How a breakup bash led to a new ro­mance

The Washington Post Sunday - - ON LOVE - BY ME­GAN MCDONOUGH me­gan.mcdonough@wash­

Sparks flew be­tween Phil Glatfelter and Kelsey Heinze at a col­lege party in March 2008. But it wasn’t just any party — it was a breakup party. A breakup party thrown by Phil for Kelsey, just hours af­ter she had been dumped.

Phil, who had se­cretly har­bored a crush on Kelsey for more than a year, didn’t waste any time mak­ing his in­ten­tions known. Af­ter hear­ing from a mu­tual friend the news about her breakup, he de­cided to lift her spir­its by gath­er­ing her clos­est friends at his apart­ment for an im­promptu bash.

“My main goal was to make her laugh,” Phil, 30, says. “She was vis­i­bly up­set and heart­bro­ken, but we knew she’d be okay.”

His plan was more suc­cess­ful than he had an­tic­i­pated — it cheered her up, and opened her eyes to the pos­si­bil­ity of some­thing more with him.

“For her, it was a show­ing of sup­port for her at a dif­fi­cult time, [but] for me it was a cel­e­bra­tion,” Phil ad­mits.

The cou­ple met as stu­dent lead­ers of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity’s fresh­man ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram, Colo­nial In­au­gu­ra­tion, in the sum­mer of 2006. As lead­ers of the Colo­nial Cabi­net, a high-en­ergy group of up­per­class­men who wel­come stu­dents to the cam­pus, they de­vel­oped an easy rap­port as part­ners for the ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram’s open­ing dance num­ber.

They bonded over learn­ing and ex­e­cut­ing the com­pli­cated chore­og­ra­phy, which was packed with steps, turns and, at one point, a pig­gy­back ride.

“This was no cha-cha slide,” says Kelsey, 29, the as­so­ci­ate di­rec­tor of mem­ber­ship and so­cial me­dia for the Geron­to­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Amer­ica. “This was se­ri­ous busi­ness.”

“If you’ve seen [the film] ‘Pitch Per­fect,’ pic­ture that same in­ten­sity mi­nus the a cap­pella,” adds Phil, a lit­i­ga­tion sup­port case man­ager for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Thus be­gan “a very long and awe­some friend­ship,” ac­cord­ing to Kelsey, and the two hung out of­ten through­out the sum­mer and the fol­low­ing school year. Phil, im­pressed by Kelsey’s quick wit and sense of hu­mor, de­vel­oped feel­ings for her but kept them to him­self.

“I kept her at a cer­tain dis­tance, since she had a boyfriend,” he says.

But that all changed af­ter Kelsey’s re­la­tion­ship ended.

“I prob­a­bly should have waited longer . . . but I swooped in right away,” Phil says. “I knew I was the re­bound, and I didn’t care.”

A week af­ter the party, the two cel­e­brated Phil’s birth­day and spent the en­tire day to­gether. Hang­outs grew from reg­u­lar to daily, and, in June, they had their first date at Froggy Bot­tom pub, where they shared a pitcher of beer and chicken fin­gers.

“I knew ev­ery­thing about Phil and his life at this point of time, and I mean ev­ery­thing . . . and sud­denly it was like some­one had turned on a dif­fer­ent light switch and a new part of the room was il­lu­mi­nated,” Kelsey says. “All I could think was, ‘Why did we not do this sooner?’ ”

“We’ve fig­ured out who we are as in­di­vid­u­als and that we make one an­other bet­ter peo­ple to­gether.”

They be­came an of­fi­cial cou­ple shortly af­ter Phil’s grad­u­a­tion, and they moved in to­gether in Oc­to­ber 2010. For the next few years, they con­tin­ued to grow in­de­pen­dently and as a cou­ple, fac­ing the highs and lows of their 20s to­gether, in­clud­ing job changes, tight fi­nances and the adop­tion of a dog, their cava­chon Nor­man, in 2011.

“We have been each other’s cheer­lead­ers through first jobs, first apart­ments and other big ‘adult mile­stones,” Kelsey says. “We’ve fig­ured out who we are as in­di­vid­u­als and that we make one an­other bet­ter peo­ple to­gether.”

