Girl meets boy. Boy proposes. Sis meets boy. Boy proposes. Two weddings within months? Lots of family fun.
By Tara Behan
Krista Funari and Ajay Ramesh were in the same class at Villanova University, but it took a study trip to London during their second semester for their paths to cross. After meeting on their first day abroad they became inseparable. “We later found out that we both didn’t want to go, but we went anyway,” says Krista.
For the freshmen, fate obviously had bigger things in mind, because as Ajay and Krista were starting to date, Krista’s older sister, Mary Kate, would also start dating the man she would come to call her husband.
Mary Kate was a senior at Villanova when she met Matthew Abbadessa, who was a freshman. “We were both on the campus EMS squad,” says Mary Kate. “We would spend weekends taking care of injured people up at Jack Frost Big Boulder mountain in the Poconos.”
Once Mary Kate started dating her classmate, she knew he was “the one.” While on a chartered sailboat in Annapolis, Md., in the fall of 2013, Matthew asked Mary Kate to be his wife. “We both love being on the water, so it was the perfect proposal,” says Mary Kate.
Mary Kate and Matthew knew two things:. They wanted to have their Catholic wedding ceremony at St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the university’s campus (fun fact: Mary Kate and Krista’s parents both met while they were attending Villanova University), and they wanted to marry in the fall. It turned out that the church didn’t have a date available for the following autumn, so the couple decided to wait another full year before getting married. “I was finishing my master’s degree, so it was totally fine with us to have a two-year engagement,” says Mary Kate.
Four months after Mary Kate’s engagement, Krista and Ajay got engaged in February 2014—not a big surprise since they had both been dating the same amount of time. Ajay popped the question during a business trip to London that Krista had accompanied him on.
“It was our first time back to London since we had met there five years before,” says Krista. “He rented out one of the pods on the London Eye (the famous Ferris wheel on the Thames), and that’s where he proposed.”
They, too, wanted to be married at Villanova’s chapel but, unlike her sister, Krista preferred the spring. That meant Krista and Ajay would marry at Villanova in May 2015, Mary Kate and Matthew four months later in September 2015.
Most would assume that this story would lead to a major case of sibling rivalry, a sister version of the movie “Bride Wars.” But the sisters gladly helped each other plan their weddings. Each also asked the other to be her maid-of-honor.
“There was never a feeling of trying to one-up each other,” says Mary Kate. “Krista and I love many of the same things, but we are very distinct in our styles. We both wanted classic and elegant, but it was very clear that both weddings were very different.” Krista agrees. “We are really close, and it was such an exciting time for both of us,” she says. “We both wanted each other to have an amazing day.”
The sisters quickly realized that planning weddings within months of each other had some advantages. “We researched vendors together, and we ended up using many of the same ones,” says Krista. They both loved the style of Blossom Productions for videography and Sarah DiCicco for photography. When Krista went searching for a reception venue with Mary Kate, she found her own dream location: Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, Pa.
“I wasn’t even engaged yet,” say Krista. “But the moment I walked through the doors I knew that’s where I wanted to have my reception.” It turned out Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., was better suited for Mary Kate’s tastes.
Their main way of avoiding conflict during planning was communication. “If we thought we might want to do something similar to each other, we would talk it out and discuss how we could do things differently,” says Krista. “When you look at pictures from each of our days, there’s nothing similar.”
“The girls are three years apart in age so we never thought they would be married within months of each other,” says their father, Joel Funari. He credits his daughters, and his wife, on making the planning process seamless. Another positive: “We really liked both of the guys,” says Joel. “That really made everything easier.”
Being the mother-of-the-bride can be extremely emotional—especially when doubled. “Being thrilled, overwhelmed, excited and slightly panicked all at once took on a new meaning,” says Mary Funari. “Making sure each step of the planning process was separate and special for each daughter became paramount.”
Krista and Ajay also had a traditional Hindu ceremony on the Thursday before their Catholic wedding. “I wore two different sarees during the ceremony,” says Krista. “Everything was beautiful.” A few months after their wedding, they had a second reception in Ajay’s hometown in Michigan for family and friends who couldn’t make it to Pennsylvania. The couple didn’t let two ceremonies and two receptions stress them out. “It was fun planning two huge parties,” says Krista. “Both families were both really involved in planning.”
Mary Kate’s planning was uneventful until the official announcement was made that the pope would visit Philadelphia the weekend of her wedding. A hotel that they had booked months prior then pulled their blocks of reserved rooms, which had the couple scrambling to find lodging for their guests.
“As more information was made available about the possible disruptions that the pope’s visit would make to the area, the more nervous I became,” says Mary Kate. Though the event had no major effect on Mary Kate and Matt making it down the aisle, “We’ll certainly never forget the pope’s visit,” she says.
The newlywed couples set up a scavenger hunt for their parents last Christmas to show their appreciation for all the love and support their parents gave during their wedding preparations. The prize? A trip to a yet to-be-determined destination sometime this year. “They’re all very thoughtful and kind people,” says Mary. “We are extremely blessed.”