Breanna Amborn & Ian Peltier
Aug. 8, 2020, in Philadelphia
Bree and Ian both moved to Philadelphia in summer 2016 to mentor and tutor students through the AmeriCorps City Year program — he at Edison High and she at Penn Treaty School. The new crop of Corps members were in contact through Facebook, and the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics provided a perfect excuse to gather in person and get to know one another before training and work began. In that spirit, Ian commented on the word tattooed on Bree’s ankle: Lionheart.
“It’s a reference to a song by one of my favorite bands,” she told him.
“Of Monsters and Men,” he said, correctly. “I like them, too.”
Bonding over a shared love of modern rock and indie folk and excitement about working with young people and exploring Philadelphia, they were friends when the night ended.
Their life experiences had been different: While Bree considers Wisconsin home, Pennsylvania was the fourth state she had lived in. She studied media and communications at Florida State, then moved directly to Philadelphia. Ian had lived his whole life in West Chester and had just graduated with a degree in applied public policy from West Chester University. But later discussions about family, friends, and politics revealed a shared view of the world.
After exploring Spruce Street Harbor Park, it was clear both wanted to be more than friends. Two weeks after they met, on their first official date, they took in the view of the city from Cira Green, then hopped the El to Old City for ice cream at Franklin Fountain.
Bree was so happy — and it wasn’t just the ice cream. “He has such a big heart, and he cares so deeply,” she said of Ian. “He’s just incredibly loyal to his family and to his friends. And he speaks his mind. I’m from the Midwest, and I am not at all confrontational. Ian is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person, and that was so fascinating.”
Ian, too, knew he had found someone special. “From the conversation we had the first night, it seemed like Bree was a genuinely caring person,” he said. “I thought her world experience and all the places she lived was incredibly interesting. And she is truly beautiful.”
“Falling in love with her was very simple,” he added.
“When you find the right person, you shouldn’t need to struggle. It should just be easy,” she concurred.
Next steps together
About a year after their first date, the couple moved to Bella Vista together, near the Ninth Street Market. Bree, who is now 26, signed on for a second year with AmeriCorps in a more senior role, planning service projects such as mural painting and garden planting at Philadelphia public schools — a springboard for her career as a nonprofit community engagement and events specialist. Ian, now 27, worked in fund-raising until 2019, when he took a sales position with Klein Tools.
The couple adopted a cat from Morris Animal Refuge and named him Rio after the Olympics that played in the background the night they met.
No longer living on stipends, they expanded their Philadelphia activities beyond the cheap and free: concerts around town or in Camden, the Jersey Shore, Eagles and Sixers games, the Army-Navy tailgate, and so many restaurants.
In June 2019, Ian suggested some of their favorite things: a walk on the Schuylkill River Trail, then meeting some friends and their dog at the dog park, and then dinner.
As they were walking, Ian stopped to kneel.
Life had been truly amazing since they met, he told Bree, and he was really looking forward to everything still to come.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
Surprised and crying, Bree managed a “yes.”
Ian’s sister and parents emerged from the spots where they had hidden to take pictures and everyone hugged.
A change of plans, then another, and another
The couple decided to wed at Race Street Pier and host a reception for 125 at Yards Brewing Co. Coming full circle, their Aug. 8 date was within the last weekend of the 2020 Summer Olympics. They planned to hire some Mummers to help them strut into married life.
Then, in spring 2020, with COVID-19 cases rising, it was clear that plan would not work. The Olympics were postponed, and so, at first, was their wedding.
Bree wanted to wait until they could do everything they had planned with everyone they love, and Ian was willing to wait, and so in May, the couple sent out save-the-date cards for October 2021. Another thing they moved: themselves — to a larger apartment within the same building, since they would both be working from home for the foreseeable future.
Then, a few weeks later, Bree read a story about a couple who had pared down their wedding plans so they could still get married despite the virus, and she realized that the sit-down meal and DJ were not so important. While she would miss having all of their favorite people with them, technology offered some solution. And the most important thing — marrying Ian — did not have to wait.
Ian wondered if they could marry in their neighborhood — at the Di Bruno Bros. lot at Ninth and Montrose. Bree sent an inquiry, and Michael not only responded, but “took our idea and made it into a wedding, so that we didn’t just get married in an empty lot,” she said.
With his guidance, Bree, her best friend, and her parents — her father is a retired art teacher — went DIY on decorations and floral arrangements.
Technically, the couple wed with a self-uniting license, but another Michael — the husband of Ian’s friend, Katie — led the ceremony. The vows they had not shared until that day turned out to be remarkably similar: Bree told Ian she would always be there for him, by his side, whether he is sad, happy, or being stubborn. Ian told Bree that no matter what happens in life, she can always count on him being by her side. Both quoted Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
They and their 12 in-person guests stayed within their COVID bubbles, wore masks, and maintained social distance as much as possible. They enjoyed a Di Bruno’s cheese plate, Santuccis Pizza, and a cake made by Ian’s cousin. The couple made a playlist and everyone played lawn games.
It’s been a weird year, but the pandemic has given the couple more time to explore Philadelphia on foot and a whole lot more time together.
Life recently threw them another big, but very good, surprise: Klein Tools rewarded Ian’s work with a substantial promotion — one that requires him to live somewhere other than Greater Philadelphia for the first time in his life. The couple and Rio are moving today to Syracuse, N.Y., where Bree and Ian recently closed on their first house.