In Oc­to­ber 2014, over “adult margs” at El Ta­marindo in Adams Mor­gan, they dis­cussed kids and mar­riage, and both agreed they wanted to build a fu­ture to­gether.

“Ev­ery sin­gle night, Phil kisses me good night,” Kelsey says. “Even if I’m asleep and he’s up watch­ing some­thing, when he gets into bed, kicks the dog off the bed and turns out the light, he leans over, kisses me and tells me he loves me. You can’t say that’s puppy love or the hon­ey­moon

—Kelsey Heinze

stage of a re­la­tion­ship, be­cause this has been the case for eight years.”

In April 2016, Kelsey and Phil’s sis­ter planned an elab­o­rate sur­prise party at Stoney’s on L Street for his 30th birth­day. “We planned it out for months — the guest list, the venue, the food — all in se­cret,” Kelsey says. Or so she thought. It turned out the party was a ruse, and Kelsey was help­ing plan her own en­gage­ment party. Upon leav­ing their Lo­gan Cir­cle apart­ment to what Kelsey as­sumed was his birth­day din­ner, Phil dropped to one knee and pro­posed.

After­ward, they took pho­tos on the steps of the Na­tional City Chris­tian Church, shared din­ner with their par­ents at Ghi­bel­lina on 14th Street and spent the rest of the evening cel­e­brat­ing with friends and fam­ily at Stoney’s.

“Ev­ery de­tail had been so well thought out,” Kelsey says. “It was well worth the wait.”

On Feb. 4, the cou­ple ex­changed vows in front of 130 guests at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Women in the Arts. The bride, wear­ing a richly em­bel­lished strap­less Val Ste­fani gown, de­scended the Great Hall’s or­nate white mar­ble stair­case and met Phil, out­fit­ted in a navy blue tux, at the end of the aisle.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, the cou­ple’s of­fi­ciant, Mau­reen Burke, high­lighted the cou­ple’s mostcher­ished qual­i­ties. Some were se­ri­ous, oth­ers were not.

“Ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of the re­la­tion­ship and stand­ing alone in im­por­tance, [Kelsey] loves your break­fast sand­wiches,” Burke dead­panned. “She says your break­fast sand­wiches could bring peace to the Mid­dle East.”

As the cer­e­mony con­cluded, there was a long and no­tice­able pause. Guests be­gan to look ner­vously around the room, won­der­ing whether the string quar­tet had missed its cue.

Sud­denly, a 20-mem­ber gospel choir ap­peared on the sec­ond­floor bal­cony and belted out “Oh Happy Day.”

The groom, gob­s­macked, be­gan to tear up.

“Phil des­per­ately wanted two things at our wed­ding: a disco ball and a gospel choir,” Kelsey says. “He brought it up all the time dur­ing wed­ding plan­ning . . . but I told him, ‘No, that’s ridicu­lous!’ ”

But for Phil, she de­cided to make an ex­cep­tion and sur­rep­ti­tiously booked the Howard Gospel Choir of Howard Univer­sity.

“I ab­so­lutely fell apart. I’m still speech­less about it,” Phil says. “It was a great end­ing to our cer­e­mony and start to our mar­riage.”

Days af­ter the cel­e­bra­tion, the cou­ple were still rev­el­ing in wed­ding fes­tiv­i­ties.

“For al­most a decade, I have had the real honor of be­ing loved by this man,” Kelsey says. “I see us 15 years, 30 years from now cel­e­brat­ing the fact that it’s Tues­day with cham­pagne, be­cause it’s those lit­tle things [that] are my fa­vorite things about our re­la­tion­ship. That’s what I want for our fu­ture.”

“She’s my fa­vorite per­son,” Phil adds, “and has been since the be­gin­ning.”

Are you get­ting mar­ried in the Wash­ing­ton re­gion? Tell us why we should fea­ture your nup­tials here at


Phil Glatfelter and Kelsey Heinze in front of Ko­gan Plaza at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. The cou­ple met as stu­dent lead­ers of GWU’s fresh­man ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram. They were mar­ried Feb. 4 at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Women in the Arts.

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