When Jordan Edmond first met Ernest Egu, back in seventh grade, she didn’t even like him that much. She certainly didn’t imagine they’d end up getting married in a Philadelphia pizza restaurant.
That was 15 years ago, when Jordan had decided to be the only girl on the middle school wrestling team and he was on it. Their parents were acquainted, since the families lived a few blocks from one another in Neptune, NJ, near Asbury Park, but that was the extent of their relationship. Then Ernest ended up becoming best friends with her brother, and Jordan found it impossible to get rid of him.
“I think my mom liked him better than I did,” she said, two days before she married him at &Pizza on Walnut Street last Wednesday.
It wasn’t until 10th grade when Jordan relented and agreed to start dating, even though Ernest was a year behind her in school. They stayed a couple on and off until her graduation — “it was a hot mess relationship” — when she brushed him off as she prepared to move to Florida for college.
“I was like, ‘I can’t have a boyfriend, I’m going to college.’” Jordan recalled, now regretful for having been so flippant toward her future life partner. “I’m so rude. I broke his heart.”
Ernest wasn’t one to be tossed aside so lightly. He kept in touch with Jordan even as he threw himself into his own studies, getting into Rutgers and digging in to get his degree in cell biology so he could eventually attend med school. When she sent word that she was pregnant, and wanted to move back home to have the baby — on her own — he stepped up to help.
When Dylan was born, Ernest was in the room. “He even cut the umbilical cord and everything,” Jordan said.
She decided to move to Philly to be closer to him while he attended Cooper Medical School to get his MD. They still weren’t romantically back together, but he was her rock, the serious one, the kind of guy she could rely on, someone who always had everything planned out.
With Ernest at school in Camden just a short drive away from where she was raising her daughter in Philly, Jordan decided to drop the pretense — to herself as much as anyone — that she didn’t love her helpful friend.
“I’m blunt,” she said. “So it was like, ok, I’m ready now, let’s just get this show moving.”
Shortly after they decided to tie their fates, a job doing copywriting for an e-commerce firm took Jordan out of the area, to Jersey City. The pair spent the next few years commuting back and forth on weekends. It was both strenuous and expensive, but they weren’t about to lose each other again, now that they’d made the decision to be together.
On Christmas Eve this past December, Ernest finally popped the question.
He’d saved up and bought a sapphire ring, and even though he originally planned on waiting until Jordan’s birthday on March 17, the ring was burning a hole in his pocket. He had to do it. She said yes. Still, he had another semester of medical school to complete — another semester of studies before he could really start earning decent money and begin to pay off all his college loans. They decided to wait before setting a date for their wedding.
Then a friend forwarded an email from &Pizza.
“Tie the knot in our shop — on our dime,” read the message from the DC-based build-your-own-pizza chain, which has been running the promotion as a celebration of Pi Day since 2015. “We’ll bring the official ceremony, flowers, music, food + drink, photographers, + other surprises. You bring the love.”
Ernest chuckled to himself and sent the email on to Jordan. “Haha why would someone send this to us?” he wrote at the top.
She wrote back: “OMG. This is great. Can we do it???”
Convincing Ernest was just the first step. “We had to promise our mothers we’d have a full traditional wedding too, in a couple years,” Jordan said. As for her dad? “He loved the idea.”
Across &Pizza’s three cities (Philly, DC and Baltimore), more than 80 couples applied for the free wedding. But Jordan, who calls herself a pizza snob but says she very much enjoys the chain’s fast-casual take on pies, sent a message that resonated with the company’s self-described “anti-establishment” management:
We want to get married at &pizza because I love to do unexpected things & I love when my guy actually agrees. (He’s a straight-laced med student and I am a copywriter who aspires to be a gypsy. Perfect match, right?). In a world full of Trumps, we love your overall message.
They were in.
Then the weather gods decided to throw one more wrench in the saga. A Pi Day snowstorm forced the cancellation of all the Philly ceremonies. Company reps wanted to know: Would Jordan and Ernest like to do the whole thing the next day instead? Absolutely, they said. After 15 years, they could manage to wait one day more to culminate their love.
“I’m still amazed he agreed to get married at &Pizza,” Jordan marveled on Monday of last week.
Forty-eight hours later, as he sipped champagne from a plastic soda cup and rocked back and forth in anticipation of the ceremony, Ernest spilled the reason:
“Happy wife, Happy life.”