Lindsey McKee and Francis Hughes
July 22, 2017, in Collegeville
They were mutually mortified.
It was all fun wedding games when Lindsey's cousin Kim — the bride that July 2013 day — threw the bouquet right at her and Frankie snagged the garter tossed by his cousin Mike, the groom.
Then they remembered that their trophies came with expectations. Lindsey tried to walk away, but the bride wouldn't have it. The DJ suggested the catchers introduce themselves, and Frank turned on the goofy charm to lessen the awkwardness: He danced "The Worm" over to Lindsey and shook her hand.
It was garter time. Lindsey said her knee was far enough. They hugged, and, hallelujah, it was over.
It could have been worse, Lindsey thought, had garter guy not been so funny. "Who is that?" maid of honor Lindsey asked the bride. "That's who we were trying to set you up with," Kim said.
Lindsey thought setups were weird and had said no, without knowing anything about Frankie, who was never wise to the discussion. A month later, at the wedding, he kept stealing glances at the lady who caught the bouquet.
They danced a few times. After the reception, Frankie plopped himself down in Lindsey's booth at the Concordville Inn bar, where the bridal party stayed. Both were charmed by their first real conversation. "I had to walk a mile and half down Route 1 to the place where I was staying," he said, "but it was worth it."
Three days later, Lindsey, who is now 27 and a Haverford Middle School guidance counselor, and Frankie, now 30 and an adapted physical education teacher for the Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., met in Media for dinner at Margaret Kuo's.
"We ordered a big dinner, and a glass of wine each, but for three hours, we barely ate a bite of food, we barely drank," Frankie said. "We talked. We told stories. We commented on each other's stories, and we laughed."
Frankie's mom ended up enjoying their dinner later that week.
Lindsey texted her sister to say that she had had so much fun, that she liked that Frankie was a teacher and worked with kids, just as she did.
They went on two to three dates a week, and, within a month, were together every weekend and embracing the boyfriend/girlfriend labels.
"She makes me belly laugh," Frankie, who grew up in Springfield, Delaware County, said of Lindsey, who grew up in King of Prussia. "She's proud of me. And I don't ever have to search for a friend to hang out with, because she's right here."
"He works with kids with disabilities, and it's a hard job, and I think that's amazing," Lindsey said. "Frankie is the most fun person that you've ever met. He's also the most selfless."
In November 2014, Lindsey and her cat, Lily, and Frankie and his cat, Stella, moved into a townhouse in Claymont, Del.
In fall 2015, Frankie called his sister Erin with a plan: "I want you to tell Lindsey you want to throw me a surprise birthday party." Erin asked Lindsey for help, and Lindsey happily agreed.
On several occasions, Frankie told Lindsey he was working late, when really he was meeting with his sister to discuss strategy, or making a sign bearing an important question. He booked Spasso — an Italian restaurant across the street from the scene of their first date.
On the October night in question, Lindsey still thought she was the one with the secret when she told Frankie that they were invited to meet up with Erin and some of her high school friends.
They walked into the restaurant, and the roughly 30 gathered yelled, "Surprise!"
Frankie faked astonishment. He picked Lindsey up in a giant hug and spun her, putting her down so that her back faced the room. As he knew they would, the crowd parted, revealing the sign he had made. "That's a weird way of spelling Happy Birthday," he quipped. Lindsey turned around to read, "Will you marry me?"
The couple wed at the Barn on Bridge in a ceremony officiated by Frankie's Aunt Jeanne. "She made a little comment in the beginning about us and how she's seen our love grow, recognized those that couldn't be there with us, and we got right into the vows," Lindsey said. It was seven minutes to Mr. and Mrs.
Jeanne chose simple vows for the couple to take in front of their 187 guests. Frankie and Lindsey exchanged their most personal remembrances and promises privately, in letters written to each other and read early that morning.
The couple headed to the dance floor when their DJ — the same one who had introduced them at their cousins' wedding years earlier — began playing "Die a Happy Man." But it wasn't Thomas Rhett singing. It was Frankie. He had taken vocal lessons, and, along with a violinist, recorded the first two verses, changing a few words to say that that night was the best night and that it was her white dress that brought him to his knees.
"I couldn't believe he had the guts to do something like that for me," Lindsey said. What made the song sweeter is that even Frankie's car serenades had stopped for a while due to recent vocal cord surgery.
"I cried my eyes out for three full days," Lindsey said.
And, of course, the couple who met when they caught the bouquet and garter gave the single people at their reception the same opportunity.
Waiting with his back turned, Frankie heard Lindsey's footsteps coming across the bridge. "I knew I was going to see her soon," he said, "and that we were an hour away from becoming husband and wife."
Frankie turned around, and Lindsey was a blur in white. "He had tears in his eyes and tears on his vest," Lindsey said. "It was everything that I could have ever wanted from that moment, and then I started crying. And then we were hugging, crying, and taking deep breaths together."
"When I hugged her, I cried even more," Frankie said. He broke their hug so he could finally look at the bride.
A bargain: Instead of using a florist, the bride bought silk flowers on sale and purchased LED candles and other elements with every coupon she could clip. The couple assembled everything together. "Instead of paying around $3,000, we paid $300," she said.
The splurge: The couple DIY'd the flowers, the programs, and everything else they could to clear as much budget as possible for their venue. "We wanted a certain look to the wedding," Frankie said, "and the Barn was it."
Eleven days in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Officiant: Jeanne Stanton, aunt of the groom, who was ordained online.
Venue: The Barn on Bridge, Collegeville.
Food: The Barn on Bridge.
Music: DJ John DiNardo, DiNardo Bros. Entertainment, Sewell.
Photography: Christie Green Photography, West Chester.
Videography: Andrew Kibe.
Dress: Casablanca, purchased at the Wedding Pavilion at Van Cleve, Paoli.
Hair: Samantha Green, Salon DeSante, Springfield.