Philly weddings: Megan Hunton and Michael Howard
"I'm going to marry him," Megan said the first time she saw a photo of Michael.
Megan Hunton and Michael Howard
Sept. 29, 2017, in Blue Bell
Megan, sister Erin, and brother Sean were spending a lazy, rainy day in October 2011 chilling with their friend Danielle — whom the family has known since Sean befriended her more than a decade ago in grade school.
Megan made herself comfortable, lounging in jeans and a hoodie as she and Danielle scrolled through Facebook. "Oh, my God, your friend is HOT!" Megan exclaimed.
"Yeah," Danielle said. "That's my brother, Michael. He actually lives here in this apartment with me. He'll be home in an hour if you want to meet him."
"I'm going to marry him," Megan said, wishing she had worn nicer clothing while running into the bathroom to take her hair out of a messy bun and apply some of Danielle's makeup.
Michael and his brother, Don, were seeing George Thorogood at the Keswick Theatre that night. While they were jamming, Bells Mill Road was flooding with heavy rain, and they were sent on a detour that wasn't much better.
"We almost crashed the car, and I get home, and there are all of these people in my house," Michael said. "They were in the living room, so I hid in the kitchen and I made myself a drink."
After downing the strawberry daiquiri, Michael figured he should say hello to the strangers. The one who most wanted to talk to him was on the floor, petting and talking to Nero the cat. "I love you, little cat!" she told him. "I love you, Boogie."
Michael caught the tail end of Megan's cat conversation, and thought she had called him Boogie. They locked eyes. "Well, that's awkward," he said. "I'm going to bed now."
"My heart was broken," said Megan, a full-time nursing student at Montgomery County Community College and a full-time nanny. "But something inside was telling me this man is different. And I thought, well, maybe next time."
Next time was the following week at a Halloween party thrown by Danielle and Michael, who is a cook at the Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill retirement community. Megan wavered about going. It could be weird, she told her grandmom Florence. Hearing about the cute guy and Megan's feeling that he was special, Grandmom advised, "You go, girl!"
A trip to the Dollar Store turned Megan into a Christmas tree. Michael, dressed as a rabbi, answered her knock. "Oh, that's so funny," he said. "I was going to be Santa Claus."
"I knew we were meant to be together!" Megan blurted.
More awkwardness, but not for long. A bit later in the evening, Megan, who is now 27, and Michael, now 33, started talking and couldn't stop.
A week later, they were dating. At two weeks, they exchanged I-love-yous. At three weeks, she moved into the Roxborough apartment where they still live with Nero.
"I've never really had a relationship like that, where I just enjoyed talking and spending time with somebody like with Megan," Michael said. In previous relationships, Michael always felt he had to stop himself from talking so much, and to be careful what he said. "It was exhausting to always think of what to say and not to say what I really felt."
Megan said she, too, used to put on an act for people. She would dress more preppy than is her taste, and try to be quieter than her true disposition. With Michael, she dresses comfy, and enjoys conversation that stops only when they go hear a band or watch their favorite TV show.
"It's a lot of wearing PJs and watching Ghost Adventures," Michael said.
In June 2015, the couple vacationed with family in Wildwood. Every day at the Shore, Megan wanted to watch the sunrise. "I nagged him, 'Go with me! Go with me! Go with me!' " Finally, Michael agreed. His alarm went off and kept going off. Megan was tired. Maybe, just this once, she could miss the sunrise, she said. Michael bolted awake. "We have to go!" he said. So they did.
They walked along the beach, and Megan was taking in the nature she loves when Michael stopped her. "I just can't do it anymore," he said. Megan went numb — was he breaking up with her? Nope. Michael just couldn't wait to ask her something.
He knelt on the sand, and immediately got hit by a wave. Michael was soaked, and so was the ring box he took out of his pocket. "Will you marry me?" he asked.
"Yes, yes, yes, yes!" Megan said.
That's when they noticed there was no ring in the box. It was Michael's turn to panic.
"Check your pockets!" Megan suggested. And there it was — knocked out of its box, but not into the ocean. Michael immediately put it on her finger.
It was so them
The couple wed in the garden at Normandy Farm in Blue Bell. Before they walked down the aisle, her dad, Ed, gave her a bracelet he had purchased in Wildwood that says "Ride the Wave." He and her mom, Karen, have been married nearly 30 years, and he wanted to share something they've learned with Megan: "Marriage isn't always easy," he told her. "You have to go with the flow, and ride the wave."
Megan's dad walked her down the aisle to an orchestra-only version of "From This Moment." There were two best men: Michael's brother, Don, and Megan's brother, Sean. The children Megan had nannied for more than seven years, Anna, 6, and Nate, 8, were flower girl and ring bearer.
The unity candle was their something old, and also something symbolic — it was the same one Megan's parents used at their wedding.
Grandmom Florence loved Michael, knew he was the one for her Megan, and treated him like her grandson-in-law immediately. She died in 2012 from lung cancer. The couple remembered her and other beloved and departed grandparents: Megan's Grammy Bette and Gramps David, and Michael's Mom Mom Jean, Mom Mom Mecee, and Mom Mom Aggie.
The couple wrote their own vows. "I told him that I would love him until the day I die and become a ghost, and then they would hear us on Ghost Adventures together," Megan said.
"I told her I'd give her as many back rubs as she asked me for," Michael said. Megan has already put this promise to the test. "It's not true," she said. "But it's OK. I still love him."
The couple entered their reception for 110 to Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance With Me," Megan's current favorite dance song. She danced for Michael when they walked in, and then the DJ put on "Never Stop" by Safetysuit, and the couple danced together. Michael and his mom, Joanne, danced to Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately." Megan and her dad danced to Eric Clapton's "Wonderful."
Megan danced with everyone for much of the night. Michael's not much for dancing, so while she burned up the dance floor, he was "an ambassador to our guests, and sometimes a bartender."
Michael hadn't seen Megan since the day before, and he missed her — it was the longest they had been apart in quite some time. He was at the altar, and the song that meant she'd start walking down the aisle began to play. After all the planing and waiting, he thought, "It's finally happening right now. And I was so happy to see her. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, to be honest."
When they reached the end of the aisle, Megan's dad placed her hand in Michael's. "It was almost like six years together flashed before my eyes, and it was here — the moment I knew was going to happen when I saw his picture on Facebook."
The budget crunch
A bargain: A whole lot of DIY, including hand-stamped bags for the photo booth pictures and wooden table number holders they burned "M&M" into.
The splurge: $900 on a photo booth. "It was a lot of money, but we got high-quality pictures, and everything they took online. We loved it, and all of our guests loved it," Megan said. "The photo booth is what made the party, besides her dances," Michael added.
A weeklong spring trip to Orlando and Clearwater is planned after Megan finishes her nursing degree. Disney, a pro-wrestling show, and dolphins are all a must.
Behind the scenes
Venue: Normandy Farm, Blue Bell.
Catering and cake: Normandy Farm.
Photography: Mike Bertoline of Bertoline Photography, Philadelphia.
Videography: Rick D'Aguanno of Loving Life Productions, Philadelphia.
Music: Vince Rotondi of Cloud9 Productions, Hatboro.
Flowers: Willow & Thistle, Blue Bell.
Dress: Oleg Cassini, purchased at David's Bridal, Feasterville.