When her visual communications studies at the University of Delaware wrapped up in May 2003, Megan headed to her family's Shore home in Somers Point and her summer job at Lamberti's Sunset Marina in Margate.
On her first day back at the restaurant, she stopped to pick up menus at the host stand, where three guys were standing. Two she already knew. The third was Nick, who had spent previous summers working at the restaurant's Cherry Hill location.
Megan said hello, and then started placing menus on tables. She was close enough to overhear part of the guys' conversation:
"Who's that?" Nick asked.
"Oh, you can't date her," Mike said. "She's Dan from Zoom's sister!"
Megan, who grew up in Haddonfield, chuckled to herself; her brother did work at a nearby bar. But he is more friendly than fearsome.
She didn't hear the rest of the conversation: "She'll be my girlfriend by the end of the summer," Nick said in joking-with-the-guys bravado.
Nick, who grew up in Marlton, is actually a very patient man.
He and Megan became good friends. Sometimes, they even did things without the gang from the restaurant.
Nick, now 29, always held doors for Megan and would never let her pay for drinks or dinner. He was interested, but Megan, now 27, said he did these things for all women - they were behaviors instilled in him by his Italian immigrant parents, Francesco and Concetta, and three older sisters.
"He was the biggest gentleman in the world," Megan said. It impressed her.
With summer in full swing, the gang from work went to a party, then to Nick's place. When his roommates decided to hit the Atlantic City casinos, Nick stayed behind to talk to Megan.
"I was kind of liking him," she said. But Megan had later plans.
"I'm sorry," she told Nick after two hours of conversation. "But I told this guy I'd meet him, and I have to go."
Nick was ticked - not that Megan was spending time with someone else, but that she had to walk to his place alone. Nick gave Megan his jacket, and walked her to her date.
After that, Megan's crush on Nick was full-blown.
One night after a group outing, there was a kiss - who kissed whom is still up for debate.
They quickly became exclusive.
Megan returned to school. Soon after, Nick moved to his sister's place on Long Island, so he could work at his family's BMW dealership in Brooklyn, where he is now service manager.
In late 2004, Megan transferred to the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan, from which she received a degree in advertising. Even before graduating, she worked part time in promotions, public relations, and marketing for the Estée Lauder Cos. She is now administrator of creative services for La Mer, Bobbi Brown, and Jo Malone.
In December 2007, Nick bought the couple a home in Long Island.
How does forever sound?
In May 2009, Nick took Megan to Montauk for her 25th birthday. She had a feeling something really big might happen on the trip. But after nothing happened when they walked around a gorgeous winery, checked in to their fancy beachside room, or had a wonderful dinner, Megan concluded her premonition was wrong.
After dinner, the couple noticed flickering and a lot of activity down on the beach and discovered a bonfire. Megan gave Nick a hug. She could feel his heart pounding in his chest.
That's because Nick was terrified.
After check-in, Nick had sent Megan off to get a massage so he could plan. He quickly realized the bulky ring box would be obvious in his jeans pocket. So he took a tea packet from the complimentary room basket, removed the tea bag, and tucked the ring into the little paper wrapper.
He was very worried it was about to get lost in the sand.
As they headed back toward their room with Megan in the lead, Nick reached into his pocket.
"Hold on for a second," he said.
Megan turned to find him down on one knee in the dunes, holding very tightly to a diamond ring.
It was so them
The couple were wed at St. Nicholas of Tolentine, the church that Megan's father, Franny - a professional singer and banjo player - attended during the years he worked at the Showboat Hotel and Casino.
Megan's brother Dan - the one Nick was warned about when he first expressed an interest in Megan - was best man.
A reception for 240 guests was held at One Atlantic.
Much of the music was provided by Franny's friends: Megan's godfather John played the tuba. Nancy was cantor and played the organ. Bobby played the flute. Herb and Tom played trombone. Al and another Bobby played the trumpet. And the man Megan calls Uncle Doug played the piano during the cocktail hour.
An Italian-American band whose members are acquaintances of Nick's family provided both top 40 and "old-school Italian music" for the reception.
Megan's friend Masha crafted save-the-dates from vintage Atlantic City postcards and vintage A.C.-themed invitations. Copies of vintage postcards also hung from the bottles of wine that the couple gave out as favors.
Megan hired a cigar roller as a present for the groom.
This didn't happen at the rehearsal
The band brought the couple on stage and foisted microphones and tambourines upon them. The bride was nervous, until she saw that Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" was next on the song list.
Nick will always remember seeing Megan's silhouette enter the church, and then watching the wind catch her fingertip veil. "I was just really, really happy," he said.
At evening's end, everyone observed a wedding tradition from Megan's mother Eileen's family. Parents and grandparents, friends and family from both sides gathered in a circle and loudly sang Styx's "Come Sail Away." The fun and silly custom felt like a lot of love, Megan said.
A bargain: Getting free design help and tips on the best-priced printers from Megan's creative friends.
The splurge: At a venue meeting the week before the wedding, the bride and groom saw hundreds of tea lights and glass orbs hanging from the ceiling in what the venue calls "Starry Night." "We have to have it," Nick said. It cost about as much as the videography.
Two weeks in Italy.
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
The Rev. Michael S. Murray, a family friend, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, Wilmington, Del.
Ceremony, St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Atlantic City; reception, One Atlantic, Atlantic City
Ceremony, friends of Megan's father, with music arranged by her godfather, John McClernan; cocktail hour, Doug Knight, Haddonfield; reception, MGM Guarnera Brothers, New York
Harry Hasson, Linwood
Dinofa Photography, Linwood
Martin's Accent Wedding Videos, Mays Landing
Pronovias, New York
Designer, Masha Portiansky, New York; printing, Amerikom, New York
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