Love: Kathryn H. Epps & Gordon K. Roberson

Kathryn H. Epps
Kathryn H. Epps (and Gordon K. Roberson, with officiant Cindy Hough, the bride's aunt. Jessica Hendrix Photography)

September 7, 2013, in Philadelphia

Posted: November 21, 2013

Hello there

Kathryn and Gordon met for what was supposed to be an early dinner in January 2011. But when dinner was over, their conversation wasn't.

"We moved from our table to the bar and continued talking," said Kathryn, a financial representative with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and owner of the Eventchic event management company. They stayed at Derek's Restaurant in Manayunk for eight hours.

About a week earlier, Kathryn had started their dialogue with an electronic wink on Match.com. She noticed his profile, and could see that he had viewed hers several times. "I thought, 'He's been looking, he wants to say something. Let me help him out.' "

She didn't know it at the time, but that first dinner was early because Gordon, a former Air Force senior airman who is now a Philadelphia Fire Department lieutenant, had planned to meet another date afterward. That never happened.

"For me, the connection was instantaneous, almost," said Gordon, who grew up in North Philadelphia. He liked how Kathryn carried herself. He adored her eloquence and the way she could answer a simple question with an answer worthy of an essay.

"That's why our date lasted so long - we're both long-winded," he said.

It was "refreshing to just be able to talk to someone, to have that instant chemistry," Kathryn said. But "I didn't know if I liked him romantically."

About two weeks later, she discovered she did - and that eight hours was nothing.

Kathryn, who grew up outside Boston but has lived in Philadelphia since 2009, parked her car at Gordon's Fox Chase home when they went out for dinner. Afterward, they talked at his place for awhile, and then she planned to drive back to her Manayunk apartment.

"I opened the door, and there was snow everywhere," she remembered. The two decided that for safety's sake, Kathryn needed to stay put. "He was respectful. He didn't try any funny stuff," she said.

The next morning, she tried to leave again. The weather was even worse - this was a huge nor'easter.

Together, they dug out their cars and made a pathway to get his to the street. They carefully drove to Target to get storm essentials and hunkered down inside - most roads were still not passable and wouldn't be for awhile. All told, they spent 21/2 days together.

The experience made them feel like they'd been together a very long time.

"That's when the lightbulb went on," Kathryn said. "I could see myself being with him."

"We've been together ever since," Gordon said.

It's often been more than the two of them. They take Gordon's son Roman, who is now 6, on many adventures.

How does forever sound?

In February 2012, two days before the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl party the two were planning at what had become their house in Fox Chase, Kathryn was miserable with a terrible cold.

She sulked and complained through the aisles of Sam's Club, and wanted to get home to her couch as quickly as possible. Kathryn had just plopped down when Gordon asked for her help in the basement. She resisted until it seemed less painful to just give in.

Kathryn walked down the basement steps, wondering why Gordon hadn't turned the light on. Then, she saw something glowing - letters, she thought. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, the words became clear: "Kathryn, will you marry me?"

She stood in silent shock.

Gordon thought the stupid letters weren't glowing bright enough for her to read - they had already failed to stick to the ceiling, and were arranged on the couch. So he turned on both the lights and the tune he knew Kathryn would want to hear: Luther Vandross' "So Amazing."

Kathryn turned around, and there was Gordon, on one knee.

She cried. Gordon put the ring on her finger. She cried some more, they hugged and kissed.

"So" Gordon asked, "is that a yes?"

It was so them

Kathryn, who is now 27, and Gordon, now 34, chose the Kimmel Center for their ceremony and the Hyatt Bellevue for their reception because "they are the epitome of Philadelphia, old and new," she said.

Wedding pictures were taken on Broad Street, in front of City Hall, and guests got coasters with the LOVE statue image and a CD of music from Philadelphia artists as favors.

Their officiant was Kathryn's aunt Cindy Hough, an ordained minister from North Carolina.

Roman was not the ring bearer; he was ring security. Wearing a tuxedo, sunglasses, and a Secret Service-inspired earpiece, Roman walked down the aisle to the James Bond theme. Kathryn was still out of sight when she heard the 200 guests' laughter. "I knew he must have done a good job," she said.

Gordon and Kathryn's first dance was to "So Amazing," and the lyrics to the song wound around their wedding cake.

Awestruck

That dance is a moment Gordon will never forget. "Throughout the day, everything was all structured - be there, do this, wear this, pose here, smile," he said. "I got to dance how I wanted to . . . and as her husband. It was kind of surreal."

Kathryn's surreal moment came in her hotel room, getting ready. So many friends and family members from all over the country were dashing around. The realization that all were there to support her and Gordon's marriage made her feel very loved, and made her realize just how big a step they were about to take together.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: The So Amazing cake was baked by a fellow firefighter's wife. The couple says it not only tasted much better than a typical bakery cake, but saved them $500 to $600.

The splurge: The bride's "silver, glittery, strappy Prada shoes."

The getaway

Nine days in Oahu and Maui.


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.

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