Over the Delaware River, a double wedding straddling state lines
Philip Andrew Kuntz and Patricia Lynn Parent first met as neighbors across the street in Parsippany, NJ when they were 3 years old. “It wasn’t exactly the girl next door, but,” Mr. Kuntz said, “close enough.”
Kelly Craig Heflin and Carol Diane McNitt were well grown when they met in a public garden in Edgewater, Maryland, in 2018. “Imagine walking in a park one day and meeting the woman of your dreams,” said Ms. Heflin.
On June 3, they all walked together on the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where the two couples had a double wedding about two years after their first double date.
Although the quartet is a newer entity, the trio of Ms. Parent, Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Heflin have a history dating back to their days as students at Parsippany High School. Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Heflin have been best friends since they met in 1976. Mr. Kuntz and Ms. Parent, however, were in different circles then and were not as close.
The two grew apart further after graduation in 1978. After high school, Ms. Parent and her family left Parsippany for Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she later met the man she was to marry and raising two children before they turn 35. year the marriage ended in divorce in 2019.
In February 2020, Ms. Parent, 62, had started dating again. That month, she posted on Facebook about a suitor who spoke to her. A day later, Mr. Kuntz, 62, surprised her with a text message. Her older sister, Susan Rochelle, had seen Ms Parent’s Facebook post and told her she was single.
Mr. Kuntz and Ms. Parent began catching up over the phone and then via video calls using Facebook Messenger. Ms Parent, who was living in Grandville, Michigan at the time, learned that Mr Kuntz had also divorced in 2019 – his second – and was living in Rumson, NJ, with his twin sons, Liam and McDonagh, now 14.
In conversation with Ms. Parent, Mr. Kuntz said he “was so impressed with her spirit.” In the years leading up to her divorce, she had lost several loved ones. Her sister died of cancer in 2013. Two years later, her eldest son, Andrew, died aged 28 in 2015. (Her youngest son, Alex, is now 31.) And in 2016, she lost his father.
Mr. Kuntz, now a Bloomberg reporter in Manhattan, had heard about everything from his sister. But discussing the losses with Ms. Parent, a retired daycare operator, has made her focus better. “He’s a really positive person,” he said. “She is unfazed. She is unfazed. In the spring of 2020, he fell in love with the woman he last saw in 2003, at their 25th high school reunion.
Ms McNitt, 54, and Mr Heflin, 63, had then developed an equally strong bond after meeting at Historic London Town & Gardens in Edgewater in August 2018.
Mr. Heflin, director of business development for BAE Systems Inc., the US arm of an international defence, aerospace and security company, lived in Edgewater. Ms. McNitt, a mental health clinician at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, lived in Crownsville, Maryland. Both were nearing the end of long marriages and finalized their respective divorces the following year.
“Kelly was walking her two Border collies, and I was there to see the gardens and the historic sites,” Ms McNitt said. “He saw me reading a historic plaque and we ended up chatting for 15 minutes.”
They didn’t exchange contact details before parting ways, but that didn’t deter Ms McNitt from tracking down Mr Heflin on LinkedIn that evening. Although she didn’t have his last name, she had enough information to piece together that he was the same Kelly who then worked as a program manager at the AT&T office in Columbia, Maryland.
Mr Heflin said he was “completely shocked that she was reaching out in this way” – in a good way. “Getting a LinkedIn invite from him was just amazing.”
“We probably sent each other 20 LinkedIn messages each” before exchanging email addresses, he added. “Carol and I may be the only people who binge romantically texted on LinkedIn.”
Mr Heflin, who has a son, Ian, 30, and two daughters, Alyssa, 28, and Cassandra, 25, described the couple’s first conversations as calm and easy. Ms McNitt, who has no children, felt the same way. Plus, “I thought he was incredibly handsome,” she said.
The day after the email address exchange, Mr. Heflin asked Ms. McNitt on a first date, inviting her to a car show in Edgewater where his 1967 Pontiac Firebird was on display. Then they went for a drink at the Pier Waterfront Bar & Grill, where they talked for hours.
Within two months of meeting Mr. Heflin, Ms. McNitt said, she had fallen in love with him; Mr. Heflin said he fell in love with her even earlier. In August 2019, a year after they met, the two moved in together, into a new home she had recently purchased in Crownsville.
