Victoria Doyle and Gabriel Morales
October 6, 2018, in Lansdowne
On Victoria's first day coordinating children's pool activities at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Gabe, a handsome lifeguard, crossed the break room to ask about her Wawa swag. Gabe, who grew up in Orlando, found Victoria really cute, and the cup, bag, and button provided a decent ice breaker. "I went to the grand opening, too," he told her. Victoria, a native of Lansdowne who moved to Florida to study music at Rollins College, explained that these items with the Canada goose silhouette were more than mere freebies — they were little pieces of home.
There was a spark, and it grew the next day when they spent the entirety of their break talking. "I could tell there was something different there," said Gabe. "Our conversations went so naturally." He friended her on Facebook and within a week asked her for a date. "I thought he was so cute, and there I was at Disney, surrounded by princesses and magical love stories," Victoria said. Her practical side weighed in, too: She had a degree and a new job; she was ready for a relationship. "Ok," she said. "Let's go on a date."
They met at the Wawa — Victoria got a breaded chicken sandwich and Gabe an Italian hoagie — then headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios Park. They saw the Beauty and the Beast show, rode some rides, walked and talked, and by the time they returned to her car in the Wawa lot, eight hours had passed, and Gabe needed another hoagie.
That was in August 2012. In December, Victoria was a bit blue about spending Christmas away from her parents, Donald and Lee, and the rest of her family. But Gabe and his parents, Rhonda and Raul, invited her to spend the holiday with the Moraleses. "Gabe went to church with me on Christmas Eve, which was really special," Victoria said. "And then the way he and his family welcomed me, I felt like I was part of the family, like I was home. That's what made me fall in love with him, and with his family, too."
Gabe realized he was in love with Victoria when spending time with her only made him want to spend more time together. "It was getting to the point where not only did I enjoy being around her, I wanted to be around her in all of my spare time," he said. "She is who I always wanted to be with."
In December 2015, Victoria got a few days off and flew home for Christmas. As soon as she left town, Gabe visited a jewelry store. On Christmas Eve, he worked the closing shift at a restaurant. Victoria called while he was on his way home, after midnight on Christmas morning. "I miss you," he said. "I wish I could be with you."
Later in Lansdowne, Victoria's Aunt Carroll, a nun, excused herself from opening presents, saying she had to pick up another nun at the airport. This was a teeny, tiny fib. "I couldn't afford a cab back then," said Gabe, who now has a bachelor's degree in software development from the University of Central Florida and is a systems administrator for Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care.
Aunt Carroll walked back into the Doyle house. Gabe waited out of sight for a few moments, then rang the doorbell. Victoria answered and hugged him for a long time. "What took you so long?" she quipped. "Have you opened your presents?" Gabe asked. Victoria said she had. Not all of them, Gabe said, and knelt.
Gabe, now 26, and Victoria, now 29, an office manager for Booking.com, wed at St. Philomena Roman Catholic Church in Lansdowne, where the bride was baptized, and where her parents, grandparents, and more than a dozen other family couples have wed since 1937. "Marriage is a sacrament, and I wouldn't have wanted to get married anywhere else," she said.
She and Gabe eschewed other traditions, however. Victoria's brothers Jonathan and Wyatt were bridesmen, and her brother Clayton was man of honor. Cousin Mandy and friends Nicole and Mary Emily were bridesmaids and friend Hope maid of honor. Gabe's friend Blake was best man. His brother Armando, cousin Corey, and friend Kenny were groomsmen, and Jessica, a family friend he considers a cousin, was groomsmaid.
In addition to her Booking.com job, Victoria sings in a band, Run for Cover. She used her vocal skills to surprise her mom, singing the "Ave Maria" for before laying flowers at the feet of the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Between the ceremony and reception, guests were invited to relax and nosh on hoagies, snacks, and soda at Doyle-Stonelake Funeral Home, owned by the bride's uncle Richard. Meanwhile, the couple had photos taken at the Lansdowne Theater, and with their dogs, Max and Chip, who wore tiny tuxes. Gabe's parents drove up from Florida so the dogs could be there.
The couple used as many Lansdowne vendors as they could, including former neighbor Bonnie of Bonnie's Wondergardens. Their reception for 140 was held at the Twentieth Century Club. Guests enjoyed a never-ending tapas buffet. With no set time for dinner, everyone could dance, mingle, eat, and repeat at will. The food included some Philly favs: A build-your-own cheesesteak station, Johnson's Popcorn, and soft pretzels from Bernie's Pretzel Bakery — one of the bride's childhood hangouts — that spelled out "Mr. & Mrs. Morales."
The couple's friend Jeff, Run for Cover's lead guitarist, is also Orlando's DJ Icon. He whipped up a mix of tunes for all ages as a wedding gift.
"The first time I saw Victoria in her dress was literally breathtaking, said Gabe said. "I cried a little because I thought she looked so beautiful, and I was so happy that the day had finally come. I was just so happy." Victoria will never forget dancing with Gabe to Hunter Hayes' "Wanted." It was literally the first time they ever slow-danced together. "Even though everybody was watching us, I wasn't really thinking about them at all. I was just thinking about Gabe."
The wedding got closer and closer and Victoria still hadn't found a veil — she wasn't sure how she could find something that went with her dress when she was in Florida and her dress was in Pennsylvania. Then her mom, who usually either repurposes or tosses everything, found her own veil, untouched since 1969, in a drawer. It was a perfect match.
Victoria is confident in her makeup skills and does her own when she performs, but a chorus of friends said this was the biggest gig of her life and she needed to hire a professional.
A week in Hawaii, chosen so the couple could experience Aulani, the Disney resort.
Officiant: The Rev. Paul Castellani, St. Philomena Roman Catholic Church, Lansdowne.
Ceremony venue: St. Philomena Roman Catholic Church, Lansdowne. http://www.stphilspa.com/
Reception venue: Twentieth Century Club, Lansdowne. http://twentiethcenturyclub.com/Food and Venue Management: Cricket Catering, Clifton Heights. http://www.cricketcatering.com/