Courtney Gallagher & Shane Curry
March 18, 2017, in Philadelphia
On Valentine's Day 2007, Shane's Cinnaminson High School Spanish teacher asked her students to use the language they were learning in a holiday-appropriate expression: a valentine.
“I didn't have anyone to make one for,” Shane remembered. That day, he turned to his friend and classmate Brianne. “Who should I make this for?”
“Make it for my cousin Courtney,” she suggested.
Shane didn't know Courtney, but he cut out a heart, added messy heaps of glue, and wrote a simple Spanish message. “I tried to make it sloppy and funny-looking.”
Brianne delivered it at lunch, and, as she predicted, Cousin Courtney laughed appreciatively. “It looked like a 5-year-old had made it!” she said. A junior, she had no idea who Shane, a sophomore, was -- not until two days later, when she, Brianne, and Shane all volunteered at a school service night Valentine's dance for kids with special needs.
“This is the kid who made you that valentine,” Brianne said by way of introduction.
Their friendship formed nearly instantly. “We have a similar sense of humor,” Shane said. Aside from goofy valentines, both found amusement in mercilessly pestering each other. “Courtney worked at CVS, and I would get my friends to go and we would bother her while she was working,” Shane said.
Their friend groups merged, and so the two spent the rest of that school year and the next largely in each other's company. Then Courtney graduated and left for Princeton to earn a degree in molecular biology. The year after that, Shane was off to Penn, where he earned a criminology degree.
“We stayed really good friends. We would text and talk on Facebook a lot,” she said.
They saw each other during school breaks, and the summer before his junior and her senior year at college. “There was a little something going on,” Courtney said. Something unnamed and not acted upon.
By the spring semester of her senior year at Princeton, Courtney had been accepted to the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn and began spending more time on campus in the company of her good friend Shane. That February, she joined Shane and his buddy Todd in a joint birthday celebration with friends at the Field House. “That was where we kissed for the first time,” Courtney said. It was simultaneously wonderful and confusing, and afterward, “things went back to being awkward, and to not talking about it,” Shane said.
Back home in Cinnaminson that summer, the two started hanging out without their big group of high school friends. They kissed again, and kept at it until it wasn't awkward anymore.
How does forever sound?
After graduating, Shane moved in with Courtney and nine other medical students in a big, old, leaky University City house they involuntarily also shared with a cadre of brazen squirrels. Soon after, he landed a job at WorkplaceDynamics, where he is now an account manager. In March 2016, the couple, who are now both 26, moved to their own digs in Graduate Hospital. There were no squirrels, but in nearby Rittenhouse Square, there is the little goat that Courtney sort of adopted -- a statue she calls Little Sebastian after the mini-horse on Parks and Recreation. She runs ahead of Shane to pat it on the head whenever they pass by.
One night that May, Shane suggested they walk to dinner at Parc. “I was watching the weather, and it was not looking good,” he said. “But now I have this ring I need to get out of my possession and into her possession.”
“It was pouring pretty good, and I suggested Uber,” Courtney said. “When he said, 'No, we need to walk,' I knew something was up.”
At the square, he asked her to hold the umbrella. In front of the billy goat, he did a near-kneel with his knee hovering above the wet sidewalk, and offered the ring.
“Put it on my finger! Put it on my finger!” Courtney exclaimed.
Shane took that as a yes.
It was so them
Mayor Kenney married the couple in a short ceremony at the Atrium at Curtis Center. The bridal procession was led by Courtney's Mom Mom Shirley and Shane's Grammy Jean and Pop Pop Dee Roe. Shane was escorted by his parents, Joyce and Joe. Courtney walked the aisle with her mom, Terry.
The show was nearly stolen by the flower children -- Courtney's cousins Keira, 2, and Liam, 5, who gigglingly walked down the aisle chucking large handfuls of petals.
Shane's friend Todd -- the guy with whom he shared the birthday party at which he and Courtney first kissed -- was best man.
Shane promised Courtney that he would “continue to grow our love from this day and for the rest of our lives.” Courtney promised Shane she would “let the love I have for you, and the love we have for each other, guide everything that I do and that we do together.”
The reception for 200, also at the Atrium, featured an ice sculpture of Courtney's favorite goat statue, Shane's cousin Jeff wearing a plastic horse head, and a spontaneous dance-floor take on spin-the-bottle in which a small megaphone was spun to select a dancer for a solo performance.
Shane could see Courtney standing with her mom at the far end of the aisle. “Courtney likes things to be perfect, and I could tell that she was all nervous, with her shoulders hunched up,” he said. Then the harpist began playing “The Bridal Chorus” and everyone stood. “Seeing her and how beautiful she looked, I was really excited in that moment.”
Courtney couldn't stop smiling after their first married kiss. “Shane and I were holding hands, walking together down the aisle, and seeing everyone there. That was the happiest I've ever been.”
The budget crunch
A bargain: MGM Photography charged half of what other photographers they considered charged, did great work, and was delightful to deal with, Courtney said.
The splurge: The Atrium cost triple what the couple originally budgeted, but once they and their moms saw the place, all agreed it was the only spot that would do.
Ten days in Costa Rica between Courtney's graduation with an MD/master's in public health and the start of her pediatric residency at CHOP.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia.
Venue: Atrium at the Curtis Center, Philadelphia.
Food: Cescaphe, Philadephia.
Photography: MGM Photography, Hatfield.
Flowers: Beautiful Blooms, Philadelphia.
Dress: Pronovias from Philadelphia Bridal Co.; Philadelphia.
Day-of coordinator: Renee Beverly, Cescaphe, Philadelphia.