Gwen Silverman and Peter Hunt
June 9, 2018, in Philadelphia
But for the beverages, the New York City bar could have been a middle school dance that October night in 2015: A group of girls huddled together on one side, a group of guys on the other.
One of those guys — Peter — caught the eye of one girl — Gwen — the moment he walked in. When Peter noticed her noticing him, Gwen held his gaze for a few beats. "I thought we were making great eye contact across the bar," she said.
Alas, that was where Gwen's boldness ended. She couldn't bring herself to cross the room — not even with friend Gabriela's encouragement.
As for Peter, "I was trying to play it super-cool, but I'm sure it was coming off as awkward," he said.
Their lingering stalemate was too much for Gabriela. She left the other two girls and returned moments later with the four guys following her.
Gwen, who does marketing for a global law firm, and Peter, an accountant for a large fund-service company, introduced themselves. She spoke of growing up in Marlton and studying anthropology at Muhlenberg College, and he told her about his childhood in a northern New York City suburb and his finance degree from the University of Maryland. They discovered a common love of running.
Peter and Gwen's conversation stretched from day to evening, from one bar to another, but it wasn't really about the words. "It was one of those conversations where you're talking just to talk, because you just know you don't want the conversation to end," Peter said.
A few days later, they met at a West Village dive bar and had such a great time together they missed their dinner reservation, took a later seating. It was a fantastic, five-hour first date.
They live in Graduate Hospital now, but Peter, who is 37, lived in Brooklyn then, and Gwen, who is 29, lived in Chelsea. After a few weeks, they were seeing each other daily.
"I felt like I could be open and honest with her, as that's how she was with me," Peter said. "She was so generous — if I was working late, she would happily postpone plans, or meet me in Brooklyn. She was so down to earth, so easy-going."
From Gwen's perspective, it was Peter who was always the considerate one, willing to accommodate what she needed. "He was so nice, and kind of old fashioned — he would call me on the phone to make plans," she said. "He is so funny, so smart, and he treated me exactly how I had dreamed someone would."
In July 2016, about nine months after they met, Gwen moved to Peter's Brooklyn pad.
In November 2016, she brought him to Philadelphia. They ran their first race together — a half marathon during the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. "The race was incredibly difficult for me, but Pete helped me along the way. And then we explored the city, and had such a nice weekend together," Gwen said. "That was when Pete fell in love with the city a little bit."
While Gwen was away on a March 2017 business trip, Peter drove to Marlton to seek the blessing of her parents, Cheryl and Bob. His parents, Jane and Joe, were already in the know.
Gwen returned from D.C. in a rainstorm that extended her usual 20-minute trip from Penn Station to their apartment to about 45 minutes. "It felt like four hours," Peter said. Still, she walked in to an apartment lighted with candles and strewn with rose petals.
"Pete is so sweet and so romantic, I actually didn't even think it was for anything in particular. I just thought he was doing something nice for me," Gwen said.
"I had rehearsed a romantic movie-type speech, but as soon as I saw her, everything went out the window," Peter said. He asked her to sit, knelt in front of her, and stuttered through telling her how much he loves her, and how happy she makes him. "I want to spend the rest of my life making you that happy," he said.
Gwen was crying by the time she said yes, she would marry him.
By then, the couple had decided Philadelphia would be their home. They moved to Graduate Hospital that December.
Peter would have been happy to get hitched at City Hall, but as he waited for Gwen to come down the aisle at Union Trust, he was so glad they'd opted for something else. "To see all of my family, and everybody who traveled to be with us on both sides of the aisle, it reminded me of how much we were loved, and how many special people we have in our lives," he said. "At that moment, I knew it was going to be great."
The couple wed in a short, nondenominational ceremony. Their officiant, Peter McGuinness, told a bit of their story, as did the bride's sister and maid-of-honor, Diane. Peter's brother and best man, Colin, was the only other member of the bridal party.
"We wanted something casual yet traditional, like us," Gwen said. "And we wanted the DJ to be playing great hits so there was dancing the whole time. It was just a big party" for 135 guests. All the guys and girls who were with Gwen and Peter the day they met at that New York City bar attended their wedding.
Peter saw Gwen in her wedding dress at the first-look photo session, held before the ceremony. "To see her look so absolutely perfect was just stunning, and I couldn't stop smiling," he said. "It felt so right, and so real."
Gwen came down a staircase, and from her high perch, she could see everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin, including her soon-to-be-husband. "When I saw Pete, I was thinking how hard it was to believe that I found someone like him. Getting ready for the wedding was really exciting, but that moment simplified down to him and me, and having found that special person," she said. "It was pure joy."
A bargain: Gwen and Peter chose their venue for its high ceiling, wide-open space, and elegance. "It did not need an ounce of anything to improve the atmosphere, so we did the least amount possible," Gwen said. Leigh Florist suggested a budget, but no one flinched when Gwen asked them to cut it in half. The small centerpieces on each table were perfect, Gwen said.
The splurge: The couple wanted wedding photos to cherish for a lifetime. "We also wanted [a photographer] we would feel comfortable with, since we would be spending so much of our wedding day with them," Peter said. Photographer Sharyn Frenkel was the first vendor they signed with, he added. "She was worth every penny."
Two weeks in Sydney, the Outback, and on the Great Barrier Reef this fall.
Officiant: Peter McGuinness, FCM, Ardmore.
Venue: Union Trust, Philadelphia.
Food: Finley Catering, Philadelphia.
Music: RAK Sound LLC, Spinnerstown.
Photography: Sharyn Frenkel Photography, Doylestown.
Flowers: Leigh Florist, Audubon, N.J.
Dress: BHLDN, Philadelphia.
Hair/Makeup: Kristin Foreman Spence, Beautiful Brides Philly.