Melissa Andresko and Ross Mabon
July 15, 2017, in Philadelphia
One afternoon in April 2014, Ross said goodbye to a friend in D.C. and drove home to Lambertville, N.J. Melissa's return flight from an L.A. business trip had just about reached Philadelphia International, where she planned to meet her ride home to Whitehall, Pa., just outside Allentown.
Ross pulled off I-95 to get some food, and for a few minutes, the two were geographically close enough to show up on each other's Tinder feed. A couple of photos and very short self-descriptions were enough for both to swipe right — the way users say yes to the dating app's matches.
"It was just one of those things, an instant attraction," Ross said.
"In the picture he had posted, he was wearing his kilt, and a man in a kilt is irresistible," Melissa said.
Melissa, now 41, and Ross, 43, spent the next week messaging. She learned he grew up in Kilmarnock on Scotland's west coast, had moved to the United States in 2000 to do postdoctoral research, and never left. Ross is now director of chemistry research at Exxon Mobil Corp. He learned that Melissa grew up in Allentown, just a few miles from where she still lived, and is public relations director and spokesperson at Lutron Electronics in Coopersburg.
They decided to meet between their homes, in Easton, a city neither knew well. Ross texted the name of a sports bar he found online. He got there first. The alleyway entrance was his first clue it might be a little too divey for a first date. He walked in, then right back out. Melissa came around the corner to find him waiting outside. "We need to go somewhere else," he said. Both found it hilarious.
They had drinks at a place with an outdoor patio. The air cooled, but the date had not, so they took it indoors to 3rd & Ferry Fish Market. The conversation was still going strong at 9 p.m., when Ross had to head to a retirement party for the owner of his favorite scuba shop.
It was the last first date either would ever have.
"I have never clicked with anyone before like I did with Melissa," Ross said. "There was this realization that, 'Oh my God, she's just like me!' "
"It's not often you run across other people who like '80s music this much," Melissa said, laughing in agreement. Previously married, she had been single for a decade.
They just had so much fun together. One evening early in their courtship was spent at the Raven, a New Hope place with a piano bar. "If we ever get married," Ross said, "we have got to have this piano player at our wedding." Neither freaked out.
Afterward, no cab would stop. "We thought, screw it. Let's just walk," Ross said. They were two miles from his apartment, where her car was parked. After a while, Melissa said, "these heels were not made for walking!" So Ross put her on his back, piggyback style. "We walked over the bridge that way, laughing," he said.
In December 2014, Ross left Lambertville for Whitehall, where the couple live with their adopted terrier mix, Parker, and their shared passion for fashion: Melissa's shoes and purses live in a room called Missy Land, and Ross' collection of shirts, slacks, jackets, shoes, kilts, and other attire required the construction of a whole new man-size closet.
Melissa knew a proposal was coming — they had designed the ring together. In late November 2015, the couple spent a weekend in Lambertville and New Hope. Being back in Lambertville and finding two dozen red roses in their room at the Lambertville Station Inn, Melissa wondered if this was the big weekend. After some late-afternoon drinks, "she was trying to pat down my pockets to see if the ring was in there," Ross said. But he had stashed it in the pocket she couldn't reach.
Ross hoped to ask somewhere beautiful outdoors, but it rained all day. Back at their Geneva Room suite, Ross waited until they were dressed for a fancy dinner, then knelt. He told Melissa he loved her more than anything, that she was his best friend, and asked: Will you marry me?
"I just felt — and still do to this day — that I'm the luckiest girl in the world that this wonderful man picked me," Melissa said.
The couple wed at Union Trust in a ceremony performed by Ross' piano teacher and friend Pastor Sam, an ordained minister. Ross, who wore a dark-green kilt in black watch tartan, walked the aisle behind a piper playing "My Love is Like a Red, Red, Rose," by Scottish bard Robert Burns.
The groomsmen wore white jackets with black lapels in homage to Ross' love of James Bond. The bridesmaids wore floor-length navy sequined gowns.
Melissa, in a blush pink gown with a long, peacocklike tail, walked in with her father to the Italian aria "O Mio Babbino Caro." The couple loved the song the first time they heard it, as Coldplay was about to start a show at the Linc.
After taking their vows in front of a 12-foot-square wall of pink and white flowers, the newlyweds recessed to Coldplay's "Clocks," played by a harpist.
Cocktail hour featured the pianist from the Raven the groom had suggested long before.
The reception for 120 was all about glam and The Great Gatsby: centerpieces of giant feather plumes and strings of crystal, a big monogram M on the dance floor, a swiss dot and pink rosette Termini Bros. cake with a giant pink peacock topper, its feather tail wrapped around the layers of cake.
Ross' mom, Mary, had died 12 years ago. Father Ian's doctor advised him not to travel from Scotland. Their son toasted them with thanks for supporting his education and allowing him to travel the world and meet his future wife. "Without my parents' support," Ross said, "none of this would have been possible."
Melissa and Ross' first dance was to Johnny Mathis' "Chances Are." They didn't learn until the rehearsal that it was the same song her parents, Jim and Alexis, danced to at their wedding in 1974.
The after-party featured '80s music.
Photos were to be taken before the ceremony, and one photographer walked Melissa to the wall Ross was standing behind for the big reveal. "I was still hidden from him, but I could hear his voice, and, oh, my God," she said. "I walked around the corner, and there he was with his back to me, and I lost it and burst into tears. I ran back behind the wall because I was so overcome from seeing him," she said. She composed herself, walked back to Ross, and tapped him on the shoulder.
They hugged and kissed, then spent three fabulously fun hours feeling like rock stars having photos taken around the city.
Ross can't really describe the joy he felt holding hands with Melissa as they said their vows in front of friends and family. "It was this overwhelming sense of happiness and gratitude," he said.
The bargain: Invitations are important, but not $15 apiece important, Melissa said. They ordered online to save money — then saved even more because the company twice made errors.
The splurge: Five musical acts — the piper, the harpist, the keyboardist/lounge singer, the party band UUU, and the after-party DJ.
A week in Barbados, to be followed by a fall trip to Europe.
Officiant: Pastor Sam Guido, Sam Guido Evangelical Ministries, Slatington, Pa.
Venue: Union Trust, Philadelphia.
Bagpiper: William Watson, Springfield.
Harpist: Jose Luis Rodriguez, New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Cocktail hour singer/keyboardist: Michael Ferreri, New York.
Reception band: UUU, Lehigh Valley.
Photography: Hoffer Photography, Downingtown.
Flowers: Gene Huddleson, Detail + Design, Indianapolis.
Dress: Maggie Sotero, purchased at Bridals by Sandra, Nazareth, Pa.
Hair and Makeup: The Philly Hair & Makeup Co., Philadelphia.
Groom's attire: Custom-made Scottish Highland wear, USA Kilts, Spring City.
Planner: Gene Huddleson, Detail + Design, Indianapolis.