"You get the sense that . . . this has more potential than a simple work relationship," said Erin, who is from Broomall. She didn't know if they'd be friends, or maybe more. But Erin liked the way Raymond looked, and appreciated his ability to have a silly conversation one minute, and then turn it off instantly to be professional and patient-focused.
She was open to possibilities.
That afternoon, Raymond, who is now 40, saw Erin, now 34, in the hall. "Hey!" he called after her. She turned toward him.
"Yeah?" she said, expectantly.
"Do you know where Unit 2A is?"
Erin gave him directions, then turned the corner. Chasing her down the hospital hallway seemed a bad idea. "I knew I had missed an opportunity," Raymond said.
A week later, Raymond figured Erin would be assigned to the same operating room. "I was going to ask her out that day, no matter what," he said. But he was unexpectedly assigned to Christiana's other site, in Wilmington.
After finishing his work, Raymond went back to Newark. He walked to the room where he suspected Erin would be, and found her outside, waiting for her patient.
"Do you want to do something sometime?" he asked.
Over tapas, Erin and Raymond discovered they share the same silly sense of humor, a philosophy focused on the importance of family, and a determination to appreciate everything, since life is uncertain.
When Erin excused herself for a moment, Raymond asked the waitress and bartender, "Hey, how am I doing?"
They assured him her laughter was a very good sign. "She's the marrying type," the bartender said.
"Yeah," said Raymond. "I know."
How does forever sound?
In June 2011, Raymond and Erin got a Wilmington apartment to share.
By the next April, Erin was chief resident. Raymond told her intern to make sure Erin didn't stay late.
She brought work home, and was determined to do it. Raymond said they should have a picnic.
Erin knew he had purchased a special clasp that would hold her future engagement ring on a necklace while she worked. It came in, Raymond said. They needed to celebrate, and he made quiche and dipped strawberries and bananas in chocolate.
Raymond led her to a waterfall at a local park, where the rocks rose up like the walls of an amphitheater. He played their song-"A Thousand Years" by Christina Perry-on his iPhone and handed her a box. "It's so pretty," she said of the clasp. "Take it out," he said.
Attached to the clasp was a blue ribbon, and attached to that, an engagement ring. At first, Erin thought there had been a mistake-she wasn't expecting the ring to come in for weeks yet. But then Raymond was on one knee, and she cried.
It was so them
The couple wrote their vows and ceremony with help from Weddings With Heart.
There was a moment of silence for Raymond's father, Joe, who died in December.
The reception was decorated with family photos and images of the couple from infancy through college. Some of their 100 guests saw themselves from four or five decades ago, in the wedding photos of John and Kathy Teeple and Joe and Rosanne Rockwell.
John and Kathy's cake topper reappeared on Raymond and Erin's cake.
Erin knew how the wedding would go, but was unprepared for the way it would feel. "It was so meaningful for me to stand up with my now husband, and to be supported by all these people who came to witness the joining of our lives," she said.
"A Thousand Years" was too long and fast for the Viennese waltz they learned. The DJ chopped the length and slowed the tempo, and Raymond worried about the whole thing.
He didn't need to. "We nailed it," he said. During the applause, he and Erin shared a double high-five, a hug and a kiss. Raymond felt his previous tension give way to sheer happiness.
A bargain: Erin bought her dress at the Sabrina Ann Once Worn & Never Worn bridal, and saved 50 percent.
The splurge: Both worked extra hours to pay for their wedding. When they had a bit left over, they booked the videographer who, in hindsight, they say they couldn't have lived without.
Eleven days in Paris and Nice, France.
Soon after, Erin moved to Boston for a year of training in colon and rectal surgery. Afterward, the couple will settle somewhere between Philadelphia and Baltimore to be near Raymond's 10-year-old daughter, Landon.
Behind the Scenes
Sheryl Manzella of Weddings With Heart, Narberth
Normandy Farm, Blue Bell
John Romani, Electric Entertainment, Ardmore
Inna Spivakova, Tyler Boye Photography, Blue Bell
Matthew Johnston, Tweed Weddings, Philadelphia
Willow & Thistle, Blue Bell
Designed by Robert Bullock, purchased from Sabrina Ann, Ardmore
Eileen Micklin, That Personal Touch, Havertown
Do You Have the Date?
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Maybe you survived a layoff or health crises together. Perhaps you never wanted children, but now have them. Or you always wanted children, and found the journey difficult.
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If you're interested in being featured in a "Love" retrospective, e-mail your triumphs, challenges, and adventures to email@example.com , with your contact information.