I began to realize that Courtney — though small in stature — had the biggest heart, personality, and put more love into every second of the day than most people put into a lifetime. – Kevin [Groom]
For someone to say that about you is flattering but to have someone you love utter those words, it’s just pure bliss. What an inspiring couple. I love the way Kevin told the story on how they met and how he considers this the most important thing to happen to him that year despite him having a very eventful athletic on that year too. Then, I love how Courtney shared how he proposed – it was such a sweet story! You guys have to read it. And I guess the reason why this engagement shoot looked so perfect is that because the two people in it are completely and utterly in love and in awe with each other. The poses they did in this album felt like something they actually do in a daily basis – I am that convinced of their actions. Congratulations Courtney & Kevin!
My freshman year of college was one that I will never forget. April 2009 rounded out one of the best years of my athletic career: playing on one of the greatest teams in Boston University history, and winning every championship available in college hockey, including the National Championship. So if you told me then that the most important part of that year was a simple interaction (or lack there of) with a girl, I would have thought you were crazy. But that most important moment was when a small girl with the biggest orange backpack that was the size of her body walked into the room and — with all of the energy that was left from lugging that backpack around — tried to have a conversation with me.
As many of you know, I am not the most outgoing person when first meeting somebody, and I stayed true-to-form as I barely spoke and she left the room probably thinking how big of a jerk I was for being so quiet. Based on that awkward interaction, I am sure neither of us would have believed she would be my future wife. Over the next two years, Courtney and I would come in and out of each other’s lives: whether it would be Courtney re-routing her way to classes in our building so that her “roommate” could get a glimpse of me, or it was the random nights we would run into each other at the bar, and we would end up talking the whole night, but still think nothing of it, or when I would just see her on the street and be too nervous to say hello because I didn’t think she would remember who I was (which was honestly an excuse I would tell myself because I was too nervous to speak to her without a little liquid courage).
This all changed on Halloween of my Junior year. I was dressed as one of The Three Ninjas with my roommates and Courtney was a cop. As soon as she walked in I could not keep my eyes off of her, and we began to talk. Our conversation lasted the entire night without an awkward moment, and, finally, I admitted she was somebody I wanted to be with rather than just a friend I purposely ran into on the street. After Halloween night, I couldn’t stop thinking about Courtney, so I reached out to her roommate to initiate hanging out. We made our relationship official on June 3, 2011, after Courtney graduated and I went back to Long Island before returning for my senior year. That summer, we started a charity program together called Athletes 4 Autism, which helps kids with autism socialize with typical kids through sports. Absence and distances make the heart grow fonder, as we both learned when I moved to Florida to pursue my MBA in Sport Management one year later and Courtney stayed at The Autism Research Foundation in Boston.
As we continued our relationship, I began to realize that Courtney — though small in stature — had the biggest heart, personality, and put more love into every second of the day than most people put into a lifetime. She brought the best out of me my senior year of college, and will continue to do so everyday of our life together.
Looking back on that year now, the most memorable event of that year definitely wasn’t winning the Beanpot Championship, Hockey East Championship or the National Championship. It wasn’t scoring a goal in front of 6,000 plus fans against Michigan in one of my first college games. It was the moment when Courtney walked into the room with that big orange backpack and said hello.
The Gilroy Family had invited me to their Point Lookout house for the weekend to go to the Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry concert at Jones Beach. In true Gilroy fashion, there is always more than one event to go to on the weekend, so the concert happened to fall on the same weekend as our Athletes 4 Autism clinics, Frank and Mary Kate’s visit to Boston, and my and Kevin’s 2-year anniversary. Our plan was to drive to Point Lookout on Thursday night, go to the concert Friday night, then spend the night at Frank and Mary Kate’s new house, and drive back to Boston with them following us on Saturday morning. Frank and Mary Kate had invited us out to dinner with Frank’s college friends — and Kev’s new hockey beer league teammates — so we would meet up with them after we got ready at Kev’s apartment.
