Above the Delaware River, a Double Wedding Straddling State Lines

Above the Delaware River, a Double Wedding Straddling State Lines

Philip Andrew Kuntz and Patricia Lynn Parent first met as across-the-street neighbors in Parsippany, N.J., when both were 3 years old. “She wasn’t exactly the girl next door, but,” Mr. Kuntz said, “close enough.”

Kelly Craig Heflin and Carol Diane McNitt were well into adulthood when they met at a public garden in Edgewater, Md., in 2018. “Imagine walking through a park one day and meeting the woman of your dreams,” Mr. Heflin said.

On June 3, they all walked together onto the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where the two couples had a double wedding roughly two years after their first double date.

Though the foursome is more of a recent entity, the trio of Ms. Parent, Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Heflin has a history that dates to their days as students at Parsippany High School. Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Heflin have been best friends since meeting there in 1976. Mr. Kuntz and Ms. Parent, however, by then ran in different circles and weren’t as close.

The two grew even further apart following their graduation in 1978. After high school, Ms. Parent and her family left Parsippany for Fort Wayne, Ind., where she later met the man whom she would wed and raise two children with before their 35-year marriage ended in divorce in 2019.

By February 2020, Ms. Parent, 62, had started to date again. That month she posted on Facebook about a suitor who had talked her ear off. A day later, Mr. Kuntz, 62, surprised her with a text message. His eldest sister, Susan Rochelle, had seen Ms. Parent’s Facebook post and told him she was single.

Mr. Kuntz and Ms. Parent started catching up by phone, then via video calls using Facebook Messenger. Ms. Parent, who at the time was living in Grandville, Mich., learned that Mr. Kuntz had also gone through a divorce in 2019 — his second — and was living in Rumson, N.J., with his twin sons, Liam and McDonagh, now 14.

While talking with Ms. Parent, Mr. Kuntz said he “was so impressed by her spirit.” In the years preceding her divorce, she had lost several loved ones. Her sister died of cancer in 2013. Two years later, her elder son, Andrew, died at age 28 in 2015. (Her younger son, Alex, is now 31.) And in 2016, she lost her father.

Mr. Kuntz, now a journalist at Bloomberg in Manhattan, had heard about all from his sister. But discussing the losses with Ms. Parent, a retired day care operator, brought her into sharper focus. “She’s a really positive person,” he said. “She’s unfaze-able. She’s unflappable.” By the spring of 2020, he had fallen in love with the woman he had last seen in 2003, at their 25th high school reunion.

Ms. McNitt, 54, and Mr. Heflin, 63, had by then developed an equally strong bond after meeting at the Historic London Town & Gardens in Edgewater, in August 2018.

Mr. Heflin, a director of business development for BAE Systems Inc., the U.S. arm of an international defense, aerospace and security company, was living in Edgewater. Ms. McNitt, a mental health clinician at the Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, was living in Crownsville, Md. Both were nearing the end of long marriages, and finalized their respective divorces the following year.

“Kelly was walking his two Border collies, and I was there to see the gardens and historical sites,” Ms. McNitt said. “He saw me reading a historical plaque and we ended up chatting for 15 minutes.”

They failed to exchange contact information before parting ways, but that did not deter Ms. McNitt from tracking down Mr. Heflin on LinkedIn that same night. Though 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 AT&T’s office in Columbia, Md.

Mr. Heflin said he was “completely shocked by her reaching out in that fashion” — in a good way. “To get an invitation on LinkedIn from her was just incredible.”

“We probably sent each other 20 LinkedIn messages each” before exchanging email addresses, he added. “Carol and I might be the only people who’ve romantic text-messaged in a flurry on LinkedIn.”

Mr. Heflin, who has a son, Ian, 30, and two daughters, Alyssa, 28, and Cassandra, 25, described the pair’s early conversations as calm and easy. Ms. McNitt, who has no children, felt the same. Plus, “I thought he was incredibly handsome,” she said.

The day after they traded email addresses, 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. Afterward, they went for drinks at the Pier Waterfront Bar & Grill, where they talked for hours.

Within two months of meeting Mr. Heflin, Ms. McNitt said, she had fallen for him; Mr. Heflin said he fell for her even sooner. In August 2019, a year after they met, the two moved in together, into a new home she had recently bought in Crownsville.

When Mr. Heflin and Ms. McNitt got engaged in September 2021, their first thought was that they would elope or do a five-minute wedding near the plaque in the garden where they met.

Then Mr. Kuntz floated another idea. He and Ms. Parent, who had moved into his Rumson home earlier that year, had also decided to get married. So why not do a double wedding?

By then the two couples had been talking on a weekly basis 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 from New Jersey and Ms. Parent logged on from Michigan. For onscreen stability, they all bought the same iPad stands “so nobody would get seasick,” Mr. Kuntz said.

In July 2020, Ms. Parent flew to New Jersey to visit Mr. Kuntz, and the foursome met in person. She and Ms. McNitt quickly developed a close friendship of their own. “Patti is very easy to like,” Ms. McNitt said.

Once Mr. Kuntz suggested the idea of marrying together at an intimate event, the four quickly embraced it. But figuring out where to tie a double knot took more time.

Mr. Kuntz and Ms. Parent, who became engaged in November 2021, and Mr. Heflin, their fellow Parsippany High alumnus, were on board for a small wedding somewhere near Mr. Kuntz’s house 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, Pa., which is just across the New Jersey border, as a possible location, Mr. Kuntz remembered a wedding he had recently attended in the area.

On that trip, he had come across — quite literally — the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge, a pedestrian walkway above the Delaware River with one end in Delaware Township, N.J., and the other in Lumberville, Pa. Staging a wedding on it meant that both couples could marry together, but in different states.

Upon seeing a picture of the bridge, which opened in 1947, Ms. McNitt committed right away. “I was like, this is perfect,” she said.

In February, after the couples had found their ideal venue, Mr. Kuntz brought their plan to Jodee Inscho, the director of community affairs at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. She signed off on the location, asking only that they not prevent pedestrians from crossing.

When they arrived on June 3, the brides and grooms congregated at the bridge’s midpoint in their wedding attire. “We carefully counted the doohickeys holding the suspension cables to determine the exact middle, so Patti and I could get married on one side of that line and Kelly and Carol could stand on the other,” Mr. Kuntz said. He and Mr. Heflin then played rock, paper, scissors to decide which couple would become newlyweds first.

In keeping with their joint desire for a simple, intimate ceremony, no guests were invited. Instead, about a dozen passers-by watched and witnessed, waiting politely for the wedding to wrap before crossing the bridge.

Ms. Parent and Mr. Kuntz were wed by James Waltman, the mayor of Delaware Township, N.J., on the New Jersey side of the bridge. Ms. McNitt and Mr. Heflin were married in a self-uniting Quaker ceremony presided over by Mark Baum Baicker, chairman of the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors, on its Pennsylvania side.

The brides and grooms each recited handwritten vows before both couples, pronounced married in about 15 minutes, exited with their officiants on the Pennsylvania side and walked to the Black Bass Hotel, in Lumberville, for a post-wedding drink.

Later, the newlyweds went to the Dubliner, a bar in New Hope. On hearing of the wedding, the bartender there poured all four 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 just the four of us having fun.”

When June 3, 2022

Where The Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge connecting New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Double Happiness, Double Thanks Neither couple knew their officiant before they hatched the bridge plan, but both officiants welcomed participating in the wedding. As a thank you, each officiant received a gift certificate to 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 have also worn it,” Ms. Parent said. “Everybody who has gotten married since has worn it. I kept it with me all day.”

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