"It was not smooth," said Erik, who grew up in Marlton and is now 27.
One day after school, both were in a group that went to waste some time at the Cherry Hill Mall.
Erik already thought Christine was pretty. Once they started talking, he realized she was funny, too. "We got along well," he said.
"Our conversation was easy," said Pennsport native Christine, now 25.
Erik planned to join Christine and friends at the Halloween dance, but he hurt his ankle in a soccer game that day. Afterward, he drove everyone to Ponzio's Diner. By evening's end, Erik and Christine were an item.
After high school, Erik majored in economics and business at Lafayette, about 11/2 hours from Philadelphia in Easton. Christine's parents would not let her stay over, so she left the house by 7 Saturday mornings, then headed back around 9 p.m. to meet her curfew.
After her graduation, Christine was torn between Temple University and her dream school, Northeastern University in Boston. It would be hard to have her so far away, Erik told her, but she needed to follow her dream. Including her master's degree, the architecture program took six years.
Erik drove up. They took trains back-and-forth. They watched the airlines for sales. Then Megabus and Bolt opened, and their trips got a lot cheaper and a lot more frequent.
Northeastern is a co-op school, and Christine did her two jobs closer to home. After Erik graduated, he landed work at Covance as an IT project manager, first as a contractor, now an employee.
Christine finished grad school in May 2011. After holding a few other jobs in related fields, she took her position at Costanza Spector Clauser Architects in Moorestown.
How does forever sound?
Christine always told Erik she did not want to be engaged until she finished grad school.
But the second she had her diploma would not have been too soon.
She went with him on a work trip to Paris. Even though he told her otherwise, she was convinced they would return an engaged couple. Nope.
"From that point, almost every outing we did, I thought he was going to propose, and he didn't," she said.
Erik was determined to surprise Christine. "Eventually, you adhere to your plan and ignore other forces," he said.
On Memorial Day weekend 2011, Christine's friend Laura visited from Long Island.
Laura requested a tour of great Philly sites. Erik told Christine he would meet them later for dinner. After drinks at the Water Works, Christine and Laura took a cab to LOVE Park.
"On our way to LOVE Park, I'm complaining to Laura that he hasn't proposed yet," said Christine, who didn't notice Laura sending a quick text.
The friends approached the statue. "OK, this is LOVE Park," Christine said. Laura took a few steps back, and Erik appeared.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. But she kind of knew.
Erik knelt on the stone. "Will you marry me?" he asked.
"Yes!" Christine said.
Christine made phone calls. "I'm engaged!" she said the first few times. And then it hit her. "We're engaged!" she told the next person.
"Thank you!" said Erik.
They had dinner at McCormick & Schmick's, and then Christine's parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and 2-week-old nephew joined them at their favorite local bar. They were soon joined by Erik's sisters and aunt, who made the trip from down the Shore.
It was so them
The Saturday before the wedding, family and friends gathered outside Christine's parent's Pennsport home for the traditional South Philadelphia serenade.
The Quaker City String Band got things rolling, persuading Erik to join them in "It Had to Be You."
"That counted," Erik suggested to Christine.
"But you told me you prepared a song," urged the bride-to-be. Erik knelt before her, a mike in one hand and a beer in the other, and sang Jack Johnson's "Better Together."
"I'm not a good singer, but I'm a good sport," Erik said after.
The day of their wedding at the Navy Yard chapel, Christine gave Erik a set of New Jersey Devil cuff links and a framed entry from her high school diary made weeks after they started dating, in which she confessed she'd fallen hard for Erik.
Erik's parents both died when he was in his early 20s. Christine carried a small copy of their wedding portrait on her bouquet.
At the reception at Tendenza, the 185 guests cheered for the couple's slow dance to Michael Buble's "Everything." They went crazy when that song gave way to the Black Eyed Peas' "The Time (Dirty Bit)," Chuck Berry's "C'est La Vie," Boyz II Men's "Motown Philly," and Nicki Minaj's "Pound the Alarm."
A 1927 Rolls-Royce waited for Erik and Christine outside the chapel, taking them first to Center City for pictures in front of City Hall, and then on to the reception.
They had champagne, and about an hour to themselves - well, themselves and the people who gawked at the car, then waved at the bride and groom inside.
It was then that Erik said he had this joyous realization that Christine was now, finally, his wife.
Christine felt it, too. "I think I probably said 'You're my husband!' about 25 times," she remembered.
Two weeks in Europe, with four days in London, two days in Venice, and a cruise with stops in Italy, Croatia, southern France, and Spain.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Hon. Kevin M. Dougherty, administrative judge, Family Court division, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas
Chapel of the Four Chaplains, Philadelphia Navy Yard; and Tendenza, both in Philadelphia
Cescaphe Event Group, Philadelphia
Ceremony, Mello Strings; reception, Bigg Romeo, both of Philadelphia
Jessica Kripp Photography, Downingtown
Delia Studios, Perth Amboy, N.J.
Petals Florist & Decorators and Beautiful Blooms Events,
both of Philadelphia
Priscilla of Boston
Presto Printing, Philadelphia