"I guess so," said Audrie, who was a little confused.
"We talked him into it on the walk home yesterday," the girl said.
Audrie's request of Paul had been the big news in a small school the day before, Paul explained. "No one could believe I said no," he said.
The girl ran back across the schoolyard to Paul, and informed him that he and Audrie were now boyfriend and girlfriend.
Paul's lifestyle of sports, friends, and video games didn't change with the new status. Audrie continued with softball, basketball, track, and volleyball, and hanging out with her friends, too. For at least three months, they only talked during school hours.
Then, at a mutual friend's birthday party, the boys and girls played spin the bottle. "It was the first time we ever kissed," Audrie said.
Soon they were hiding in their bedrooms to talk to each other on the phone, only pretending to hang up when Bob or Connie Titchenell, or Vickie or Michael Porter, said it was bedtime.
In high school, the two went on movie dates or hung out with groups of friends. They went to each other's sporting events.
Paul studied biochemistry at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and Audrie began her education studies an hour away at Millersville University, although she later transferred to Neumann College (now Neumann University).
People couldn't believe Paul and Audrie were still together in college. "I think everybody was a critic at first," Paul said. "You're at school and a bunch of guys are like, 'Come out and party! Meet new people!' "
Audrie remembers her parents saying, "If it's meant to be, it will be." She enjoyed college and tried not to worry about her relationship.
She didn't need to. She and Paul visited each other nearly every weekend, and while they both made plenty of new friends, they became only more confident in their relationship.
After graduation, Paul moved to Harrisburg and started grad school at Pennsylvania State University. He's now working toward his doctorate in biochemistry at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Audrie moved with him after she earned her bachelor's degree, and now teaches special education at Central Dauphin High and is working on a master's degree in literacy education at Penn State.
How does forever sound?
Paul and Audrie so love Baltimore's Inner Harbor that for years, Audrie joked that if he proposed to her anywhere else, she'd say no.
Still, she didn't figure out what was happening when, on their 15-year dating anniversary in Sept. 2010, Paul told her to put on a nice dress and then took the highway farther and farther southeast.
"Where are we going?" she asked after about an hour. "At this point, the only place I know of that is farther this way is Baltimore."
"I can't believe you haven't figured this out yet," Paul said. "Yes, we're going to Baltimore."
They went for a drink and then a walk - their Rusty Scupper reservations were still a ways off, Paul said. Then he was stalling for time, waiting for a bunch of kids to clear out so they'd have a perfect view of the water. It was getting dark, and Audrie was getting annoyed. "Can't we just go to the restaurant?" she asked. "They'll let us in early."
Paul grabbed her hand. "So, 15 years, huh?" he said, looking into Audrie's eyes. That was when she knew, and started crying.
Her tears made Paul skip the speech he had planned. "Audrie Michelle, will you marry me?" he asked.
Paul had to later tell Audrie that she said, "Of course!"
Paul was shaking the ring box. "Look at your ring," he urged her. "I can't see," she said, because she was crying so hard and it was dark. He held the ring up to the light.
It was so them
The couple, now both 26, were married in a Catholic Mass said by the Rev. John Betoni, who is Audrie's great-uncle. Paul's brother Bob was his best man, and Audrie's cousin Christie was her maid of honor.
The reception was held at the Drexelbrook - the site of their senior prom.
The bridal party walked into the reception dressed to represent different segments of the couple's long relationship.
There was a teacher and a scientist; a softball player and a football player; a country singer and a rock-and-roll star; and a priest, bride, and groom.
Paul's uncle owns Brandywine Valley Talent, and one of the bands he manages, Back 2 Life, played at the reception.
The day of the proposal, Paul had heard that Taio Cruz's song "Dynamite" topped the charts, and he took that as a good omen. The band played it as the couple walked in to their reception for 190. Audrie and Paul danced their first dance to the song that has been theirs since high school: Lone Star's "Amazed."
This was unexpected
Paul didn't know the bridal party would act out a "This is your life" sketch for the couple. Audrie finally learned Paul's proposal speech that had been curtailed by her tears. He wrote it all in a card as part of her wedding gift.
Before the doors at the back of the church opened, Audrie turned to her father. "This is it," she said. "When they open those doors, Paul is going to be right there, waiting." The doors opened, and Audrie's eyes quickly found Paul's, and then Paul was telling her she looked beautiful. "It was just the best," she said.
Paul remembers the opening doors, too. "I saw her for the first time, and it took my breath away," he said. "I was just overcome with emotion - so excited, and so happy."
The bargain: The band. Paul's Uncle Kurt hooked them up with a family discount.
The splurge: The Drexelbrook. There were places that cost significantly less, but none that meant so much.
The getaway: A week at Sandals resort in St. Lucia.
Behind the Scenes
The Rev. John Betoni, the bride's great-uncle, Villanova University
Our Lady of Fatima, Secane; Drexelbrook, Drexel Hill
Back 2 Life of Brandywine Valley Talent, Philadelphia
Littlewing Studio Photography, Kristi and Scott Morris, Bethlehem
Abominable Productions, Jim Herman and Amy Sheller
Irini's Originals, Wilmington, Del.
Sagets Formal Wear, Drexel Hill
Condon's Flower Cart, Steven and Mary Condon, Collingdale
Created by the bride's cousin, Kelly O'Conner
Do You Have the Date?
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