Kelci Holman and Nicholas Beardsley
July 29, 2017, in Philadelphia
Every day after work at the Fox Chase Cancer Center lab, Kelci took the train to see Nic, the guy she had met as they both learned how to mentor incoming freshman honors students two weeks before.
Between Fox Chase and University City, the Roslyn native came up with what she hoped were reasonable excuses for her to be on campus, because Nic was interesting, and cute, and so funny.
"She'd say something like, 'Oh, I'm in town to do something with a friend, but if you're going to be around later, we could hang out,' " Nic, who was then a rising sophomore architecture major, remembered.
There were group outings, such as seeing Batman in IMAX. But sometimes, it was just the two of them. "We both love watching the Olympics, and so I'd be like, 'Oh! Let's go watch swimming!' or something," said Kelci, who was in the same year at Drexel University, studying biological sciences.
Did Nic know Kelci was making excuses to see him? Not at first.
"I'm pretty oblivious about such things," he said.
"He's so oblivious!" Kelci agreed.
But he liked hanging out with and talking to this cute, smart girl. "A week or two into it, I added her on Facebook so we could talk more," he said. "Once we started talking, it was nonstop."
Nic is from North East, Pa., a small town in the farm country near Erie, but he spent the summer here, working as freshman orientation leader. They saw each other almost daily and were soon serious.
Kelci had never known emotional support like she got from Nic. He was there when her parents separated; when her mom, Rosetta, was hospitalized after abdominal surgery; and when, a month into their relationship, Kelci flew to Tampa for spinal surgery.
Her new boyfriend couldn't go, but he sent her with one of his T-shirts, which she wore constantly. "I started crying one night on the phone. I was scared, and he began reading certain passages from the Bible to me," Kelci said. "He was doing everything in his power to help me feel safe."
Nic says Kelci gave as much as she got. "Not many people took the time to genuinely listen to me like she did," he said. "First and foremost, she was more of a friend to me than anyone had ever been." A friend who made him laugh — and made him so much delicious food. "She's Italian," he said by way of explanation. When she visited his apartment, they would cook together, and some sort of Kelci kitchen magic made everything so much better than when he cooked alone.
The couple moved into a Graduate Hospital apartment in February 2015. Kelsey graduated in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a minor in architecture. She's now finishing a master's of biomedical sciences at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and plans to attend medical school. Nic graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's of architecture and a minor in business administration. He is an architect with Post Bros. in Philadelphia.
In June, they bought a house in Manayunk, which the couple, both 24, share with Lily, a cow-patterned cat.
In summer 2016, Nic called Kelci's mom, seeking her blessing to ask Kelci to marry him. She and Kelci are close, and Nic didn't want to torture her with keeping so big a secret. "I knew it wasn't going to be long; I had a proposal on Freeport Beach [on Lake Erie] all lined up."
Except it poured the entire day.
Nic hid the ring and waited for the next special occasion. In mid-September, he could wait no more and decided what was about to happen was its own occasion. "It really came down to, 'Hey, let's go get brunch somewhere,' " he remembered.
After brunch, they walked to Julian Abele Park, a small green space with trees and flowers they discovered while searching the city for such little treasures — one of their favorite pastimes.
"We were sitting on one of the benches, and I was really nervous," Nic said.
"He told me all the reasons he loves me," Kelci said.
"I got down on one knee, and Kelci said I didn't have to get down on one knee. But I asked her from there, and I pulled out the ring, and we both started crying," Nic said.
Kelci's mom never cracked — and kept her wedding planning book well-hidden.
The couple wed surrounded by the wildflowers of Morris Arboretum's Pennock Flower Walk in a nondenominational ceremony so that her Catholic family and his Baptist one would feel equally comfortable.
Kelci's brother, Cody, walked her down the aisle. Nic's former youth pastor performed the ceremony. A photographer friend snapped the photos. The couple wrote their own vows.
"I promised that as well as growing old together, we would grow together," Nic said.
"I promised that I would love him unconditionally and help him through any difficult times he's having," Kelci said. "I also promised to cheer for Ohio State football." The latter was both the verbal equivalent of a high-five to her groom and a playful dig at the best man and a groomsman, a Michigan man and Penn Stater, respectively.
The reception for 120 was held under a tent behind the visitors' center. Guests signed blocks from a giant Jenga game and signed a Bible next to their favorite verses.
They skipped a DJ but entered the reception to "Feeling This" by Blink 182 and danced to Ingrid Michaelson's version of "Can't Help Falling in Love." Other dance music was loaded on the playlist, but most people followed the couple's lead and mingled instead. "It was so nice to sit and talk to everyone, especially people we haven't seen in a long time," Kelci said.
As favors, the couple gave mini-jars of honey adorned with a bee and the words "Kelci and Nic, Meant to Bee." The couple loves puns, and Nic's dad, Brian, is a beekeeper.
Nic thought back on everything he and Kelci had experienced together as he stood watching their mutual friends process down the aisle, and then his best friend and best man, and then, finally, Kelci. "I started tearing up and was trying to keep myself composed, because it just made me so happy," he said.
"When I got to where Nic was standing, I looked him right in the eyes, and I have never felt so happy in my entire life," Kelci said. "When we were officially married and started walking back down the aisle, it felt like a dream."
A bargain: The last Saturday in July was one of the least expensive days to book their venue. And the day was pleasantly cool, not 95 degrees with 100 -percent humidity, as the groom feared.
The splurge: There was way more food, dessert, and cake than they needed, plus his-and-her signature drinks of whiskey lemonade and sparkling rum punch, respectively.
This couple likes the snow and is saving money to make the most of it this winter. "Our goal is skiing in Switzerland," Kelci said. "It's someplace new to explore, with a lot of good food to eat, and a reason to cuddle," Nic said.
Officiant: Pastor Dan Cass, Greenfield Baptist Church, North East, Pa.
Venue: Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia.
Photography: David Vincent; Nampa, Idaho.
Flowers: Bouquets, boutonnieres, and table arrangements were made by the bride's aunt Fran Cahill as a gift to the couple.
Dress: David's Bridal, Feasterville.