Love: Kristin Loutzenhiser & Joseph Tropea

JOSEPH TROPEA and KRISTIN LOUTZENHISER
JOSEPH TROPEA and KRISTIN LOUTZENHISER (Alison Conklin Photography)

November 10, 2012, Philadelphia

Posted: January 17, 2013

Hello there

On an April evening in 2008, Joe, a doctor specializing in cancer and blood disorders, joined Montgomery Hospital colleagues for happy hour at a Conshohocken bar.

A flash of ruby-red heels caught his eye. The beauty of the woman wearing them stopped him mid-sip. He did not know this coworker, but gathered courage to change that.

Kristin, a nurse anesthetist, worked the night shift then, so they'd never met. But she recognized his name. "He is friends with one of my good friends, so I knew ... he was a nice guy." She liked the way he looked in his suit and tie.

They discovered a mutual love of food and wine. A discussion of the many Philadelphia restaurants they'd tried inspired Joe to ask if he could buy Kristin dinner at Raw, a sushi restaurant where neither had been.

She agreed immediately, but scheduling was a problem. They settled for phone calls during which more similarities were discovered: the importance of their families, their love of music concerts and the Jersey Shore.

Finally in June, they had plates of sushi before them. They began to appreciate each other's intelligence, and found it wonderful to talk with someone who understood the world of medicine.

Soon after, Joe had an appointment with a patient whom he had referred for surgery. The patient told him he had received excellent care, particularly from one of the night nurses, who rubbed his back when he was in pain.

"I know you're single," the patient told Joe. "I think you have to go find her. She was unbelievably kind, and beautiful. Her name is Kristin."

Joe, now 45, wondered if this was some sort of sign.

In October, the day of the World Series victory parade for the Phillies, Joe, who lived in Queen Village, was at a bar. He couldn't stop thinking about Kristin, 29, who lived in Royersford, so he called and asked her to join him. She had to work. Not even the victory party for his Phils was good enough without Kristin, Joe realized.

"From then on, we were together constantly," Kristin said.

How does forever sound?

By the end of 2011, the couple knew they would marry.

"Every time we went out, Kristin was looking over her shoulder, looking for the guys with violins," said Joe, who now works at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. But he wanted to surprise Kristin, who now works at Lankenau Medical Center.

On the last weekend in April, he suggested they celebrate his May 1 birthday at the Water Works restaurant.

Joe was on call that night, but wasn't worried. In 12 years at his practice, there was always someone at the hospital who could handle every situation. But that afternoon at a Flyers game with friends, Joe got a phone call: A patient was very ill. The family really wanted their doctor, Joe.

He called Kristin and said she should get ready, but they had to travel to the Norristown hospital first.

After Joe saw his patient, he came back to the car to find Kristin on the phone, inviting her girlfriend to have drinks with them at the restaurant. Things were just not going Joe's way.

They were a half hour late for their reservation and waited at the bar until the server had a table for them at 9:30; Joe finally caught a break when their friends said they were going to another restaurant.

After dessert, Joe could see that Kristin was getting sleepy - and that some of the staff had their coats on, while others were counting money. But he had to get Kristin out to the deck overlooking the Schuylkill. He asked if they could please go out there. The maitre d' told them they wouldn't see anything in the dark, and didn't sound happy, but acquiesced.

Kristin wasn't thrilled with this development, either. All she wanted was sleep.

"Kristin," Joe said in the dark. "Tomorrow is my birthday. Can I have anything I want?"

"Yeah," Kristin said. "Yeah, you can have anything you want, Joe."

"Well then, I want you to be my wife," he said, and handed her the ring he'd had in his pocket all night.

"What?" she asked. "What?"

Joe waited. "Well yes, of course YES!" Kristin said.

It was so them

Kristin, who grew up in Oaks, and Joe, who has always lived in South Philly, were married at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul by their parish priest, the Rev. James Oliver.

"The words he said were amazing, personalized about us," Kristin said. "He told the story of how we met, and of our families."

The man whose future wife first caught his eye with a pair of red heels admits to having "a shoe problem," which he indulged with a pair of Cole Haan tuxedo shoes, patent leather trimmed with velvet, purchased at his favorite men's store, Lou Marchiano's. Joe wrote on Facebook that between them, the couple had "something old, something new, something borrowed and something from Lou."

The reception for 220 was held at the Atrium at the Curtis Center.

Both Kristin and Joe love the Flyers, and since the lockout meant he'd have extra time on his hands, Flyers announcer Lou Nolan agreed to announce the wedding party at the reception.

The foodies treated guests to a lot of food, with pasta, sushi, lamb chops, and a raw bar during cocktail hour alone.

All that familial love yielded a lot of speeches from Joe's brother and best man, one of his best friends, Kristin's dad, and each of her two sisters.

One of the best parts of the day for the couple was that Joe's father, Anthony, who was 85, shared it with them. He had been in and out of the hospital for a year, and was at a rehab facility. A nurse from the rehab was hired to care for him that day.

The couple hired event painter Katherine Gressel to do an oil painting of their first dance, to Lionel Richie's "Stuck on You." There in the right-hand corner is Anthony, looking on from his wheelchair. He died in December.

Awestruck

Despite spending a year watching Say Yes to the Dress with Kristin, Joe had no idea even what style of dress she had chosen. "The doors opened, and I saw her walk in with her father, and it took my breath away - like the first time I saw her in Conshohocken."

When the ceremony ended and the couple walked back up the aisle, Kristin looked over at Joe and thought, "Wow, we're married now."

"It was an amazing feeling," she said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: The videographer, a neighbor of Kristin's parents', gave the couple a discount. They paid about half what they had expected.

The splurge: Two weeks in Fiji.

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