Edward Kossman didn’t think Jennifer Jasudowicz would even talk to him.
“I thought for that split second that I could let her walk out of my life, or just go up to her,” Kossman, 47, said. “Something just made me do it. I’m pretty bold guy, but I don’t just normally go right up to women and just ask them.”
Little did he know that Jennifer had her eye on him, too. Even through the massive crowd of people at Orland Square Mall on Black Friday five years ago, the two found each other. And now five years later, they are returning to the spot they met to become husband and wife.
“Usually, when guys approach me I brush it off, but I think we were destined to meet that day,” Jasudowicz, 36, said.
Neither Kossman nor Jasudowicz ordinarily shop in malls on Black Friday. Both also said they weren’t looking for a relationship.
“Just when you’re about to give up on love it finds you,” Jasudowicz said. “I have girlfriends in their 30s who are single. I tell them to just go to the mall.”
A Chance Encounter
Kossman first saw Jasudowicz six years ago in front of the upper level JCPenney entrance, walking near the elevator. She was there with family members, but he just had to ask her if she wanted to go out, he said.
“I thought, ‘What a beautiful woman,’” Kossman said. “She was with her mom and friends. I had a moment to walk up to her. I thought, ‘Let her keep walking, or actually go up to her and ask her out.’”
Kossman simply introduced himself, asked if she was single and if she wanted to go out on a date. She said yes, gave him a business card, and walked into the elevator. But as Kossman was gearing up to talk to Jasudowicz, she was eyeing him as well.
Jasudowicz grew up in Orland Park and worked in the mall as a teen, so she knew just how busy of a place it could be. Not only did she usually avoid the mall on Black Friday, she never ogles men, she said.
“I see this guy in a distance with all these people around,” Jasudowicz said. “I never check out guys, but I couldn’t take my eyes off him through all the people.”
Kossman wasn’t like other men Jasudowicz had dated. Having worked in banks for several years, she had often been involved with white-collar men.
But after an engagement was broken off, she focused on her career and raising her daughter, opting out of dating for about a year. Around the time she met Kossman, her friends finally convinced her to start dating again.
She came to the mall that day to buy an outfit to wear on another date.
Picked Up in a Pickup Truck
“I wanted someone who works with his hands, with brown hair, blue eyes. A man’s man,” Jasudowicz said. “Everything I wanted he had. And he picked me up in a pickup truck. He is everything I wanted to marry.”
Kossman was divorced when he met Jasudowicz, and was raising a daughter. He didn’t expect to find a wife that day. He didn’t even think Jasudowicz would talk to him.
“I thought she would say 'no,'” he said. “I thought she would think I was creep. At best maybe we’d go on a date or two.”
But they found a lot in common. They both were raising teenage girls. Both maintained an identity with their Polish roots. And they both are outgoing.
On their first date, Kossman demanded the attention of a sold-out movie theater to make the night right. Only two seats remained in the theater when they arrived – on opposite ends of the same row.
“I stood up and asked if all the people in the row could move down one seat so we could sit next to each other,” Kossman said.
“It was very romantic,” Jasudowicz said.
Neither had plans for a big wedding. The two, who live in Burbank, were originally just going to go to the courthouse with a few loved ones and make it official. But then a friend of Jasudowicz suggested getting married where they first met. Jasudowicz added the extra twist of getting married on Black Friday.
“People might think we’re crazy, but we’ve been through a lot,” Jasudowicz said.
Kossman describes the last five years as “a lifetime of ups and downs,” but in the end they stuck with each other and are now getting married.
“As a single mom, I used to always explain myself so much,” Jasudowicz said. “I’d make sure men knew I can take care of my family myself. But it really was refreshing to find him.
"Don’t give up on love. You never know when it will strike.”