Alexa Rae Liccio and Frank Scherer
March 8, 2019, in Philadelphia
After meeting at a mutual friend’s house party followed by two weeks of intense MySpace messaging, Alexa and Frank decided on a real first date at a South Jersey bowling alley.
“I’m here,” each texted the other when they arrived. But her “here” was in Turnersville, and his in Deptford. Just 30 minutes after Frank got to Alexa’s lanes, Alexa’s sister arrived to pick her up, yet that super-short date was time enough to confirm what Alexa and Frank already suspected: They really, really liked each other.
“She is beautiful, smart, funny — hilarious, actually,” Frank said . “And she was just crazy enough to keep up with my crazy.”
“We were into the same music and movies, and we were always on the same wavelength,” Alexa said.
He lived in South Philadelphia, where he grew up, and she with her parents in Mantua Township, Gloucester County, but they spent as much of summer 2007 together as they could, listening to every genre of music imaginable, watching and rewatching Forrest Gump until they could recite the lines, walking a boardwalk down the Shore.
Fall brought Alexa’s junior year at Friends Select and the resuming of Frank’s accounting classes at Philadelphia Community College. Frank, who is now 30 and an accountant at United Savings Bank, went on to earn his accounting degree from Kaplan University. Alexa, now 27 and senior social media strategist at One Trick Pony, earned her bachelor’s in graphic design from the Philadelphia Art Institute and her master’s in digital media management and social innovation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
They didn’t fall in love; they grew in love. “People will ask, ‘How did you last when you met when you were 15 and he was 17?’ ” Alexa said. “It’s because we never stifled each other’s identities. We supported each other’s decisions, and we grew together.”
They supported each other through the loss of beloved family members and job searches. They cheered each other through graduations and job offers. In 2016, the two took on their biggest project to date: The purchase and yearlong renovation of their South Philadelphia rowhouse.
In July 2017, the couple were down the Shore in Longport at Catch Restaurant & Bar, a seasonal seafood joint owned by Alexa’s family. Naturally, lots of her family members were there, including her parents, Robert and Jo Ann; her Aunt Chastity, her sister, Nichole; and her cousin Celeste. Many of Frank’s family members were there, too: His mom, Doreen; dad, Fran; Fran’s wife, Lisa; and Aunt Val and Uncle Carmen. That wasn’t unusual, either — besides, Frank had told Alexa they were all celebrating Independence Day together.
Everything seemed normal until Alexa tried to sit next to her boyfriend.
“Every time she tried to sit between me and my best friend, we wouldn’t let her,” Frank said. “She was frustrated, because she didn’t know why. And she didn’t know why I wasn’t really talking to her.”
Here’s why: Proximity is a problem when you’re trying to hide an over-size jewelry box in your pocket. And who can converse when you’re a ball of nerves keeping a secret?
It was past 11:30 p.m. when Alexa’s Aunt Chastity suggested the group take their photo by the padded leather wall where folks have their social media moments at Catch. As the group stepped down, Frank asked Alexa to stay for a few more shots of just the two of them. This was even stranger than his not wanting to sit by or talk to her all night. “You never want to get your picture taken!” Alexa exclaimed.
Then Frank knelt.
“Will you marry me?” he asked, with only a few minutes to spare before the 11:59 p.m. deadline set by the champagne glasses and other celebratory paraphernalia Aunt Chastity had inscribed with their names and the date. As soon as Alexa said yes, she presented them. Alexa’s sister and mom put a hat shaped like a giant engagement ring on her head and a sash announcing her engaged status over her shoulders. Shots were already lined up at the bar.
Shortly after their engagement, the couple moved to their renovated home and adopted Abbie, nine pounds of black-and-white fluff that the rescue said is a mix of bichon and poodle.
The couple held both wedding and reception for 150 at Union Trust. They chose celebrant Alisa Tongg to craft a secular yet deeply meaningful ceremony that included portions of their love story and vows that Alisa wrote based on the couple’s values and wishes. They promised to choose each other every day for the rest of their lives.
The ceremony also included a remembrance of family members who have passed on and a blessing of the couple’s wedding rings. The rings were passed among Alexa’s and Frank’s parents and the bridal party, who silently said their hopes and wishes for the couple as they held them.
Just before entering the reception, the bride, groom, and bridal party members were “Iced” — given a 12-ounce bottle of Smirnoff Ice — by Alexa’s sister Nichole and cousin Celeste. With every toast received, they drank. When the dessert bar opened, champagne was also served — by a woman wearing a giant skirt that held glasses of the bubbly stuff.
There were few slow songs played at this wedding. Frank broke it down to New Kids on the Block’s “Step By Step,” and Alexa and her family got crazy to JaRule’s “Put It on Me.”
After the reception, the couple donated their flowers to Forget Me Knot Flowers, a nonprofit that used them to create bouquets that were delivered to Ronald McDonald Houses in Philadelphia and South Jersey.
It was a day they had been heading toward for 12 years, Alexa said. “Being walked down the aisle by my parents toward Frank and our friends was just the most breathtaking moment for me. I started crying walking down the aisle, because it was finally all happening.”
Their first dance was to Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.” “It’s one of our car songs, and we were singing it together the whole time, and our family was singing with us, too,” Frank said.
A bargain: None, really.
The splurge: Indoor sparklers that went off during the first dance, and the woman in the champagne skirt.
Five days in Jamaica, making new friends and trying new drinks.
Officiant: Celebrant Alisa Tongg, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Venue: Union Trust, Philadelphia.
Food: Finley Catering, Philadelphia.
Music: DJ Jason Weiss, Double Down Entertainment.
Photography: Laura Napoli Photography, Medford.
Videography: New Pace Wedding Films.
Flowers: Vitto Russo, Carl Alan Floral Designs, Philadelphia.
Flower Donations: Leona Perletta Davis, Forget Me Knot Flowers.
Hair: Beyond Bridal, Williamstown.
Makeup: Dede Kelly.