The “Purrfect” Wedding of Two Cat-Lovers

Just wait till you read about their first-dance song. 

Deidre McPhillips and Derek Salazar held their first look at the Bellevue Hotel in Center City before heading to the Sculpture Courtyard for their wedding. / Photography by We Are the Kruks

Our furry friends are a part of our family. They’re the little balls of joy we cuddle with on the couch after a long day, the dogs whose tails wag so hard their whole bodies shake, the quirky cats who love us back — when they feel like it. And we adore when couples honor their animals on their Big Day, with themed signage or cocktails, dog ring bearers and, in the case of this couple, everything from feline-fabulous music to felt toys. We Are the Kruks photographed the “purrfect” Sculpture Courtyard wedding below.


When Deidre McPhillips and Derek Salazar danced as newlyweds to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley at their Sculpture Courtyard wedding, it wasn’t their only first with the iconic song. The hit also played on their first date, on a New York City rooftop back in 2012. The thoughtful pair — she’s a journalist; he’s an audio engineer — were similarly intentional with many decisions when it came to their Big Day, infusing special meaning into almost every moment.

Deidre’s bouquet, for instance, featured a daisy toward the back, close to her heart, in honor of her late grandmother. Derek honored his late grand­fathers by wearing his maternal grandfather’s watch and wedding band and a Western bow tie for his paternal grandfather.

floralsceremony ceremony

For the invitations, the pair collaborated with Cartalia Stationery Studio on the geometric laser-cut suite.

The duo surprised one another by incorporating their cats, Bean and Flynn, into the event in different ways. (Deidre admits that she and Derek are “pretty obsessed” with their pets.) Before the ceremony, they stopped at home to take pictures with their furry friends.

cat portrait

Derek had a banner-size version of Deidre’s favorite photo printed, while she had felt toys made so their beloved pets could “join” them at dinner.

As for that first-dance song? It was actually a one-of-a-kind rendition of the classic tune, created by Derek as a surprise for Deidre and featuring audio of their fur babies purring.

reception reception


The ceremony florals had an Italian boho feel, with two pillars crafted out of smilax, dyed red baby’s breath, dahlias, coxcomb, red anemones, roses and pampas grass.


Following the ceremony, the space was flipped for dinner, with streamlined black and white furniture juxtaposed against the natural greenery and beautifully weathered facade.


Self-uniting and celebrating a few blocks from their West Kensington residence, they wanted their guests to feel the way they would at that home: “Full of warmth and love, easy and comfortable,” Deidre says, “but just a little extra-fancy.” That evocation was Derek’s favorite part of the entire day. “It just felt like us,” he says.

Photographer: We Are the Kruks Photography | Venue: Sculpture Courtyard | Event Design & Coordination: Deidre McPhillips, Derek Salazar, and the bride’s family | Florals: Bridget Palazzolo of B’s Events and Floral Design | Catering: Serock Catering | Cake: The Master’s Baker | Gown: Martina Liana from RK Bridal (custom design elements by AnnMarie Capasso of Capasso Couture) | Groom’s Attire: Hive & Colony | Rings: Aardvark Jewellery (engagement ring); Noémie (bride’s wedding band) | Hair: Dionne DiLullo | Makeup: Jeanette Gillin | Invitations: Cartalia Stationery Studio (custom-designed by the couple) | Officiant: Cody Rivett (friend) | Videographer: Sirius Cinema and Nick Libraro | Transportation: David Thomas Trailways | Music & Entertainment: DJ Royale and the Rhythm Club

Published as “Deidre & Derek” in the Winter/Spring 2023 issue of Philadelphia Wedding.

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