They spent a multitude of summers at Margate Shore houses six blocks apart without ever meeting. Three simultaneous years at Penn State Main didn’t do it, either — even though her sorority sisters are his Archbishop Ryan High School classmates.
But in June 2017, a dating app algorithm succeeded where real life had failed, introducing Amy and Ryan and leading to their first date at Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. There, they discovered how close their paths had come without crossing and found that knowing so many of the same people and places made them instantly comfortable.
Amy, a Yardley native who is now 33, was drawn to his wit and the silly side of his humor that really blossoms when it’s just the two of them. “He makes me laugh all day long.”
Ryan admired her authenticity, and the confident way she’s exactly herself no matter who else is in the room. “There is no front. She is always nice,” said Ryan, now 35. “She is a friendly, fun human being.”
For Amy, meeting Ryan was a bright spot in a very dark time: Her brother had cancer. He was dying. Amy worried her new relationship would not hold up beneath news so heavy, but she had to tell Ryan what was happening.
“I’m so sorry,” Ryan told her. “I’m here for you.” And then he was.
Amy’s brother, Brian, died from melanoma on Aug. 16, 2017 — three months after Amy and Ryan started dating. “Listen,” she said at dinner the following week. “I want to talk about him every day. I just want him to be a part of my everyday life.”
Ryan, who had lost a beloved aunt to cancer at 45, didn’t hesitate. “I want that, too,” he said.
Amy teaches fifth grade at Manor Elementary in the Pennsbury School District. When they met, Ryan, who grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, was a film industry production assistant. He lived in Los Angeles from 2008 to 2016, then moved home, worked on films here, in New York, or wherever he was needed, and stayed with family members — that is, until things got serious with Amy.
In September 2017, she bought a condo in Holland, Bucks County. After that Thanksgiving, Ryan, who was there most of the time anyway, left the city — a move that’s gotten much easier since his best friend now lives less than two miles away.
The couple continues to spend much of their summers in Margate.
Last year, Amy’s family decided to hold their annual Brian J. Discount Melanoma Fund benefit — which raises money for melanoma research at Penn — at Maynard’s Cafe in August. Amy and Ryan headed down the morning before to enjoy a lazy, rainy beach day of naps and TV watching. It was raining so hard that Amy’s mother dropped the two off at the restaurant where they were having dinner.
“We had a bottle of wine and a full loaf of bread. I ate a full bowl of pasta, and a cannoli. I told Ryan I couldn’t wait to get home to put on my sweatpants,” Amy remembered.
Walking up the stairs to the house, Ryan asked her to wait on those sweats just a little longer.
“I have something for you,” he said.
He handed her a seashell. On the front was a hand-painted sleeve of french fries bearing a Flyers logo — a reference to the repeating line from a poem Amy’s brother wrote in the fifth grade: “I am a Flyers fan who loves french fries.”
This poem hung on Amy’s late grandmother’s wall. Her father’s best friend, who was Brian’s godfather, read it at Brian’s funeral.
Ryan knew the image would evoke Brian for Amy. She loved his gift even before he asked her to turn the shell over, where she saw the words, “Will you marry me?”
Ryan knelt on the porch, Amy said some version of yes neither of them remembers, and he handed her a ring.
About a year ago, Ryan faced a transition bigger than city to burbs, or even L.A. to Philly. Becoming a film producer was his goal, and he hadn’t reached it. He loved the work he was doing, but it wasn’t conducive to having the family he wanted, not in terms of time or money. Still, it was hard to let go — film work was a piece of his identity. “It was a scary Band-Aid to pull,” he said. “I was probably not always a friendly person then. We had many conversations about it.”
Amy was patient and sympathetic, and supported him as he figured things out.
In December 2019, Ryan pulled off the Band-Aid, and this past January, he landed a new job: He’s a technical recruiter for RX2 Solutions, based in Plymouth Meeting. “I’m definitely glad I did it,” he said.
Amy brags on him a bit: “He’s a rock star! His bosses have made mention of it many times, it’s very impressive.”
The couple had planned to marry next weekend — June 13 — with a ceremony and a big bash for 300 at the Warrington. In March, when COVID-19 required them to hunker down at home, and Amy began sharing Ryan’s at-home office space to teach virtually, they didn’t think about changing their most-important-ever summer plan. But by mid-April, they decided they would rather postpone the wedding than to leave anyone out of what would likely need to be a much smaller gathering.
Disappointing or inconveniencing guests who had already made plans was their biggest concern, but the people on the other end of every phone call were relieved, Amy said.
The wedding has been rescheduled for the first weekend date the venue, their DJ, and their photographer were available: Jan. 16, 2021.
“We didn’t want to settle for a Thursday or a Sunday — we were trying to make a party out of this,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, by January, this will be something everybody can look forward to,” Amy said.
Amy admits she kind of hopes the weather is miserable on their abandoned wedding date. But she and Ryan agree that delaying their wedding for safety’s sake and even the stress and worry that comes with living through this pandemic have not been as difficult as previous challenges they’ve come through together.