When Mr Heflin and Ms McNitt got engaged in September 2021, their first thought was that they would elope or have a five-minute wedding by the plaque in the garden where they met.
Then Mr. Kuntz floated another idea. He and Mrs. Parent, who had moved into his Rumson home earlier that year, had also decided to get married. So why not have a double wedding?
At that time, the two couples had been talking weekly since their first virtual double date in the summer of 2020, when Ms. McNitt and Mr. Heflin shared a screen in Maryland, Mr. Kuntz joined in New Jersey and Ms. Parent connected from Michigan. For on-screen stability, they all bought the same iPad stands “so no one gets seasick,” Kuntz said.
In July 2020, Ms. Parent flew to New Jersey to visit Mr. Kuntz, and the foursome met in person. She and Mrs. McNitt quickly developed a close friendship. “Patti is very easy to love,” Ms. McNitt said.
Once Mr. Kuntz suggested the idea of getting married in an intimate event, the four quickly embraced it. But figuring out where to tie a double knot took longer.
Mr. Kuntz and Ms. Parent, who got engaged in November 2021, and Mr. Heflin, their fellow Parsippany High alumnus, were on board for a small wedding somewhere near Mr. Kuntz’s home in New Jersey. Ms McNitt, who grew up in central Pennsylvania, had hoped to marry in her home state.
“Carol had no real connection to New Jersey,” Mr. Kuntz said.
When they identified New Hope, Pennsylvania, just across the border from New Jersey, as a possible location, Mr. Kuntz recalled a wedding he had recently attended in the area.
On that trip he had come across – literally – the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the Delaware River with one end in Delaware Township, NJ, and the other in Lumberville, Pennsylvania. Arranging a wedding on it meant that the two couples could get married together, but in different states.
Seeing a picture of the bridge, which opened in 1947, Ms. McNitt was immediately engaged. “I was like, this is perfect,” she said.
In February, after the couples found their sweet spot, Mr. Kuntz presented his plan to Jodee Inscho, director of community affairs at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. She signed the location, asking only that they not block pedestrians from crossing.
Upon their arrival on June 3, the bride and groom gathered in the middle of the bridge in their wedding attire. “We carefully counted the doohickeys holding the hanger cables to determine the exact midpoint, so that Patti and I could wed on one side of that line and Kelly and Carol could stand on the other,” Ms. Kuntz. He and Mr. Heflin then played rock, paper and scissors to decide which couple would become the first married couple.
In keeping with their common desire for a simple and intimate ceremony, no guests were invited. Instead, a dozen passers-by watched and bore witness, politely waiting for the wedding to end before crossing the bridge.
Ms. Parent and Mr. Kuntz were married by James Waltman, the mayor of Delaware Township, NJ, on the New Jersey side of the bridge. Ms McNitt and Mr Heflin were married in a Quaker self-union ceremony presided over by Mark Baum Baicker, chairman of the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors on the Pennsylvania side.
The bride and groom each recited handwritten vows before the two couples, pronounced married in about 15 minutes, stepped out with their officiants on the Pennsylvania side and headed to the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville for post-wedding drinks.
Later, the newlyweds went to the Dubliner, a bar in New Hope. Upon hearing of the wedding, the bartender poured the four of them a glass of champagne, then strapped on a guitar and serenaded the newlyweds with the Temptations hit “My Girl.”
After spending their wedding night at a bed and breakfast in New Hope, Ms. McNitt and Mr. Heflin joined Ms. Parent and Mr. Kuntz at their home in Rumson, where the couples hosted a reception with 75 guests.
Reflecting on their nuptials, Ms McNitt said: ‘It was really the four of us having fun.
When June 3, 2022
Where The Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge connecting New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Double happiness, double thank you Neither couple knew their officiant before they came up with the deck plan, but both officiants were happy to be part of the wedding. As a thank you, each celebrant received a gift certificate for a restaurant on either side of the bridge.
something borrowed Ms Parent was at least the fourth bride to wear a wedding shawl that belonged to her sister Kim London, who died in 2013. “My daughter-in-law and two of my nieces also wore it,” Ms Parent said. “Everyone who’s been married since has worn it. I kept it with me all day.