On a cold Saturday night in January 2009, Josh weighed his options: a birthday party at a bar or a quiet night at home. The couch was looking good.
Josh’s roommate asked how he could pass on a night with his friends.
Reluctantly, Josh rallied, joining a party at Fishtown’s El Bar. Among the people he knew was a woman he’d never seen before -- Katie.
“She was engaged in lively, animated discussion with a few people at the bar, and she was just kind of bumping into me,” remembers Josh.
This was no accident. Katie noticed Media native Josh, with his good looks and cool hat, the minute he walked in. “I was trying to get his attention, but I was not succeeding.”
Katie, a Levittown native who then worked in a research lab at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed out the hat-wearing guy to birthday boy Sean and his now-wife Becky. Becky vouched for Josh, a singer/songwriter with whom she’d been friends since they were children. “He’s single,” she told Katie. “You should try to talk to him.”
Katie took a breath and made a beeline. “Hi. I’m Katie. Do you want to dance?”
Josh was flattered but had not yet achieved a party mind-set. He was still wearing his coat. He hadn’t had a drop to drink.
“Oh,” he replied. “Maybe later.”
Katie was flattened. “I hung my head and walked away, figuring I took a loss for the night.”
But wait! In this alternative version of Roy Orbison’s hit, the man came walking back to her.
“I’m ready to dance now,” Josh said.
The fast beat lasted about 20 seconds, then Cyndi Lauper started singing “Time After Time.”
It could have been an awkward moment, Josh said, but Katie made it magic.
“Well, OK,” she said. “We can either dance like we’re at your grandparents’ wedding or like we’re at a junior high dance. You pick how you want to do this.”
His arms went around her waist, hers around his neck, and they talked and laughed all through the dance and the rest of the night.
A few days later came a Wednesday first date at Monk’s Cafe. Then they saw a play, and, close to Valentine’s Day, a romantic Pennsylvania Ballet performance.
“We always did such interesting things together,” said Katie, who later went to nursing school and is now a nurse practitioner at Cooper University Hospital. “From the time I met Josh, I didn’t date anyone else.”
“We had such a fun and strong connection from that first night,” said Josh, who is lead guitarist for TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb and marketing and public relations manager for BalletX. “She had this way of grounding me, but at the same time, it felt like anything could happen with Katie.”
Six months in, Katie was supposed to meet Josh’s family at his nephew Skyler’s first birthday party. But on that day, Katie told Josh she had a terrible stomachache and couldn’t go. The fam thought perhaps he was getting blown off, until Katie called from the ER. “My appendix burst. I’m going into surgery.”
Josh and Katie’s mother met in the ER waiting room. He didn’t leave the hospital the entire time Katie was there. “I remember wanting to tell him, ‘I love you,’ but I thought he’d think it was whatever drugs they had given to me.”
Turns out that was also when Josh knew he was in love. “I felt this overwhelming sense of loyalty, this need to be there. I couldn’t pull myself away.”
In 2010, Josh invited Katie to move to his place in Fishtown with him and his dog, Daisy. About 18 months later, Daisy, who was 13, abruptly became very sick. “Katie came with me to the vet, and I knew right then we were in this forever,” Josh said.
Every fall, Josh, who is now 44, and Katie, now 34, pick apples, eat cider doughnuts, and get a pumpkin at Highland Orchards in West Chester. In October 2018, they had a plan to do those things, then meet up with Josh’s sister, Jess, and brother-in-law Carl for a haunted wine tasting in Chadds Ford.
They were running late, so Katie suggested they postpone the picking to get to the tasting on time. “We have to go!” Josh insisted. “We have to at least get a pumpkin!” “Dude, you’re being nuts about this,” Katie said. “But fine, if it’s really that big a deal to you.”
Katie focused on selecting the right mix for baking and eating. When she looked away from the tree and toward her boyfriend, she found him kneeling. “Oh my God!” she said through a mouthful of apple.
Katie started to cry.
“I know you think I wanted to take you out here to pick apples, but what I really wanted to do was this,” Josh said. “Katie Stoudt, will you marry me?”
She said yes. They swore Jess and Carl to secrecy until the next day, when Josh and Katie shared their news with his parents, Jane and Stephen, and hers, Audette and Joel, and other family and friends.
In April 2019, the couple bought a home in Fishtown, where they live with tabby cat Miss USA.
Katie and Josh struggled to find the right ceremony venue. Then BalletX was invited to perform at a LOVE Park Wedding Wednesday. Josh sent Katie a photo, and she agreed it was perfect.
Multiple couples marry each Wedding Wednesday. When it was Katie and Josh’s turn, officiant Susan Harte assembled their invited guests at the LOVE statue. Soon, brassy versions of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” and “Whatta Man” were heard across the park, and in marched Katie, her friends, and a bunch of people they met along the way, crew style. Katie met her father in front of the Ed Bacon plaque, and he walked her to Josh as “Stand by Me” played.
Susan led the couple in a “sacred and poetic” ceremony she wrote specifically for them and also kept everybody on schedule, said Josh. Then the newlyweds marched off to Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle.”
The couple and their 90 guests celebrated afterward with a brunch reception at Lloyd Hall River Deck, with food by Cosmic Cafe.
The ceremony began beneath clouds, but as the officiant declared them husband and wife, the sun broke through. Josh looked from Katie to the faces of their friends and family and saw love and support. “It felt like everything in the universe was coming together in that moment,” he said.
Josh and Katie walked onto the dance floor to the same synth-heavy Cyndi Lauper song that played the night they met, “Time After Time.” Said Katie: “All I could think was ‘Oh my gosh, we made it!’ From the night I met him to right now, everything has come full circle.”
A bargain: The music was provided by musician friends as a gift or at a very special rate. Photography was also provided by a friend who gave a discount, and the couple opted for amateur photos only at the reception.
The splurge: Booze -- and real glasses to serve it in.
Four days touring Cape May with transportation provided by friends Priscilla and Bryan -- their 1990 red BMW convertible.
Officiant: Susan Harte, Journeys of the Heart, Jenkintown.
Ceremony venue: LOVE Park, a.k.a. JFK Plaza, Philadelphia.
Reception venue: Lloyd Hall River Deck, Philadelphia.
Food: Cosmic Cafe, Philadelphia.
Cake: Cake Life Bake Shop, Philadelphia.
Ceremony’s live music: Josh Machiz, Philadelphia.
Reception DJ: Phreak Flag, Philadelphia.
Reception’s live music: The Looks of It; Natalie Butts; Midnight Singers; Dan Bruskewicz, all of Philadelphia.
Photography: Lisa Schaffer Photography, Philadelphia.
Flowers: Jess Mercurio, Philadelphia.
Katie’s attire: David’s Bridal, with help from stylist Ms. Marie, Maple Shade.