Or so I thought. Kev had casually pointed out that our anniversary weekend felt like it was fleeting, and he asked that we be sure to set aside a few hours between our drive and dinner just to have some “us” time. Just before we left Frank and Mary Kate’s house, Kev surprised me with tickets to a private gondola ride on the Charles River to do just that. I’m going to sound really spoiled here when I say: I had no idea something was going on, because he does thoughtful things like this all the time. I actually felt like kind of a jerk for not thinking of something equally thoughtful to give him during our anniversary afternoon!
The plan was still in effect: our gondola ride was at 4 PM and the dinner reservations Mary Kate had meticulously planned out with me weren’t until 7 PM. We parked at the Boston Commons garage and walked to the dock at The Esplanade. The handmade Venetian gondola was packed with chilled wine, strawberries, cheese and crackers, and an accordion player playing Italian love songs for the full 60-minutes of our trip up the Charles in the back. He had laid out the works! And I still had not a clue.
Kevin and I talked about our past two years: favorite memories, most challenging moments, what we learned from it all, and how excited we were to see where the next years would bring us in spite of (or because of) whatever came our way. Even when Kevin kept randomly pointing out the ducks between our romantic conversations, I didn’t see the distraction as anything odd. I am keeping the script of our conversation sacred between us, but I will say that it was perfect for us. We had about 10 minutes left on our trip when I thanked Kev for such a thoughtful date and commented on how it was such a great way to start the next year. That’s when he said, “Well, I can’t imagine spending my next years with anyone else. Our anniversary isn’t the only reason I brought you here. I have something to ask you…” He touched his hand to his pocket.
I gasped. What?! He opened the ring box, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. “Courtney, will you marry me?”And I told him to shut the front door. Then I asked if he was joking. He wasn’t joking. So I asked if he asked my dad’s permission. And he did. And he was still waiting for an answer. Kev prompted, “so…” And I said “OF COURSE!”
My reaction was probably as surprising for Kev as his proposal was for me. All at once I was crying (happy tears) and laughing, and then came my favorite part: his hand shaking as he put the ring on my finger. It was a moment of such raw, pure happiness that I just want to bottle forever. Kev did an unbelievable job of preserving the memory as best as possible; when we sailed under the ivy-adorned foot bridge, Kevin’s stunning sister-in-law Mary Kate was standing there taking pictures. She had followed us up the Charles River capturing our moment in time the whole ride. And did I mention she’s a professional photographer? Seeing Mary Kate really made me believe this was actually happening. Apparently, I kept shouting her name and “OH MY GOD!” Our gondola ride ends at the dock, where Frank is standing with a video camera. This newlywed dream team literally dodged in and out of the bushes along the Charles River to catch this all in-action. If that doesn’t tell me I am family now, I don’t know what does! Frank and the gondolier lifted me out of the gondola (I couldn’t feel my legs!), we started to walk back to our car, which was parked in the garage right under the Boston Commons and Boston Public Gardens. I was having a heart attack because my mother wasn’t answering her phone! Kev still needed to change for our dinner reservation, so Frank ever-so-calmly suggested that we take advantage of Mary Kate being there with her camera to take more engagement pictures along the way. We posed throughout the Public Gardens, then getting to my favorite spot – the Swan Boat bridge – we see both of our families standing on the bridge holding a sign “Congratulations, Kevin + Courtney”.
Kev’s family had followed us all the way back from Long Island. Incredible is an understatement. We all hugged, cried, and posed for more pictures in the city where it all began. An engagement dinner had been planned for The Palm Restaurant directly after. Watching both of our families meet for the first time — and connect so perfectly — was such an amazing sight. My immediate family literally tripled before my eyes, though I have always felt like a Gilroy. Following dinner, Kevin’s second older brother, Matt, hosted a table at PRIME, where we kept the celebrations going with our original dinner dates and a few great college friends from BU until Boston went to sleep. Everyone stayed at the Hilton Boston Downtown in Faneuil Hall, then woke up the next morning for brunch at The Black Rose before heading home.
Photographer: Wendell Fernandes Photography