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Michelle & Andy 

Married December 11, 2013

click to enlarge CANDACE BERRY
  • Candace Berry

When Michelle Kenstler and Andy Howat met in 2001, she was a barista and he worked at a nearby bike shop. “Andy would come in every day, order his coffee and bagel - twice toasted, not too much cream cheese - and quietly melt my heart.” Soon he was slipping her book recommendations across the counter and their friendship was morphing into into love, sweet love. After five years together, the Pennsylvania couple went their separate ways - life interrupted, sending Michelle to South Carolina. “The timing never seemed right for us,” she says.“I moved to West Virginia, Andy moved to Seattle, Washington.” In 2012, three years after Michelle had returned to PA, she got a call from Andy that would begin another chapter in their love story. By fall 2013 he had moved back home too and after long day suggested they visit Michelle’s coffee shop for old times’ sake - it turned out a bunch of her long-lost work friends happened to be there. “Andy had secretly tracked down each of them and they had all met, and hid, at the coffee shop awaiting our arrival that night. One by one they emerged from their hiding places as I stood and watched the past come alive.” After reading something he’d written to the room, Andy’s nephew emerged holding his mother’s ring - it was the perfect proposal. With their families spread across the States, and a craving for intimacy and freedom when it came to the big day, the pair decided to elope in Nova Scotia. ❱❱

It was a seemingly random destination but Michelle had a love for the Maritime vibe and Andy has a Scottish background. “I started looking through old journals that I had kept when Andy and I had first been dating,” says Michelle. “To my surprise and delight, Andy had told me back in 2002 that someday we would run away together to Nova Scotia! ” They found Airbnb accommodations in Harbourville, on the Bay of Fundy, and, after instantly connecting with their hosts Janice and Kevin, asked them to stand as their witnesses. Equipped with custom rings, a borrowed necklace, a kilt with Andy’s family tartan, a handmade bouquet and the dress, they were married on a blustery December day, over looking the bay. “Everywhere we stopped in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, we met kind people with open faces and friendly spirits and puzzled looks at our choice to elope to Nova Scotia in December,” says Michelle. Their perfectly private, chilly and chill vows were topped off by a surprise cake from their hosts, and a love-song serenade from Janice. “It’s tough to explain just how special the whole experience was to us. Our ‘courtship’ felt epic in itself and now here we are embarking on this grand adventure together, an adventure that we had planned 11 years was almost too much to absorb at once,” says Michelle. “It took us three days just to get to our cottage in Nova Scotia, but it really took us 12 years.”

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Vol 27, No 25
November 14, 2019

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