Gabrielle Gock and Chris Rubery
September 3, 2017, in Philadelphia
A new-in-town Texan's search for Philadelphia's best wings took him to McGillin's Olde Ale House in winter 2005. Fate seated him in the section of a just-out-of-college waitress from Ridley.
Chris liked the wings and really liked talking to the waitress, Gabrielle. "She was so different from the girls down South, with her feisty Northeastern persona," he said. "She wouldn't take guff from any of the customers." He also liked her her olive complexion, cute smile, and wavy hair.
Chris kept going to the bar. Gabrielle always tried to seat him in her section.
"He had this Southern charm and was very easy to talk to," she said. Besides, "He was handsome and he was a really good tipper."
A University of Texas communications major, Chris' first trips to the bar were with the local alumni group to cheer on their basketball team. Gabrielle had played basketball at Lebanon Valley College, where she studied English, philosophy, and communications. Their first conversations centered on sports. By March Madness, both felt a broader connection.
Gabrielle invited him to see Robert Randolph and the Family Band at the Trocadero the next month. He on-the-spot invited her to see Tom Petty with him in August — giving her the ticket meant for the friend who was sitting next to him. Dancing to Robert Randolph's funky sound was awesome, as were subsequent dates to Trenton Titans and Phillies games. Within a few months, Chris moved in to Gabrielle's South Philly apartment.
Chris had moved from Arlington, Texas, with brother Matthew when Matthew was hired to teach locally. Chris found a job at the local office of Houston Wire & Cable. Less than a year later, Matthew moved to England, and Chris surprised friends and family in Texas when he said he would not be moving home. "I was at the age where I was not just looking for someone to have coffee with, but someone I wanted to spend my life with, and someone who would be a real fighter for our kids and all – and Gaby was definitely all of those things," Chris said. "She gets a lot out of life, and I get more out of life because of her."
With Chris, there's never a dull moment, Gabrielle said. "He's very interesting. And we have the same interests: Music, craft beer, and sports. He's always up to go explore."
Their daughter, Gracie, was born in 2006.
Chris, now 40, works in sales for West Chester's Omni Cable. Gabrielle, now 36, is manager of McGillin's. In 2006, they bought a house in Springfield, Delaware County. Chris was completely content — he spent every day with the love of his life, they had a wonderful daughter, a home, and a lot of joy together. He thought Gabrielle was content, too. And mostly she was — but one thing bothered her.
In spring 2015, Chris booked a room at the Ritz and planned a celebratory weekend for the 10th anniversary of their first date. "I thought she was going to love that trip, but she was sad and melancholy," he said. "She was upset that we weren't married — that's when I realized it meant so much to her."
Gabrielle wasn't the only one wondering why they hadn't wed. "At the same time, Gracie was getting older, and she was asking me questions about why we weren't married. And, honestly, I didn't like the answers I had for her."
So Chris went to work on a plan. Gracie helped.
In July 2015, the family traveled to Marathon in the Florida Keys. At Keys Marina, they ordered lobster Rubens, Chris got a pitcher of Isla Marada Ale, and they prepared to watch the sunset.
Chris knelt. Gracie took photos. "Will you spend the rest of your life with me and Gracie?" Chris asked Gabrielle.
Planning began for a Memorial Day Weekend's worth of celebration. The couple had just started to tell friends and family to save the date when — surprise! — they learned Gabrielle was pregnant and due in late February. The couple who had waited a decade to get married decided another few months wouldn't matter, and made it Labor Day Weekend instead.
It was so them
The weekend started with a Friday night dinner for those who had to rehearse and many who didn't. About 90 people enjoyed "The I Do BBQ" at Yards Brewery, which seemed the right blend of grilled Texas and brewed Philly. It was there that Chris welcomed everyone and invited them to use the weekend to celebrate not only Gabrielle and him, but also everyone they love, and the City of Brotherly Love, too. Suggestions for Saturday activities were provided, and lots of Texans ran the Rocky steps.
The Sunday ceremony at the Holiday Inn Express was led by Benjamin Franklin (actor Robert DeVitis). The couple used a Quaker, or self-uniting, license. Gracie was a bridesmaid, and Scarlet, then 6 months old, was the flower bud, escorted by Kelsey, a nanny who happens to be a McGillin's regular. The couple said vows they wrote, and it all wrapped up in less than 10 minutes.
A bagpiper led Ben, the couple, their parents, 12 bridesmaids, and 12 groomsmen in a parade to McGillin's. "People were coming out of the restaurants on 13th Street to videotape us," Gabrielle said. "A Philly bike cop stopped traffic at the light so we could cross," Chris said.
The restaurant closed for the occasion, but Gabrielle's boss, Christopher Mullins Jr., dressed in a tux and took on the role of wedding maître d', ensuring everything ran smoothly. Gabrielle's father, Andy, died 10 years ago, so Christoper Mullins Sr. gave the toast.
There was a DJ downstairs so people could dance, and an acoustic band upstairs for anyone who preferred to listen. Five members of the Fralinger String Band — in full regalia — played 30 minutes on each floor. "Everybody went nuts," Gabrielle said.
There was a fancy dinner, but Gabrielle and Chris were more excited about the Philly pretzels, cheesesteak egg rolls, and huge supply of the chicken wings that had brought them together. Drinks were local, including 2SP Delco Lager, Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale, and McGillins 1860 IPA. Guests received bottles of Yards Love Stout as favors.
The couple danced all night. His daddy-daughter dance with Gracie was a highlight for Chris.
Chris will never forget marching with the bagpiper to the reception. That's when their marriage sank in. "We had done it," he said. "I knew how important it was to Gabrielle, and I knew how happy she was, and that made me incredibly happy."
The outpouring of what he sees as the true Philly "attytude" made him happy, too. "All around us were Philadelphians screaming and taking pictures. Strangers seemed overjoyed for us. It reaffirmed how happy I am to be in Philly."
Dancing with Chris to My Morning Jacket's "Golden" was incredible, Gabrielle said. The song means a lot to the couple. "And we were dancing, and looking around in awe at all of our family and closest friends who were there to celebrate with us," she said. "Everything had come together, and now we were married."
The budget crunch
A bargain: Nanny Kelsey gave the couple a great rate. Gabrielle's sister-in-law Alex altered her dress free of charge.
The splurge: Dessert, including a four-tier, multiflavor cake from Isgro's with a rose gold LOVE sculpture cake topper, and Rosati water ice.
Five days in Chicago that included a Cubs game, a White Sox game, and Hamilton.
Behind the scenes
Officiant: Benjamin Franklin (portrayed by Robert DeVitis), Philadelphia.
Reception venue: McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philadelphia.
Bagpiper: Jim McGilvery Bagpipes, Ardmore.
Band: Off and On Again featuring Gavin Cole and Matt Burridge, Philadelphia.
DJ: Time Productions, Sewell.
Photography: Banfe Studios, Cherry Hill.
Flowers: Cleavers Petals in the Park, Ridley Park.
Hair/Makeup: Salon Ricochet, Philadelphia.