Lauren Pahl and Guido Rodrigues
November 2, 2018, in Philadelphia
There she was again, the happy woman with the gorgeous smile, laughing with her friends at Throwbacks Bar & Grill. That night in December 2012, Guido was determined to meet her.
The bartender delivered drinks to Lauren, her sister, Kelly, and three girlfriends, coworkers from the nearby Delran Chili’s, where then-classroom assistant Lauren had a part-time gig. They often unwound at Throwbacks afterward, but gift drinks were something new. The cadre followed the bartender’s finger to their benefactor.
Lauren and Kelly left the table to join Guido at the bar and thank him. After a brief conversation, he asked Lauren for her phone number.
Text talk ensued the following day, and a few days later, Lauren invited him to join her and some other friends at a different bar. Lauren and Guido, who was then head of operations for a hotel management company and who had moved to Delran from California two years earlier, soon focused on each other. They talked. They flirted. At the end of the night, he asked her on a real date.
The busy Christmas season meant a few weeks of can’t-wait-to-hear-the-next-ping texting came first. Then, on Guido’s birthday, they had dinner at a now-defunct Italian joint, where he opened doors and pulled out chairs for Lauren. “Oh, my gosh, he was such a gentleman,” she remembers. “The way he looked at me made me feel very special.”
They talked about work and sports, about growing up in Delanco (Lauren) and São Paulo, Brazil (Guido), and about the importance of family. They saw so many things eye to eye.
Guido remembers thinking he had found the one, right person.
He knew that from one date? “I know what I want,” he said. “Actually, before we went on the first date, I was already really into her.”
Lauren also had a good feeling about things, but she wanted to take it more slowly. Well, sort of. They didn’t declare themselves boyfriend and girlfriend until summertime, but all winter and spring they saw each other about every other day.
“After three months, I met her parents in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club,” Guido said. Invitations to Pahl family events followed, as did the aforementioned bequeathing of the boyfriend/girlfriend titles. Six months after they met, they rented a Palmyra apartment together.
She cracks him up; he makes her feel content and confident. They are equally happy traveling or hanging out on the couch, even when they aren’t talking. “I like to read, and he’s into electronics,” Lauren said. “We can be content just being together.”
It was early September 2016, Lauren’s birthday, and the first day of the new school year for the classroom aide. She had a doctor’s appointment after work and was tired by the time she got home. Then she saw the roses leading up the stairs to their apartment. Inside, she found more flowers, a card, and champagne on the table. It was really nice that Guido did this for her birthday, she thought. “Thank you!” she told him. “That’s so sweet!”
“Go look in the bedroom,” Guido said.
There, she found still more flowers. When Lauren turned to thank him again, Guido was kneeling. “Baby,” he asked, “will you marry me?”
“Yes, absolutely!” she said.
They hugged. They cried. They FaceTimed her sister in Hawaii.
The couple also called her parents, Terry and Diane, and his, Guido and Regina, to share the joy, but this was no surprise to them. Guido had previously called his parents to let them know the big step he was taking. He had gone to Terry and Diane’s house beforehand to seek their blessing, and to invite them to a post-engagement dinner for four at the Madison Cafe in Riverside.
Two months later, Guido, who is now 42, and Lauren, now 33, bought their Delran home.
In July 2018, after two years of prep work, Guido launched his own hotel management company, GLF Hospitality Group. GLF represents the words Guido, Lauren, and family. Lauren is the regional sales manager.
The couple’s ceremony and reception for 110 were held at the Knowlton Mansion. Their first gift, the bride said, came from the divine. “I so badly wanted an outdoor wedding,” she said. “The night before, they were calling for somewhere between an 80 and 90 percent chance of rain, but it was gorgeous for the ceremony and photos. God really blessed us.”
The leaves on the trees — and ground and chairs — had changed into gorgeous colors. Alisha Simone of Elegant Event Flowers placed eucalyptus and blush and burgundy flowers on the arbor. Even the horses were out, furthering the rustic feel Lauren sought.
Father of the bride was not Terry’s only role. He and Guido have become close friends, and he was a groomsman.
The ceremony included a family blessing. Guido’s parents, who live in Brazil, couldn’t attend. But his sister Geisa; his cousin and best man Davi; Davi’s wife, Vanessa; and their daughter, Isadora, stood with the bride’s parents and sister and vowed to do everything within their power to support the couple and their marriage.
“We had kind of a lot of speeches, and they were great,” Lauren said. Speakers included her dad; best man Davi; groomsman Justin; maid of honor and bride’s sister Kelly; and matron of honor and bride’s friend Vicky, who is married to Justin.
After the couple’s first dance, Guido danced with Lauren’s mom, and Lauren danced with her dad.
Everyone had a good time with the DJ, who passed out props, like Michael Jackson-style gloves and hats before he played “Beat It” and referred guests to cards on their tables bearing the lyrics to “That’s Amore.”
“Maybe he thinks Guido’s Italian,” the bride laughed. “It was great!” Guido said. “Everybody was singing together and swaying to the beat.”
“I knew I was going to marry Lauren from the get-go,” Guido said. “When I saw her for the first time in her dress, in those first 15 seconds, everything that’s happened since then came back into my mind. It was very emotional for me to see a dream come true.”
Toward the end of the night, the couple was so hot from dancing they took a breather outside. The predicted rain was finally falling, so they stood together beneath an awning, Lauren said. “It was the first moment that it was just the two of us, looking out at the rain together, in the quiet, and I thought, ‘Wow. We’re married.’ ”
A bargain: Eleven years ago, before the bride and groom had even met, DJ John Estrada had provided tunes for Lauren’s cousin Maureen’s wedding. “He was just as engaging as I remembered, and he gave us a very fair price,” she said. Photographer Rebecca Barger talked with the couple several times before the wedding, and then showed them key pictures as she took them. “She wanted to be sure we got all the settings we wanted to get. She really cared about our pictures,” Lauren said.
The splurge: Lauren and Guido love wine, so when they realized the Knowlton offered a private wine-cellar tasting for guests, complete with complimentary cheeses and chocolates, they couldn’t say no.
A week on Oahu, Hawaii, including hikes in Waimea Botanical Gardens, fresh fish dinners with gorgeous views of Waikiki Beach, and a deeply moving tour of Pearl Harbor.
Officiant: The Rev. Debra May Cerra, parish associate at Poland Presbyterian Church, Poland, Ohio.
Venue: Knowlton Mansion, Philadelphia.
Food: Conroy Catering Co., Philadelphia.
Music: DJ John Estrada, Best of Times Professional Disc Jockeys, Souderton.
Photography: Rebecca Barger Photography, Jenkintown.
Videography: Video Theater Studios, Allentown.
Flowers: Alisha Simone, Elegant Event Flowers & Decor, Moorestown.
Dress: Casablanca Bridal, purchased at Kay Bridal, Maple Shade.
Hair: Up Your Do! by Jill Kozar, Starlit Salon, Jenkintown.
Makeup: Dylan Michael Cosmetics by Cindy Singer.