What's in a Name?
By Candice Russell / January - April, 2011
When Kelly Hildebrandt of Coconut Creek married her husband 18 months ago, she didn't have to worry if she should drop her last name and take his. Why? Her husband has the exact same first and last name as she does, down to the letter. This odd coincidence has captured the world's attention.
The rarity of their story propelled the young, telegenic couple into a media blitz. National television coverage included appearances on "The Early Show" on CBS, the morning show "Fox and Friends," "The Today Show" and "Inside Edition." On his late-night talk show, Conan O'Brien made a joke about the Hildebrandts, who met because of their same names through Facebook: "Recently, 100 men legally changed their names to Megan Fox."
Despite the talk about movie deals and reality shows, the two Kellys remain grounded. They haven't quite their day jobs -- yet. She works at Salon Utopia in Coral Springs, while finishing cosmetology school at the Aveda Institute in Davie. He runs Kelly's Tree Service and Chainsaw Artistry.
The beginning of their fine romance was pedestrian. A random search of Facebook with people named Hildebrandt by the female Kelly produced the male Kelly, who was living in Lubbock, Texas. "I thought it was cool," he says when she contacted him. "She looked like a happy, friendly person."
Mutual interest in each other led a month later to a short telephone call that involved small talk and giggling. "It was kind of fun, hitting off this friendship with someone halfway across the nation," he says.
She was attracted to his Texas twang. Their conversations continued, lengthened and intensified. Then he enticed her, "I told her that if she got her scuba diving certification, I would come to visit her."
She did, despite a potent fear of water, and he made the trip to Florida. They saw each other in person for the first time at the airport. "I remember seeing her on the escalator and she was even more beautiful in person," he says. "We were so excited to see each other."
Kelly thought about proposing to Kelly right away. "I confided to my pastor before I met her that, if she was the same person face-to-0face as on the phone, she's the one for me," he says.
Their week-long time together in Florida included scuba diving and a visit to Universal Studios. "It's a challenge to date long distance," he says, adding that they decided to meet again each month. Reunions followed in Las Vegas, Nevada and his Texas hometown where she met his parents. Eventually, they married on October 11, 2009.
Asked if they are distantly related, they say, "No. We researched the name back 250 years. In Germany, Hildebrandt is like Smith or Jones is here. It's a very common name."
Does having the same name cause confusion? The two Kellys say that it can rattle telemarketers and airport security personnel. Cruise officials almost cancelled one of their cruise reservations because "they thought we were double-booked," he says.
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