Feb 3, 2015

Meet the Love Train Wedding Couple

by: RJ Rushmore

This Sunday, February 8, 2015 from noon to 3 p.m., Mural Arts celebrates the five-year anniversary of its landmark Love Letter project and marriage equality in Pennsylvania with Love Train 2015, a very special Valentine’s version of our Love Letter tours. Love Train 2015 is a one-of-a-kind, can’t-miss ride, and tickets are still available.

During our slow-speed, guided tour, you’ll see the 50 rooftop murals along the Market-Frankford SEPTA line in West Philadelphia, painted by artist Stephen Powers and ICY Signs. The Honorable Daniel J. Anders, Philadelphia’s first openly gay male judge, will wed local couple Neal Santos and Andrew Olson aboard the SEPTA train. A sparkling catered dessert reception will follow at Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

For this year’s iteration of Love Train, we knew that we wanted to celebrate marriage equality in Pennsylvania, so for the first time, we are marrying a same-sex couple. We put out a public call for couples and Santos and Olson were chosen from a large pool of applicants looking to be married on the Love Train.

The West Philly couple has been together for six years, after meeting on OkCupid with just a 50% compatability rating. They live and work together on an urban farm calledFarm 51, but Santos is also known around Philadelphia for his food photography and Olson owns Chicory Florals.

We asked Santos a few questions about the fast-approaching ceremony and his love for Philly.

Where exactly in Southwest Philly do you live?

We live on Chester Ave at 51st Street. Our house that we bought together and renovated in 2012 is situated immediately adjacent to our farm where we grow organic vegetables and flowers, keep bees, chickens and hold a weekly farm stand during the growing season.

What made you want to apply to be the wedded couple for Love Train 2015?

We’re madly in love with Philadelphia. The city has been so good to us and can’t imagine ourselves anywhere else. Throughout the years, we’ve visited the Love Lettermurals with many out of town guests and further I’ve photographed the murals in various capacities, some with Steve himself. We’ve spent the evening inviting friends and family to our wedding that is A WEEK AWAY. After the inevitable exasperation with the last-minute wedding, nearly everyone has said, “This is perfect.” [Being] the wedded couple for Love Train 2015 is a spontaneous way to combine our love for each other and our love for our city.

How did you hear about the opportunity to apply?

We received an excited text from a close friend. She thought of us immediately upon seeing the call for couples.

What was it like working together and dating at the same time? And how has the 50/50 OkCupid prediction played out in the life of your relationship?

Oh boy. Answering these questions together is HARD: Two creative, hard-headed people working together can be a challenge. We’ve learned to defer to each others strengths. OkCupid was right on the 50/50 friend and enemy line, but that balance helps keep us honest and committed. We’re partners in every sense of the word and look forward to continually grow in that capacity.

What can you tell us about how you decided to marry and/or the proposal?

In all honesty: we were half joking and sent text messages to each other, which then turned into the realization that we did actually both want to marry each other.

Who are you planning to invite to the event?

We’re planning to invite immediate family, and some close friends.

What is it about the Love Letter project that speaks to you?

The Love Letter project is uplifting, it champions the city in creative and unique ways. There’s a lot of negativity that’s brought up when discussing Philadelphia. However, the murals help remind us to love ourselves and love this city and its people.

What’s your favorite Love Letter mural?

“If You Were Here I’d Be Home Now.”

Photo by Adam Wallacavage

Last updated: Jan 25, 2016

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