Love: Kate Martin & Vitold Vasilyev

Kate Martin and Vitold Vasilyev. REBECCA BARGER
Kate Martin and Vitold Vasilyev. REBECCA BARGER

May 24, 2013, in Philadelphia

Posted: July 25, 2013

Hello there

The striking man in yoga class walked toward Kate after a 2010 evening session.

"I like your shirt," Vitold said, nodding at her vibrant coral tank. Then he was gone.

There were friendly nods at the gym, but nothing more for two years. In July 2012, Diane, another yoga classmate at Lifesport gym in Fairmount convinced her friends Kate and Vitold that they should go out.

Kate can't fathom why she suggested they go for a run in hot and sweaty July. "I did not enjoy the run, but I did enjoy Kate's company," Vitold said. But then he got a new job, and training kept him busy. By the time he called Kate, she was dating someone else.

They made small talk at the gym, and occasionally exchanged texts.

Kate ran into Diane at Lifesport on New Year's Eve, and asked about Vitold. On Jan 2, 2013, Kate took a different yoga class than usual, and there he was. "I was just asking Diane about you," she told him.

Her smile said he might just have another chance. "But at the end of class, I was still shy," Vitold said.

He left the gym first, and walking home, Kate saw him sitting in the OCF Cafe in their Fairmount neighborhood.

He waved, she waved. She walked home, and found a text waiting on her phone. It was Vitold, inviting her to join him for tea. She walked back out the door to OCF, where they talked, about family, careers, yoga, and values.

Kate, a special-education teacher in the Philadelphia School District, and Vitold, an aerospace engineer who currently sells injection molding machines for Arburg, discovered they both had turned to yoga for stress relief. They spoke of movies, and shared family stories.

Kate's mother, Trudy, died from cancer two decades ago. Kate wears her jewelry to keep her close. Vitold, who was born in Ukraine, immigrated with his grandparents, mother, and sister to Philadelphia when he was 6.

The next day, Vitold walked into Kate's favorite yoga class. Afterward, there was again tea and conversation.

And that Friday, they went on their first real date. They walked through a Northern Liberties art gallery, where Kate was fascinated by the colors and patterns of an old metal door, and Vitold by its pulleys, and the way it slid open.

"I commented on your shirt, do you remember?" Vitold asked. "Of course I remember," Kate said. "I was married back then," said Vitold, who had since divorced.

Vitold, now 40, confessed he was nervous. Kate, now 30, loved that he admitted it; she was, too.

A week into their new relationship, Kate and Vitold realized they were in love.

How does forever sound?

The morning of Jan. 24, Vitold told Kate: "I feel like we can be together for the rest of our lives." But it was so early in the relationship. He didn't want to scare Kate.

"I know what you're feeling," Kate said. She felt it too.

"I love you," Vitold said, emboldened by her words. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

"I feel the same way, and I think we should get married," said Kate.

Vitold asked if Kate would wear his grandmother's wedding ring. It is the second ring grandma Sonya wore. When it became dangerous for Jewish people in Ukraine in the 1940s, his grandfather, Abram, took the family from Ukraine to Kazakhstan. The original wedding rings were lost in the move, but his family was spared from the Holocaust. The second rings were purchased after the war, when they were safe back in Ukraine.

Kate loved the idea of wearing such a special ring.

Vitold and Kate were each raised in a mix of Jewish and Christian traditions. Vitold's mother, Larisa, came to Passover with a gift. Long before her son met Kate, she had purchased a diamond ring to match her mother's rose gold band. "What do you think of this?" she asked the couple.

The next morning, Vitold knelt before Kate and asked again if she'd marry him.

It was so them

The couple married on the anniversary of Kate's mother's death. "The theme of the wedding was the circle of life and the rebirth of life," Kate said. It felt good to do something so beautiful on what had been a very sad date.

The nondenominational ceremony included a remembrance of Vitold's grandparents and Kate's mother. Kate and Vitold kept things simple: 70 guests. No bridal party. The emphasis was on the ceremony, the food, and the flowers.

Cubes with photos of Vitold's grandparents and Kate's mother were filled with dried flowers, and suspended from the ceiling.

One of Kate's students, Nathaniel Peterman, played piano during the cocktail hour. He played "Stand By Me," Canon in D, and other selections he learned especially for the occasion.

This was unexpected

Kate confesses that being the center of attention and/or the host of a big event tends to make her uncomfortable. But the vendors left her with nothing to worry about, and she was relaxed and calm the whole time.

Awestruck

Vitold saw Kate for the first time before the pre-ceremony pictures. "Her dress had sequins," he said. "She looked like a brilliant diamond, glowing and sparkly. And that's the way she really appears to me all the time - it was the perfect physical manifestation of how I see her personality."

Photo time was a little rainy, and they scooted beneath the Ben Franklin Bridge in Old City. Looking over at her soon-to-be husband, Kate knew she was doing exactly the right thing. I thought, "I couldn't imagine going through this with anyone else."

Discretionary spending

A bargain: The couple hired a music student to play piano and flute, and loaded indie rock and classic favorites on an iPad for during and after dinner. The cost was tiny when compared even to hiring a DJ.

The splurge: Seeing some amazing floral possibilities convinced Kate to add $1,000 to the budget.

The getaway

Three days at a B&B near Longwood Gardens.

Behind the Scenes

Officiant

Dana Silverberg Lawson, Wedding Weaver, www.weddingweaver.net

Venue

Power Plant Productions, Philadelphia

Food

Catering by Design, Philadelphia

Music

Caroline Sonett, laflutechantante.wix.com/carolinesonett#

Nathaniel Peterman, student of the bride

Photography

Rebecca Barger, www.RebeccaBarger.com

Flowers

Garnish, Philadelphia

Dress

By David Meister, purchased at Saks in Bala Cynwyd

Invitations

Zazzle-Zazzle.com


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'Love' Retrospective

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Maybe you survived a layoff or health crises together. Perhaps you never wanted children, but now have them. Or you always wanted children, and found the journey difficult.

Is marriage so much better - or worse - than you expected?

If you're interested in being featured in a "Love" retrospective, e-mail your triumphs, challenges, and adventures to weddings@phillynews.com , with your contact information.

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