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Love Is in the Air

(From left) Photographs from Suzanne Rick; Alex and Juston Philomeno; & Ben Williams Photography

february 9, 2011

Love Is in the Air
Locals share how their sweethearts popped the question

WRITTEN BY Evans Craddock

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s a whole lot of L-O-V-E in the air—just the way we like it. To kick the romantic season off in true February fashion, we’ve rounded up a few extra-dreamy Lowcountry love stories to share, and have a great wedding dress giveaway to announce (see below). And if all this doesn’t curb your wedding appetite, don’t worry—the latest issue of Charleston Weddings is due on stands later this month.

Alex Groves says “Yes!” to Justin Philomeno
August 18, 2010

Justin and Alex first laid eyes on each other back in October of 2006 when they attended a mutual friend’s wedding—sans wedding dates. “I noticed a handsome man across the dance floor with great shoes and had to meet him,” says Alex. “Turns out, he noticed me for the same thing—my gold shoes!” she laughs. The shoe-lovers kicked off their three-and-a-half-year courtship then and there.

The Big Ask
When summer 2010 rolled around, the pair packed their bags for their annual trip with Alex’s family to the Isle of Palms. The first day there, Alex woke at 7 a.m. to find Justin already dressed and ready for their daily stroll on the beach. About five minutes into their walk, Justin spotted a sand dollar and called Alex over to look at it. He hugged her and began gushing sweet sentiments. At that point, “I was getting a little curious and teary eyed,” Alex admits. When Justin pulled out a small gray box and asked her to be his wife, “I couldn’t let go of him or believe it was happening!” says Alex. “I think I’ve been smiling ear to ear ever since,” she laughs. Though Justin and Alex live in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, they plan to wed in Charleston this October.

Jessica Bell said “Yes!” to Chad Houfek
September 2, 2007

Jessica says that she knew Chad was “the one” the first time they locked eyes in a health food store in 2003. “I said to my girlfriend, ‘There he is! That is the man I will marry!’ ” says Jessica. They began dating and seven years into their courtship, the pair found themselves living in Colorado.

The Big Ask
On a day off, Chad packed all Jessica’s favorite foods for a picnic. They hiked through the Rockies, and come lunch, “We settled by a rushing mountain stream to quietly eat as we watched a herd of elk graze in the aspens nearby,” says Jessica. As they watched heat lightning flicker in the distance, Chad handed Jessica a slice of watermelon. “Sticking out of it was my grandmother’s antique diamond ring,” she says. Jessica immediately said “Yes!” and after a long engagement and a move to Charleston, the pair exchanged vows October 22, 2010.

Kristin Martin said “Yes!” to Juan Pablo Mancia on January 31, 2010
When Kristin, her big sister, Kara, and their friends went on a short boat cruise, they met a “lively group of young men,” Kristin says. Once the boat docked, both groups headed to a local bar, where Juan Pablo joined his pals. When Kara spoke to Juan Pablo and learned that he had studied abroad in the same town where Kristen had, she dragged her kid sister over to meet him. A few more chance run-ins around town, and Kristin and Juan Pablo became an item.

The Big Ask
Nearly a year after the two began dating, Juan Pablo suggested they go out for dinner and drinks. Afterward, as they made their way back to Kristin’s Rutledge Avenue apartment, Juan Pablo suggested a walk on the Battery. “It was cold and neither of us were dressed particularly nice,” says Kristen, “so I started to suspect something when he pulled out a camera.” The next thing Kristin knew, Juan Pablo was down on knee asking for her to be his wife. “The thing I love the most about our proposal was there was no elaborate scheme,” says Kristin, “no red roses, no fancy dinner. It was just the two of us on a Sunday night, happy, in love, and just being us. And there was no doubt that the two of us ‘just wanted to be us’ for the rest of our lives.”

Know of a recently engaged duo? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us here.

Win a Dream Dress!
For all you who’ve just said “Yes,” it’s time to find that dress! To help you out, Maddison Row has teamed up with national designer Jorge Manuel to create a custom gown for one lucky bride-to-be. Visit the MR shop during the debut of Jorge’s “Nebula Collection” this Thursday, February 10, 5-7 p.m. to get the first peek at the collaborative gown and enter to win it! This “Wish Upon a Star” giveaway will run until March 10, so be sure to pop into the boutique for your chance or submit an entry by visiting


Wed, 02/09/2011