How a breakup bash led to a new romance
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
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.”
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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.