It was spring 1998 and the end of her 8th grade year at Greenberg Elementary when Stephanie, who lived in Pine Valley, sneaked onto friend Melissa's bus to hang out in Fox Chase after school.
The girls were talking to friend Will when Tim, Will's friend who lived across the street and attended St. Cecilia's School, spotted them.
Nothing could keep Tim from joining that conversation. "I had some excuse to be a part of it," he said. "We were [both] enthralled with the possibility of socializing with girls."
Stephanie, Tim, Melissa, and Will became part of a gang of friends. At Will's house one day, Tim asked Stephanie if she'd like to go for a walk to the playground.
"We were on the slide - on that top portion where you sit before going down - when he kissed me," Stephanie remembered.
They were an item all summer. Then fall came. Tim went to Central High and Stephanie to Washington. Since they would hardly see each other, there was no point in pursuing a relationship. They remained friends. She took him to her junior prom.
In 2002, Tim was studying mechanical engineering at Drexel University, and Stephanie public relations at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Melissa was her roommate. Tim went to visit.
In the dorm room, watching Aladdin, Tim kissed Stephanie. The mutual interest and attraction was still there, but nothing came of it.
"It always seemed like one or both of us were in relationships," Tim said.
By November 2007, Tim and Stephanie, who are now both 29, had begun their careers. He is a senior consultant at Barba Consulting in Marlton. She is marketing coordinator at the Klein JCC. Their pal Melissa was in nursing school at Jefferson, and on Tuesday nights, Melissa, Tim, and others in the old gang had a habit of going to the now defunct Copabanana in the Northeast.
"You should come out with us," Melissa told Stephanie one week. The day of the gathering, Tim messaged Stephanie through Facebook. "I'll be hanging out with Melissa later. You should totally come out," he said. "I actually already am going," she wrote. "I'll see you later."
After a couple of drinks with the group, Tim and Stephanie started a game of pool. "We were both smiling, laughing, and giving each other the eye," Stephanie said.
At the end of the night, Tim asked if he could walk her to her car. There was a nice, friendly hug. "And then we were out in the parking lot, just kind of making out," Stephanie said, laughing.
"I'd like to take you on a real date," Tim said when the kisses stopped.
They went to Cosi in University City, and walked around the University of Pennsylvania campus, talking and laughing the whole time.
The feelings were back, big time. And this time, it worked.
How does forever sound?
In June 2012, Tim and Stephanie flew to Portland, Ore., then rented a car for a Portland/Vancouver/Seattle road trip.
They had heard so many good things about Vancouver, but the route the two took into town was less than impressive. The buildings were run-down, homeless people populated the streets, and the weather was extraordinarily dreary. "It was like a postapocalyptic, zombie-movie outtake," Tim said.
Friends had raved about the city's Chinese food, but the place the hotel recommended was horrible, Stephanie said.
"Tomorrow will be a better day," Tim said. "Why don't we take our books, and go for a walk in the park. We can have a picnic."
Stanley Park was as gorgeous as they'd heard. They walked a few hours and both were tired when Tim suggested sitting on a bench. Stephanie took out her book - Fifty Shades of Grey - and began to read and relax.
"I didn't know how to start," Tim said. But the next thing he knew, he was down on one knee. "Will you marry me?'" he blurted out.
"Oh, sure! I'll marry you!" Stephanie said.
It was so them
The couple held their rehearsal dinner at the Blind Pig - a regular haunt down the street from their Northern Liberties apartment. Tim's father made several deliveries of hot pretzels that Sofitel staff slipped into welcome bags as guests arrived - some from as far away as Ireland and Italy.
The wedding and reception for 180 were held at the Please Touch Museum, with the ceremony in the Carousel Room. The setting was a much grander version of the playground where they first kissed, Stephanie said.
Cornelius, Tim's friend since Drexel, was ordained online so he could officiate. He wrote the ceremony.
After the couple said the vows they wrote, Cornelius took out a wooden box and asked them to each put a copy inside. He added a bottle of champagne, then put the lid on, produced a hammer, and asked Stephanie and Tim to each put in one nail. "There I am, in my wedding dress, hammering," Stephanie said. Cornelius said they should open the box at either a difficult time or an especially joyous one - either way, it would remind them why they had chosen each other.
The cocktail hour was held in the river adventure room, which has a small house, a pond, a canoe, rubber duckies, and drums. "I want somebody else we know to get married there, so we can play with all the stuff," Tim said.
The couple took pre-ceremony photographs, and saw each other for the first time that day, at the Race Street Pier. Their trolley dropped off Tim and the guys and left to fetch Stephanie and the girls, but they were running behind schedule.
"She was not two minutes late, not 12 minutes late, but more like 102 minutes late," Tim said. The extra time looking out on the Delaware River brought an extraordinary level of anticipation. Finally, it was time for him to walk toward the middle of the pier, toward Stephanie. "I felt like this was where I needed to be, where I should be, where I'm meant to be," he said.
Stephanie kept her vows short to keep her tears to a minimum. She was not prepared for the beauty of what Tim wrote to her. "I was really blown away by what he had to say to me in front of everybody," she said. One favorite line: "You are my home."
A bargain: Stephanie designed the invitations, programs, and other printed materials. She was also able to get great prices from printing companies she has worked with professionally. The bride estimates that hiring someone else to do everything would have doubled the cost.
The splurge: The mashed potato bar at cocktail hour and the Rita's Water Ice cart at dessert.
A week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
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