Kelly Frey and Brett Swiecinski
March 18, 2017, in Cheltenham
As the Mummers strutted up Broad Street in 2014, Kelly enjoyed both the procession and a drink or two prepared by a friend of her brother's -- a New Year's Day guest bartender at the American Pub.
The bar beneath the Clothespin sculpture was packed, but to Brett, Kelly stood out from every other person there. She was happy, bubbly, and beautiful, he said. "She seemed like she was enjoying herself, and was someone I wanted to talk to." Brett was also there to support his friend Pat's bartending stint, and Pat's bartending supported his decision to walk right up to Kelly and introduce himself.
After a friendly chat, Kelly told Brett she and her friends were off to their next destination, Tir Na Nog. He asked for her number. Her dating experiences of late had left her jaded, but she liked him. Kelly gave Brett her digits but kept her expectations low. "I didn't think I'd ever hear from him again."
An hour later, there he was at Tir Na Nog. "He showed up there to look for me," Kelly said. Her defenses melted a bit, and they danced. "Brett's signature move is the twirl," she said. "We did a lot of twirling on the dance floor, and he won me over."
Not only did they twirl, they kissed.
A couple of hours later, her friends were going home. Brett was going to Two Street. Kelly went with Brett.
"We got in a cab to go see the Mummers there, and that is where we did most of our talking," Brett said.
That conversation, in the midst of their second Mummers Parade of the day, revealed a long line of previously missed connections:
Both had been at the American Pub the previous New Year, right when Froggy Carr came in.
Brett had known Kelly's brother Chris for years, having hung out with him at a Sea Isle City Shore house -- but somehow never when she was visiting.
It was weird that they'd never actually met before, but both were having a great time now that they finally had. "I want to see you again," Brett told Kelly.
He called an Uber to take her back to Fox Chase. "To this day, he won't tell me how much that Uber cost, but it must have been a fortune," she said.
They talked by phone the next day, made plans that were canceled by a snowstorm, and, finally, on Jan. 5, had a dinner date at Trevi in Glenside. Brett, who is now 30, drove from Washington Township to pick her up in Fox Chase.
"When he first got there, he gave me a kiss. It totally threw me off," said Kelly, 33. "I was bracing for first-date awkwardness, but that actually made it less awkward."
Well, for her, anyway. At the restaurant, Brett uncorked their wine, poured her a glass, and then proceeded to chug his own. He was sweating profusely.
"I was trying to impress her, and hoped I wouldn't mess it up," Brett said. By the time they walked into the Blue Comet, he was much more comfortable, and impress her he did.
They've been exclusive since their first date.
Brett, a catering manager at Bala Catering in Bala Cynwyd, admired her independence. "She knows exactly what she wants," he said. He's always been touched by little things she does just because -- like bringing him candy, or, knowing how bad he is at shopping, picking out a shirt for him.
"He always makes me laugh," said Kelly, a health and safety specialist at Sunoco in Newtown Square. "Plus, I would walk into a room, and the room would be full, and he would make me feel like I was the only person there. He was just exactly what I was looking for."
After about a year and half of dating bliss and a year of sharing Kelly's Fox Chase apartment, both were ready for the next step, but one was a little more ready than the other.
"We had been discussing marriage and rings and stuff like that," Brett said.
"So I knew it was something that was going to happen eventually," said Kelly.
"She might have been applying a little pressure," said Brett.
A huge barbecue was planned for June 2015 as a chance for their families to get to know each other. "I was under the impression that by the barbecue, we would be engaged, but the day before, there was no engagement yet and I was stressing," Kelly said. "I was calling my mom about it."
Jackie, who knew things her daughter did not, advised patience.
The couple went to dinner at their beloved Blue Duck. "He was kind of weird, but not giving me what I wanted to hear," she said. Kelly was in full-on pout mode."I was terrible, and on the drive home was still being terrible."
She was voicing her dismay about not being engaged before the big family shindig when he unlocked the door and gently pushed her inside. "I looked in, realized what was happening, and said, 'I'm such an ass!' "
While they ate, Jackie had lent Brett a hand, placing the roses he'd purchased on the table and displaying family photos everywhere.
"I handed her a letter, because I knew I would forget some of what I wanted to say," Brett said. It was all about how much he loved her. When she reached the end, Brett knelt and in person added, "Will you marry me?"
Kelly burst into tears.
"I need an answer," he said. "You could be crying because you're upset."
She said yes.
The next day, about 40 people gathered to meet and celebrate at the home of Brett's parents, David and Jill.
The couple, who now live in Ambler, married in the church Kelly grew up in. Her bouquet was adorned with a locket containing a photo of her late father, Chuck, and inscribed with, "I walk beside you every day." Her brother walked her down the aisle.
The Rev. Michael Speziale has been a friend of the bride's since they were classmates at Cardinal Dougherty High School. He tucked details of the couple's story into a very personal homily.
The couple's friend and opera singer Christina sang the "Ave Maria."
The reception for 186 was held at the Sheraton Valley Forge. One of the first things booked was the Polish American String Band -- a nod to the couple's Philly New Year's meeting. The favors were the sole acknowledgment of St. Patrick's Day: lottery tickets and a note that read, "Wishes for riches from the new Mr. and Mrs."
They chose an up-tempo song as their first dance: Billy Joel's "The Longest Time."
Then "we had the Penn State fight song played," said proud alum Brett.
"Much to my dismay, since I'm a Temple grad," said Kelly. "But his side went nuts."
She was much more enthusiastic about the candy bar, well stocked with gummies.
Late in the reception, the couple was shout-talking to some of their guests in the middle of a crowded dance floor when, "for whatever reason, we started slow dancing and singing to each other," Kelly said. "It wasn't even a slow song."
"It was Journey. 'Don't Stop Believin',' " Brett said.
"There was chaos all around us, but for that moment, we were only focused on each other," Kelly said.
A bargain: A videographer was not in the budget until friend Abby offered to record the event inexpensively to gain video experience.
The splurge: 15 minutes of Mummers.
Nine days in Antigua
BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: The Rev. Michael Speziale of Sacred Heart Church, Havertown.
Food: Sheraton Valley Forge.
Music: Schaffer Sound, Media.
Photography: Photographer Gina Aquaro, Artistic Imagery, Fairless Hills.
Videography: Abby King, Wellspun Weddings, Ambler.
Flowers: Otto A. Schmidt Florist, Philadelphia.