Alicia Zanghi & Jeffrey Frederick
Feb. 28, 2020, in Broomall
Happy-at-home Alicia is hardly ever in a bar, let alone on a Sunday night. But after she and her friends enjoyed demonstrations and libations at an MLM jewelry party, they decided a couple more drinks were in order, so one mid-November evening in 2016, she found herself at the entrance of the Station Tap in Drexel Hill.
“Oh. My. God!” said her friend, Stephanie, nodding toward a dark-haired, handsome man with a gorgeous beard. “He is so your type of guy!”
With Alicia in tow, Stephanie made a beeline for Jeff, who lived around the corner and had popped by for a beer with a buddy. “Hey,” Stephanie inquired. “Are you single?”
“Why are you asking?” asked Jeff.
“This is my friend, Alicia,” Stephanie said.
Jeff felt a little awkward, and Alicia a little shy, but they said hello before joining their respective friends at the bar. Then Jeff invited Alicia, who he found very, very cute, to have a drink with him.
Her shyness and his awkwardness quickly dissipated – they talked the whole night. “I couldn’t tell you much of what we talked about, but it felt so comfortable, and so natural, right off the bat,” said Jeff.
Alicia agrees. “I had never felt like that with a guy before.”
Their getting-to-know-you conversation covered the basics and uncovered common threads: Jeff, who is now 39, and works with his brother in residential real estate development, and Alicia, who is now 32, and is the billing lead representative for Main Line Health in Newtown Square, both grew up in Drexel Hill. They attended the same elementary and middle schools.
He asked for her number, and talking and texting began in earnest the next day. A couple weeks later, Jeff invited Alicia to his apartment to help decorate his Christmas tree. She accepted, but when the night came, never showed.
Jeff felt stood up. Alicia felt nervous -- as comfortable as she was with Jeff, perhaps she should not go to the apartment of a man who was still, really, a stranger. She ignored his texts that night, replying in the morning that she had fallen asleep.
A few weeks later, they met for drinks at the Brick & Brew in Media. It was the last first date for either of them.
“He has such a big heart,” said Alicia. “He is so kind, not only to me, but to everybody. One of the hardest things for me to do is to open up to people, but he made it so easy. He supports everything I do, and I can tell him anything.”
On their third date, she told Jeff why she stood him up, and he understood.
The comfort and click Jeff felt immediately with Alicia just kept growing, he said. “We became more and more close, and even more comfortable with each other. We make each other laugh a lot, and laughter is good for the soul.”
Soon, Alicia knew she was in love, but she didn’t tell Jeff. Jeff wasn’t planning on using the L-word anytime soon, either. “I told her when we first started going out that I’m not the kind of person who just starts throwing the words around so they mean nothing,” he said. “I wanted to wait until I really meant it.”
One day three months in, they were playing games at Dave & Busters on Delaware Avenue. Jeff cashed in his tickets for a pen, which he gave to Alicia, along with a giant bear hug that eventually became a game in itself – as she wiggled out of his arms, laughing, he playfully said, “Don’t go away! I love you!”
“You said it!” said Alicia, who still has the “I Love You at Dave & Busters Pen.”
About two years ago, they and the pen moved to their home in Springfield, Delaware County.
One evening in May 2019, Alicia headed for what she knew was dinner with Jeff, his parents, Nick and Rosemarie, and hers, Diana and Anthony, at what was Buona Cucina in Upper Darby.
She didn’t know that Jeff had also invited a dozen others, including his brother, Dennis, her sister, Desiree, her Aunt Maria and Uncle Nadim.
“I walk into the restaurant, and to the little back room. I can see my parents on the far left as I walk up the stairs, and then I see my whole family is there,” Alicia remembers.
Just through the doorway, there was Jeff, on one knee.
“I didn’t even get the words out when she belted out, ‘I’m getting engaged!’ ” Jeff said, laughing. “She basically took the ring out of my hand and started showing her mom and aunt.”
The couple wed at St. Pius X in a traditional Catholic ceremony. They wrote their own vows.
Alicia told Jeff she loves their lazy Netflix days with the fur babies -– rescue cats Luna, Frankie, and Holstein -- and their fun-filled foodie nights, and promised to not only listen but to hear. “My most important promise to you is to always take care of your kind heart and to always love you with all of mine,” she said.
Jeff told Alicia he would never have believed it if someone told him he’d meet his wife at a bar in Delco on a random Sunday, and how he couldn’t believe she stood him up for their first date.
“I can’t imagine my life without you, and I’m excited to start a family together with you,” he said. “I will always be by your side. I feel that you make me a better person. … I’d be lost without you.”
The reception for 120 was held at the Waterworks, which they loved for Cescaphe’s food and the river view.
The father of the bride never cries, but did during his speech. It meant the world to Alicia. She and Jeff were both moved when his mother stood to welcome Alicia into the family as her new daughter.
Jeff’s brother Dennis, the best man, and Alicia’s sister Desiree, the maid of honor, also toasted the couple.
Standing with her father in the back of the church, Alicia was shaky. But then she moved to the open doorway and saw Jeff waiting for her. “As soon as I saw him, I just started smiling,” she remembers. “It was my favorite part of the entire day.”
The same comfort that Jeff felt when he met Alicia, and that has grown ever since, was with him on his wedding day. “I was not at all nervous, and I just honestly enjoyed the whole entire day, from getting ready with the groomsmen, to Alicia and I laughing and talking on the altar, to the beautiful reception,” he said.
A bargain: Alicia’s first reaction when the couple toured the Waterworks was, “Why are we here? We can’t afford this.” But discounts for having the wedding on a Friday in the off-season meant they could.
The splurge: Beautiful photography and videography were Alicia’s priority. She’s long admired the pictures Ashlee Mintz took at friends’ weddings and never considered another photographer. When she saw New Pace’s video work during the wedding planning, she stopped looking.
A week at Secrets the Vine Cancun, in Mexico, where they relaxed by the pool, indulged in reds from the resort’s huge wine collection, and enjoyed 2 a.m. room service. They got home right as the coronavirus was starting to make life more difficult.
Behind the scenes:
Officiant: The Rev. William C. Kaufman, pastor of St. Pius X, Broomall, Pa.
Ceremony venue: St. Pius X.
Reception venue and food: Waterworks, Cescaphe, Philadelphia.
Music: Organist Eric Longo and DJ Jayson Ducketts, Philadelphia.
Photography: Ashlee Mintz, Philadelphia.
Flowers: Bonnie’s Wonder Gardens, Lansdowne, Pa.
Bride’s attire: Claire’s, Wilmington, Del.
Groom’s attire: Tuxedo by Sarno, Havertown, Pa.
Makeup: Gina Stauffer, Philadelphia.
Hair: Jeanine Coliss Lanciano, Philadelphia.