I knew the wedding I was on my way to at the Bensalem Township Country Club on Sunday was about to be lit when I drove up to the parking lot and spotted attendees standing outside in the rain dressed in Eagles gear and tailgating.
Yes, tailgating outside a wedding.
But this wasn't just any wedding. This was an Eagles-theme wedding on Super Bowl Sunday, dreamed up by two longtime fans who bleed green and couldn't think of a better way to celebrate their big day than to do it when their team was playing in the big game.
And get this: They planned the whole thing in just nine days.
After the Eagles' NFC championship win against the Minnesota Vikings last month, Sabrina Seneca, 26, and Christian Regalbuto, 33, told each other: "If they got there, we could do it, too." The couple have a son together, became engaged 2½ years ago, and had been waiting for the perfect moment to formalize things.
"It kind of started as a joke," Seneca recalled during a phone interview on Thursday. "It really took on a mind of its own."
Um, that's an understatement. There had to be 250 guests at the country club on Sunday, almost all in Eagles garb. The seven groomsmen wore black Eagles jerseys; the bridesmaids were in green ones. The groom, an HVAC technician, sported a white jersey, of course. The bride, a bartender at Fireside Smokehouse in Feasterville, was beautiful in a white strapless gown accented with a dark green sash from David's Bridal. On her feet: Eagles sneakers. Jem Jewelers in Warrington gave them a good deal on wedding bands, the couple said.
The bride and groom said their vows in front of goalposts and a large Eagles banner. The wedding officiant, the groom's father, Rusty Regalbuto, a history teacher at Abington Friends School, presided over the ceremony dressed as a referee. After their vows, the couple made their way down an aisle covered with synthetic turf to the Eagles' victory song, "Fly, Eagles, Fly." Even NFL Films was on hand to document the experience. Needless to say, the guests ate it up.
Apparently, the bride's parents have a big party at their home every year, "and it's grown over the years to become this epic Super Bowl party," explained Kelley Nigra, the wedding coordinator. "This is all their friends and family."
The nuptial celebration had been scheduled to get underway at 3 p.m. – well before kickoff in Minneapolis. It started late, as weddings often do, then there was a small hitch – a penalty flag (actually a red scarf) was thrown after the couple's first kiss as husband and wife. The festivities came to a screeching halt as the "referee" reviewed the tape. Much to everyone's relief, the wedding was declared official.
It was all in good fun for fans – I mean guests – as they milled about, sipping beer from green plastic cups and waiting for the real action to get underway in Minneapolis. TV screens were stationed around the reception area. The groom's stepmother, Linda Regalbuto, said, "This is exactly like Christian and Sabrina to do something spontaneous, and something fun and wonderful, and laugh through the ceremony."
This was one loose party. Kids ran around with green cheerleader pompoms and green plastic sunglasses. The menu was all stadium food – pigs in a blanket, cheesesteaks, nachos, hot dogs. The wedding cake was traditional on one side and Eagles-themed on the other.
"This is so my kind of wedding – no high heels, no girdles, no padded bra," said Karen Clift, whose outfit included green Mardi Gras beads from the bride's NFC championship party. "We were standing at the last game, and she said to Christian, 'If they win, can we get married?' And he said, 'Whatever you want, honey.' I said, 'She's crazy enough that she will do this.'"
It's rare that you see so many wedding guests in hype mode like that.
I really wanted to stick around to see the bride make like Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and toss out a football instead of a traditional bouquet. But deadlines are as merciless as game clocks.
Something tells me that, given the vibe in that ballroom, whoever caught it would try to score a touchdown.
Editor's note: This story was revised to reflect that Linda Regalbuto is the groom's stepmother – not his mother.