Real Weddings

Instead of a Wedding, This Philly Couple Threw an Epic ‘Relationship Celebration’

On the five-year anniversary of their first date, they honored their love on their own terms at the Free Library of Philadelphia.


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Photography by Brittney Raine

When it comes to love, the decision to get married — or not to — is up to the parties involved in a relationship. And in 2019, walking down the aisle isn’t the only way to signify you’ve found your forever. For the pair behind this Free Library of Philadelphia event, photographed by Brittney Raine, a traditional wedding wasn’t a fit. So in its place they threw a relationship celebration honoring their love for one another while staying true to their personalities.

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Caitlin Wraith, a Harding Township, NJ, native, moved to Philadelphia after completing her undergraduate degree in California. She was eager to meet new people and explore the city — and “decidedly not fall in love” so that she could eventually return to California. So when she met Yousuf Shamim on Tinder, she found her immediate, intense attraction to him confusing and difficult.

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The pair met in person at El Rey for a Tuesday night dinner for their first date. Afterward, they spent hours talking on a bench in Rittenhouse Square, during which time a stranger approached Caitlin and Yousuf and told them they looked like they “had been made for each other.”

By their third date, it was clear to Caitlin that Yousuf was serious about their relationship. (He asked her to attend an out-of-town wedding months in advance.) Over time, she realized her plan to return to California wouldn’t be happening: “As much as I wanted to resist falling in love, Yousuf’s charm, sincerity, and dedication to making Philadelphia a home for me made me never regret staying in this great city with my dream partner.”

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Rather than getting married, Caitlin, a third grade teacher, and Yousuf, a business analyst, threw a relationship celebration on the fifth anniversary of their first date. The celebration was held at the Free Library of Philadelphia, with 176 guests in attendance. Yousuf’s favorite detail of the day were the cocktail-hour centerpieces made with books that had pages bursting out of them. Another literary element included Caitlin’s request that, in place of gifts, guests donated diverse books for her students to read.

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For Caitlin and Yousuf, deciding not to get married — and honoring their love on their own terms — was a no-brainer. “A wedding felt like a final choice to us, whereas we prefer to make the choice of being a couple every day,” Caitlin says. “A five-year celebration leaves the door open for a 10-year celebration, and so on.”

THE DETAILS
Photographer: Brittney Raine | Venue: Free Library of Philadelphia | Planning/Design: Kyle Michelle Weddings | Florals: Fresh Designs Florist | Catering: Brûlée Catering | Caitlin’s Attire: Paloma Jumpsuit from Free People | Hair: DnA Salon | Makeup: Jazmin Rae & Co. | Yousuf’s Attire: Indochino | Entertainment: Lovesick | Dessert: Isgro Pastries | Invitations: Shutterfly and Minted | Transportation: Eagle Chauffeured Services and Secrets Limousine Service | Wedding Favors: Aurora Grace Chocolates

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