Allyson Mitidieri and David Washick
November 17, 2017 in Hainesport
Because no one came to swim that rainy July day in 2007, the Kingston Estates Swim Club lifeguards played Battle of the Sexes, a game requiring players to answer questions about the opposite gender.
"Chanel No. 5!" Dave yelled in answer to one question. Allyson laughed: How in the world did he know about that?
Allyson and Dave had known each other's names and faces for years. Both grew up in Cherry Hill, attended Cherry Hill High School West, and were competitive swimmers. But the rising senior (Dave) and rising sophomore (Allyson) had never hung out together before. They talked between their turns, and each felt a spark of interest. From then on, they spoke and smiled nervously at each other every day they were on duty together.
One day, Dave summoned every drop of coolness in his being and approached Allyson's lifeguard stand. "I took her phone out of her bag and put my number in it. I thought I was real smooth," he said. They started texting later that day and never stopped.
Their first real date wasn't until Oct. 20, when they saw The Nightmare Before Christmas. Allyson had an 11 p.m. curfew, and there was no way Dave was dropping her off late — her parents were Mr. Mitidieri, Cherry Hill West special education teacher, and Mrs. Mitidieri, Cherry Hill West English teacher. But when the movie ended with time to spare, neither wanted to waste even a minute. "We got ice cream. We went bowling, and then, 'cause we were right next door, we went to Dunkin' Donuts," Allyson remembers. They made curfew and have been together ever since, although not always geographically.
"With her, I could be me, worry-free," said Dave, who is now 28. "I remember when I was going away to college and someone was like, 'Are you going to stay with her or end it?' And I said, 'I'm just really happy! Why would I stop such a good thing?' "
Allyson, now 25, almost immediately adored Dave — he has always supported her and goes above and beyond in everything he does. Love dawned more slowly. Dave graduated with a history degree from Rowan University but studied at King's College in Wilkes-Barre his freshman year. He was swamped with school and swimming, and her parents weren't keen on her driving three hours to visit him at college. "That was a rough year, to say the least," Allyson said. But "it was being so far away and wishing we were together … when I really figured it out," she said.
Allyson studied nutrition and dietetics on a swimming scholarship at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
After college, Dave moved back home to Cherry Hill and became a volunteer firefighter with Haddon Fire Company No. 1, a certified EMT, and a swimming coach with the Jersey Wahoos. He later was hired by the Westampton Fire Department as a per diem firefighter and EMT.
Allyson stayed at IUP to earn a master's degree in nutrition and exercise science. She was there in 2015 when she got the call that her dad had been taken to Jefferson University Hospital. A terrible snowstorm meant she couldn't get to him. She called Dave, who rushed to the hospital to be with her parents, Nick and Barbara. It was then that Allyson knew Dave was part of her family.
"I need you to get through this," Dave told his girlfriend's father that night. He planned to ask for Allyson's hand in marriage later that year, and Nick needed to be there.
Allyson was able to get home the following day. Her dad had not had a stroke, but a hemorrhaging brain aneurysm. He has since made a full recovery.
In December 2015, Dave received Nick and Barbara's blessing. He bought a ring in July 2016, and Allyson, now a dietitian based at the Cherry Hill Jewish Community Center and Health Goals Chiropractic, moved back home that August.
That October, the couple went to Disney World, a trip Dave said was to celebrate the end of the long-distance portion of their relationship. On the morning of the nine-year anniversary of their first date, they had an early breakfast at the Polynesian, then were walking on the beach when Dave came to a sudden stop.
He said beautiful things about how much he loved her, then dropped to one knee and asked Allyson to marry him.
She stared at him in shock for the longest five seconds in Dave's life. "Yes!" she finally said and hugged him.
"I've got one more surprise for you," Dave said, turning her around. There were her parents, and his — Dave Sr. and Sharon — and his brother, Steve.
The couple wed and celebrated at the Bradford Estates. An outdoor ceremony was a must for the nature lovers, but the 49-degree temperature inspired the Rev. John Haag to keep their ceremony beneath a pergola short and sweet. He told the couple's story and spoke about the things that made them fall in love. In addition to more typical vows, Allyson promised Dave that along with their wedding anniversary, she would always celebrate Oct. 20 — the date of their first date and their engagement. Dave promised to listen to Allyson even if the Eagles are on the clock during the NFL draft, to support her better than the Phillies bullpen, and to be patient with her no matter how long she takes to drink a beer.
They and their 185 guests moved indoors for the reception, where everyone demolished the mac and cheese bar and a whole lot of other food. During the cocktail hour, some folks from Westampton Fire pulled up in a firetruck. "I was blown away by that; it made me so happy," Dave said.
The couple lives in Haddon Township, but Dave is now based in Prince William County, Va., where he has been hired as a full-time firefighter and EMT. His academy class began Jan. 22.
Dave did not want to see Allyson before her walk down the aisle. He knew Allyson really wanted to do a "first look" beforehand, though, and he acquiesced two days before the ceremony. "It was probably the best part of my day," Allyson said. "It was a quiet time that we had before everything got crazy. It was time to say, 'This is it! Engaged Dave and Allyson are about to be married Dave and Allyson.' And it was so nice to reflect in those quiet moments, just the two of us."
"When I saw her, I couldn't speak," Dave said. "I was thinking I should tell her how good she looks, but nothing would come out."
To his delight, the first look didn't lessen the impact of seeing Allyson walk down the aisle. They had been together nearly 10 years, and "it was well worth the wait," he said. "All those nights hating being long-distance, how ever many hours and miles we were apart, it was all over, and this is what the wait was for."
A bargain: The venue gave the couple 50 percent off the cost of the ceremony because Dave is a first responder, plus the cake was included.
The splurge: They weren't planning on a videographer until multiple married couples told Dave and Allyson forgoing one was their big regret.
A mini-moon at Shenandoah National Park, to be followed by 10 days in Ireland this fall.
Officiant: The Rev. John E. Haag, CITI ministries.
Venue and food: The Bradford Estate, Hainesport.
Music: Center Stage Entertainment, Lindenwold.
Photography: Studio K Photography, Cherry Hill.
Videography: Brian Jenkins, Vacad Films, Clementon.
Flowers: Stella Castner, Always Beautiful Floral, Berlin.
Dress: Angel Bridal, Haddonfield.
Hair/Makeup: Mora Salon, Cherry Hill.