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One of the best parts of our job is getting to know the happy couples who choose to share one of the most significant days of their lives with us — and we delight in sharing their stories with the world. Caroline Creamer and Mike DeAngelis, who are getting married at Philander Chase Knox Estate in Valley Forge this September, were generous enough to tell us all about their backstory and their engagement.

The Meet

Caroline: We often joke about the lack of romance of where we first met. It was the first week back to college, and I was a sophomore at Pitt. I’d spent a lot of time at Kappa Sig frat parties as a freshman, and I thought I was too cool to go back as a sophomore, but that is exactly where I found myself one night. When Mike introduced himself, I accused him of being a freshman since I had somehow never seen him there before, but he was actually a junior. We ended up dancing the rest of the night, and the rest is history.Mike: We ended up meeting at one of my fraternity’s parties. I remember noticing Caroline in the hallway and worked up the courage to go up and talk to her. The ironic part about this was, despite being in a fraternity, I had not completely bought into the whole idea of it (and was only officially in it for two semesters). Caroline wasn’t really into the fraternity scene, either, and was only there because her friends had talked her into going that night. So, with all of that said, it’s ironic that a fraternity party is where we met.

The First Date

Caroline: Our first date wasn’t a traditional date. We grabbed a late lunch at a sandwich shop off campus. I think we were both really nervous, but we got over that quickly. We were so busy talking, I think I ended up bringing my whole lunch home and ate it while I rehashed it with my roommates — who are now my bridesmaids!Mike: We joke about this, but the first time we officially went on a “date” was at a small deli on our school’s campus. We both really liked it and wanted to hang out one-on-one instead of at a party. I finally took her out to a real dinner a few weeks later. I didn’t know much about the Pittsburgh restaurant scene, and looking back on it now, it’s pretty embarrassing. I took her to the one place I knew: The Cheesecake Factory. The only problem is I didn’t make a reservation, and there was about a two-hour wait. We ended up going next door to an Italian place, and luckily Caroline didn’t mind my screwup (or pretended not to). I remember appreciating how she reacted to the whole situation. Luckily for the both of us, my date game has improved drastically since then.

When You Knew

Caroline: About a month or two after we started dating, Mike decided he wanted to study abroad in New Zealand, so we had to have a serious conversation about our relationship very early on. Even though it was so new, I think we both already knew that it was something that was going to last well beyond a six-month semester abroad.Mike: There wasn’t a specific moment, but after I went away to New Zealand for study abroad, I knew we had something special. We’d only been dating for five months when I left, so it was a serious conversation about whether we wanted to continue dating during my trip or not. Pretty early into it, I knew she was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and I’m obviously glad we made the long-distance situation work.

The Proposal

Caroline:We were with my family visiting my little sister in Rome during her study abroad semester. My sister and her boyfriend were the only other people in the group that didn’t know Mike was planning to propose. We arrived and were happily eating pizza and drinking beer, talking about what to do on our first day in Rome. Mike mentioned going to an orange garden as part of our sightseeing tour, but my sister quickly said she had other places we might like more. Little did I (or she) know, Mike’s initial plan for the proposal had been foiled. In classic Mike fashion, he decided to just wing it. The first stop of the day was the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. Mike asked me to take a picture, and the next thing I knew, he was down on one knee. It was such a surprise and could not have been more perfect.Mike: Once we had the Rome trip booked, I knew that I wanted to propose to Caroline in Italy. I picked out the spot after some research and planned on suggesting it to the group that we go there on our second day. After dinner the first night, I brought up the idea, and Caroline’s sister, not knowing my intentions, shot down the idea. I decided I would do it when the moment felt right that next day. I was so nervous carrying the ring around Rome. The box was so large that I put on a heavier jacket, even though I didn’t need it.The very first stop we made was on a beautiful rooftop overlooking a piazza, but there were way too many tourists around. All of a sudden, the rooftop cleared out, and it was just us and Caroline’s family. I knew it was time, so I asked Caroline if she wanted to take a picture, and while she was turned around, I got on one knee. She turned back around and was completely shocked. We went to the Spanish Steps afterwards and drank champagne to celebrate. It was the perfect day and the happiest moment of my life.

The Location

Caroline: I grew up hiking, biking and running in Valley Forge Park with my family, and Mike asked for my parents’ blessing to marry me on Mt. Joy, so this place really has a special place in both our hearts. I can’t wait to bring all of our friends and family together here to celebrate us starting our life together.Mike: We’re so excited to have all of our friends and family together for one night to celebrate. We’ve both lived in three cities since high school, so a lot of our friends have never met each other. It adds to the special occasion that all of these loved ones will be under the same roof.Stay tuned for the second part of this love story, which will appear on the blog later this year!Ready to learn more or see this special venue? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today! Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef. Kim MacKinnon Featured photo: Adrienne Matz Photography; all other photos, top to bottom: Adrienne Matz Photography (next two photos); Garrett Creamer; Adrienne Matz Photography