Tina DiSciullo and Kyle Acker
April 27, 2019, in Philadelphia
Assigned to Drexel University dorm suites across the hall from each other, Tina and her roommates and Kyle and his all met on move-in day their freshman year, 2007.
The eight of them plus another group of girls from their floor of Race Hall became a friendship unit, gathering daily for lunch and dinner, video game marathons, or just to hang out. Tina, who is from West Chester, and Kyle, from Las Cruces, N.M., became especially close friends, bonding over their shared sci-fi nerdiness. Sometimes, one or the other of them would wonder whether they should be more than besties.
Kyle, 29, is now an architect with BBLM Architects in Center City and was an architecture major. Tina, now 30, is manager of donor events at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She majored in international area studies and minored in French, and spent her junior year studying in Paris.
Kyle and Tina emailed and IM’d each other. Tina found herself fantasizing not about Parisians, but her friend back in Philly. Wouldn’t it be great if he came to visit her? “It was this whole ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky idea,” she said. As her return flight got closer, her thoughts of Kyle turned to a kissy kind of reunion, thoughts she told herself to let go of.
Her late May 2010 return was near enough to her 21st birthday that Kyle and the other boys from across the hall — who by then had their own apartment — thought it a fine reason to throw a party.
Kyle had missed her when she was gone, but just how much became apparent when he saw her again.
“We were flirting a lot, and then we went out to the fire escape to talk,” he said. “I told her I realized I missed her more than you would miss a friend.”
They agreed to give more-than-friends a try. Nine stories above a Market Street tire store, they kissed.
A few weeks later, they and another couple saw Toy Story 3, and Kyle paid for Tina’s dinner — ending the last tiny doubt she had about whether they had exited the friend zone. They’ve enjoyed all Pixar movies together ever since.
“I just love how bubbly and friendly she is, how she makes everyone want to talk to her and brings out nice feelings in everyone,” Kyle said. “I love how passionate she is about the things she loves,” including cooking together, all things French, and pug dogs.
“Kyle is the most genuinely nice person I have ever met,” Tina said. “He’s always excited to go the extra mile for people — he’s the guy you call when you need help moving. He’s so kind to me and everyone around us. And also, his cooking is top-notch.”
Among Kyle’s special recipes is one that won his Grandma Lois the Pillsbury Bake Off back in the ‘60s: Mexicali Meat Pie. His family makes it every New Year’s Day.
On New Years Eve 2017, the couple had dinner at Rex 1516 before returning to their Center City apartment. Kyle retrieved the rose gold surprise that had been hiding in his sock drawer for weeks. “Let’s stay in our nice clothes until the ball drops,” he suggested.
“All right, that’s fun!” Tina said. She walked across the open living area to the fridge to retrieve a bottle of bubbly. When she turned around, Kyle was on one knee.
Tina immediately started to cry. The beautiful surprise delivered an adrenaline spike that erased most of the words Kyle said, but she remembers the question, and her yes.
With that answer, Kyle bolted to his feet to hug her.
Leaving his embrace, Tina could see exactly where her face had rested on his white dress shirt. “I got mascara on you! I’m so sorry,” she said.
Kyle could only laugh. “It so doesn’t matter!” he said.
Knowing her family would all be up in this first hour of 2018, they called Tina’s sister, Rachael; her father, Jerry; stepmother, Bea; stepsister, Amy; and her mother, Cathy, and stepfather, Greg.
The next day, they called Kyle’s parents, Clay and Cathy, and his sister, Kim. Then Kyle made Mexicali Pie and Tina cleaned the kitchen.
While at Drexel, Kyle visited Loews Philadelphia on a field trip with his architecture class. Their tour guide aced the long game. “‘If any of you ever need a wedding venue, we do weddings,’” Kyle remembers. “It popped back into my mind years later, when we were picking venues on the night we got engaged.’”
On their wedding day, Kyle walked down the aisle in the Terrace to “Raiders March” from Indiana Jones — his favorite movie franchise of all time. His parents, Tina’s mother, and the bridesmaids came in to the theme from Forrest Gump. And Tina and her father walked together to “Pepperland" from the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine — the band and the movie have always been a thing of theirs.
Kyle’s sister Kim read a version of “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” that she had retooled for the couple. Tina’s charismatic stepbrother Michael was their officiant.
"Today, in front of your dearest family and friends as witnesses, you’ve formally recognized your love and commitment for each other,” Michael said after the exchange of rings. “On behalf of myself and everyone here, we all wish you joy, happiness and love always.”
Their 96 guests affirmed this with a response borrowed from Battlestar Galactica: “So say we all!”
On his lapel, Kyle sported a Great Soda bottle cap pin, a reference to Up, the couple’s favorite Pixar flick. Just before the newlyweds returned up the aisle together to “Married Life,” a song from that movie, a friend of the bride’s handed her a nearly Up-sized bouquet of colorful balloons.
The couple entered their reception to “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, and their DJ happily played tunes from seven playlists Tina and Kyle curated to keep guests of varying tastes dancing all night.
After snapping a classic Broad Street shot, photographer Rebecca Barger led the couple to the City Hall courtyard. “As we walked through the arch, everyone saw us coming. They got into parallel lines and made an arch with their flowers,” Tina remembered. “They were all cheering as Kyle and I walked through an arch of our best friends. It was such a special moment to walk in there — it was like a bubble of happiness.”
Kyle will never forget standing in one of his favorite Philadelphia buildings, with friends and family all around and Tina walking toward him with her father. “I just felt unbelievably happy,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that moment was finally here.”
A bargain: Buying cloth napkins from Amazon was half the cost of renting them. After the wedding, the couple donated them to Home of the Sparrow, an organization Tina’s mother volunteers with that supports women in crisis.
The splurge: On a whim, the foodies emailed Zahav to see whether it was available the night of the wedding rehearsal. Once they learned the restaurant could host them, Tina and Kyle couldn’t say no.
Six days in Montreal and Québec City, which they love, that included a meal at Joe Beef restaurant, where they’d never before snagged a table. A “honeymoon-aversary” trip to New Zealand is planned for 2020.
Officiant: Michael DiBattista, stepbrother of the bride
Venue: Loews Philadelphia Hotel, 33rd Floor, Philadelphia
Music: DJ Amber Lynn, Stylus DJ Entertainment, Philadelphia
Photography: Rebecca Barger Photography
Flowers: Kerry Fabrizio, Fabufloras, Philadelphia
Dress: Designed by Allure Bridals, purchased at Bijou Bridal, Ardmore
Makeup: Tina Collins, Make Me Glam, Langhorne
Hair: Erin Curran, Top Knot Hair, Bucks County