Nov. 8, 2019, in Cheltenham, Pa.
Freshman year at Cardinal Doughtery High School, Bernadette had a confession: “I think I like Anthony,” she told Christine, her best friend since kindergarten at St. William’s.
“Oh my God!” said Christine. “He told me yesterday that he likes you!”
The girls grew up in Lawncrest. Anthony, who grew up in Lawndale, was just getting to know them both — he had completed elementary and middle school at Presentation BVM. They had been hanging out in a group of 15 friends all winter, and it didn’t take him long to like Christine, and to like-like Bernadette.
“Bernadette has a great personality, and she was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen,” he remembers.
Bernadette appreciated Anthony’s sense of humor and how genuinely kind he was to everyone, how he made everyone feel included. Then she noticed how much he paid attention to the things she talked about. “He wanted to get to know me,” she realized.
In January 2008, Christine excitedly told Anthony that Bernadette shared his feelings. He and Bernadette began going together to friends’ Battle of the Bands shows, high school sporting events, and the local park — often with Christine accompanying.
The couple realized they had fallen in love in the middle of a beautiful summer night’s egg fight.
“We were out with a group of friends, roaming the neighborhood as kids in the Northeast do, when our friends started having an egg fight with each other on the street,” Bernadette said. “I was being a little bit of a diva — I did not want to get hit by any eggs!”
Anthony noticed she was uncomfortable. “I realized I just can’t go around throwing eggs,” he remembers. That night, he suggested he and Bernadette leave the group and walk around town on their own. “I realized then that I cared more about her being comfortable than about going along with my friends,” he said. “I realized I cared about her a lot.”
“He was supporting me, and that made me realize he really cared about me, and that I really cared about him,” Bernadette said.
They attended junior prom at Doughtery, which subsequently closed, and senior prom at McDevitt High School, from which they graduated. Classmates at both schools voted them Cutest Couple, and Anthony’s and Bernadette’s close-knit families agreed fully with that assessment; even in high school, they were invited to each other’s family celebrations and vacations.
Anthony and Bernadette, now both 26, say their relationship never wavered even when she headed off to La Salle University to study social work and he went to the University of the Arts to study graphic design.
“I’ve always trusted her and confided in her. We are very good about letting each other know about our feelings,” said Anthony, who is now a customer service supervisor at a South Philadelphia branch of the U.S. Postal Service.
“When we have a problem, we converse it to death until it becomes OK again,” said Bernadette, who holds a master’s degree from Temple and is a children’s therapist at the Center for Autism. “Instead of growing apart, we grew up together.”
Bernadette says Anthony is the nicest person she has ever known. He’s the mediator in any group, making sure everyone feels understood, including her. He supports her in every endeavor, and when she’s anxious or hotheaded, he is calm and calming. “He is really just the best medicine in the entire world for me,” she said.
Anthony says Bernadette supports him, too, and motivates him to accomplish his goals. “I’m not really a big planner. She helps me realize things need to be done. She has been my best friend for almost 12 years and I love doing everything with her — even making the bed is fun.”
The couple started dreaming of their wedding at 17. In 2017, Anthony bought a ring and received an enthusiastic blessing from Bernadette’s parents, Ken and Linda, who said he was already part of their family.
That September, Bernadette was not at all surprised when Anthony suggested a picnic date at Spruce Street Harbor Park, nor when he suggested they check out Race Street Pier first, then walk to the more southerly spot. She was surprised when he rudely walked right in front of a woman taking pictures — not knowing he had hired Abbe Foreman, and the path-crossing was a signal.
With the Ben Franklin Bridge in the sky above them, Anthony knelt, but said nothing. “I was so choked up, I couldn't get anything out,” he remembers.
“What are you doing?” Bernadette asked.
“Will you marry me?” is all he could muster.
It was Bernadette’s turn for silence. “My brain was telling me, ‘You need to say yes!’ but it took a minute before I could.”
Once yes happened, they did walk to Spruce Street, and then to Moshulu, where they were too excited to eat much, but managed dessert and champagne.
Next stop: Bernadette’s house, where her parents and his, John and Terri, were waiting with the rest of their families to celebrate.
The couple were married at Presentation BVM. Father Harrison said a full Mass and gave a homily that only a priest who has known Anthony since childhood could give. As Bernadette walked down the aisle on her father’s arm, memories from her 12 years with Anthony flashed through her mind. When Katy, a woman who is in the St. William’s Parish choir with Bernadette’s father, sang the “Ave Maria,” “It made me cry my eyes out,” said Bernadette.
The reception for 160, held at Flourtown Country Club, featured farm-to-table catering and a doughnut wall constructed by the groom to honor the bride’s love of the fried confection.
Jack Johnson’s “Better Together" has long been the couple’s song, but it never hit Bernadette as hard as it did at their wedding. Mostly, she had been carried through the day by adrenaline. Now, “the pictures were done. We were married. We made our entrances, and all that was left was to enjoy what was happening,” she said. “As we danced, I was so overwhelmed by it all I cried.”
Funny and heartfelt speeches were delivered by best man and brother of the groom Nikolas, matron of honor and sister of the bride Colleen, and maid of honor Christine — the bestie who helped get the two together. “As I listened to the best wedding speeches I had ever heard, I realized, wow, this was all really happening and all for us,” Anthony said.
A bargain: The Flourtown Country Club and Seedling & Sage Catering’s wedding package included so much — a dozen plated hors d’oeuvres, a signature drink, a table of veggies and hummus, and a wedding coordinator. Requested menu variations were no problem.
The splurge: The couple was drawn to the work of Salt + Cedar Photography and were willing to stretch their budget to have photos they loved.
Anthony and Bernadette, who now live in Lawndale with Parker, their red pit bull mix, spent a week at El Dorado Casitas Royale in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Their itinerary, which included a tour of a Mayan cave, was mapped out by a travel agent who really knows them — their friend Christine.
Officiant: Father William Harrison, Presentation BVM Catholic Church, Cheltenham, Pa.
Ceremony: Presentation BVM.
Reception: Flourtown Country Club, Flourtown, Pa.
Food: Seedling & Sage Catering, Glenside, Pa.
Music: East Coast Event Group, Langhorne, Pa.
Engagement Photography: Abbe Foreman Photography, Philadelphia.
Wedding Photography: Salt + Cedar Photography, Philadelphia.
Flowers: SoulBuds, Kim Loux, Flourtown, Pa.
Bernadette’s attire: Kitty Chen Couture from L&H Bridal, Philadelphia.
Anthony’s attire: L&H Bridal.
Hair/Makeup: Klippers Hair Salon, Philadelphia.
Reception Coordinator: Seedling & Sage’s Gabi Forgione.
Transportation: Chic’s Limousine, Blue Bell, Pa.