June 1, 2019 in Chadds Ford, Pa.

Hello There

The Tampa bars were packed during the 2010 Gasparilla Pirate Festival, but to Alexis, a University of Tampa freshman, one reveler stood out.

“That guy’s cute!” she told her roommate. “He’s in my English class,” her friend said. “I can introduce you.”

As the cute guy walked by, Alexis grabbed his arm. “You’re hot!” she said, unabashedly.

“Dylan, Alexis. Alexis, Dylan,” said the roommate.

Dylan, who thought Alexis was mighty hot herself, took a seat. “We talked and flirted all night,” he said.

Two weeks later, they were messaging on Facebook when Alexis, who studied advertising and PR, and Dylan, a marketing major, realized he had done quite well in the same economics class she was struggling with.

“You could be my tutor,” Alexis suggested.

From the wedding of Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. Alexis' mother stands behind the couple as they listen to the speech that her father, John, recorded before an operation that removed his voice box because of cancer.
Salt + Cedar Photography
From the wedding of Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. Alexis' mother stands behind the couple as they listen to the speech that her father, John, recorded before an operation that removed his voice box because of cancer.

Dylan, who shared her ulterior motive, accepted the offer.

They flirted and smooched a little over economics or when their evening plans coincided at the same nightspot, but there were no real dates.

Both headed home for the summer, Dylan to Long Island and Alexis to Wilmington. Each dated other people. When classes resumed, Alexis’ home beau came to visit and she introduced him to Dylan.

“I already knew I liked her, but seeing her dating someone else made me realize I should make sure I kept this girl off the market,” Dylan said.

Dylan, who did not know that Alexis and the other guy had decided they were only a summer fling, confessed his feelings to Alexis. “About time!” she said.

They’ve been together ever since.

“She has a goofy sense of humor, which I really like,” Dylan said. “Deeper into our relationship, I realized she made me explore different things I never would have done on my own, from eating sushi to traveling. She opened me up a little.”

“Dylan can pretty much become friends with anyone within the first 10 minutes of meeting them,” Alexis said. “He’s always willing to do what it takes to make something work. He’s always willing to help people. I love that compassionate side of him.”

Returning North

From the wedding of Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. Alexis wore a bracelet that belonged to Dylan's late mother, Helga.
Salt + Cedar Photography
From the wedding of Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. Alexis wore a bracelet that belonged to Dylan's late mother, Helga.

After graduation, Alexis moved home with her parents, John and Jane, and found work with a King of Prussia insurance agency.

Dylan had considered job hunting from Florida, but then his parents called with shocking news: His mother, Helga, had mouth and tongue cancer. Dylan moved home to be with her and his father, James. Alexis was happy to spend her visits watching movies at home with Dylan and his parents or visiting Helga in the hospital. Her entire family offered their support, which Dylan immensely appreciated. Helga died at the end of 2013.

Dylan worked in Manhattan. For a year and a half, the couple, who are now both 28, saw each other twice a month. By 2014, that had become unbearable. Alexis applied for jobs in New York. Dylan applied for jobs in the Philadelphia region, and she hoped hard that he would be the successful one.

Dylan was hired by an advertising company in University City and the couple moved together to Conshohocken in 2015. The following year, they added Gordon, a lab-terrier mix from a Mississippi shelter, to the family. And in 2017, Dylan, who now works in software sales for RingCentral, and Alexis, who is now in specialty leasing with Brixmor Property Group in Conshohocken, moved to Havertown.

That same year, Alexis’ father was diagnosed with throat cancer, and it was Dylan’s turn to be the strong one. On appointment days, he always checks with Alexis to see how things went, and talking through it really helps, she said. Alexis also loves that Dylan and John are close – so close that John bought Dylan supplies to reseal the Laursens’ driveway and told him not to visit his hospital room until the task was done.

The engagement

In early 2018, Dylan, Alexis, and another couple went skiing in the Catskills. Alexis was thrilled when camera-shy Dylan suggested they document the night, and was stunned when he knelt in front of her while their friends took video.

Dylan Clifford and Alexis Laursen and with their dog, Gordon, and one of the puppies.
Salt + Cedar Photography
Dylan Clifford and Alexis Laursen and with their dog, Gordon, and one of the puppies.

