Andrew's friend Gump was not yet ready to leave for the Phillies game, so Andrew watched Gump's digital photos roll by on a screen in the kitchen.
Andrew knows a lot of the people Gump knows, but, most unfortunately, he did not know the beautiful blonde in one of the pictures.
"Who is that?" he asked when his friend appeared. That, Gump said, is Erika - a civil engineer who lives in Manayunk. "She's a lot of fun - outgoing and successful. Your type."
That day in spring 2009, Andrew, a software salesman who also rehabs and rents houses, asked Gump to talk to Erika about him. Then they left for the game.
Six months later, Andrew had an extra ticket to see Ray LaMontagne. This was not the kind of show for a group of bros. "Gump, what about your blonde friend in the picture?" Gump had forgotten to talk to Erika, but he promised he would.
That didn't happen in time for the concert. But a couple weeks later on a Sunday night, Gump was with Erika and a bunch of other people in Avalon, taking a break from bar-hopping at Tour de Shore. When Gump told Erika his really great friend Andrew was interested in her, her friends convinced Gump to call Andrew immediately.
Andrew was in the middle of a busy night of home improvement when "what sounded like 50 women" called and began peppering him with questions.
"It was horrible," he said.
Erika didn't say much that night - and she was certain Andrew wouldn't have much to say to her after the group interrogation, either. But Gump had painted a picture of Erika that wasn't undone by the bout of alcohol-fueled silliness.
Andrew called Erika that Monday. "You name it, we talked about it," said Andrew, who grew up on the family farm in Worcester, Montgomery County.
"It was a really easy conversation," said Erika, who grew up in Plymouth, Mass., and first came here to attend Villanova University.
Erika accepted his invitation to dinner at Sullivan's Steak House in King of Prussia the next week.
"What I loved about him was there were no games," Erika said. "I was so jaded from dating, and guys waiting four days to call you, or not call you at all. He just seemed so sincere from the first day I met him."
And then there are those eyes - not only a beautiful shade of blue, but "when you talk to him, Andrew makes a lot of eye contact, and they keep you engaged in the conversation," said Erika, who now works for Henkels & McCoy.
Andrew knew from the photo that Erika was a looker, but found even more attractive attributes when they met in person. "I liked her energy," he said. "And her ambition is something I can relate to."
It wasn't long before their dates extended to long weekends all over the country, from Florida to Montana to North Carolina to Idaho - places where VIM Technologies sent Andrew for work.
How does forever sound?
April 14 was Erika's 33rd birthday. Her sister Kimberly - her best friend - came up from Washington, and Andrew assembled a group of 18 for cocktails and dinner.
The next day, the couple took Kimberly to Philadelphia to catch a bus back home. Erika - an exercise fanatic who teaches four classes a week - asked to stop at lululemon to use her gift certificate.
"If you want to pick up your present today, we should get going, because they close at 5," said Andrew, 37.
"I'm thinking we're going to the mall before it closes, and he's going to buy me a spring jacket," she said.
But after a quick stop at the home they now share in Conshohocken, Andrew drove them to Wings Field in Blue Bell. A skydiving coworker had introduced him to a helicopter pilot, and Andrew arranged a special flight.
"This must be the birthday girl!" the pilot said. They were off, with Erika in front for the best view and Andrew sitting behind her.
It was a gorgeous, blue-sky day. Erika was enthralled as they flew over Manayunk, the city skyscrapers, the Art Museum, Villanova. Greater Philadelphia is covered quickly by copter, and in a flash they were flying near Worcester. "Don't your parents live near here?" the pilot asked Andrew. "Want to fly over and check it out?"
The first thing Erika noticed as the old farmhouse came into view was Andrew's nieces and nephews on the porch. "Look at the kids!" she said.
Then she saw a big, white design on the grass.
Two days earlier, Andrew had confided in his brother, Rick, and asked for a favor. "Can you help me paint a field?"
Rick and their dad, Kim, had spent the morning with 26 cans of white spray paint. In seconds, Erika could read the six-foot letters written around the circle the helicopter would land in. "Erika, will you marry me?"
