Love: Julia Vdovichenko & Kevin Sanders

Julia Vdovichenko and Kevin Sanders. Master Studio Photography
Julia Vdovichenko and Kevin Sanders. Master Studio Photography

June 1, 2013, in Orefield, Pa.

Posted: August 29, 2013

Hello there

In spring 2008, Kevin was studying political science and Julia was just about to finish her marketing degree at Penn State. Her roommate Leigha was dating his roommate Larry.

Julia had no date for the formal. Leigha suggested she and Kevin would like each other. "I decided to take her up on it," said Julia, whose family moved from Ukraine to Northeast Philadelphia when she was 6. "I told her to see if he could go."

A night out with friends and a pretty girl seemed like fun to Kevin, who grew up in Langhorne. They met when he picked Julia up at her apartment.

"We both kind of have that confidence that comes from not caring what other people think," said Kevin.

At the formal, this trait was expressed on the dance floor. "We made jerks of ourselves and had a great time," Julia said.

Kevin was in naval ROTC, and the next day, they were throwing a tailgate before the Blue-White game.

"You could stop by, if you're not doing anything," he told Julia.

Always-responsible Julia knew she was falling hard when she called in sick to work.

The two discovered a common love of learning and seeing new things and a fierce loyalty to friends and family. But about five weeks later, Julia moved to Chicago to take the ArcelorMittal sales job she had been offered the day before she and Kevin met.

"We felt like we really had something," she said, but a month didn't seem like enough history to make it long-distance. "We broke up."

Julia, now 27, was transferred back to Philadelphia in spring 2009, the year Kevin, 26, graduated. He became an active-duty Marine, then returned to Philadelphia in 2010.

Hello again

Kevin sent Julia an e-mail once. Out of loyalty to the man she was then dating, Julia did not reply.

Single again in summer 2010, she sent him a Facebook message, apologizing for her earlier silence.

A week later, they walked around Newtown. "We definitely knew that we still had what we liked in each other originally," Kevin said.

They talked a lot of politics. Even not agreeing "made for some interesting conversations," Julia said.

In early July, their text messages got flirty. Then came a kiss.

Two months later, Kevin took a job as a shipping warehouse supervisor about an hour north of New York City.

"I don't want what happened when you graduated from school to happen now," he told her. "Will you come with me?"

A few months after visiting on weekends, she moved to the lake house he was renting in Shohola, Pa.

How does forever sound?

Julia's July 2012 birthday celebration in New York City began with a girlfriends' brunch. Back at the hotel, the dress she had planned to wear that night, her cellphone, and her wallet were missing.

A note assembled from magazine text said if she ever wanted to see her stuff or Kevin again, she better follow the clues.

Her wallet was locked in her car. A dry cleaner gave her the dress. A florist handed her flowers.

Last stop: The Natural History Museum. According to the plan, the ladies would walk from the subway stop, giving Kevin time to set up music and hide. They took a cab.

"I had something more elaborate than this planned," he told Julia. "Oh well. Will you marry me?"

It was so them

Kevin and Julia married after running the Tough Mudder - a course that required them to scale walls, scootch beneath obstacles, swim, and slog 11 miles through the mud, while raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Through the mire, he wore a $6 thrift store tuxedo, she a $50 1980s wedding gown.

Then they cleaned themselves with baby wipes. She changed into a white T-shirt, tennis skirt, and teal Chuck Taylors; he into blue shorts, a gray shirt, and red Chucks. About 20 guests watched as Journeys of the Heart officiant Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer told the couple's story and tied their hands together with multicolored threads.

The reception for 200 was held the next weekend. Kevin wore a new tux and Julia a new dress to the traditional Russian hall. "It was seven hours of dancing and eating and partying," Kevin said. "Everybody had a really good time."

Awestruck

The couple choreographed a bolero to Melody Gardot's "Our Love is Easy." "To be able to dance together like that and show people, 'Hey, this is who we are, how we are together,' - it was a really nice time," Kevin said. Said Julia: "We stepped on each other's feet a little bit, and we were late for some turns. I laughed through it when it was going well, or when it was going badly."

Discretionary spending

A bargain: The reception venue was a value because the food and the music from the in-house MC were both served all night, Kevin said.

The splurge: The couple passed up less expensive options for a photographer whose work they loved.

The getaway

Three and a half weeks in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Shortly after the wedding, the couple moved from Middletown, N.Y., to Chicago, where Julia will start a product-analyst job with ArcelorMittal, and Kevin will begin law school at Northwestern University.


Behind the Scenes

Officiant

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer of Journeys of the Heart, www.journeysoftheheart.org

Venues

Ceremony: Jaindl Farm, Orefield, Pa. Reception: Emperor Restaurant, Philadelphia

Food

Emperor Restaurant

Music

Emperor Restaurant

Photography

Master Studio Photography, Huntingdon Valley

Flowers

Flowers by Krystyna, New Jersey, 609-605-3074

Dress for reception

Sposabella, Feasterville


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