Allie Sedor and Joe Banks
May 20, 2017, in Valley Forge
With promises of a fun night of engineering discussion, cheap food, and booze, Joe's friend and former college roommate Brennan convinced him to attend the American Society of Civil Engineers Young Member Forum Winter Social. Then, Brennan promptly reported Joe's planned attendance to his friend Allie.
Allie helped organize the January 2012 event, but her happiness over the news went beyond expanding the list of attendees.
The previous summer, she, Brennan, and other office mates attended a Phillies game. Joe, spotting his pal, joined them for a few beers. "Who was that?" Allie wanted to know when Joe sauntered off to join the group he came with.
"It was a cosmic thing," she remembered. "We locked eyes, as cheesy as that sounds."
If the cosmos had plans for them, it was a little slower to clue Joe in. But no matter. At the soiree, held as always at McGillin's, Brennan reintroduced them. Joe very much enjoyed talking to Allie, whose eyes and smile beguiled him. During the raffle, his good luck at games of chance emboldened him. "If I win a prize, can I get something I want, within reason?" he asked her.
He won a gift card, and asked for her phone number.
A little more than a week later, they had beers at the former Darkhorse and dinner at Southwark, both wonderful and fun. So were the dates that followed.
The couple were serious by summer, and got a place together in Bella Vista that fall. In December 2015, they bought a home in the same neighborhood, where Joe does all the cooking, and Allie does all the cleaning.
Joe said it was easy to fall in love with someone who values family like he does and whose "engineer brain" understands his.
"From the moment I met Joe, he was lighthearted and genuine," Allie said. "We always had fun, and there were no games."
Joe, now 33, is a civil engineer employed by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to work on municipal trail and sidewalk projects for PennDot District 6. He grew up in Sicklerville with his sister, Jessica, and parents, Joe and Terry. Allie, 32, is a civil engineer for Jacobs Engineering Group. She grew up in Media with her brother, Brad, and parents, Jack and Mell.
Their biggest difference may be soccer. Joe coaches the South Jersey Barons U-23 women's summer league. He played league soccer growing up, went to Drexel on a soccer scholarship, and went semipro with the Ocean City Barons, now the Nor'easters. Allie has tried to like soccer, and pronounces herself "kind of a fan."
In summer 2015, Joe called Sean, his best friend since age 7. Sean and his wife, Julie, have three kids, and Allie admits that his visit to the city sans family, coupled with Joe's vagaries about their plans, made her a bit suspicious in the best way.
They were about to head to the Shore for Labor Day. Joe was in the bedroom when Allie walked in and immediately looked through the mail. "I got jury duty!" she exclaimed, as can be heard on the video Joe was making. "Great!" he called from the other end of their apartment. "Can you help me with this?"
Allie sighed — surely, this grown man could pack his own bag!
Then she saw the flowers. She saw the champagne. She saw the love of her life on his knee, offering her a ring. "Will you marry me?" he asked.
"Are you serious?" she asked, the incredulous question aimed at herself for being so excited about her civic duty when Joe had done all of this. She hugged and kissed him.
"Just confirming, is that a yes?" Joe asked.
"Of course!" she said.
Their wedding and reception for 140 were held at the Philander Chase Knox Estate in Valley Forge National Historic Park. The ceremony was held on the lawn. The couple asked Kristen, Joe's cousin and Allie's friend, to perform a ceremony of her own invention. One running theme was teamwork, a nod to Joe's coaching and playing soccer. There was a reading from a children's book Allie had given to Joe the year before, Sandol Stoddard Warburg's I Like You.
Allie promised Joe she'd try to be the light of all of his days. He promised to always adventure with her, near and far.
This couple's affinity for firing up the dance floor at weddings is well known in their circle. At their own reception, they had a rep to protect. "My favorite wedding dance song is Footloose, and we explored the whole dance floor during that one," Joe said.
Yes, dinner was delish, and guests received olive oil infused with the herbs their tables were named after: basil, parsley and the like. But really, "It was just a matter of getting through dinner to get to the dancing," Allie said.
From the upstairs of the estate building, Allie watched their guests arrive. "Seeing everybody we loved looking so happy to celebrate, I got the chills," she said.
Then it was time to walk down the aisle. Joe wasn't prepared for the happy tears that came to him at the sight of her. "Six months after knowing her, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her," he said. "But it was the realness of it, that I was actually going to be married to the woman of my dreams."
Allie watched Joe's emotional reaction as she walked toward him. Once at his side, she kissed him.
A bargain: Taking advantage of the caterer's BYO alcohol option allowed the couple to save about $10 per person and serve their favorite craft and specialty beers.
The splurge: The herb-infused olive oils were more expensive than typical favors, Allie said. "We really wanted to offer our guests something we would enjoy giving and enjoy using ourselves."
Two weeks of hiking, wine-tasting, kayaking, and eating in Greece.
Officiant: Kristen Andrews, cousin of the groom, ordained for the couple's ceremony
Venue: Philander Chase Knox Estate, Valley Forge National Historic Park
Catering: Robert Ryan Catering, Phoenixville
Music: DJ Jason Roy, JayRoy Entertainment, Havertown
Photography: Jim Heine, Hoffer Photography, Downingtown
Flowers: Sommerfield Designs, Malvern
Dress: Amsale Nouvelle, Nordstrom Bridal Suite, King of Prussia