Kristen Kelly and Michael Moriarty Jr.
April 27, 2019, in Philadelphia
In summer 2010, Kristen’s father, Brian, discovered Facebook.
He was searching for his real-life friends on the website when Kristen, who was home from college and job searching, borrowed his laptop.
“Oh!” she exclaimed in the family’s Broomall kitchen. “He’s really hot!”
Brian ripped the computer from his daughter’s hands. How could his daughter think one of his 50-something friends was hot?!?!? And then he started laughing.
It wasn’t his friend Mike Moriarty who caught Kristen’s eye — but his son with the same name.
Brian and Mike Sr. are part of a circle of lifelong friends from Glenolden, where they lived a street apart. Kristen and Michael had been to many of the same family parties as children, but she mostly hung out with his brother.
Brian immediately began encouraging Kristen’s interest in his buddy’s kid. “He’s a couple of years older than you, and wants to go to medical school — that’s something you’re also thinking about, yeah?”
Soon, Michael — who is from Havertown but had stayed in Happy Valley after graduating from Pennsylvania State University to study for and take the MCAT — got a Messenger alert. “My dad says hi to your dad,” Kristen wrote.
Michael found her message hilarious, and when that bit of conversation ran its course, they found so much more to talk about, including their shared interests in medicine and physical fitness. When they started texting, he had to upgrade his plan to afford their extensive conversations.
Michael came home in July. “She was talking up a big game all summer about how she was exercising twice a day, playing soccer, going to the gym, so I suggested we meet at the Haverford track to go running,” he remembered.
“Michael beat me — by far!” Kristen laughs. That’s not what mattered to Michael. “I was on the grass stretching when she got there, and she came right over and started stretching with me. I thought she was really outgoing and cute and funny.”
They both wilted quickly in the 90-degree heat. She drove him home, and his father was waiting outside with questions for Kristen about her parents and silly stories about their interactions when she was 1 and Michael was 4 — all of it an excuse to size up what was happening between his son and his friend’s daughter.
Kristen knew things had gone well, but didn’t expect to hear from Michael again for a few days. “See ya!” she said. “Hey!” he replied. “Want to see a movie with me tonight?’”
They saw Inception. They kissed. They’ve been together ever since.
The two agree that having so many shared interests and families that were already close made things easy, but say there is so much more to what makes them work.
“He was very different from everybody else I’d dated,” Kristen said. “He was very caring. And someone I could see having kids with — and it was weird that I was even thinking about that at 19 years old!”
“She has a very big heart, and is a very giving, very passionate person,” Michael said.
In summer 2016, when Kristen was in medical school at Drexel University and Michael, a Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduate, was in his residency at Lankenau, they got a place together in East Falls. Michael, now 31, is a general practitioner at Penn Medicine in Media. Kristen, now 28, recently began her ob/gyn residency at the University of Connecticut. For now, she lives in West Hartford, and he in Havertown.
That December, Michael asked Kristen to see the holiday decor at Longwood Gardens with him. It was near the anniversary of the death of Michael’s beloved grandfather, and Kristen suggested they skip their tradition that year. Not only did Michael say they really should go, but his mother, Denise, started urging her. That’s when Kristen got suspicious enough to do her nails, just in case.
“While it’s still light out, let’s go to the gazebo. I want to see the koi fish,” Michael told her. That made her even more suspicious. When Kristen saw Michael’s brother’s girlfriend wearing a scarf that failed to conceal her identity and holding a camera, all doubt faded. She burst into tears.
“I hadn’t finished my speech when she said yes and grabbed the ring out of the box herself and put it on her own finger, because she was so excited,” Michael said.
Before the wedding, the couple lived with Michael’s parents to save money. But when they lived in East Falls, they attended St. Bridget’s, as had Kristen’s fashion icon, Grace Kelly. There was no doubt where they were getting hitched.
Kristen’s brid-Uncle Mike, a Norbertine priest, officiated, as he has for nearly every couple in her father’s big Irish Catholic family.
The reception for 210 was held at the ballroom at the Ellis Preserve in Newtown Square. Tables held pictures of their parents’ weddings and of Kristen and Michael as babies, and honored the memories of loved ones who have died, including Michael’s Poppop Frank and Kristen’s Grandmom Mary.
New photos were taken of the couple with their Boston terrier, Monty, clad in the tux that Kristen made for him. The bride handmade some items and found much of the other decor and the pearl clutches she gave to the bridesmaids at thrift stores — a skill that Grandmom Mary had taught her.
The reception had a subtle Cinderella theme, with a castle ice sculpture and pearls and light blue all around, including on a floral wall and the aquamarine ring that Michael’s mother lent Kristen as her something borrowed.
To the delight of Kristen’s mother, Lynn, and Denise, the couple hired a fashion illustrator who spent the evening sketching the guests.
Michael wanted no idea what Kristen would look like walking down the aisle, and successfully navigated the months prior without a clue. “When I first saw her coming down the aisle, I was awestruck at how beautiful she was, and what an amazing woman was coming down the aisle to marry me,” he said.
The couple’s first dance was a choreographed bolero to Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird.” “We had practiced it so much that we didn’t have to think about it, and we were just staring at each other,” Kristen said. “It was like the beginning of a fairy tale.”
A bargain: The videographer, one of the bride’s brother’s friends, was much less expensive than others they considered.
The splurge: Kristen’s dress was a lot more than the budget, but her mother and Michael’s, who were with her when she tried it on, said it was too perfect to pass up. Consulted by phone, Michael encouraged the same choice.
Two weeks in Africa, where they went on safari in several countries and saw elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and a leopard.
Officiant: Father Michael Lee, great-uncle of the bride, of Saint Norbert Church, Paoli
Ceremony: St. Bridget Catholic Community, East Falls
Reception: The Ballroom at Ellis Preserve, Newtown Square
Food: Finley Catering and Termini Bros. Bakery, Philadelphia
Music: Verona band, EBE Entertainment, Philadelphia
Photography: Ashlee Mintz, Philadelphia
Videography: Joel Diggums
Flowers: Amaranth Florist, Narberth
Flower wall: Nicol Floral design
Dress: Designed by Ines Di Santo, purchased at the Wedding Shoppe in Wayne
Hair: Kathy Tsakiris, Philadelphia
Makeup: Victoria Roggio Beauty, Philadelphia
Groom’s attire: Designed by Jack Victor, purchased at Hassis Men’s Shop, Newtown Square
Transportation: Philadelphia Trolley Works, Philadelphia