Kayaks . . . takes nature photos . . . likes to travel . . . .
This sounded very promising to Judy, now 32. "I had been a veteran to Match.com most of my adult life," she said. But no profile ever intrigued her like Ken's did.
"This life is so short and I don't want to waste it watching lots of TV and complaining," he wrote in his profile, posted just two days prior.
Judy sent him an e-mail. He checked out her profile:
"I'm very happy with my life. It would just make it that much better to have someone to share those incredible moments with . . . like when you get to the top of a trail and the view is just spectacular . . . ."
Ken, now 33, could relate.
Through e-mails and phone calls in August 2010, they learned of mutual fondness for national parks and classical music - and that they were both going through divorce.
Ken, who is from and was living in Pitman, and Judy, who grew up in Forked River, Ocean County, but lived in Magnolia, made plans to hike that Saturday at French Creek State Park. But when Judy realized she would be at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Friday - so close to her favorite restaurant, London Grill - she invited him to dinner.
Ken gave Judy green roses - her favorite color - with quotations from Dorothy and the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz - their favorite movie.
They spoke of family and travels. They ate mussels - lots of them. Despite their ease with each other, the date ended with an uncomfortable moment: How should they say goodbye?
Judy wanted a kiss. Ken preferred to wait until Date 2, for the anticipation. She moved in, he tried to back up, but it was too late.
The kiss was not great, both agree. But they kept their plans to hike the next day.
They took her car and dogs, Thor and Ross.
Ken made an awkward attempt at telling his sweaty hiking companion she was pretty. Thor nipped him. But things got better. Halfway through the 4-mile hike, they found a field of wheat grass, straight out of a Wyeth painting.
"There was solitude there, and we kissed," Ken said. "It was a much better time to kiss."
They saw each other as much as they could, and within weeks, Ken moved in to her place.
How does forever sound?
About eight months later, Judy, a commercial insurance underwriter for Philadelphia Insurance in Bala Cynwyd, sold her house. She and Ken, a foreman at Peter Lumber Co. in Pitman, rented a home in Pitman, where they still live.
In August 2012, the couple traveled to Colorado. They hiked to Ice Lake Basin, near Silverton, and were amazed at the cliffs, the waterfalls, the meadow of wildflowers.
Ken fibbed that nature was calling him, and walked away. He soon called Judy. "Come and take a look at this cool-looking beetle!" What Judy saw nestled in the flowers was a vintage blue topaz ring - her late father's birthstone.
Ken got down on his knees. "Will you marr-?"
"Yes!" Judy said before he finished the word.
It was so them
The couple were married next to the Wissahickon Creek at the Valley Green Inn.
Judy walked to the spot as a violinist played the Beatles' "Hey Jude."
A self-uniting marriage license meant that Ken's father, also named Ken, could officiate. He told the story of the couple's relationship, and sang a song he wrote. The couple's favorite lyric: "Look at the two of us, look at this road we go. No one can understand, the you and the me we know."
The brunch reception for 40 was held on the covered patio. Rather than using one or two colors, Judy went for many, in very bright hues. That brightness represents how she feels when she thinks of their relationship.
Some of the flowers were made from vintage maps of national parks and other places the couple have traveled together.
Branches the couple collected were suspended from the ceiling, with paper birds assembled by friends and family perched on them.
Guests signed their names in an outline of the United States drawn by the bride.
The couple loaded songs for the reception onto Judy's phone, and played them over the inn's sound system.
In her vows, Judy read part of an e-mail she wrote to Ken about a month into their relationship. "I can't wait to see what the future holds for us, and I just know in my heart that it's gonna be good, so so good . . . ."
It struck her that things were even better than she predicted, that she had found "someone who was truly a partner."
The first weekend the couple spent apart after they met, Ken was in Potter County, Pa., at his cousin's cabin. He was listening to "Let It Be Me" by Ray LaMontagne and "was just thinking about her, knowing even back then she was The One," he said.
Dancing with his new wife to that song at their wedding reception, Ken thought back to that day at the cabin, and about how the hopes he had then were realized.
A bargain: Shortly after the proposal, Judy learned that a Sewell bridal shop was going out of business. There were just a few days and six dresses left, but one was perfect - and 75 percent off.
The splurge: The violinist.
Eight days and four national parks in California: Sequoia, Yosemite, King's Canyon, and Pinnacles.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Kenneth Frank Jr., father of the groom, Pitman
Valley Green Inn, Philadelphia
Valley Green Inn
Ceremony: Violinist Catherine Boyd, Ventnor City, N.J.
Ginger Fox Photography, Philadelphia
Love 'n Fresh Flowers, Philadelphia, and HBixbyArtworks, www.etsy.com
Designed by Enzoani, purchased from a now-closed store, Lily's Bridal in Sewell,
By the couple
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