Amy Sampson & Eric LIberi
August 22, 2009, in Philadelphia
In fall 2005, Amy was working in Rutgers University's administrative offices, gearing up to go to grad school for urban planning. Her friend Theresa and Theresa's then-boyfriend, Scott, tried for months to interest her in a setup with Scott's friend. "You'd really hit it off with Eric," Scott kept telling her. Just as persistently, Amy told him she didn't have time for anything except grad school.
Perhaps Scott and Theresa sensed that Amy wasn't telling the whole truth. Turns out she wasn't opposed to meeting people, as long as it happened naturally. The whole setup thing just seemed like too much emotional energy.
Yet her friends kept pestering, and in January 2006, Amy caved.
"The first time I met him, I thought he was a nice guy, and I was intrigued by him," Amy said. By the end of their first date, Amy knew that she and Eric saw eye-to-eye on some very important things: family and the Phillies.
How does forever sound?
By the time Amy, who is now 27, finished grad school in May 2008 and took an urban-planning job at Group Melvin Design in Woodbury, she and Eric knew they would eventually marry. But Eric, now 29, a traffic coordinator for Comcast Sportsnet, agreed with Amy that she should get settled into her job and save a bit of money first. They were happy, and neither felt in any sort of rush.
That changed just after Christmas. Amy's father, John Sampson, had a minor heart attack.
"That was the reality check I needed," Amy said. She no longer felt like she had all the time in the world.
Amy and Eric decided they wanted to get married the next summer. Amy is a planner, and she knew that in order to have their choice of venues and photographers, they would have to book no later than January. Eric wanted to surprise her with a proposal, but the two agreed they would be engaged by the end of that month.
John Sampson, who made a full recovery, came home from the hospital in mid-January.
On Jan. 22, Amy took the train to Philadelphia after work, and she and Eric went to dinner at the Continental Diner. "It's kind of cold," Eric said afterward. "But do you want to go for a walk?"
He was thrilled when Amy suggested Rittenhouse Square, and Amy started thinking that maybe her proposal was coming. But the longer they walked around without it happening, the more she doubted it - especially when they came to the romantic fountain. And that made her doubt whether they could get married that summer.
Amy's emotions got the better of her. "I said to him, 'Oh, I guess you're not going to propose tonight. This would have been a great opportunity.' "
"I was going to ask what you are doing on Sunday," Eric said.
"Sunday? But this would have been the perfect spot," Amy said. She turned to start walking, and Eric stopped her. When she turned around, he was on one knee.
It was so them
The couple went for a vintage look. Eric wore a pin-striped tux. Amy carried a Venetian lace fan that complemented her dress, and she wore her great-grandmother's ring.
Amy's mother, Mary Sampson, is the church organist and choir director, and her musician friends provided the music. Eric's brother-in-law, Giovanni Cipolla, wrote a classical piece of music, "Il Matrimonio Commincia," for the couple's recessional.
Their 165 guests celebrated at Cafe Fontana in Maple Shade and were treated to Sticky Fingers barbecue sauce as favors.
Amy and Eric love vintage cars, and she surprised him with a 1951 Rolls-Royce to transport them from the wedding to the photo shoot and the reception.
This was unexpected
Unfortunately, the Rolls broke down between the church in Oxford Circle and 30th Street Station, where the bridal party was headed for photos. The bride and groom jumped into the groomsmen's limo.
Even though the Rolls didn't make the whole trip, the couple loved it. "When we got to ride in the Rolls-Royce together, it was the only time we had to ourselves. And it sank in in that moment that we were married," Amy said. Another important moment: Amy's father was there to dance with her.
A bargain: The budget was important, as the couple were in the process of buying their Collingswood home right around the time of their wedding. So Amy did a lot of DIY, including the centerpieces. Instead of paying $50 for each of the 20 she wanted, she spent about $15 each to arrange silk roses and hydrangeas in combinations of pastel pink, blue, cream, yellow, green, and purple.
The splurge: Photographer Sarah Schulte. "I had done a lot of research before we got engaged . . . she was just amazing," Amy said. Amy figures she could have saved about $1,000 by going with a different photographer, but the higher fee was well worth it.
Ten days in Hawaii.
Behind the Scenes
The Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott Jr., Grace Episcopal Church, Haddonfield
Trinity Church Oxford, Philadelphia, and Cafe Fontana, Maple Shade
Cafe Fontana, Maple Shade; cake by DiBartolo's Bakery, Collingswood
Sarah Schulte Photography, East Norriton
Persempre Videos, Mays Landing, N.J.
Bella Corda Chamber Music, Huntingdon Valley, and DJ Chris Rinaldi, CMR Entertainment, Sicklerville
Alfred Angelo, Lancaster
Simply Inviting, Collingswood