Colleen LeFevre and Thomas High
June 29, 2019 in Havertown, Pa.
The first week of her senior year at Cabrini College, Colleen collected all her cool and approached the friend-of-friends who had caught her eye. “Would you want to hang out?” she asked him.
They would meet for pool in the residents’ lounge. Thinking it would defuse any awkwardness, Colleen said she would bring her friend Amanda, so he said he’d bring a friend for Amanda to talk to — a junior Colleen had never met named Tom.
“I was brought in as a wing man and to meet this other girl,” Tom remembers. “But Colleen — tall, blonde, infectious smile — was the one who caught my eye.”
Colleen remained attracted to the other guy, but Tom was impossible to ignore. “My first impression was...who is this guy that’s so loud, and boisterous, and wants all the attention? I had never really met anyone like that — he filled the room.”
Over the next six hours, she and the other guy flirted, but she and Tom talked.
Colleen and Tom’s friend dated for a month before parting amicably. Within a couple of weeks, Tom asked his friend if things were “done-done.” He assured Tom so, but when Tom asked Colleen on a date, she said no.
“I had just broken up with someone, and I wanted to spend the rest of my senior year unattached,” said Colleen, who grew up in Havertown and was studying communications.
She and Tom, who is from Wissinoming and majored in political science, spent more and more time together as friends, however. The loudness that had at first kind of annoyed Colleen became endearing — this was a man with a huge presence. “He is the funniest person I have ever known. He makes everyone laugh, and he brings the fun to any room he enters,” she said.
Tom, who always thought Colleen was hot, was impressed by how warm she is. “She has such compassion for other people. And she’s an optimist — a bit of a dreamer. She thinks things can always get better, and for me, that was something new.”
Tom was optimistic about two things: That he and Colleen would make a perfect pair, and that she was falling for him. And when he suggested, from time to time, they go on a date. “Her ‘nos’ weren’t ‘No, not ever,’ they were more like, ‘No, not right now,’ he said.
He was right. “I was afraid to ruin our friendship, but I also knew that I didn’t want to, years down the road, wonder about what might have been if I had only given it a chance,” Colleen said.
So six months after that pool game, in February 2009, Colleen agreed to dinner at Minella’s Diner in Radnor. In June, Tom brought tiny dachshund puppy Bella home, and their mutual love for the little dog — and all creatures — drew them even closer. They were soon exclusive.
Tom attended Colleen’s spring 2010 graduation. She’s now a senior account specialist at marketing company ReminderMedia in King of Prussia.
Needing a break from academia, Tom left Cabrini and worked in a custom embroidery shop. He paid off his loans, then enrolled at Holy Family University as an accounting major. Colleen attended his graduation in May 2017. He’s now a financial analyst for the School District of Philadelphia.
On Black Friday 2017, Tom bought a ring. He showed it to his parents, Joseph and Jeanie, and shared his plans, then asked Colleen’s father for his blessing. “Sure. That’s fine,” said her dad, also Joseph — an enthusiastic response from a man of few words. Colleen’s mom, Marianne, had already made her position clear: She’d been lobbying for an engagement for more than a year.
Colleen, now 32, is always surprising Tom, now 30, and he was determined to finally surprise her back. Easter 2018 was, as always, spent at the LeFevre family’s Ocean City, N.J., shore house. One morning, Tom and Colleen got breakfast then strolled the boardwalk — or more accurately, they strolled then stopped, strolled then stopped, as Colleen played Pokemon Go and tried to make the catch.
Eventually, they reached the corner at Delancey Place. “You know I’m not good with words,” Tom said.
Colleen looked at his serious face and started sobbing.
Tom knelt and asked, “Colleen, will you marry me?”
She collapsed onto her knees next to him and hugged him tight, managed a “yes,” and went back to sobbing.
“Are you OK?” Tom asked. “Breathe!”
“I’m [SOB!] so [SOB!] happy [SOB]!” she said.
Most of Colleen’s family and about 10 friends had meanwhile gathered at the shore house. When the couple walked in, they yelled, “Surprise!” and Colleen began crying all over again.
She announced that these were the surprises of all surprises, nothing could ever top them, and she was officially surprise retired.
The couple were married in a traditional Catholic ceremony at Sacred Heart Church of Manoa, the parish where Colleen grew up, by Reverend Monsignor Henry J. McKee, who has known her since she was a child. “My whole life, I wanted to get married there,” Colleen said.
The father’s homily struck a chord with many, Colleen said. For every important decision — from medical issues to an estimate on a new roof — one gets a second opinion, and “he said that we are each other’s second opinion for everything in life, that we will come to each other.”
Tom sang praises of the reverend’s brevity. “It was shorter than most Catholic weddings I’ve ever been to, and we had a full Mass. This is a testament to the priest!”
The reception for 180 was held at The Lucy, Cescaphe Event Group’s new South Broad Street venue. The Chico’s Vibe band played Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” as the two Highs were introduced.
The dance floor was packed all night, and looking down on all that fun from the balcony gave the couple a fulfilling feeling.
“It was a great event for everyone, not just us,” said Tom.
Their first dance as married people was to Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love." Sparklers shot up, and guests clapped and cheered. “My heart felt so full of love, for everyone in the room, beginning with Tom,” Colleen said.
The night’s last dance was to Wings’ “Silly Love Songs.” Out of the corner of his eye, Tom caught members of the horn section working their way through the crowd. They made a circle around the couple, surrounding them with song. “I’m still replaying in my head now much fun that was. It was just a perfect moment, better than I would have dreamed, better than I would have planned. I wish we could live in that moment forever.”
A bargain: Pennypack Flowers respected the couple’s budget, and far exceeded their expectations. The flowers “looked absolutely incredible, and filled the room with so much vibrancy,” Colleen said.
The splurge: The bride’s sister, Kristin, insisted she look at dresses at Elizabeth Johns. Colleen’s pleas that little there was within her budget were ignored. Once inside, friend Jenna brought her a dress that was most definitely not in the budget — it was twice what Colleen planned to spend. Outnumbered, Colleen stepped into the dressing room, then modeled for Kristin and Jenna, plus the couple’s moms. All of them burst into tears. “That’s your dress!” Jenna said. “We will figure out a way to make it work!” said Colleen’s mom.
The couple, who now live in Wissinoming, spent a week in Antigua, where they swam with and fed stingrays. “It was the most fun thing ever to do,” said Colleen. Although he’s not a big ocean creature guy, Tom says that “seeing the smile on her face” was one of the best parts of the trip.
Ceremony Venue: Sacred Heart Church of Manoa
Reception venue: The Lucy by Cescaphe, Philadelphia
Food: Cescaphe Event Group; Philadelphia
Music: Chico’s Vibe, Delaware County, Pa.
Photography and videography: George Street Photo & Video
Flowers: Pennypack Flowers,Philadelphia
Dress: Zurie by Anne Barge Blue Willow Collection, purchased at Elizabeth Johns in Ardmore, Pa.
Hair/Makeup: Blush Salon, Newtown Square, Pa.
Groom’s attire: Joseph Abboud tuxedo, rented at Men’s Warehouse, King of Prussia, Pa.
Transportation: Philadelphia Trolley Works, Philadelphia