He fell for him before she had broken up with a difficult boyfriend. They married in May under a sunny sky in Airville.
Kim Strong, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayla Linden was in the wrong relationship with a controlling boyfriend, and she knew it.
Linden, a Suburban High School graduate, continued to see a guy in York County who didn’t want her to go out with friends on weekends while she lived at Kutztown University.
Derick Wilt knew he would be a better man for her.
Their sisters had been playing soccer together on a local travel team for years, and Wilt, a Dallastown High School graduate, noticed her.
They finally met at a New Year’s Eve party at her father’s house. They both had a date, but Wilt felt something.
“I texted her sister the very next day and said, ‘I have to get her phone number,’” he said.
The text to her was benign, advice about a Kutztown course he was considering (but never took). It was just a first pitch, a change-up to start off slowly and see what happened. She answered politely.
It was a beginning.
Kayla Linden and Derick Wilt knew each other long before they started dating. She had to get out of a bad relationship, and he just had to wait for her. He did. Their wedding photos are courtesy of Taylor Slusser Photography. (Photo: Taylor Slusser Photography)
Girl code wins the day
At a Kutztown party, he found her good friend, Kim Nealon, another Suburban graduate, and talked about Linden’s boyfriend. Wilt said he would treat her right.
“I pretty much confessed my love to her roommate,” he said.
Nealon revealed all of that to Linden at the party because that’s girl code.
“I was pretty emotional because I felt like I was being pulled in two different directions,” Linden said.
She finally decided to break up with her boyfriend, but she wanted to take it slowly with Wilt. She told him she wasn’t ready for a relationship yet.
So he waited – through lunches and long talks.
About a month later, in February 2014, they were hanging out with their friends at school when Linden said she had something for him. There were 52 cards, each with a reason she liked him.
“Then I asked him to be my boyfriend,” she said.
“I was kind of caught off guard,” Wilt said, smiling, but “there was no hesitation.”
Three years later, they bought their house in Windsor. He cooks, washes her car, and takes care of the finances. She buys things for him and keeps the house neat and orderly. Their pup, Nash, is a pitbull rescue. He’s a plumber at Regal Inc.; she works at Wellspan’s VNA Home Care as an administrative resource assistant.
“Even when we have little frustrations with one another, she’s quick to forgive,” Wilt said.
In 2017, Wilt traveled to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a hunting trip. He was driving his grandmother back to York County, when she said: That Kayla’s a good girl. You need to hold onto her.
“I think I bought her ring like three days later,” Wilt said.
A friend of the family owns Oletowne in York, so he headed there. “All of his stuff is one of a kind and custom made. He designs everything in the store,” Wilt said. He found two rings he liked, then his mom and sister helped him choose The One.
His next step was to invite Linden’s father, Kevin Linden, to Vito’s Pizza and Beer on Queen Street.
“I was very nervous. I came very close to not going. I don’t know why because Kevin’s the nicest guy in the world,” Wilt said. He overcame his nerves: “I told him, ‘I love your daughter. I want to spend the rest of my life with her. Do I have your blessing to marry your daughter?’”
With no hesitation Linden’s father said yes.
Ring, check. Permission, check. Now to the where and how of the proposal.
It happened that Wilt’s two good friends, Joey Zeller and Vince Failla, were having a beer tasting for a brew they made. The party was just a couple of days before Linden’s birthday.
That weekend, Linden and their sisters were shopping and saw some baby clothes.
“I said, ‘These are so cute,’ then I said, ‘Just kidding. I’m not having a baby anytime soon,’ then I said, ‘Who am I kidding? I’m not getting married anytime soon,” she said.
The sisters who had brought them together in the first place already knew what was planned.
While their friends made a feast for the beer event, Wilt and Linden ate alone at Hooked Up Ale House in Delaware. It was Nov. 11, 2017, two days before her birthday.
They had planned to take photos by the water after dinner. When they walked over a sand dune toward the ocean, she could see in the distance what looked like people around a fire pit. As she drew closer, it was clear: lighted candles shaped into a heart; rose petals filled the shape.
She thought the moment had arrived, then Wilt looked at her and said, “This is for your birthday. … Just kidding.”
He told her that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, his best friend, then as he began to kneel, he grabbed her right hand instead of her left and pulled out the ring.
As the sun set beside the ocean, she said yes.
Letters of love
Kayla Linden, 26, and Derick Wilt, 23, were married May 25 at Honeysuckle Ridge in Airville, under a sunny blue sky.
Kim Nealon was her maid of honor, and their sisters, Paige Linden and Skyler Wilt were bridesmaids as were Bobby Winter, Emma Stine and Jordan Lasco; flower girl was Callie Withers.
Vince Failla was the best man; other groomsmen were Joey Zeller, Devin McNutt, Tanner Ierley, Tanner Bogaczyk and Devin Bucks; Jaczik Linden was the ring bearer.
Her parents are Janine Linden and Kevin Linden, both of York. His parents are Christine and Bob Wilt of Seven Valleys.
Her wedding ring came from Oletowne Jewelers, and he found his wedding band, made of elk antler, online. Her dress came from Renaissance Bridals and Prom in York.
Before the ceremony, they privately read letters that they had written to one another.
Her letter brought him to tears: They had been through so much, and she never pictured the day that they’d actually be married.
His letter chronicled their journey, and he told her that he would be by her side, no matter what.
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