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Love: Michelle Benefiel & David Tress

In summer 2009, Michelle was living in Indiana, but traveling with her Cajun-themed food-service business and friends’ similar businesses to festivals and fairs around the country. Working a music festival in West Virginia, she befriended Zack, a Philadelphian who was in charge of ensuring that the musicians ate.

Hello there!

In summer 2009, Michelle was living in Indiana, but traveling with her Cajun-themed food-service business and friends' similar businesses to festivals and fairs around the country. Working a music festival in West Virginia, she befriended Zack, a Philadelphian who was in charge of ensuring that the musicians ate.

Michelle came here to visit Zack a month later; he asked if he could bring a friend along to lunch at P.F. Chang's. That friend was David. And by the end of lunch, David was smitten.

"When you know, you know," he said recently. "Not only was she beautiful, she was just so easy to talk to. She was just so sweet and charming."

David, a graduate of the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College who then lived in Broomall and managed a Chickie's & Pete's, handed Michelle the screw-top cap from their bottle of wine. "Keep this," he said. "It's going to mean something one day."

Michelle thought David was fun. She liked the way he played the percussion part of every radio song on the dashboard. She definitely wanted to keep in touch, but it never occurred to her to gauge the romance potential. There were too many miles between Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Michelle, who has a degree in exercise science from Indiana University, liked her new friends and this area a lot, and she was tired of Indiana. David helped polish her resumé, and shared food-service connections.

A year after her first Philly trip, she and her grandma Nancy came out to visit her Uncle Dennis, who lived in Delaware County.

Michelle and David, both now 29, had been talking and e-mailing all that time. He picked her up at her uncle's for their first date: clubbing in Center City. The next night, they saw The Social Network. When David dropped Michelle off afterward, he told her that he loved her, and that he had from that first lunch.

Michelle didn't say it back. David didn't expect her to. "I've never been that fortunate in the love department," he said. "It was just something I had to get off my chest."

That night, Michelle told her grandma she had met the man she was going to marry.

Two months later, in November 2010, Michelle landed the assistant manager's job at Au Bon Pain at Philadelphia International Airport. While packing up her house in Indiana to move in with her uncle, Michelle found the wine-bottle cap David had given her the day they met. "It seemed like a huge sign," she said.

The same day Michelle arrived in Springfield, with her car, her mom Sherry's car, and a trailer filled with stuff, she and David went to a Dave Matthews concert. They were a couple within weeks.

How does forever sound?

David, now an assistant general manager with Wawa, grew up in Haverford Township with his parents, Herbert and Ruth. His favorite summer destination has always been Avalon, N.J. In June 2011, he took Michelle there. At the end of a rock jetty, David knelt and asked, "Will you marry me?" Michelle was shocked, but not too shocked to say yes.

It was so them

The couple's wedding was a mix of Christian and Jewish traditions. Michelle and David are Christian, but David was very close to his late grandfather, Alan, who was Jewish. David's yarmulke, the chuppah, the glass David stepped on, and the hora dance at the reception were all in Alan's honor. Their officiant, who describes himself as a Jewish minister, had presided at Alan's funeral.

The chuppah was decorated with two large bouquets. The day after their wedding, the couple put one on Alan's grave. Michelle's mother and aunt took the other back to Indiana and placed it on the grave of Michelle's late grandmother and grandfather, Opal and Raymond.

During the reception for 116, David, with the help of his Uncle Jeffrey, serenaded the bride with Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."

This was unexpected

Groomsman Justin's flight back from a Las Vegas poker tournament was supposed to have him in Philly by 1 p.m. A delay meant he didn't get back until 3. Justin missed the pre-wedding photographs, but got to the ceremony just in time.


The couple had their wedding photographs taken at Longwood Gardens. Standing on opposite sides of the same tree, so they could not see each other, Michelle and David reached their hands around to exchange love letters. After they read them, Michelle moved to David's side of the tree. "I'll never forget that moment, just seeing him in his tux, knowing what was going to be happening," she said. "It had all come down to this — the day was our day."

David will never forget when Michelle's father, Daniel, reached up to shake his hand, then walked away while Michelle stepped up to the altar. "Up until that point, it was almost as if it was a dream," he said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: For holding their wedding on a Sunday in March and paying cash, Michelle and David received a 15 percent-per-person discount from Kings Mills. The catering hall also threw in a free champagne toast and chair and dessert-table upgrades.

The splurge: The flowers, which included orchids, roses, and lilies. David is into horticulture and "we went all out," he said. While the couple split the cost of their wedding, David paid for the flowers himself. "I had a number in my head, and I spent that three times over," he said. "It was worth it."

The getaway

Paying for their wedding left little money for a honeymoon, and David and Michelle didn't have much vacation time left, either. The couple, who moved to Wilmington after the wedding, hope to take a tropical getaway in late summer.


The Rev. Herbert (Heschel) Israel Links, Drexel Hill


Kings Mills, Media; photos taken at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square


Kings Mill, Media


Violinist Benjamin Weaver, Springfield; Main Street Entertainment, Media


Botanical Splash, Chadds Ford


Lewis Rinaman Photography, Media


Video Edge Productions, Drexel Hill


David's Bridal, Wilmington, Del.


Kings Mills


Tom King Jr., Media