Leigh Curvin & Vic Aquilla

Sept. 6, 2021, in Claymont, Del.

Hello there

Their first date — at the mall midway between Vic’s home in Philadelphia and Leigh’s in suburban Baltimore — was supposed to be just lunch.

Dating site OkCupid had introduced them with a 97% match rating about six weeks prior. Vic, a Philadelphia firefighter, and Leigh, a nurse practitioner who was working while earning a master’s degree from George Washington University, texted, talked, and FaceTimed until she could squeeze a date into her schedule.

They took a table at the Cheesecake Factory at 1 p.m. “We got the silly, goofy things out of the way first — what’s your favorite color? What do you like to do for fun? What do you like to read?” remembered Leigh. By 9 p.m. on the Shake Shack patio, the conversation had grown serious. “We talked about our expectations, where we want to be in life, and what the person we wanted to be with would be like,” said Vic. “We had a really deep conversation about religion and our upbringing,” Leigh added.

Vic said he already knew from her dating profile that Leigh is beautiful. Over eight hours at the Christiana Mall, he “learned about her intellect, and the fact that she is a strong, godly woman, which is something I was looking for. I knew she was something special after our eight-hour date, partly because I don’t do eight-hour dates.”

Leigh saw that day in June 2019 that Vic offered many things she had not previously found, including stability. “He is kind and sweet. He could carry on a good conversation and had a nice sense of humor,” she said. “I was like, ‘OK, this is worth more of my time today — and the next day and the next day.’ ”

They have spoken, at least by text, every day since. By that August, they knew they would marry. Leigh was preparing for the nurse practitioner board certification exam, so she had to decrease her work hours, making money a bit tight. For her birthday, Vic paid the examination fee — hundreds of dollars.

“What are you doing?” a very surprised Leigh asked him.

“I believe in you,” Vic said. “This is an investment in your future, and I want to invest.”

Launching forever

Leigh, who is now 35, and Vic, now 37, completed premarital counseling with their pastor, Carl Day of Culture Changing Christians Worship Center in North Philadelphia, in October 2020.

Then, “We did things a little backward,” said Leigh.

In January 2021, before they were officially engaged, they chose their venue — The Waterfall in Claymont, Del. — put down a deposit, and began making payments. Deposits were made on other vendors, too.

The firefighter and nurse practitioner were painfully aware of COVID-19. Together, they deduced that chances were very good that cases would be low enough to allow for a Labor Day wedding. After that, “We had to plan in faith,” said Vic. “The venue couldn’t guarantee anything, but we had no plan of cancellation. We just put our faith in God that this was going to happen.”

On an ordinary day in February, Vic called Leigh, who works in Havre de Grace and then lived in Maryland. “Hey, are you going to be home later?” he asked.

Leigh was wearing pajamas and hair rollers when he knelt in front of her, on the living room floor, and asked her to marry him.

It was so them

A month and a half before the wedding, Leigh asked each of their 98 guests to please not come if they had any COVID symptoms in the seven days prior to the event. “We will love you from afar,” she emailed them.

The couple provided masks and asked their guests to wear them when safety required it. Vic and Leigh gave their guests hand sanitizer and nasal sanitizer. A video Leigh made about the Nozin product last year had gone viral, and the company gave her enough for their guests in appreciation.

The ceremony, performed by pastor Carl Day, was held outdoors — a normally premium option that the venue offered the couple at no charge. Leigh’s grandmother, Barbara, and Vic’s grandmother, Sophia, led the procession, sprinkling flower petals down the aisle.

The couple wrote their own promises and read them in what “turned into a vow-off,” said Vic. When he boasted at the rehearsal that his vows would be equivalent to the greatest hip-hop album or story ever heard, he had yet to write them. Both bride and groom finished their vows the morning of their wedding.

“I promised to always encourage her, to be her biggest supporter and protector,” Vic said. “And then I told her I would always be her jefe,” a reference to the nickname given him by his firefighter coworkers, who were among the guests. “When I heard the oohs and ahhs of the crowd, I dropped the paper I had my vows written on, like dropping the mic.”

When it was Leigh’s turn, “I promised him I would always be his safe space, and the wife he needs and the friend he longs for,” she said. “I also promised to let him have the air conditioner on 67 and the fan on — as long as he pays the electric bill.” The crowd loved her words, too, and Leigh also dropped her paper.

Vic is a self-professed introvert, but “I managed to pull every bit of extroverted energy I could find to make sure that not only I had a good time, but my wife had a great time,” Vic said.

During the ceremony, he dipped Leigh after their kiss. Then at the ballroom reception, as they danced to Musiq Soulchild’s “So Beautiful,” Vic dipped Leigh again, then lifted her off the floor and twirled around.

“There were no flame throwers or violin players, but a lot of people said they could feel the love in the room,” Leigh said.

Honeymooning

The couple spent a week in Cabo San Lucas. At a secluded beach, Vic asked Leigh to baptize him in the ocean. “It was a major moment for myself,” he said. “I was baptized as a little kid, but had no say in it. This was me recommitting to God, and we shared it together.”

What’s next

The couple, who live in Northeast Philadelphia, hope to add children to their family soon. Their parents and friends seem keen for that to happen, too. “Random people have asked us when we are having twins,” said Vic. “They do run in my family,” said Leigh.