Stephanie Consoli and Mauricio Cruz
February 23, 2019, in Philadelphia
From their OkCupid profiles and earliest conversations, Stephanie and Mauricio discovered much in common: Tight bonds with family and friends, a preference for stick-shift cars, Ivy League educations, the love of travel, and fanatic-level dedication to their football teams.
In late February 2014 — a month after their chats began — Stephanie, now 33, and Mauricio, now 32, met for brunch near New York City’s Central Park at a place named for another shared fondness, Jacob’s Pickles. They were having so much fun, and because it was unseasonably warm, they lengthened their date with a walk and talk around the park.
Stephanie, who grew up in Media and who has a master’s degree in counseling and mental health services from the University of Pennsylvania, had moved to Queens a few months earlier to become a college counselor. She is now director of college guidance at Magen David Yeshivah High School. Mauricio grew up in Union City, N.J. and has a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University. He was then using sports analytics in a player personnel job with Major League Soccer and later founded Vanza Media Group, a digital media company focused on reaching the millennial Latino demographic. He now works in innovation consulting with Fahrenheit 212.
Their first date lasted four or five hours. A couple of dates later, Stephanie called her mom, Debbie. “I met someone, and he’s really great,” she told her excitedly, “but he does have a major flaw. He’s a Cowboys fan.”
Fortunately, they met in the off-season.
That April, Stephanie invited Mauricio to a bar-based birthday gathering with many of her friends. “It was sink or swim,” she said. He swam strong, and, when her shoes began to hurt her feet, gave her a piggy-back ride.
Mauricio liked Stephanie’s friends, and soon, he loved Stephanie. “I had never met someone who was so earnest in her love,” he said. “And everything was easier when I was around her. I felt at peace, like my tensions and anxieties actually lessened.”
He loves to laugh with her and is charmed by the ways she demonstrates she’s been thinking of him. “She is always getting me these little gifts. And today, for example, she made me a yogurt with granola, such a nice little thing to do.”
Stephanie insists Mauricio has always been the romantic one. “He would focus on me, and make me feel special, and that had never happened to me before,” she said. “Other relationships felt like work, or I could talk about this, but not about that. This was so easy. So simple. It was like, ‘Oh! This is how it’s supposed to be.'”
To be clear: It’s mostly easy. There’s still that Eagles vs. Cowboys thing. The pair sometimes resort to watching games in separate rooms.
But in late 2017 and early 2018, Mauricio also felt “a sense of destiny” that the Birds were going all the way. Their wins made his beloved so happy he rooted for them, too. Could anything make Stephanie happier than an Eagles Superbowl victory? Mauricio thought maybe something could.
The Birds made it to the Bowl, and Stephanie also made it to Minneapolis with her dad, Frank, and brother, Daniel. Mauricio joined her at the celebration parade, and she was still riding high as the two of them left the dwindling but still spirited crowd on Broad Street for the relative calm of Rittenhouse Square. Mauricio geared up for the Big Ask when Stephanie said, “I really dislike this park. It’s so bougie.”
He geared back down.
Stephanie thought they should soon head back up I-95 to the apartment they shared in Astoria, Queens. Mauricio wanted to stay in the city longer, to hang out with her parents. “He was being so weird about it,” she remembered. She went along.
They walked into the Union League, where Stephanie’s parents were waiting. Her dad, who was in the know, pulled Mauricio aside. “Any news for me?” he asked. “No. I haven’t had a chance,” Mauricio said. “Why not do it here?” Frank suggested.
Mauricio walked back to his girlfriend, who was dressed from head to toe in Eagles green, and knelt on the floor of the Union League lobby as her parents watched and Frank hit record on his cellphone. She said yes, and they poured champagne to make the day even more celebratory.
It was so them
The couple held ceremony and reception at the Ballroom at the Ben, five years to the weekend after their first date.
In honor of Stephanie’s upbringing, the couple and Rabbi Kelilah Miller created a ceremony that drew inspiration from Jewish wedding traditions. They signed a ketubah and stood beneath a chuppah made by Stephanie’s mom.
Using the Seven Blessings as a framework, the couple asked family and friends to read seven quotes they find meaningful, including a line from When Harry Met Sally and verse from Pablo Neruda.
Stephanie’s sister Rachel was maid of honor.
The couple honored the memories of Mauricio’s late brother, Jose, and Stephanie’s aunt and uncle.
The rabbi handed Stephanie’s wedding ring to Mauricio, who held it up for all to see as he said the vows he had written for her. When it was Stephanie’s turn, she held up a big old replica of the Eagles’ Superbowl ring.
Mauricio was bewildered at first then joined the bridal party and guests in a good laugh. Then the rabbi handed Stephanie Mauricio’s real ring, and she made her promises to him.
Mauricio’s Cuban and Honduran heritage were honored with language and song. His mom, Maggie, read a quote in Spanish from Mother Teresa, and Stephanie’s mom said the same words in English.
At the reception for 220, Mauricio and Maggie began their mother-son dance to a slow song, but a record scratch later they were salsa dancing. “It was our way of letting the crowd know that this was not just a normal, Top 40 wedding party,” Mauricio said.
When Stephanie was a little girl and her mom was at work, she and her dad loved watching reruns of Married … With Children. She surprised him with the “Love and Marriage” theme song as their father-daughter dance.
Mauricio’s dad, also named Mauricio, joined Frank in toasting their children with grappa, Frank’s favorite.
Standing beneath the chuppah with Mauricio, Stephanie forgot about the more than 200 people watching them. “I just felt like it was him and me. I felt comfortable and at home, and natural and lovely.”
Sitting at their reception sweetheart table with his new wife, Mauricio looked from her to the guests who were dancing, eating, and laughing. “It was so cool to have all of these different people there for us and celebrating us, and getting to know each other,” he said. “It was incredible to think that we have this amount of people who really care for us.”
The budget crunch
A bargain: DJ Richie Abrams was able to weave everything from oldies rock to reggaeton, salsa, and Philly hip-hop into a cohesive dance party, Mauricio said. “He was so reasonably priced, and the ROI was incredible.”
The splurge: The couple did not create a budget line for videography, changed their minds as the day grew closer, and ended up splurging on a top-tier package from CinemaCake Filmmakers that included a mini-documentary of their love story. “They really captured us, and we’ll have this forever,” Stephanie said.
A week in Costa Rica featured hiking, zip-lining and encounters with sloths, anteaters, and monkeys, plus beach time.
Behind the scenes
Officiant: Rabbi Kelilah Miller, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Wallingford.
Venue: Ballroom at the Ben, Philadelphia.
Food: Michelle Finley, Finley Catering, Philadelphia.
Music: Richie Abrams, Cutting Edge Entertainment, Huntingdon Valley.
Photography: Gabe Fredericks, Philip Gabriel Photography, Media.
Videography: Sheryl and Dave Williams, CinemaCake Filmmakers, West Conshohocken.
Flowers: Kerry Fabrizio, Fabufloras Design, Philadelphia.
Dress: Blush by Hayley Paige, purchased at Jennifer’s Bridal, Hockessin, Del.
Makeup: Beke Beau, Manayunk.
Hair: Amanda D’Andrea, Philadelphia.
Groom’s attire: Joseph Abboud, Men’s Wearhouse.
Planner: Jennifer Supper, Kaleidoscope Weddings, Wayne.