Devin Hawthorne & Jim Rentschler
May 2, 2020, in Philadelphia and May 1, 2021, in New Hope
Devin slipped into yet another cloud of lacy white so yet another crowd of brides-to-be could imagine themselves in the dress she modeled.
Sometimes, it was only the irony that made her smile: “All of these people are getting married, and I can’t even get a good guy to go on a second date with,” she thought at more than one wedding expo.
Then one night in July 2015, she was out with friends at an Atlantic City club when a guy she didn’t recognize left his friends to say hello.
“I’m Jim,” he said. “You look familiar. Do I know you?”
It was surely a line, thought Devin.
She was right, said Jim. He couldn’t think of anything more clever to say, but from the second he saw her, he knew he had to say something.
Even though it was a line Devin had heard before, the person delivering it seemed so genuine. “I’m good at reading people,” she said. “It felt like something was different kind of instantly.”
Surrounded by the thrumming music, these two wanted to converse. They made their way into a corner and, half-shouting to be heard, found surprising common ground on the rugby field: Her father had played for the South Jersey Devils and Jim, who is now semiretired from the Jersey Shore Sharks, was then kicking it with the Schuylkill River Exiles.
“If you could play back what I said, I probably sounded like an idiot, but I don’t think that really mattered,” said Jim. “We had some sort of cosmic connection.”
By the end of the night, Jim, who lived in Northfield, N.J., and Devin, who lived in Mayfair, had plans to meet the next weekend at her favorite restaurant, El Vez.
Between their meeting and first date, Jim realized that his line about Devin looking familiar was actually true. A high school friend had modeled with Devin, so he had seen her picture several times in his Facebook feed.
“I really like you,” Jim told Devin about a month after they met. “Do you want to make this an exclusive relationship?”
They sealed the deal with shots of tequila.
“I love the way he gets really amped up about new music, and his ability to get the party started,” said Devin. “He keeps me grounded, and he is loyal, and just generally a good person.”
“Her sense of humor is No. 1,” said Jim. “But really, I love everything.”
How does forever sound?
In 2016, Devin, who is now a real estate agent with Keller Williams Center City, and Jim, a software developer at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine, got an apartment together in Fairmount.
The couple were discussing marriage, and in 2018 did a little ring shopping together. Devin thought a big question might come her way at Christmas or when Jim took her to see the Rockettes. Nope and nope. She was not expecting a thing a few days later, back at El Vez, but right after they ordered dessert, Jim knelt on the restaurant floor.
“Oh my God!” said a chorus of other diners.
“Yes!” said Devin.
Wedding, take I
Devin and Jim, who live in Torresdale and are both now 32, had planned to marry on May 2, 2020, at a church down the Shore and hold a reception for 100 at an Avalon beach venue.
In early March of that year, they thought their guests might need to wear a mask. By mid-March, just after Devin’s bachelorette party, they and her mother were calling guests to tell them that due to COVID-19, the wedding could not happen when planned, and that was all they knew.
“The whole world had shut down,” said Jim.
On the day their wedding was scheduled, the couple held an outdoor celebration. The bride wore a simple white dress and the groom a button down shirt and dress pants. They exchanged rings in the gazebo at Nazareth Academy High School in a ceremony led by a friend and witnessed by about 50 family members and friends. “It wasn’t legal — we couldn’t get a license because the courthouse was closed,” said Jim.
Guests blew celebratory soap bubbles, and, by sheer coincidence, bagpipers played nearby and a jet flew overhead.
With their originally planned venue offering alternative dates the couple didn’t like, they began searching for a place that could hold an event entirely outdoors, if needed, and found the River House at Odette’s in New Hope.
Wedding, take II
On May 1, 2021, the couple wed in a traditional Catholic ceremony at St. Matthew’s parish in Mayfair. All went as expected until it was time to exchange the rings and Devin — who wore slippery satin gloves — dropped Jim’s, which bounced with a “Ding. Ding. Ding.” down the altar stairs.
“Nobody move,” called the Rev. Patrick Welsh.
The next sound was Devin’s laughter, followed by everyone else’s. Groomsman Matt made the save.
A classic Rolls-Royce ferried the couple from wedding to a reception for 95. Between the 300-person capacity and the floor-to-ceiling doors that slide open for air flow, they had no problem meeting COVID-19 requirements.
“There was a big dip at the end, and I didn’t drop Devin,” said Jim. “At that point, I could relax and enjoy the night.”
They spent most of their eight-day trip to Antigua eating, drinking, and chilling on the beach.
On a sunset cruise, Jim lamented the lack of beer options to another passenger, who said he could really go for a Miller High Life. “Are you from Philly?” Jim asked. In fact, Pat and Jill said they were from the city, and were married the same day as Jim and Devin, who was not all that surprised. “You always meet Philly people everywhere you go,” she said.