Emily O’Neill and Caleb Swafford
Dec. 12, 2020
Sometimes, it takes years to finally see what’s been right there in front of you all along. Such was the case for Caleb Swafford. He’d known Emily O’Neill for about a decade, in part because she was friends with Caleb’s sister. Both homeschooled, they attended a class together at the Glasgow Christian Academy in Bear, Del., where their bond grew stronger.
Caleb hadn’t developed romantic feelings for Emily. But she had, many years before. “He was oblivious,” says Emily.
When Caleb went away to Louisiana Tech University, Emily thought that was the end of it. But a few years and a thousand miles helped flip a switch for Caleb, who realized Emily was all he’d been looking for. “I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before,” he admits.
By then, Emily was attending Lancaster Bible College. Caleb wasn’t sure the timing was right—or if they could make a long-distance relationship work. At Christmas, Caleb gave Emily, a writer, a fountain pen. Over spring break, things took a promising turn when they met at a local coffee shop to catch up. All but ready to give up on a romantic relationship, Emily was “completely overwhelmed” in the best way.
Soon, Caleb was ready to propose. In March 2020, Emily was still an undergrad when she headed to what she believed was a marketing photoshoot. When she got back to campus, Caleb whisked her away to the school’s picturesque gazebo—a special spot where the couple had previously spent time together. He gave her a rose-gold necklace with a rose-shaped pendant, plus a dozen real roses for good measure. Then he asked her to marry him.
Returning to Delaware, the couple began planning their wedding. They quickly locked in a venue for January 2021, and Emily bought gown. Initially, they weren’t worried when the lockdowns began. But as the months dragged on, the couple had to adapt, moving their wedding up a month to December. Emily and Caleb were married in an intimate ceremony at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Wilmington surrounded by holiday finery. Emily walked down the aisle to Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.” “It was quite overwhelming to have the doors open and to see her there for the first time in her wedding gown,” says Caleb.
They plan on celebrating their original reception at Deerfield Golf Club on Jan. 29, 2022. Joining them will be their first child, whom they welcomed this fall. “The wedding was surreal, but it also felt very real when it was happening,” says Emily. “It was all very wonderful.”
Ceremony: Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware.
Number of guests: 30.
Wedding portraits: Marian Coffin Gardens (preservationde.org).
Bride’s gown: Irini’s Originals (irinisoriginals.com).
Bridesmaids’ gowns: David’s Bridal (davidsbridal.com).
Groom’s tuxedo: Kenneth Cole (kennethcole.com).
Florist: Belak Flowers (belak-flowers.com).
Officiant: Rev. David Landow.
First dance: Johnny Cash’s “Rose of My Heart.”
Photographer: Creative Image Weddings (creativeimageweddings.com).
Videographer: Keever Films (keeverfilms.com).
Careers: Caleb is a lab manager, and Emily is a writer and editor.