From over her shoulder, Andrew handed her a ring box, and about 20 of Andrew's family members began pouring from the porch onto the field.
Erika was hyperventilating and crying. And then Andrew and their pilot were tearing up, too.
"It was like I lost my breath, it was just so overwhelming," Erika said. She couldn't see Andrew's face, and she couldn't fully experience this moment without that. "All I wanted to do was turn around and hug him."
As soon as they were out of the helicopter, Erika wrapped her arms around Andrew. "I was jumping up and down, and the pilot was yelling, 'Put your head down! Put your head down!'" because while the motor was off, the blades hadn't quite stopped turning.
The throng of family arrived, and everybody was hugging everybody.
Andrew saw that Erika was still holding the open box with the ring in it. "Was that a yes?" he asked her.
"Yes, of course!" she said. He took the ring from the box and slipped it on her finger.
It was so them
The couple married on the grounds of the Peter Wentz Farmstead, a preserved property near Andrew's family farm.
Erika arrived on a cart made by Andrew's dad, pulled by a vintage John Deere tractor that was restored by Andrew's brother Kim and driven by nephew Jameson.
Erika and Andrew are both Catholic, but they borrowed from the Jewish tradition of the seven blessings to create a friends blessing - Andrew's sister Lori and nine friends each spoke of a key element of a successful marriage, such as love and honesty.
Andrew made a wooden box, and toward the end of the ceremony, he and Erika put copies of the vows they had written and a bottle of wine inside, and then each of them and their officiant hammered in a nail to seal it shut.
Erika and Andrew will open the box every year on their anniversary, share the wine and read their vows to each other. Then they'll put in a new bottle and seal the box for the next year.
The 216 guests walked from the ceremony to the adjacent farm, owned by Andrew's grandpa Alvin. Being 92 didn't stop Alvin from sprucing up his home for his grandson's wedding. The reception was held in a huge tent, with fabric pole wrappings and burlap table runners made by Andrew's mother, Barbara.
Erika's mother Karen and Aunt Joanna helped her make old-school mileage road signs that pointed in the directions of the towns that guests came from.
Andrew, Rick, and Erika's sister's boyfriend Ryan made the bars for the reception out of trees that had fallen on the property.
Jim Beam whiskey barrels served as high-top tables, and the entire area was strung with small white lights. The groom and groomsmen wore fedoras and suspenders.
The hundreds of zinnias and sunflowers that filled the centerpieces were grown by Andrew's brother Rick and sister-in-law Gina and arranged by cousin Deborah and aunt Elizabeth. They sat on circles of wood engraved with Rs by Erika's dad, Michael. Andrew's sister-in-law Kimberlee, who owns Rothenberger Cakes, made the wedding cake.
After the ceremony, Andrew started up the old John Deere, and he and Erika rode around the farm. "I was looking back at the entire ceremony site, and I turned to Erika and said, 'This is awesome. We're married."
To Erika's delight, her Bubci Olga, 92, attended the wedding. Grandpa Arthur, 90, and Grandma Mary-Ann, 87, couldn't make the trip from Massachusetts, but delivered a message about the importance and joy of marriage via a video played at the reception. "I was looking over at Andy as I was watching this, and thought, 'I'm going to grow old with this person. I'm going to be with him for the rest of my life,' " Erika said.
A bargain: The whiskey barrels used for tables. The couple has sold most of them on Craigslist for the same price they paid.
The splurge: An acoustic guitarist who played at the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and cocktail hour. This doubled the music budget.
Twelve days in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and cruising the Caribbean.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Father Joe Klemas of Saint Miriam Catholic Church, Blue Bell
The Peter Wentz Farmstead and the home of the groom's
grandfather, both in Worcester
Blue Monkey Catering,
DJ: East Coast Entertainment, Bridgeport; Ceremony musician: Ted Hammock,
Long Beach Island, N.J.
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Bell Interiors, North Wales,
by referral only
Arielle Bridal, Ambler
1012 Designs by Lori Kadezabek, Hoboken, N.J.
Annemarie, Amanda and Jenn of Proud to Plan, Wilmington, Del.