Kristy Wessman & Ross Herman

KRISTY WESSMAN and ROSS HERMAN Photog: John Waire of theWAIREHOUSE
KRISTY WESSMAN and ROSS HERMAN Photog: John Waire of theWAIREHOUSE
Posted: April 04, 2012

Hello there

In February 2007, Kristy, then an English teacher at Maritime Academy Charter in Northeast Philadelphia, heard that one of her old high school friends had moved to Pennsylvania.

She hadn't talked to Ross since she left Potomac, Md., for Villanova University, where she earned her undergraduate degree. Kristy then moved to North Carolina to earn her master's at Duke University, but upon graduation, looked for work only in the Philadelphia area so she could be with her then-boyfriend.

He broke up with her two weeks before she moved here, but Philadelphia became Kristy's home.

Ross' Facebook page said he was indeed in the Keystone State, but in far-off Wellersburg, Somerset County, where he moved after graduation from Frostburg State University to work at a YMCA.

"I'm bored and looking for something to do," said the away message Ross left on Facebook.

Just to be clever, Kristy sent him a note: "We're going snowboarding this weekend. You should totally come!"

She couldn't believe it when he accepted the invitation, and drove across the state to meet Kristy and two friends in Philadelphia. He greeted her with a hug, and crashed on the couch. They drove the next morning to Blue Mountain.

Everyone had fun, and Ross and Kristy enjoyed each other's company again. They had spent quite a bit of time together in high school. She had dated his best friend. He had dated hers. And they had both run track and cross-country.

That day on the mountain, Ross and Kristy engaged in what she calls "playground flirting." They pushed each other into the snow.

Before heading back to Wellersburg, Ross kissed her. She liked it.

The next weekend, Ross drove the four hours to Philadelphia to see Kristy again, and presented her with a pint of her favorite Phish Food ice cream. They dated long-distance for a year and a half. Then Ross found a job opening for an aquatics director at the Lionville YMCA in Exton. He got the position and moved to Conshohocken, which was a lot closer to Kristy's South of South apartment than Wellersburg. Ross is now a swim coach at Rocky Run YMCA, and Kristy teaches English at Garnet Valley High school.

How does forever sound?

Upon her 25th birthday in November 2009, Kristy set a goal. "I want to see all 50 states, one a year, alphabetically," she told Ross. "Sure!" he said. They began in 2010, with a trip to northern Alabama, where they saw places important in the civil rights movement and went camping.

The two were planning their 2011 Alaska trip when Kristy realized she needed to move back to her parents' Maryland home for the summer. Her father, Dick, was fighting cancer, and he wasn't doing very well. Ross knew only too well what Kristy was going through. His father, Bruce, had died of cancer two years before.

Ross thought he'd give his honey a little hint of something happy. "After a particularly rough week, Ross called and asked me my ring size," Kristy remembered.

Kristy and Ross, now both 27, were able to take their two-week Alaska camping trip later that summer. There was ice climbing, and hiking, and beauty all around.

Then, on the day of their kayak-around-the-glacier expedition, an icy cold rain not only poured from the sky, it bounced off the lake to hit them a second time.

"Turn around," said Ross, who was in the back of the two-person kayak.

Kristy said she was far too wet and miserable, and just wanted to face forward, with her hat on.

They stopped for lunch on an outcropping of rocks, and walked over to a waterfall pouring off a glacier, where Ross tried again.

He knelt. "I love you. Will you marry me?"

Kristy suddenly felt a lot warmer, and the rain no longer mattered. "He made the worst day into the best day," she said.

It was so them

As soon as they returned from Alaska, Ross and Kristy began planning their wedding for June, as close as possible to the June 5 anniversary of a huge day in their high school lives, when their group of friends saw Green Day and Blink-182 play live.

They told Ross' mother, Lauralee, and Kristy's parents, Kathleen and Dick, of their plan. But June made Kristy's father nervous.

His next goal was to make it to Christmas, Dick told his daughter. June seemed too far away. What did she think of February? Feb. 11 was perfect - the anniversary of the snowboarding trip.

Dick went with Kristy to the bridal shop, and he fell in love with the strapless ivory sheath, covered with lace at the bodice and train, even before she did. "I have one picture of my dad and me with my wedding dress from that weekend," Kristy said. "It was the last weekend he spent at home, before going to hospice."

Dick passed away Nov. 4.

To honor their fathers, the couple left two chairs open for them at the ceremony. A boutonniere sat on each one. At the reception the DJ played Death Cab for Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" as a musical tribute to Dick and Bruce.

Rather than signing a guest book, the 120 guests filled out luggage tags with suggestions of places the couple should visit on their trips to each state, and pinned them to a map.

In a nod to their camping engagement, the couple set out Sterno burners, marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers at each table, so guests could have s'mores along with wedding cake.

This didn't happen at rehearsal

Ross' best man was his best friend, Brian, also known as Graber - the very same guy Kristy dated in high school. Making his toast, Brian told everyone he'd known Ross since they played basketball as little kids. "And I know Kristy because I used to make out with her in the back of her dad's Cadillac," he said.

Ross' family burst into laughter. Kristy's uncle's eyes popped.

Awestruck

Ross won't ever forget the greeting he and Kristy got when they entered the reception. He could feel everyone's support of his and Kristy's marriage, he said. "It was kind of like a standing ovation for us, which was pretty cool," he said.

The couple's first dance was to Blink-182's "I'm Lost Without You." "There's one line in the song that goes, 'I will go down as your lover, your friend,' and that was really special to me, because Ross and I were such good friends before we were anything else," Kristy said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: The s'more kits were purchased from Cosi for $20 each - way cheaper than floral centerpieces.

The splurge: The bride ordered a custom version of her wedding dress, without the rhinestones that were on the sample. It added a few hundred dollars to the cost.

The getaway

The snowboarders, who now live in Downingtown, ignored alphabetical order for a long weekend in Vermont. But they plan to vacation in Arizona next year.


Officiant

The Rev. Bill Cochran of Say I Do Your Way, Derwood, Md.

Venues

Milton Ridge Wedding Chapel and Reception Hall, Clarksburg, Md.

Food

Milton Ridge Catering

Music

DJ Fela Reynolds of DJOC, Washington

Photography

John Waire, the WaireHouse, Baltimore

Flowers

Chris Johnson

Bride's dress

Bridal Images, Rockville, Md.

Invitations

DIY with a template from Printable Press, www.printablepress.com

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