When Lisa Kastle and David Stephens first began dating about three years ago, each of them was fairly certain they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with one another.
The ceremony will be simple, probably just a few loved ones from each family attending, but they’ll be fulfilling three other dreams along with their union — getting married on Valentine’s Day, by Meadville Mayor Christopher Soff and under the gazebo in Diamond Park.
“Everything’s just falling into place,” Pittsburgh native Kastle said about this afternoon’s wedding. “And it keeps dawning on us that we’re getting married on Valentine’s Day. We’re very excited about that.”
Excited, nervous and hoping that everything turns out perfectly, Stephens, a Meadville native, agreed as he assisted his bride-to-be through this particularly hectic week.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with Lisa and just be perfect for her,” he said. “We decided this would really be a special day for us.”
The couple, which lives together in Guys Mills, originally met working in the nursing industry in Erie together around 2008. While they each changed employers over the years, they remained in contact and reconnected on a romantic level about three years ago.
“I wouldn’t say my mom is nervous or anything, but I think she’s ready to have a commitment and marry the guy of her dreams,” said Johna Kress, Kastle’s daughter. “People say there’s that one in 7 billion you find and I think she found him. She’s very lucky to have him and I’m happy she found him because that’s hard to do.”
In addition to providing emotional support to one another and even completing each other’s sentences nowadays, they share a love of nature and the outdoors, part of which played into their wedding plans.
“One of our favorite things we like to do is take walks and hikes,” Kastle said. “When it’s not freezing cold out, it’s beautiful here in winter. That’s what we hope our special day will be like.”
Not feeling particularly inspired by a justice of the peace ceremony and not belonging to any particular church, the couple took a road less traveled and decided to visit Soff’s office with their request.
This will be the 20th or so wedding Soff has performed since he took office in January 2010, he said.
“We just felt it in our hearts,” Kastle said. “It’s unique and special, just like David is. We told his mother and neither one of us knew she was married by a former mayor of Meadville.”
While a mayoral presence in wedding ceremonies is usually arranged via phone or email, Soff said the couple was lucky enough to catch him in the office.
“Honestly, most couples I don’t meet until the day of the wedding,” Soff said. “I’m happy I was available to perform the ceremony for them.”
The couple found yet another way to memorialize the already momentous occasion in Soff’s office, where they shared the significance of their special day.
“My grandmother got married on Valentine’s Day,” Kastle said. “It’s always something I wanted to do if I found the right one.”
Soff said he usually asks upcoming newlyweds for about $100 for the Shippen Fountain Fund — the fund will help with any future fixes to the fountain that has been in Diamond Park since 1863 — to perform a marriage. In return, the couple gets a brick inscribed around the fountain.
“Most couples have written their names and the date of the ceremony,” Soff said.
While this is one of the smaller ceremonies Soff will have performed, no one involved doubts its meaningful nature. The couple plans to have Stephens’ parents and Kastle’s daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law attend.
“It’ll be really nice to be married in the center of Meadville,” Stephens said. “We thought that’d be awesome.”
“That gazebo is like the heart of Meadville,” Kastle agreed. “Here, it’s picture perfect. It’s beautiful.”
The couple has no specific post-marital plans other than to save up for a possible vacation or pleasant outdoor trip where they can each enjoy the scenery they like with the person they love.