Love: Jill Regen & David Hulnick

For their first dance as a married couple, Jill Regen and David Hulnick chose "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson after their wedding Oct. 27.George Street Photo and Video
For their first dance as a married couple, Jill Regen and David Hulnick chose "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson after their wedding Oct. 27.George Street Photo and Video

October 27, 2013, in Philadelphia

Posted: January 23, 2014

Hello there

Jill and David met in 1995 as teenagers when he was a member of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization in West Chester, and she in Allentown.

They would see each other every few months, when BBYO members from across the region converged for a convention, where they learned leadership skills.

Little by little, David and Jill got to know each other.

Allentown hosted the 1996 kickoff convention that November, and since Jill was president, she planned the events. At her convention, for reasons neither can pinpoint, they spent more time together.

"He's really cute, and just exceptionally warm and loving, and also extremely funny. He has a quirky sense of humor," Jill said.

David liked the way she looked, too, and her amazing ability to quote dialogue from the movie Airplane or '90s rap lyrics.

"We clicked," said David. "And it was different from any other connection I'd ever felt before."

The Saturday night event was at Discovery Zone. "It's actually more for little kids, but we had a lot of fun," she said.

They sure did.

In the plastic ball pit, Jill kissed David.

It was his first kiss ever, and David's aunt, a BBYO adviser, saw the whole thing. "She started clapping," Jill said.

But long-distance love isn't easy when you're 17.

Back then, their every-other-day long-distance calls on landlines were pricey.

"We would drive to each other's towns every other weekend or so," David said.

Jill was a senior and David a junior. In the summer of 1997, right before she left home to study economics at Tufts University in Massachusetts, they broke up for logistical reasons.

The next fall, David went to Penn State, where he studied management science and information systems.

As the years passed, they e-mailed each other at least once annually, to say happy birthday. And the year they were 24, they met for dinner when Jill, who was living in Boston, was in town for business.

Both dated other people. But Jill admits that when she was between boyfriends, she'd sometimes wonder about David.

David couldn't help but think of Jill often. His grandmother kept only two pictures on her fridge, and one was of Jill and David, circa 1997. "Every time I went to my grandmother's, I was reminded of her," he said.

Hello, again

In June 2012, Jill was in Chicago, working as the director of portfolio and performance for the public school system. David, who by then had landed his current job as director of IT and operations for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, was traveling there for a friend's wedding. "I need to find some deep dish," he posted on Facebook.

Jill sent him a private message. "You in town?"

They made plans to grab a drink the next afternoon. David was nervous and brought two friends with him, to help out if the conversation lagged. But "the moment I looked into her eyes, I knew there was something there," he said.

Both hated to end the evening, but David had the wedding, and Jill had a date.

"I broke up with (the date) pretty much that night, after I saw David the first time," she said.

The next day, Jill called their mutual friend, Brian. "Hey, I just saw David. It was really great to see him," she said.

"That's funny," Brian said. "He just called me to say it was really great to see you."

David called the following day, while Jill was on a business trip. They didn't talk about the important thing. When Jill got home, "I e-mailed him, in a high-school kind of way," she said. "I said, 'It's been 17 years, and I don't think I will have another opportunity to say this. I know this is crazy, and you might not feel the same way. But I felt like there might have been something there.'"

Two weeks later, on July 4 weekend, Jill flew to Philadelphia. For the second time in their lives, they were in long-distance love.

How does forever sound?

In February 2013, Jill flew to Philadelphia to meet David, so they could travel together to a North Jersey wedding.

She was still groggy from sleeping on the plane when she spotted David, who had a small crowd gathered around him and was holding some sort of sign.

As she got closer, she saw the sign had photos of him holding up a different letter in each shot.

"I was like, 'What is going on?'" Jill said. "Then he got down on one knee.'"

The letters on David's sign spelled out: Will you marry me?

Jill said yes, and David's parents, other family members, and a group of strangers cheered.

That April, Jill, who is now 34, was hired by the New Jersey Department of Education, where she is now deputy chief talent officer. She moved in with David, also 34, and his two roommates in Society Hill.

It was so them

The couple, who now live in Marlton, held their ceremony and brunch reception for 180 at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue.

Theirs was the first wedding performed by Jill's cousin, recently ordained Rabbi Rachel Maimin.

Before the public part of the ceremony, the couple had a bedekken, in which David and Jill locked eyes before he pulled the veil over her face.

Their first dance was to Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am." The couple's five nephews and two nieces, ages 3 to 10, blessed the challah. And when it was time to dance the horah, the couple found their beloved nieces and nephews in the center circle with them.

Awestruck

When Jill was getting ready, people kept asking if she was OK. "I was on the verge of tears the whole time, but it was because I was just really, really happy." Finally seeing David at the pre-ceremony photo session, "I felt very fortunate. It was really emotional, and the most special moment."

David said nothing could have prepared him for seeing Jill. "I hadn't seen her in her wedding dress, and it was just this realization that this was happening."

Discretionary spending

The bargain: The couple loves EBE Entertainment's L.A. Starz, a 16-piece band, but didn't want to spend that much. The group worked with them, putting together a jazz quartet of their members, and limiting their play time to four hours. It cut the cost by two-thirds.

The splurge: The size of the guest list.

The getaway

Two weeks in Thailand.


DO YOU HAVE THE DATE?

Tell us in a short e-mail -at least six weeks before your ceremony - why we should feature your love story. Send it to weddings@phillynews.com . Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted.

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