Aug. 9, 2019, in Philadelphia
Connie was working a Saturday morning shift at the Mayfair Diner in September 2016 when one of her favorite regulars walked in. This time, Fred had pictures from a ballpark celebration for his retirement from the Cheltenham Township Police Department.
Connie grinned and pointed to one of the officers in a group shot. “Is he single?” she asked.
“That’s Casey, and I can find out for you!” Fred said.
“Oh, no! No, you don’t need to do that,” said Connie, embarrassed that he would take her offhand comment as a call to action.
But her coworkers and Fred egged her on to acquiescence.
Casey got a text from his training officer, Don: “Fred said a girl at the diner saw your picture. Can she have your number?”
Fred had offered no details, but nothing like this had ever happened to Casey before, and he trusted Fred’s judgment. “I tell you what, give me her number,” he said.
“Hi,” Casey texted Connie a few days later. “My name is Casey. I heard you saw a picture of me. How are you?”
Connie tried to be casual. “I’m not someone who typically reaches out to someone I don’t know. I swear, I’m not weird or crazy!” she wrote.
Neither felt comfortable meeting in person without knowing more about the other. Besides, both were extremely busy. Casey had only recently joined the Cheltenham force and was still learning his new job. Connie’s diner work was part-time. She also teaches seventh grade at Maternity B.V.M. Elementary, and at the time was also working on her master’s degree from Holy Family University.
So for about five months, the couple, now both 28, were text buddies.
"It was ‘How was your day?’ or ‘How was work?’ " Connie said.
Casey told her about his family and the many moves they’d made. He spent his childhood in Kempton, Pa., then his dad moved their office furniture business to Kansas City, Mo., where Casey graduated from high school. His parents eventually moved back to Pennsylvania, and after finishing his associate’s degree, Casey joined them in Souderton. He moved to Philadelphia in 2013 to become a city police officer, then in 2016 joined the Cheltenham department. He is now working on a bachelor’s in organizational leadership from Penn State.
Connie told him about her family, too, and growing up in the place she still called home: Mayfair.
In January 2017, Casey suggested they meet in person. Connie was ready, but after watching diner customers who were so obviously on awkward first dates, she didn’t want to meet for the first time in public.
“I told my mom she had to go out to dinner that night, and I invited Casey to my house,” she said. After all, Fred had said good things.
Casey was nervous at first, but then they were sitting on the couch, talking about anything and everything, for two hours. “It didn’t even feel like a date. It felt like getting to know somebody,” he said.
To Connie, it felt enough like a date that she was asking herself if she had talked enough for him to know whether he was interested.
He was! “She’s cute, plus she has a big personality that outshines everything. We laughed a lot.”
Casey picked up Connie for their first night out at Mad Mex in Willow Grove. She swooned when he opened the car door for her, and hasn’t stopped since.
“Our dates never felt awkward or weird. And I felt very safe around him,” she said. “We have a lot in common. We are both very family-oriented and hardworking. We are always setting new goals, and we are always doing something,” she said. And OK, sometimes that something is cooking and watching TV together.
“Little things about her fascinated me – like she’s very much into football,” said Casey. “She got me starting to like it. And she introduced me to horse racing. When I wasn’t with her, I was texting her, or thinking about her nonstop.”
The night they met, Casey noticed the many old-timey photos of Connie’s family that hang on her mother’s basement walls. Their first summer together, Connie and Casey had such a photo taken in Wildwood, which her mother, Anita, promptly hung with the rest.
In June of their second summer — a year to the day after their first I-love-yous — Casey suggested another trip to the Wildwood boardwalk. It took some persuading, but he got her to the old-timey picture place.
Casey dressed in an old-school soldier’s uniform and Connie like the woman he was coming home to. Several shots were snapped. “Hey. Connie, look right at Casey for this one,” the photographer said. She watched as he knelt.
“Connie, will you marry me so I can love you forever?”
Connie put a hand up to her mouth in surprise. “Yes!” she said.
In walked her mother and Casey’s mother, Laura, with bunches of balloons.
The couple, who now live in lower Bucks County, married at St. Matthew Church, the Catholic church Connie grew up attending. She walked down the aisle with Pop-Pop Edward. Her father, Patrick, died when Connie was 10. Patrick was a florist, and Connie felt his spirit with her as she walked by flower bouquets attached to the pews with holders he had made.
Casey’s 10-year-old brother, Joel, was best man. Fred — whom Connie and Casey now occasionally meet at the Mayfair for breakfast — was a groomsman.
The trumpet fanfare that starts every horse race heralded the couple’s entrance to their reception for 150 at the William Penn Inn in Gwynedd. Casey wore a horse mask and Connie rode in on his shoulders.
Todd, the father of the groom, said a blessing before dinner. After the food came a whole lot of dancing.
The couple’s first dance was to “From This Moment On” by Shania Twain, but that led right into a medley of the Backstreet Boys’ “We’ve Got it Goin’ On,” the Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache (Jump On It),” and John Travolta’s “Greased Lightning.” Connie, who took dance lessons for 14 years, choreographed their routine, and Casey, who usually doesn’t dance, made it his mission to learn it.
Connie and her mother did a Mummers strut. And Casey danced with his mother — the world’s biggest Twenty One Pilots fan — to “House of Gold.”
“Seeing her come down the aisle was when it all hit me,” Casey said. There was a frog firmly lodged in his throat. There are reports that his lip quivered. “I felt undeserving of this beautiful woman coming up to me to be my wife.”
Connie was moved to tears when the priest pronounced them husband and wife. “I couldn’t believe it was finally official,” she said.
A bargain: The couple loved the work of photographer Ramy Gendy and were happily surprised by the prices.
The splurge: Reasonably priced photography made room in the budget to hire videographer Tom Johnston.
A relaxing week in Riviera Maya in Mexico where Connie most enjoyed a romantic dinner on the beach and Casey loved introducing her to everyone as his wife.
Officiant: Rev. Patrick J. Welsh, Pastor, St. Matthew Church, Philadelphia
Ceremony Venue: St. Matthew Church
Reception and food: William Penn Inn, Gwynedd, Pa.
Music: Jeffrey Dean, East Coast Productions, Browns Mills, N.J.
Photography: Ramy Gendy, North Wales, Pa.
Videography: Tom Johnston, TLJ Studios, Skippack, Pa.
Flowers: Carroll’s Flowers, Philadelphia
Connie’s attire: Designer Justin Alexander, purchased at Le Bella Donna, Jenkintown, Pa.
Casey’s attire: JoS. A. Bank, Warrington, Pa.
Bridesmaids’ attire: Bella Bridesmaids, Philadelphia
Hair/Makeup: Glamour Hair Salon, Philadelphia