How do you define a fantastic friend?
Stephanie has one. So does Paul. What did those fantastic friends do? They threw a barbecue together, hoping to throw Paul and Stephanie together.
Did it work? We’ll let Stephanie give you the details. At the time, the Maryland native was living in Silver Springs. She came to Charlotte to apply for a teaching position, and Paul was already here, working for Carolina Trim Specialties, his family’s company.
“Our two best friends, Lauren, (my friend from college), and Kelly, (who is Paul’s childhood friend), set up this barbecue so we could meet,” Stephanie said. “They thought we would hit it off. Of course, I, being the the shy one, hardly spoke to him at all that night, so he didn’t think he had a chance!”
Stephanie was offered the job in Charlotte the next day. As she drove back to Maryland, Stephanie began thinking of reasons to return to North Carolina.
“The evening I got back, I asked Paul to be my ‘friend’ on MySpace,” Stephanie said. “We were pen pals, writing each other every day until I moved down. About a month after moving, we finally had our official first date at Blakeney!”
Before they knew it, they fell in love. After they became a devoted couple, Paul decided he wanted to marry Stephanie, and he did it the old-fashioned way. He asked her father’s permission before he proposed. Stephanie’s father was delighted to welcome Paul into the family.
When Stephanie asked Paul to attend a friend’s wedding with her, Stephanie had no idea she herself would be engaged before the wedding weekend was over. The wedding was in Maryland, so Paul and Stephanie headed north. After they got there, Paul recalls he was unaccustomed to walking everywhere with a big ring box in his pocket! The wedding was lovely but a little unusual, because it was held on Friday the 13th. Paul and Stephanie aren’t superstitious, but they had to leave the festivities early to arrive home safely.
“Paul knew that I was upset about leaving the fun, so he asked to take some pictures by the beautiful water to cheer me up. I LOVE pictures!” Stephanie said. “So out we went, in the dark, which I thought was odd because the pictures would not turn out right, nor could we see the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.
“When I turned around, there was Paul on bended knee, with the biggest smile on his face. He told me that he loved me more than anything and wanted to grow old with me. After yelling ‘shut up!’ and hitting him with my purse multiple times, I finally blurted out, ‘YES!’ ”
They held their rehearsal dinner at Piper Glen Country Club, and married on the South Lawn of the Ballantyne Resort. There were many wonderful memories made that day, but a treasured family prayer book holds special meaning for Stephanie.
“Many people didn’t even know, but I carried a prayer book down the aisle that was over 80 years old. It was my ‘something old’ from Paul’s mother’s side of the family. It belonged to Paul’s great-great-aunt Minnie O’Neill. It was a gift to Minnie from her sister Annie, who never immigrated to the United States. Annie gave the book to Minnie in 1932, when Minnie returned to Ireland for a visit. The book is dated 1932, Bere Island, County Cork, Ireland.”
The book is also special to Stephanie because so many of Paul’s most beloved family members carried it during their own weddings. The book of prayers was carried down the aisle by Paul’s grandmother, Rosemary, his mother, Vera, and both his sisters, Alecia and Andrea.
What was the best part of the wedding for Stephanie?
“My father’s speech! My parents have been married 48 years this August. He gave us some funny words of wisdom that he has learned throughout his marriage. Then, at the end of the speech, he told Paul that he had gained the son he lost so long ago (my parents lost their first child after more than 10 years of trying to have a baby), and how he gained the most beautiful grand-daughter, Leia, who is Paul’s daughter from his first marriage.”
The couple spent a blissful honeymoon week strolling the sugar-white sands of Jamaica. “We stayed at Sandal’s Whitehouse Resort in the Dutch Villages,” Stephanie said, and they took advantage of all the island has to offer.
“We took the Appleton’s Rum Factory tour,” Stephanie said. “We also went to the Y.S. Falls to do the zip line, jump off the rocks and swim in the springs!”
Cake: Cake Lady Jill, Jill Del Mastro
Flowers: Harris Teeter Ballantyne, Krissy Kravitz
Gown: Casablanca Bridal
Shoes: Liz Rene
Bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal
Tuxedos: Men’s Warehouse
Engagement and Wedding rings: Diamond’s Direct
Hairstylist and Make-up for wedding: Simply Beautiful Artistry, Sissy Duncan
Music/Entertainment/Booking Agency: Split Second Sound
Photography for wedding: Chuck Eaton
Clergy: Reverend William Jeffries, Senior Associate Pastor, Providence United Methodist Church
Ceremony location: Ballantyne Hotel on the South Lawn
Rehearsal dinner: Piper Glen Country Club
Bridesmaid luncheon location: City Tavern, Stonecrest
Wedding consultants/planners: Alli Hall, Ballantyne Hotel