the Wells crew when she happily joined the family in Counting Cows -- a game they invented to pass the time on road trips -- and then expanded the definition of cows to include cats and dogs (“house cows”) and birds (“sky cows.”)
Tina and John have lived together for more than seven years, so she wasn’t expecting the rush of emotion that she felt the first time she saw him on their wedding day. “We were outside on a balcony with no one else but the photographer. I was in my dress, and I saw him look at me and tear up,” she remembered. Tina teared up, too. “I knew we were about to get married, and there was nothing more to do than relax and just be with him.”
John and Tina are normally not a dancing couple, but they were determined to take the traditional newlywed turn on the floor. “Whenever we tried to practice, it was awful,” John said. “We thought it was never going to work.” On their wedding day, when Amos Lee’s “Flower” began to play, the awkwardness was gone. “We just moved together to the music, and it was perfect,” he said.
Bargain: Whenever John travels for work, he stays at a Hampton Inn. “If you stay in enough Hampton Inns, you can use your points for the corner suite at the Logan Philadelphia,” he says.
The splurge: There are less expensive caterers, Tina notes. “But if you’re going to spend money on one thing at a wedding, it should be good food. We did not want dried airline chicken.”
A week after the wedding, John had a conference in Vancouver, and Tina joined him. A European river cruise is in the planning stages.
Officiant: Elizabeth Frumin, Weddings with Heart, Narberth.
Venue: Bahdeebahdu, Philadelphia.
Food: Joshua’s Catering, Philadelphia.
Music: Moore Music, Downingtown.
Photography: Elegant Event Photography by Picsquik Inc., , Pelican Island, N.J.
Flowers: Etsy, FayeMarie, Flora Organica Designs, Arcata, Calif.
Dress: Bijou Bridal, Ardmore.
Hair and Makeup: Tiffany Nurick (hair) and Colleen Fox (makeup), Heaven & Earth Salon, Lafayette Hill.
Groom’s attire: Suit by Kenneth Cole, purchased at Macy’s.