Dylan was pretty stunned, too. “I couldn’t think of any words!” he remembers. He went for the classic: “I love you. Will you marry me?”

The delight of that evening was multiplied the next day, back in Havertown. “I unlocked our door, and the house was filled with about 40 friends and family members,” Alexis said. His father, her parents, her sisters Emily and Nicole, friends from Tampa, even Nicole’s dog, Ned, were there. “I was giddy and crying,” Alexis said. "Dylan planned the whole thing – he even had sushi waiting there for me.”

During wedding planning, Alexis discovered mobile bars on Pinterest but the only one near Philly was booked. She had always wanted to run a business and Dylan had always wanted to own a bar. They went for it. Trailer + Tap made its debut at the bridal shower. It wasn’t allowed at their wedding venue, but it’s now booked most weekends through 2020 and they are building a second trailer.

It was so them

Rather than favors, the couple wanted to help other dogs like Gordon. With the enthusiastic blessing of the Gables, their wedding venue, they invited the Brandywine SPCA to bring a small pack of adoptable puppies to their cocktail hour. The tiny floofs posed with the bridal party for pictures – which the SPCA later posted online -- and played with guests. Every one was adopted within a week, Alexis said.

The bride needed those extra cuddles; she was worried about her father. The day of the rehearsal, John was rushed to Penn Hospital. He was too sick to attend the wedding. Her mother walked Alexis down the aisle. Dylan walked down with Gordon.

During the short ceremony, everyone sent their best wishes to John and remembered Dylan’s mother, especially when Dylan placed a rose on a chair left empty in her honor.

From the wedding of Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. The bridal party, with adoptable puppies
Salt + Cedar Photography
From the wedding of Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. The bridal party, with adoptable puppies

Earlier in John’s cancer treatment, his voice box was removed. At the reception for 99, a recording he made before that surgery was played: a toast he wrote for Alexis and Dylan. He also recorded other important things: a toast for Alexis’ sister Emily, Nicole is already married; the E-A-G-L-E-S chant; and the phrase, “Alexa, play rock-and-roll.”

The night of the wedding, the bride slept in makeup and hair extensions. The next morning, she wore her dress and Dylan wore his tux jacket – over a T-shirt and basketball shorts - to the hospital. In the waiting room, which the nurses had beautifully decorated, Alexis and John had their father-daughter dance, to Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl.”

John is now doing much better.

Awestruck

After the ceremony, the couple took 10 minutes for hugs, kisses, and a few deep breaths in the bridal suite. “We were both crying, and Dylan never cries, so that was really special for me,” Alexis said. “Then we giggled – we were married!”

Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. The couple and two of the adoptable puppies the Brandywine SPCA brought to the wedding
Salt + Cedar Photography
Alexis Laursen and Dylan Clifford. The couple and two of the adoptable puppies the Brandywine SPCA brought to the wedding

Dylan and many others also cried during Alexis’ father’s recorded speech. The other speeches, given by the bride’s sisters – her maid and matron of honor – and best man, John, were also wonderful. “There was this collection of moments that felt like the solidifying of me being part of her family, and that really resonated with me,” Dylan said.

The budget crunch

A bargain: With groomsmen from other states, Dylan used Generation Tux, an online rental company. His attendants got a good deal and his tux was free.

The splurge: These travelers have visited Thailand, Greece, Spain, and many other far-flung places, yet had never flown first class until their honeymoon in Antigua.

Honeymooning

During their week in Antigua, they rented a captained catamaran for four hours of snorkeling and lunch out on the water. At their hotel pool, a tiny boat ferried sushi to Alexis.

Behind the scenes:

Officiant: the Rev. Kent Foster

Venue and Food: The Gables at Chadds Ford, Chadds Ford, Pa.

Photography: Salt + Cedar Photography, Jenkintown, Pa.

Florist: Beautiful Blooms, Philadelphia.

Makeup: Morgan Bucks

Dress: Lovely Bride from Sabrina Ann, Ardmore, Pa.

Puppies: Brandywine Valley SPCA, West Chester, Pa.