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Love: Kristin Small & Joseph McBride

September 6, 2009, in Philadelphia

Kristin Small and Joseph McBride were married September 6, 2009 in Philadelphia. (Gerard Tomko Photography)
Kristin Small and Joseph McBride were married September 6, 2009 in Philadelphia. (Gerard Tomko Photography)Read more

Hello there

Near the end of 1999, Kristin, who was studying criminal justice at La Salle University, went to a party. She ran into her friend Lindsay and Lindsay's then-boyfriend James. They introduced her to James' brother, Joe, a criminal justice and political science major at Temple.

Several months later, in March 2000, Joe and Kristin ended up at the same Philly bar and recognized each other from the party. They talked all night, and before parting, Kristin gave him her phone number. Their first date was on April Fool's Day.

How does forever sound?

More than five years later, in May 2005, Kristin and Joe took a European cruise. Six days into a 10-day trip, they stopped in Rome and walked 300 steps to the top of a monument. "I turned around, and he's on his knee," said Kristin, who is now 28. "I didn't even believe it was happening. How did he hide this from me for six whole days? I was in shock." But not too shocked to say yes!

It was so them

Joe, 33, is a lawyer for a local government-consulting firm. Kristin tends bar at a local sports grill. The couple, who live in Media, held their wedding and reception for 215 at the Curtis Center in Philadelphia. "Even though the ceremony was quick, we wanted to make sure it was beautiful," Kristin said. "We wanted a good party afterward, but wanted people to realize they were there to witness our marriage."

The couple wrote their own vows, but kept them secret from even each other until the ceremony. Joe, who went first, began with traditional promises of love and honor, then said, "Today is the happiest day of my life - other than the Phillies winning the World Series."

Kristin, who had harbored a fear that one set of vows might be strictly serious and the other humorous, exclaimed out loud, "Oh, my God, we are so much more alike than I thought!"

When it was her turn, Kristin said, "I've been waiting for this day my entire life - this day, and for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. Who would have thought this would come first?"

During the candlelighting ceremony, the vocalist from the couple's wedding band sang Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," a song that Kristin has always loved and that reminds her of Joe.

The couple thought carefully about their wedding gifts for each other. And they tormented each other for weeks about what those gifts might be. She got him a trip to the Chicago area, including tickets to a Notre Dame game. He presented her with a framed photo of a 2-week-old pug. By the time they returned from their honeymoon, Winston was old enough to come home.

This was unexpected

During the midafternoon photo session, the couple hit all of their favorite Philly places. They were at Third and Market in Old City when they noticed a man on a motorized scooter with a microphone and sound system watching the photo shoot. He sings and can often be spotted outside of Phillies games. The couple's photographer asked if they could borrow the man's sound system. The photographer hooked an iPod to it, and before long, the 20-member bridal party was dancing to club music right there on the corner. "There were hundreds of people around; it was Labor Day Weekend," Kristin said. "People were stopping to take pictures."


After the wedding, the couple passed on a ride from the Curtis Center to the Omni Hotel, where they were spending their wedding night. It was the first time they had been alone together all day, and they wanted to walk, and savor it. They sat down on a bench near Independence Hall about 12:30 a.m. "Oh my God, we're married! This is surreal!" Kristin said. Joe, relieved that his wife's self-described pre-wedding crazies were over, said, "Now I get the real Kristin back!"

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Kristin, who has lived in her apartment for three years and never once used the DVD player, decided to skip the wedding video.

The splurge: The couple's photographer had an assistant process and frame photos taken at the Art Museum prior to the ceremony in time for them to be presented to Kristin's and Joe's parents at the reception. It added about 10 percent to the total cost of the package, she said, but it was worth it.

The getaway

Ten days in France and Italy.

Behind the Scenes

The Rev. Robert Devine, a friend of the bride, of West Chester. Devine used to be a Catholic priest, but he retired years ago, and is no longer affiliated with the Catholic church. He is still ordained, and still performs marriages.

The Atrium at the Curtis Center, Philadelphia

Cescaphe at the Curtis Center, Philadelphia

Gerard Tomko Photography, Hatboro

Masquerade Band, Philadelphia

Piccone Bridal by Alfred Angelo, Allentown

Stephanie Gambescia at Congratulations, Havertown


Do You Have the Date?

Tell us in a short e-mail – at least six weeks before your ceremony – why we should feature your love story. Send it to Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted in the weeks before your wedding.