Francesca and Francis

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How We Met: The summer before my junior year at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, I received a text from a friend who I played lacrosse with saying, “there’s a tall dark handsome man I work with.  You two would make great babies”.  I laughed it off, until I received an anonymous text saying, “Hey, this is Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.”  We texted and talked on the phone for a whole year while I was at St. Joe’s and he was attending Susquahanna University.  We finally met in person for the first time a year later in Manayunk, PA where he took me to Bella Tratoria.  He ordered the special and when a beet salad arrived to the table I thought, “Wow he must really like beets,” later to find out he ordered the special because he was too nervous to read the menu!  We had a great time, but I told him timing wasn’t right with long distance and school.  We remained friends and kept in touch here and there.  Every time I would get a text from him, I would say to my friends and mom, “that kid Fran is texting me again” with a smile.  It wasn’t until two summers later that he says he “stalked me on Facebook” because my status said I was going to be back down in Manayunk for their annual Bike Race.  He texted me asking if I were in town (even though he knew I already was) and he met me at the local bar, Spanky’s.  Sparks were flying! He was very persistent the rest of the summer with texts and phone calls and I finally agreed to go out on a date with him again.  He came up to Hoboken, NJ where we met for our “second first date” and that was it! We both knew that our connection was special.  He had told me he knew I was the one from the very day he met me and we now look back and laugh at the beet salad date back in Manayunk.  Early in our relationship I introduced him to Montauk, NY.  That quickly became our ‘happy place’.  Little did I know two years later I would be saying “yes” to marrying  the man of my dreams there.

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How He Asked: I had known that I wanted to marry Francesca since the day I met her, but after 2 and a half years of dating, I started to think a lot about how I would ask her to spend the rest of her life with me.  Multiple ideas were going in and out of my head and on May 5th I decided to involve her Mom and see if that would help turn my thoughts into an actual plan.  (This may not have been the best idea because her Mom had to keep a huge secret for a very long time haha). I was right, her Mom and I spoke at length and started to make some real progress. I decided that Montauk, NY was the perfect place as it’s Francesca’s ‘happy place’ and we have gone on vacation there the prior two years.  Also, Francesca just graduated nursing school, so that was the perfect reason to get away.  I consulted with my Mom about the idea and she took off with it.  I involved one of Francesca’s best friends about inviting people and before I knew it there was a Facebook group and the hotels were booked.

Before I knew, it the date was August 7th  and Francesca and I were on our way to Montauk with the ring hidden in the trunk of my car.  The entire day, I tried not to think about it and just stayed confident that everything would come together.  As we were getting ready for dinner, Francesca had no idea that I was on one knee in the shower practicing what I wanted to say.  The nerves started to really come on at this point.  We went to dinner and had a delicious meal at our favorite restaurant, East By Northeast.  Francesca used the restroom before we left, so I decided to tell the waitress I was proposing right after dinner and how I was doing it… She began to cry in the middle of the restaurant haha! I quickly rushed my soon to be fiancé out so she wouldn’t see or ask any questions. As we walked home, the sun was setting and the sky couldn’t have been more beautiful. Ironically, Francesca was talking about how happy her grandparents were when they were alive and how evident it was they were very in love. (This couldn’t have been a better segway into me asking her to marry me). We got back to the hotel and I asked if she wanted to walk off dinner on the beach and watch the sunset.  She agreed, so I said let me get a blanket out of my car. (I had the ring box wrapped in my blanket as part of my plan). Of course, she suggested we use her blanket because it was bigger, but I insisted she would want to use mine haha.

We walked up onto the deck of the hotel that overlooked the beach.  We stood there for a minute and I asked her if she could see the candles that I knew were laid out in the sand spelling out ‘Will You Marry Me?’.  To my luck, the sun was still too bright as it was setting so she couldn’t make out the words. She responded, “No, but I think I know what it says,” as she starts to cry.  I got down on one knee and in so many words, asked the most unbelievable woman if she would spend her life with me and presented her with ring.

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She enthusiastically said yes as she was overcome with emotion and we spent a few moments together.  Then, to her surprise, some of our close friends and family appeared out of nowhere on the beach to celebrate with us.

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She is 100% Italian so of course there was plenty of food to eat as we stayed on the beach and enjoyed our first hours of engagement with those closest to us.  The night was an unbelievable success and we couldn’t be any happier!

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Photography: Janelle Brooke Photography | Calligraphy: Cathy Volpe