Jes and Adam shared an address before they knew each other.
Adam had lived in a Roxborough house share since 2010, when he moved here after college to take a civil engineering job. About a year later, he was returning from a bike ride when a woman walking up to the house smiled at him.
Jes, who moved from Manchester, Conn., for grad school, was there to look at the available room for rent. Adam let her in.
Including the homeowner and his fiancee, there were five twentysomethings who had private sleeping quarters but shared the home’s public spaces. Jes and Adam really got to know each other in the kitchen, first discovering a shared lightheartedness, and then many values in common, such as hard work and generosity.
“There was a spark,” said Jes. To see how that spark would fare with a bit more oxygen, they saw a concert at the Troc, just the two of them. Their feelings began to grow.
“I love her laugh, her natural, hearty laugh — that drew me in,” said Adam. He had so much fun just listening to music or watching True Blood or Dexter with her.
Neither had a lot of money then, but they would share the food they cooked and give each other inexpensive but thoughtful gifts. “We were very caring toward each other,” said Adam.
Jes was always laughing because she finds Adam’s dry and goofy sense of humor so appealing. She loved the way he made time to spend with her and his friends, the way he looked out for all of them. “He is such a team player,” she said.
At home, the two aimed for discretion. They kept right on watching TV and cooking together, but refrained from holding hands and other signs of couple-y affection so as not to make their housemates uncomfortable. “His parents knew before our housemates did,” said Jes.
Both lived in the house share for just under a year before Adam bought a house in the same neighborhood in June 2012.
Jes stayed at the house share for another year, until she finished grad school, then rented a place in Jenkintown for another year before joining Adam at the house they still call home in 2014.
Adam, now 33, is a water and wastewater engineer for Greeley and Hansen. Jes, now 30, is a genetic counselor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
The day before their departure for a trip to France in April 2019, so much packing remained. But Adam had said the thought of sitting on a plane made him want to take an after-dinner hike, so Jes put on her shoes.
They retraced steps taken so many times at their usual, favorite place, the Wissahickon. They stopped on a stone bridge, but this time, Adam’s goal was not watching the rippling creek.
Throughout their walk that day, he had kept his fingers on a ribbon in his pocket — the ribbon was his assurance that the ring it was tied to was still there. On the bridge, he untied the strand, knelt, and asked Jes, “Will you marry me?”
“Of course!” Jes said.
A year later, on May 29, Jes stepped out of the Historic Rittenhouse Town Homestead in a lace sheath wedding gown and walked toward Adam and Samson — the couple’s German shepherd mix. Both smiled at her.
There had originally been different plans for the day: They and 150 guests would have been at the Morris Arboretum. Jes would have walked the aisle between her parents. Cocktails would have followed in the gardens, and then a reception with lots of food, lots of dancing, and wedding cake. The couple plans to hold that celebration next May. But this May’s elopement wasn’t just good enough, it was wonderful.
The day was rainy, but Jes’ meteorologist sister assured them if any rain fell, it would not happen at 5:30 p.m. Adam’s parents sent him soil from his hometown of Binghamton, N.Y., and Jes’ mom sent her some from Manchester, Conn. To symbolize the fusing of their lives, each poured some of their homeland into the planter of a small sapling. They chose a lemon tree to remind them to make lemonade from life’s lemons.
In addition to their obvious duties, officiant Diane Smith-Hoban from Journeys of the Heart and photographer Laura Caporizzo took on roles that normally would have been fulfilled by others: setting up the ceremony space, spreading out the train of the bride’s dress, and starting and stopping the music, provided by an iPad.
Jes’ phone took video for the Zoom meeting through which family members took part virtually. It also meant the bride’s grandmother — who could not have made the trip from Iran — got to see the wedding live. Jes’ grandparents in Michigan, her mom in Manchester and dad in Middletown, and Adam’s parents in Binghamton and his grandma in West Virginia all watched from home.
The second, big silver lining was Samson, who the couple describe as their little dog-child. He could not have been at Morris Arboretum, but he took part in the first few moments of the wedding before his half-hound self got distracted by the scent of the surroundings and the groom asked him to sit and stay inside the building.
The rest of the 20-minute ceremony was peppered with congratulatory shouts from other Philadelphians who had escaped home for some socially distant outdoor time.
After the ceremony and picture taking, the couple and Samson drove to Northern Liberties to pick up takeout wedding dinner — kabobs, shawarma, and falafel from Apricot Stone. When they arrived back home, neighbors were cheering outside.
Texts and calls poured in from friends and family. A stream of flowers, champagne and gifts started arriving the day before the wedding, and continued that night. A couple of weeks before, what Jes thought was a work meeting turned into a surprise wedding shower — her coworkers even sent balloons, sparkling wine, and flowers to her door. Jes’ dad sent a huge tray of Middle Eastern pastries, and the newlyweds happily observed the Persian tradition of eating baklava — the honey symbolizes the sweetness of marriage.
“We felt all of the love and support of our friends and family,” said Jes.
The couple aren’t generally bound by tradition, so Adam could not understand why Jes refused to let him see her dress before the ceremony. When she opened the door to walk toward him, he fully understood why. “There was a lot of emotion,” Adam said. “With everything that had been going on — the pandemic, the changing of our wedding plans, the overall uncertainty — that moment of seeing her was just perfect.”