Tim was intrigued by Clare's nonprofit-development work — she is now employed by the National Kidney Foundation. He was transfixed by her fiery red hair.
They exchanged business cards at the end of the night. On Monday, Tim sent an e-mail. Their first real date was Wednesday. Clare was running late at work, and so she literally ran — in flip-flops — from 15th and Walnut to the Mexican Post at 16th and Cherry Streets.
"I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I got there," she said. "Tim was already halfway through a margarita."
About a month into dating, Clare nervously asked Tim if what they had was serious, or if he was dating other people. "I only want to be with you," he told her. Tim took Clare's hand, turned her claddagh ring around so it symbolized she was in a relationship, and kissed her.
The summer of 2010 was a complicated mix of joy and sadness for the new couple. Tim's father, Joseph Dych, a former Court of Common Pleas judge, died of lung cancer in August. A few days later, Clare's grandmother, Mary, passed away. Their funerals were just days apart, and the support that Tim and Clare gave each other convinced them both that this relationship was for keeps.
How does forever sound?
By June 2011, Clare, who is now 26, shared Tim's "edgy" Kensington address. She was just arriving home from work, and thinking of her preparations for their trip to Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music Festival, when Tim, now 29, ambushed her at the front door.
"Hello," he said, then dropped to one knee. "I couldn't think of any other way to start the trip," Tim said, and offered Clare his great-grandmother's engagement ring.
She said yes, they called family and friends, then hopped in the car. At 10 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va., the couple managed to find an open bar-and-grill. They ate buffalo wild wings, in honor of the night they met.
It was so them
The couple married in an outdoor ceremony at the Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill. Their wedding day was the 37th anniversary of the bride's parents, Michael and Anne.
To honor Tim's late father and mother, Sandra, Clare and Tim used their wedding vows and one of their readings in the ceremony. They also included an Irish blessing, in honor of their mutual Irish heritage.
Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Minehart, who served on the bench with Tim's father, married them.
For several months, many of the couple's 150 guests had sent them their wine corks — more than 300 in total. Clare turned them into placecard holders.
The reception featured regional foods, including Maryland crab cakes, beer from the Philadelphia Brewing Co., and Little Baby's Ice Cream.
The DJ played Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" for the bride's parents — the song was popular when they were courting. The bride had a special dance with her grandfather, Frank, 83, who has been married to her grandma, Grace, for 63 years.
At the end of the night, one of the groomsmen led a "Love Train" line around the room. Then everyone piled on a school bus that dropped them off at Nodding Head, the place the couple met, for an after-party.
"We took a picture," Clare said, "in the booth where we met."
This didn't happen at rehearsal
Clare has played sports — lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, and basketball, among them — most of her life. "But I totally blew the bouquet toss," she said. The flowers hit the rafters and came down with a thud, four feet in front of the single women vying for it. Her cousin and bridesmaid Theresa took a dive and came up with the goods.
Clare got ready at Tim's mother's house. Heading downstairs for photos with the bridal party, she could see Tim from an upstairs window. "I was shaking, trying not to fall down the stairs, I was so happy," she said. "You see all these pieces of your wedding as you prepare: the suits, the ties, the flowers, all these random things. But the emotional impact doesn't get there until you're at that day. He was the only person I saw; it was like I was looking through a tunnel."
Tim won't ever forget the moment he and Clare were introduced at the reception. "Seeing your closest family and friends all assembled in one place, it was just this great outpouring of love," he said. That was when he first felt married.
A bargain: The bride saved about 80 percent on programs and placecards by making them herself.
The splurge: The ice cream, which was served from a tricycle cart. As soon as the couple tried the cardamom caramel, birch beer vanilla, and peanut-butter maple tarragon, at a neighborhood party, they knew they wanted it all at their wedding. "It was not cheap, but it was well worth it," Clare said. "The line stretched around the reception tent."
Tim planned their two weeks in Italy, which included stops in Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Florence, and Venice.