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Love: Jenna Cooper & Scott Zalut

April 25, 2009, in Philadelphia

Jenna and Scott were married April 25, 2009 in Philadelphia. (
Jenna and Scott were married April 25, 2009 in Philadelphia. ( more

Hello there

Jenna and Scott, both now 28, have known each other since they were 5 or 6. She lived in Upper Dublin, he in Upper Moreland. But they attended the same Hebrew school at Old York Road Temple Beth Am in Abington. Then, from age 11 to 20, they saw each other every summer at Camp Nock-a-Mixon in the Poconos.

"We had a short-lived camp romance when we were 16 or 17, but two weeks at camp is like a yearlong relationship," Jenna joked.

The two lost touch during college. They found each other again in 2003 through the magic of e-mail and instant messaging. Scott was in medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Jenna was earning her master's degree in speech language pathology at Hunter College in Manhattan. She doesn't remember who reached out to whom first, but whenever Jenna was in town, she and Scott would get together with a group of friends.

Jenna made a quick trip home in December 2005 to go to the dentist. She spoke to Scott ahead of the trip, and he suggested they go out to dinner. For once, it was just the two of them. They had fun, and the next day Scott asked if she wanted to go out again. Jenna told him she had plans to see a movie - Brokeback Mountain - with her sister, but he could come if he wanted to. "OK, I'll come," he said.

Jenna's sister, Elana, gave her interpretation: "He must really like you. No straight guy would come see this movie." Jenna insisted they were just friends. But a few nights later when she was out with her friend Ross in New York, he too thought Scott must be interested.

So, she called Scott. "I said, 'We should date!' and he said, 'What?' And I said, 'Yeah, we should date!' " Jenna remembers. She also remembers his answer was not exactly the stuff of romance novels: "Let's talk tomorrow. I'm out with a friend."

The next night, which was New Year's Eve, it got even worse. "I still mean what I said," Jenna said.

Scott replied, "I'm in med school. I don't have the time to come running to New York on weekends."

That was awkward, Jenna thought. She vowed not to call him for a while, but three days later, Scott sent Jenna a text: "Can we talk?"

Jenna distracted herself for four hours so she wouldn't immediately respond. Scott said he'd been thinking about things. "Let me come to New York for the weekend and see how things go," he said.

They dated long distance for a year and a half. Then when Scott began his residency in anesthesiology at Temple University Hospital, Jenna moved to Philadelphia. Scott is still in his residency, and Jenna is a speech language pathologist for Genesis Rehab Services.

How does forever sound?

In December 2008, Scott came to Jenna's apartment a little tipsy after a night out with his buds. He woke Jenna with a tap on the shoulder to say that after he took the last part of his medical boards, he wanted to go out and celebrate with her. Jenna could hardly believe her ears. Scott is not a planner, and here he was making plans for something that was still a month away.

The whole thing struck Jenna as so out of character for her man that when the agreed-upon Friday finally came, she could not concentrate at work, wondering if she was about to get a proposal. On her bus ride home, Scott called to ask what kind of champagne she likes best. OMG!

Dinner came and went. Then Scott suggested they go to their friend's place, after stopping off at Scott's apartment so he could change out of his sweater and button-down shirt. Jenna was convinced that when Scott turned on the lights, his apartment would be decorated with roses and candles. But everything was normal. Jenna remembers her disappointment: "I thought I was getting engaged this weekend . . . I was kind of devastated."

Scott said he had something to show her. She walked over to him, and he pushed her into a bedroom and closed the door. On the bed were flowers and an index card that said "Follow these instructions and find all of the cards." The last card instructed her to return to the living room.

Scott had changed into a suit, and he was down on one knee.

It was so them

Jenna and Scott were married by the same rabbi who officiated at both their bar and bat mitzvahs: Robert Leib of Old York Road Temple Beth Am. Their cantor, Elena Zarkh, was from their childhood temple, too.

The ceremony and reception for about 175 took place at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia. The couple's florist, Long Stems in Bala Cynwyd, made their chuppah, the traditional canopy under which Jewish wedding ceremonies take place, from the prayer shawls of their fathers and grandfathers.

Putting together the reception was a bit of a challenge, because Jenna and Scott both love music, but have vastly different tastes. "I like modern Top 40, with a little rap thrown in," Jenna said. "Scott likes Phish and the Grateful Dead." The couple found a band, the Renegade from Long Island, that played both the Dead and Justin Timberlake. They danced all night.


Before the public ceremony, the couple's parents, grandparents, siblings, and the rabbi and cantor gathered for the signing of the ketubah, the marriage contract. "The rabbi went around the room and asked everyone to say something, and it was just beautiful," Jenna said. "Everyone gave us their blessings, my grandparents were crying. It was just a lot of joy."

A surprise

The couple's photographers promised not to bug them for photos during the reception. So Jenna was mildly miffed when they asked her and Scott to step out for a moment. "They said they were having this vision of taking pictures on the roof," Jenna said. OK, they were game. A trip up the service elevator plus steps that nearly broke the heels off Jenna's shoes led them to a spot beneath the PSFS sign. "They are the most unbelievable pictures," Jenna said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: "I'm not the kind of person who cares about her veil," Jenna said. The one she was shown at the shop where she bought her dress was nice, she said, but at about $300, not worth it. "Not for something I had every intention of wearing for 15 minutes during the ceremony." Jenna's mom found a strikingly similar veil at a discount bridal store for $70.

The splurge: The Loews Hotel. Jenna and Scott, who live in Center City, looked at many a Philadelphia hotel. But once they saw the clean and modern lines of the Loews, they were hooked.

The getaway

Two weeks in the Greek islands.

Behind the Scenes


Rabbi Robert Leib of Old York Road Temple Beth Am, Abington


Loews Hotel, Philadelphia




Mike Kehr of Mike Kehr Photography, Chadds Ford


Janis Productions, Blue Bell


The Wedding Shoppe, Wayne


Open Dialogue, Norristown


The Renegade, Long Island, N.Y.


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