Kaitlyn Burke and Nicholas Porreca
June 13, 2019 in Ocean City, NJ
Nick’s cubicle offered a clear view of ReminderMedia’s company break room, and when he saw his new coworker, Kate, taking her lunch, he knew it was time for his break, too.
“What are you reading?” he asked.
The former English lit major usually hates when people interrupt her reading, but this sharp-dressed guy who was always so put-together? Kate didn’t mind so much. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” she told him.
They spent 15 minutes discussing Margaret Atwood’s famous work that afternoon in January 2015. From then on, Nick invited Kate to every gathering the collegial coworkers at the marketing company had. There was no doubt of their mutual interest when Nick, who grew up in Abington, asked her to his Jenkintown apartment for Sunday dinner and a movie.
“I thought it was a date, but I was really not sure,” Kate said.
If only she had known how nervous Nick was on his preparatory grocery run: “I bought stuff to cook with, in case she wanted to cook. I bought frozen Friday’s appetizers, and new baking sheets because mine were in bad shape. I bought Tastykakes, sodas, and every wine, because I didn’t know what kind she liked.”
Kate enjoyed the snacky spread. They watched Clash of the Titans and talked their way through Workaholics. Then it was time for Kate to head back to her parents’ place in Collegeville, where she grew up.
She was now certain this had been a date — and a great one. “I was excited to tell my mom about it,” she remembered.
Nick planned to ask her out again. He walked her to her car and leaned in for a kiss, then chickened out and into an awkward hug. He took a few steps back and immediately slipped on the ice, falling hard.
Kate jumped out of her car. “Are you hurt?” she asked.
“No. I’m fine. I’m good. You can leave,” Nick said. But when he tried to stand, he fell again.
“Actually,” he said, “could you take me to the hospital?”
She drove him, then Nick assured her that his mother and sister were minutes away. “I wanted to cry, and I did not want to cry on a first date,” he remembers.
Kate reluctantly left. Nick, who had shattered his ankle, stayed for four days. He moved back to his parents’ house for two months and couldn’t return to ReminderMedia, where he is now team lead for established accounts and Kate is team lead for customization, until May.
Every few days, Kate visited Nick. “She met my dad, my mom, my sister, my aunt, and she saw me at my absolute worst,” he said.
“We were able to grow our friendship more,” Kate said. “We were obviously still interested in each other, but it didn’t seem like a great time to be fostering a romantic relationship.”
Or, As Nick puts it: “I was 29 years old, and I did not want to kiss someone for the first time while stuck in the same bed I grew up in.”
He was walking in June when Kate invited him to her parents’ Ocean City beach house. They played cards and watched VHS kids’ movies.
After The Mighty Ducks or Angels in the Outfield ended, he leaned in and kissed her. They’ve been together nearly every day since.
“She is smart, independent, funny, and very similar to me in that neither one of us like to do a lot — she didn’t mind sitting around and just hanging out,” Nick said. Her beauty is “a nice perk,” he adds.
Kate says Nick keeps her laughing with his goofy humor and is the nicest person she knows. “He talks to everyone. We go to Starbucks, and he gets free coffee, just because everybody likes him.” Kate is more of an introvert. She needs her space, with one exception. “I never get tired of him,” she said. That’s how she knew she was in love.
In 2016, Nick and his cat, Chalky White, and Kate and her cats, Toothless and Bagheera, got a place to share in Phoenixville.
Nick, who is now 33, had a previous marriage that did not go well. He told Kate as soon as they got serious that he was into commitment, but not marriage. While Kate, now 27, saw marriage as an important affirmation of love, she was willing to forgo it to be with Nick.
Nick knew what it meant to Kate, and he found himself regularly reconsidering his decision. By early 2018, he reversed it.
The couple always spend the June 13 anniversary of their first kiss down the Shore. Last year, Nick suggested they get smoothies and some early evening beach time before the rain began. “We were sitting together, just watching the ocean, and I started saying sweet things about how I love her, and can’t imagine my life without her. But she wouldn’t look over at me,” he remembered. “I put my hand under her chin, moved her head, and looked into her eyes. I saw her realize what was going on.”
Nick knelt in the sand, and told her how very much he would love her to be his wife.
Kate had never been so wonderfully shocked. She smiled and cried silently.
“Is that a yes?” he asked
“Of course!” she said.
The anniversary of their first kiss and engagement is now their wedding anniversary. Because it had been so rainy the morning of their wedding, the couple and their 90 guests had the 11th Street beach in Ocean City mostly to themselves. Nate, a good friend and coworker, officiated the ceremony, weaving in details of the couple’s love story. Kate’s Aunt Sandy read from the Song of Solomon, and Nick’s sister Alix read from the work of Mr. Rogers.
Inside his dress shoe, the groom’s pinky toe was firmly taped to its neighbor; the night before the wedding, he broke it on their honeymoon luggage. That didn’t stop him from dancing at the Flanders Hotel reception, including to “Yours” by Ella Henderson with his new bride, and with his mother, Andrea, to “Nikki Hoi,” a song she sang to him when he was wee.
Dinner was great, the couple agree, but even better were the appetizers, including pirogi at the half-Polish bride’s request, a mac-and-cheese bar, crab cakes and lamb kebabs, and the Taste of the Boardwalk sendoff, with Manco & Manco pizza, Johnson’s popcorn, and more Shore treats.
Seeing Kate walk down the aisle with her parents, Michelle and Joseph, left Nick in a highly unusual state: speechless. “I said ‘wow!’ and that was it. All I could think about was the past four years and everything that led up to that specific moment being able to happen.”
After the best man’s speech, Nick took the microphone to talk about his father, Anthony, who died last September of brain cancer. Anthony was a wedding photographer. He had so much fun at weddings he often ended up in the guests’ pictures, including one famous-in-the-family shot in which he’s dancing on a table. “He so wanted to be here,” Nick said. “Everyone who is here, please have fun, because that’s what he would have wanted.”
Kate had a visceral reaction to Nick’s words. “Anthony literally welcomed me into the family with open arms,” she said. “My dad always instilled in me that family is the most important thing, and listening to Nick talking about his dad reaffirmed for me that we are on the same page — that we will come first, that family comes first.”
A bargain: Their chosen date was a Thursday, so the venue gave them a great deal and some freebies, including an extra hour and the “Taste of the Boardwalk” snacks.
The splurge: When one of your favorite people was a wedding photographer, you don’t skimp on the photos. Max Grudzinski Photography was worth every cent, the couple say.
A week in Hawaii, including hiking in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, relaxing by the pool in Maui, and playing with 600 rescue cats at a sanctuary on Lanai.
Officiant: Nathan Hartman, minister of the Universal Life Church, Collegeville, Pa.
Ceremony Venue: On the 11th Street Beach, organized by the Flanders Hotel, Ocean City, N.J.
Reception venue: The Flanders Hotel
Food: The Flanders
Music: Craig Konowal, Circle of Sound Disc Jockeys, Philadelphia
Photography: Max Grudzinski Photography, Philadelphia
Flowers: Sandra Kaercher, aunt of the bride
Dress: Maggie Sottero, purchased at Ashley’s Bridal in Warminster, Pa.
Hair: Emily Sagrantz, Gwendolyn’s Salon and Spa, Limerick, Pa.