A few days later, Carlisle native Alex sent a message: "Do you want to go to church Sunday morning and then go out to breakfast?"
She sure did.
Mass at St. Paul's, breakfast at Pamela's, and Caroline felt giddy. The feeling didn't last. His premed and her nursing classes were demanding. They saw each other at Pathfinder parties, and sometimes at lunch. But Alex seemed to prefer spending his limited free time with his friends.
Caroline went to Sea Isle City with her family that summer, and Alex to Ocean City with his. Shore magic = summer romance.
That time, Alex was most smitten, and Caroline was more interested in hanging with her Chi Omega sisters. School started with things as they had been: Flirting, but just friends.
Then in spring 2007, Caroline stayed in Pittsburgh for one class. With most everyone else gone until fall, the two spent more time alone, Alex said. They really got to know each other. On May 23, 2007, Alex made a bold move: "We're good together," he said. "Let's give this a shot."
In 2008, Caroline spent seven days crying as she helped her boyfriend move to Fort Lauderdale for med school at Nova Southeastern University. A part of her wondered if their relationship would survive the distance. "That was the question of the year," Alex agrees.
A few months later, she was sitting on her grandmother's porch when the phone rang. Alex was on the beach with a group of new friends, but his thoughts were all with her. Hearing about her life without experiencing it with her was really hard, he said.
"I need you down here," he told her. "I want you to come down with me."
After she graduated, Caroline moved to Fort Lauderdale. While he finished med school, she worked as an intensive care nurse at Holy Cross Hospital.
In June 2012, the couple moved to Brooklyn, where Alex is an emergency medicine resident at Maimonides Medical Center and Caroline an ICU nurse at New York Methodist.
How does forever sound?
During their Florida stint, Caroline, who is now 27, and Alex, now 28, fell in love with Key West.
They flew down in January 2013, but Alex was acting a wee bit weird. He wanted to play pool at the bar, then declared there wasn't time. At the nightly Mallory Square sunset celebration, he kept asking strangers to take their picture, and changing his mind about the right spot.
Caroline assured him they didn't need a picture, and could just enjoy themselves, but Alex kept hunting for a photo spot - until he grabbed her hand, walked away from the crowd and announced: "I don't want to see the sunset," he said. "Let's go to [dinner at] Santiago's right now."
Caroline went with it. When she returned from freshening up, champagne was on the table. "Can you take a picture of us before we have dinner?" Alex asked their server. As she started snapping shots, he reached into his pocket, and pulled out a ring.
"I want to have this adventure with you," Alex said as he got down on one knee.
It was so them
The couple wed in a traditional Catholic ceremony at Old St. Joseph's Church, exactly seven years after they finally became a couple.
The two had earlier given the bridal party sunglasses as gifts, and Father McGlone asked if everyone had theirs at the church. At the end of the ceremony, the priest took his own sunglasses from beneath his robe and put them on. The groomsmen and the couple's father followed suit. Coming after the formal ceremony, the levity "busted everybody up pretty good," Alex said.
The reception for 210 at Cescaphe's Down Town Club featured an ice sculpture of the vintage PITT script logo.
The couple and their guests danced to, and belted out, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." It's not only the song Pitt fans sing at the end of the third quarter, but also the song Caroline would finish the night with when she DJ'ed at Peter's Pub in Pittsburgh.
Alex and the groomsmen were resting between pre-ceremony pictures when Caroline's father told him it was time to see her. "I was supposed to walk, but I ran across the street," he remembers. He still couldn't see the bride - the bridesmaids stood in a line in front of her. Then they parted, and there she was, "looking absolutely perfect," Alex said. "I was floored."
After the ceremony, the bride and groom walked out into the St. Joe's courtyard and collapsed into each others' arms in happy relief. "For the first time that day, it was a moment just for ourselves," Caroline said. "It was a feeling of 'Yes! We're married, we did it! And now the party can start.' "
A bargain: Between a sale and her coupon, Caroline saved 30 percent on invitations from David's Bridal.
The splurge: You know the term YOLO? Alex and Caroline often said YOMO - You Only Marry Once. Example: When it was time to pretend to exchange rings at the rehearsal, Alex surprised Caroline with a sapphire beauty that was her something blue.
A week in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: The Rev. Gerard McGlone, S.J. He works around the world, but Old St. Joe's is his Philadelphia base.
Venues: Old Saint Joseph's Church and the Down Town Club, both in Philadelphia
Catering: Cescaphe Event Group
Photography: Tere Schubert Photography, Wilmington
Dress: Allure Bridal, L&H Bridal, Philadelphia
Music: The Philly Party Band, Philadelphia
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