Love: MEGHAN CONLAN & STEVEN SMITH

BOB and KRISTEN McGRATH / Creative Imagery
BOB and KRISTEN McGRATH / Creative Imagery

May 14, 2011, in Morton

Posted: July 20, 2011

Hello there

Meghan and Steve both grew up in Folsom, and met in 1998 in the seventh grade at Ridley Middle School. In eighth grade, they were in the same homeroom.

Before long, Steve was nursing the biggest crush on Meghan.

"She didn't want nothing to do with me," Steve said.

Well, not nothing. "We became very close friends," Meghan said.

"She was cool and fun - we always had fun," Steve said.

Meghan thought so, too. So why wasn't she interested in Steve as a boyfriend? Teenage rebellion.

"My family loved him, and was constantly reminding me that I should pursue him" once they hit high school, she said.

Meghan dated other people. And so did Steve.

But very gradually - as in years - Meghan realized that her parents' fondness for Steve was not a good enough reason not to date him.

"I grew to appreciate his persistence," she said. "No one else could show dedication like that, and I wasn't happy not being with him and just being rebellious."

In July 2003, the summer before Steve and Meghan's senior year at Ridley High, Meghan had a party at her house while her parents were out of town.

Steve was one of the first people to arrive - he and his friend Ryan had come straight from playing sports. Meghan was extremely nervous. Now that she realized what a good thing she'd been missing, she hoped Steve was still interested.

A little later, Meghan overheard a conversation Steve had with one of her friends. "He was telling her how much he loved me, and how great I am," she said. She had to do something about this!

Steve walked over to her and began to tease. "You gave Ryan a big hug when we came in, and you're acting like I'm not even here," he said.

She hauled him off and kissed him.

"I did NOT expect that to happen," Steve said. "I was so happy, and so shocked."

"It's all history now," said Meghan. "We've been together ever since."

In late January 2008, Steve and Meghan were living at Steve's brother's house in Ridley. Steve was already a Comcast technician and in the Coast Guard reserve - jobs he still has. Meghan, who now works in dining services at Villanova University, then managed a bar in University City. Normally, she took the train to work, but she was running late, and asked Steve if she could borrow his jeep.

It had been raining, and as Meghan exited I-95 to go over the Platt Bridge, the jeep hydroplaned. She lost control. The jeep flipped over six times, left the exit ramp, crossed a grassy median, and landed on the Island Avenue entrance to the bridge.

A bunch of cars pulled over, and in one of them was a nurse, who told Meghan not to move. She called Steve, and told him an ambulance would take Meghan to the University of Pennsylvania hospital.

Steve ran outside before realizing that not only did he have no jeep, he was wearing boxers. He called Meghan's mother, Janet. Steve and Janet took her car to Penn. Meghan's father, Thomas, met them there. On the way, everyone passed Steve's crumpled jeep.

They found Meghan on a bed in a hospital hallway. She was hysterical, and she repeatedly apologized to Steve for destroying his car.

Steve was flooded only with relief. Meghan, who had been wearing her seat belt, looked as if there was a softball growing out of her temple. But she was otherwise perfectly fine.

"It's OK," Steve told her. "It's a story for our grandkids."

That was the moment that Meghan's father absolutely knew he'd been right all along: Steve was the man for Meghan.

How does forever sound?

In March 2009, Steve faked getting ready for work. After Meghan left, he cleaned the apartment, cooked steak and lobster, lit candles, and scattered rose petals along a path from the front door to the kitchen.

As the day went on, he sent Meghan repeated texts, asking when she would be home, as he wanted to go out to dinner. "He must be starving or something," she told a coworker.

When she arrived on their front step, Steve opened the door and handed her a glass of champagne with shaking hands. They followed the floral path to the kitchen.

There were a dozen roses on the table. "Those flowers are so beautiful," she said.

"There's something hidden in them," he told her.

One rose had been replaced with a rose-shaped ring box.

Neither ate much of Steve's fancy dinner.

They went to Meghan's parents' house, where they and Meghan's siblings - Tommy, Brendan, Briana and Kara - and Steve's parents, James and Mary, and Steve's siblings - Jim and Anna - were waiting to celebrate with them.

It was so them

Meghan and Steve, who are now both 25, currently live with Steve's parents in Wilmington to save money for the house they intend to buy in the Philadelphia suburbs. So instead of wedding gifts, they wrote each other letters.

Meghan folded hers into the shape of the notes she sent Steve in 7th grade.

The morning of the wedding, Meghan was sick to her stomach with stage fright - until she read Steve's note. "It was back to just me and him, and why we were doing this," she said. "We got to say how much we love each other, and that we have nothing to fear, as we know how meant for each other we are."

Meghan's father, Thomas, has battled diabetes since he was a child. He is legally blind, and in October 2010, he had to have a leg amputated.

During physical therapy, Thomas and his doctor would role-play Thomas walking Meghan down the aisle.

On the big day, Thomas did it for real.

"It was really something precious to me, not only to marry my best friend, and the love of my life, but to have my father give me away," Meghan said.

The couple married before 170 guests in a traditional Catholic ceremony. Steve had two best men: his brother, and Ryan - the friend who came with him to Meghan's house the night she first kissed him.

On display at their reception was a picture of the couple from seventh grade.

Awestruck

Meghan was overjoyed both that her father was walking her down the aisle and that Steve was waiting for her in the front.

Steve was jittery in the moments before the wedding began. He couldn't see Meghan until she was three-quarters of the way to him. Once he saw her, "Everything was great, and I was suddenly so calm."

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Steve and Meghan hinged together three old windows left over from a replacement project at Steve's parents' house. They sanded and painted them, decorated them with ivy, and covered the glass with a transparency printed with guests' names and table assignments. It cost $12.

The splurge: $1,100 for a photo booth. "It was worth every penny," Meghan said. "The pictures are hilarious."

The getaway

A week in Montego Bay, Jamaica.


Love: BEHIND THE SCENES

Officiant

The Rev. Richard Smith, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Morton

Venue

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Photography

Bob and Kristen McGrath, Creative Imagery, New Castle, Del.

Music

DiNardo Brothers Entertainment, Sewell, N.J.; pianist Paul Pierangeli, Piersongs.com, Wallingford

Dress

Bridal & Tuxedo Shoppe, Newark, Del.

Flowers

Marcus Hook Florist, Marcus Hook


Love: DO YOU HAVE THE DATE?

Tell us in a short e-mail – at least six weeks before your ceremony – why we should feature your love story. Send it to weddings@phillynews.com. Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted in the weeks before your wedding.

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