Celebrating togetherness and fun

Amanda Kiesel & Michael Sarappo

Feb. 25, 2022, in Philadelphia

Their conversations were special even before Amanda and Mike met in person.

“He actually wanted to speak on the phone before going on our first date,” said Amanda. “Everyone [on dating apps] just sends texts and messages and I thought, ‘This is a gentleman.’ ”

“You can tell by the way people talk to you when they are showing interest, and she wasn’t just yes-ing me to death, or giving one word answers; she was engaged in conversation,” Mike said. “I knew this was something worth pursuing.”

On May 6, 2016, about two weeks after they matched on Tinder, Mike and Amanda had their first date at Chickie’s & Pete’s.

Mike, who grew up in Bensalem, told Amanda about his big, loving, blended family. He has two older sisters, Alicia and Nikki, two younger brothers, Eric and Dan, and four loving parents: Dad, Mike Sr., and his wife, Lisa; mom, Monica, and her husband, Greg. Mike, who is now 32, also told her about his work as a mechanical engineer. He is now with Javan Engineering.

Amanda told Mike about being the only child of Terri and Bob and living that South Philly “Two Street” life. Bob’s a member of Avalon String Band, and once the group found out that Amanda was studying fashion at Moore College of Art & Design, they persuaded her to design and sew for them. She showed Mike pictures of her work — not the sequined kind, but dresses she was working on at school. Amanda, who is now 26, graduated from Moore in 2018 and is now a bridal stylist/manager at Mari Mi Bridal.

By the end of their first date, the second was planned. By the end of May, they were together three or four times a week. The two enjoy walking around the city. If a new pizza joint opens, they will soon be there to try it. They like each other’s friends and love each other’s families. And every night, whether home or out, they sit down for dinner and talk about their day.

“I love that she is just so playful — we can joke with each other, and be kind of goofy. And I can always be myself,” said Mike.

“Mike is just too good for this world, and no one really deserves him,” Amanda said. “He is always willing to help anyone. He asks my mom if she needs help around the house, just like he asks his parents. When a telemarketer calls, he doesn’t just hang up, he tells them, ‘Unfortunately, I’m not really interested right now, but thank you.’ ”

On May 5, 2019 — one day shy of three years since their first date — Mike suggested dinner at City Tap House and rooftop drinks at Assembly. To Amanda, it was their usual kind of wonderful night: relaxed togetherness and fun. Mike felt happy and calm, too — until Amanda started running out of steam before they reached the most important destination of the night.

“Let’s go to Spruce Street Harbor Park,” he suggested.

“It’s so late,” she said. “I’m so tired.”

“Come on,” he said, gently urging her to rally. “We have to go to the park.”

“OK, we’ll go,” she agreed.

It was nearly midnight and they had the place — the site of their first kiss — practically to themselves. Mike bent down, as if to tie his shoe, and waited for the inevitable.

Throughout their relationship, whenever Mike ties his shoe in public, Amanda has always made a show of loudly saying, ‘Oh yes, Mike! I do!’ ” Her bit once drew the excited attention of a big casino crowd, whose whispers of ‘Oh my God, he’s proposing” changed to laughter when they realized Mike and Amanda were cracking up over her joke.

That night at the park, she stuck to tradition.

“Oh yes, Mike! I do!” Amanda said.

Mike smiled up at her. “Baby, you’ve got to let me ask it first.”

It was such a pleasure to see the happy shock on Amanda’s face.

Mike reached into his sock to retrieve the ring he had hidden there. He opened the box and held it out to Amanda. “I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said. “Will you marry me?”

“Of course I will,” she said.

In June 2020, the couple bought their Girard Estates home. That September, they brought home Leo, their beagle/border collie mix.

Wedding attire is very important to Amanda. One day, Monet — the owner of Mari Mi and a matron of honor — showed Amanda a photo of a soon-to-arrive gown by Élysée Bridal. That’s going to be perfect,” Amanda said. When it arrived, she invited her mother and Mom-Mom Jane and, for the heck of it, tried on three other dresses first. There was no contest. “I didn’t even know I wanted a big, giant poofy ball gown — I thought I would choose something more fitted. But it looked exactly how I wanted to feel on my wedding day: timeless, classic, and like a bride.” Amanda now suggests that customers choose a dress that looks the way they want to feel.

The couple were wed in a traditional Catholic ceremony with a full Mass, celebrated by the Rev. Kenneth Cavara at St. Monica, their church. The one sadness was that Greg, Mike’s mother’s husband, had died the month before from long-standing heart issues. To honor his second dad, Mike wore Greg’s Navy dog tags beneath his tuxedo jacket.

“Saying our vows was the highlight of the day,” said Amanda. Mike agrees but adds, “even just when I first saw Amanda come walking down the aisle, I got a little choked up.”

Following the ceremony, Mike changed into a white dinner jacket for their reception for 180 at the Ballroom at The Ben.

The many Mummers among the guests brought their instruments and played, allowing the couple and their guests to strut their stuff.

“I never left the dance floor,” said Mike. “I’m an awful dancer, but it was so much fun.” At one point, a group of his friends hoisted him into the air and ran around the floor in a victory lap.

To Amanda’s delight, Monet brought a special guest — Élysée Bridal designer Mark Russell.

The couple spent a week snorkeling, swimming, and taking a sunset catamaran cruise in Jamaica.

Mike and Amanda are feathering their nest in anticipation of future occupants.