Alex Miller and Nick Anshant
May 3, 2019, in Newtown Square, Pa.
Their first kiss was quick, awkward, and in full view of all the other teenagers playing Spin the Bottle at a mutual friend’s Sweet 16.
Nick, who grew up in Aston, was a rising junior at Sun Valley High School. Alex, who grew up in Wallingford, knew the birthday girl, Kristin, through competitive dance and would soon be a Strath Haven High freshman.
Alex and Nick had never spoken before the bottle spun that day in 2005. They didn’t speak after they kissed, either. The next day, Nick reached out to Kristin on AOL Instant Messenger to ask about another girl. But Alex was logged in on Kristin’s AIM account. She and Nick had their first conversation, and 20 minutes later, agreed to go to the movies in the safety of a group of friends.
In the darkened theater, they kissed the second time. “Pretty much after that, we were dating,” Nick said. Not for long – Alex was ready to date just one person, and Nick was not.
They kept “loosely in touch,” Alex said, attending each other’s graduation parties, seeing each other online, and, rarely, in person with a group of friends.
However and whenever their paths crossed, there were sparks, both say. “It was just never the right timing,” said Nick.
In 2011, he graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in computer science and business, moved back home, and began working for Wabtec Corp., where he’s a railroad signal systems service test engineer.
In May 2013, Alex graduated from West Chester University with a degree in psychology. Shortly after, she and some friends walked into Barnaby’s in Aston for happy hour. Nick walked in with Kristin.
Their connection was still there. This time, both were single.
They spent the next couple of months sending ever-more-frequent texts. That July, they went on their first date as adults. Soon, things were serious.
“She’s beautiful. She’s caring. She’s determined,” said Nick, 30. “She makes me a better person.”
Nick has the perfect balance of work ethic and the ability to cut loose and have fun, said Alex, 28, and that spontaneity helps balance out her Type-A personality. “He would also help anyone with anything; he has such a good heart.”
Things were joyful and easy until 2015, when Nick’s company offered him a great new position — in Jacksonville, Fla. The couple agreed it was too good to pass up, and they would try long-distance.
They saw each other as much as possible, but the long stretches of time apart were difficult. Yet neither voiced exactly what he or she wanted or needed.
“I was not going to say out loud that I wanted him to come home, because I knew how big a career move this was for him, and I didn’t want him to be resentful,” said Alex, who is a marriage and family therapist working in Montgomery and Chester counties.
“I needed her to say she wanted me to come home,” Nick said. “If she said so, I would have come in an instant. But I didn’t want to move home if she was really already gone, and then I wouldn’t have her or my job.”
One night, not quite a year after Nick moved, they finally said what needed to be said.
Nick told his boss he had to move back home, and Wabtec let him take his new position with him.
The couple found an apartment at the AVE Malvern Apartments complex, where they will live until this fall, when they move to their Downingtown home.
In October 2017, the couple and about 10 friends planned a Main Line bar crawl with SEPTA as designated driver.
At Ardmore, their first stop, everyone got off the train slowing their steps so Alex would be in front. “Hey Alex!” her sister Ashley yelled on cue.
Alex turned around and saw Nick kneeling on the sidewalk. “I immediately started crying,” she said.
With all the emotion, neither Alex nor Nick could speak well, so Nick took Alex’s shaking hand and put the ring on her finger.
Nick’s parents, John and Kathy, and Alex’s, Charles and Jeanne, were among those waiting at Jack McShea’s Pub to celebrate.
Wedding planning began immediately, and a quandary soon arose: Spiritual, but not part of a congregation, they wanted a short, secular ceremony. But they didn’t want to be married by a stranger.
“Who is going to marry us?” the couple lamented to Diane, the AVE leasing agent who had helped them find their apartment. “What if I married you?” she replied.
At first, that seemed a little weird. Six months later, Diane and the couple had become such good friends that it seemed exactly right. As Nick put it: “She’s hilarious, and she’s willing, so why the hell not?”
Diane, who became ordained online, interviewed each of them to prepare a ceremony that was “the perfect combination of playful, laid-back, and sentimental,” Alex said.
Nick’s beloved Gran Helen died a few years ago. She loved singing at her synagogue, and one of the people she sang with, her dear friend George, a cantor, performed the opening song at the wedding in her honor.
Both ceremony and reception for 186 were held at the Ballroom at Ellis Preserve. The couple vowed before their wedding to take time to enjoy eating, drinking, and dancing with each other. Despite this, they managed to mingle with everyone. “I don’t know when there’ll be another time when we will have all of those extremely important people all together in one room,” Alex said. “It was amazing.”
Including the cocktail hour, the reception, the Philly food after-party, and the after-after-party at the hotel, the partying lasted about 14 hours. “It was everything we wanted it to be,” Nick said.
Nick still gets a little choked up thinking about seeing Alex walking down the aisle toward him. “I don’t even really have the words to describe it, but I thought, ‘That’s the woman I’m spending my life with.’”
Alex’s father gave the first speech at the reception. It was a big day for him — Alex is the oldest of his three daughters, and the first to marry, and he also loves Nick. “His speech was a welcome for our guests, but also a testament to his hopes and dreams for us,” Alex said.
Best man Perry and maid of honor Ashley also gave funny, yet emotional speeches that, along with George’s blessing, drove home the meaning of their wedding day for Alex. She and Nick are silly and goofy together, but beneath that, they have a deep love. “The way that those speakers articulated that, I knew that everybody else sees it, too,” she said.
A bargain: The couple chose a smaller florist — Fresh Market Flowers — because the prices were so good. “They came in under our budget, and I was floored at how amazingly beautiful the flowers were,” Alex said.
The splurge: The decision to invite about 200 people, and their insistence on excellent food, led the couple to the Ballroom at Ellis Preserve. They could have had a less expensive wedding, Nick said, but it would not have been so perfect.
A planned fall trip to South Africa and Zambia was postponed when they found the right house, but a four-day “mini-moon” in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was fun.
Officiant: Diane Miller, West Chester, Pa.
Venue: The Ballroom at Ellis Preserve, Newtown Square, Pa.
Food: Finley Catering
Music: VIP DJ Entertainment, DJ Mike Rossi, Chester County, Pa.
Photography and Videography: Iris Collectives, West Chester, Pa.
Flowers: Fresh Market Flowers, Wayne, Pa.
Dress: Sarah Seven, purchased at Lovely Bride, Philadelphia
Hair/Makeup: Hair Trends, Chadds Ford, Pa.
Groom’s attire: Men’s Wearhouse, Exton, Pa.
Planners: Carly Sheller and Megan McCarthy, the Ballroom at Ellis Preserve