On any given weekend in 2010, chances were good Michelle and her Temple University classmates would wind up at Lucy's Hat Shop, an Old City bar.
Jordan was the bouncer checking their IDs at the door, so he and Michelle got to know each other through short bursts of conversation.
"What are you doing? I know you!" he said one day when Michelle reached for her license. "Give me a hug!"
There were sparks, all right. But neither was in the right frame for sparks.
"I had just gotten out of a 41/2-year relationship, and I had just turned 21. I wanted to have fun," Michelle said.
"My father had just passed away, and I was down in the dumps," Jordan said. "But every time I saw her, she made me smile."
Jordan was a Temple alum himself, having graduated with an advertising degree two years before, right into the teeth of the recession. He kept working at Lucy's even after landing a job across the street at Signarama.
Michelle graduated with a communications degree, landed a job at Philadelphia Insurance Cos., and moved to Manayunk. Main Street offered a whole new batch of places to hang out, so she was hardly ever at Lucy's. Jordan missed her.
In summer 2013, Michelle's post about the Manayunk Bike Race appeared in Jordan's Facebook feed. "How you doing? I haven't seen you for awhile," he messaged her. They chatted enough to remind Michelle how much she liked talking to him. "If you're ever in Manayunk, here's my number," she wrote. Jordan was pretty much never in Manayunk, but now he wanted to be. He texted Michelle the next day, and they met in front of the Manayunk Brewery that Sunday.
"As soon as I saw her walking down the street toward me, I was smiling," Jordan said. "It was like we had never lost touch. It was not awkward at all," Michelle said. "It was a great date."
They talked for three hours, then Jordan walked Michelle up the huge hill to the door of her Green Lane home. "That's where we had our first kiss," he said.
"From that first date, it felt like we'd known each other our whole lives," said Michelle, who grew up in Havertown. "There were not any games. We knew we liked each other, and whenever we had a spare moment, we were together."
Jordan, who grew up in Cumberland County, said even during tough times, like when his dad, Terry, died, or when a job offer fell through, being with Michelle made things better. "Every time I look at her, she smiles and it brightens my day," he said. "She helps me keep my sanity." In addition to her positivity, he admires her strength and independence.
How does forever sound?
By July 2015, Jordan, who's now 29 and a marketing adviser for Reminder Media in King of Prussia, and Michelle, now 27 and an external communications specialist for TMNA Services, a sister company to Philadelphia Insurance Cos., were living together in their Port Richmond home. Jordan's brother was staying with them, and Jordan hid an engagement ring in his brother's closet - the one place he knew Michelle would never go.
Usually a seat-of-his-pants kind of guy, Jordan cooked up an elaborate plan. First, he convinced his girlfriend that on the hottest day of the year, she should leave the comfort of the house. When she stepped into the shower, he left her a note, then darted out, hurrying to stay one step ahead as she followed the clues he left at the construction site that had been Lucy's Hat Shop, and with the bartender at Han Dynasty, where they'd first said "I love you," and at the front of the house, where they'd first kissed.
When she reached the Manayunk Brewery, "He was waiting outside, and I walked up to him, just like on our first date," Michelle said.
"Before we go inside, I have a question to ask you," Jordan said that night.
He took out the ring and knelt on the sidewalk.
Nerves prevent either one of them from remembering exactly what Jordan started to say, but Michelle said yes before he finished.
It was so them
The couple wed at the Columbia Station in Phoenixville, a former train station. At the start of the garden ceremony, the bride and her bridesmaids emerged from the old caboose where Michelle's mom, Tammy, helped the bride get ready. Jordan's childhood pastor officiated. "That was so important to me, because my dad looked up to him," he said.
The bride entered the ceremony to an instrumental version of John Legend's "All of Me," and the couple exited to Imagine Dragons' "Top of the World." They walked in to the reception, indoors at the same location, to the Rocky theme, then began their much-practiced first dance to Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road."
"At one point, I forgot what to do. I sort of paused. Jordan said, 'Spin!' and I did," Michelle said. "Everyone was clapping and cheering us on."
In May, Michelle's Pop Pop Mario died. He and her Mom Mom Genevieve had been married for 60 years, and they had looked forward to dancing at the wedding. The DJ played Perry Como's "And I Love You" in his honor, and Michelle's dad, also named Mario, danced with Genevieve. Michelle had pinned her grandfather's "V" initial pin to her bouquet.
"When she first came out of the caboose, wearing her wedding dress, I sobbed like a baby," Jordan said. "It was a moment I'd been waiting for a long time."
After the ceremony, the couple spent some time alone in that caboose, toasting each other with champagne. "We just looked at each other and said things like, 'Wow, I can't believe this really happened,' " Michelle remembered. "It was an incredible moment."
The budget crunch
A bargain: Jordan designed the couple's stationery and made their card box, and the couple made their own centerpieces from collected bottles and wood sliced from a tree that once grew on the rural property of Jordan's mom, Lynn, and her boyfriend, Mike.
The splurge: They could have picked a less-expensive DJ, but Todd Frederick's price included a fantastic lighting package that sealed the deal.
A week in Aruba.
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: Pastor Ronald Riggins, New Life Church, New Cumberland, Pa.
Venue: The Columbia Station, Phoenixville.
Catering: Robert Ryan Catering, Phoenixville.
Photo: Matt Gruber Photography, Malvern.
Video: AKR Digital Photography, Hoboken, N.J.
Flowers: Whimsical Welcomes, Collegeville.
Music: DJ Todd Frederick, Silver Sounds DJs, Frazer.
Dress: Casablanca Bridal, Van Cleve Wedding Pavilion, Paoli
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