Jennifer Galloway grew adept at juggling a law career, family business and raising son Jake. She met her match in multitasker Scott Alvarez, a Cisco Systems finance manager and father of daughter Aidan. Set up on a blind date — the first for both — the two Type A's perfected their balancing acts to focus on what matters most. So when a fierce storm knocked out plans for a beach wedding, the couple weren't fazed a bit. Refill the glasses and round up more candles, said Jennifer, taking a deep breath and a sip of champagne. The sky opened with a thunderous clap and lightning zapped all the electricity on the north end of Clearwater Beach. Buoyed by faith and family, the couple looked to the heavens.
Jennifer, 34, earned her law and master's business administration degree from Stetson College of Law in December 2000. When her father, John Galloway, contemplated retirement, Jennifer considered taking over the family's 60-year-old contemporary furniture business, an institution in South Tampa.
But the timing was right to sell the store last fall, she said, recalling years of helping out while attending Plant High and the University of Georgia.
Since her 2005 divorce, Jennifer has worked a flex-time schedule for three law firms to maximize her time with son Jake Pike, now 5. Currently she practices part time at Mortellaro & Sinadinos.
A friendship forged at Circle C Ranch day school brought Scott into her life in January 2007.
"Jake became best friends with Caiden Boggs, and his mom, Tanya Boggs, became my best friend,'' she explains. "She was dating a friend of Scott's from Key West. And Scott lent them his house one night when he went out of town."
The proverbial bell rang when Tanya noticed pictures of Scott fishing, skiing and playing with Aidan, now 8.
He'd be perfect for Jennifer, Tanya thought, and then told her boyfriend.
Alvarez, 41, grew up in Islamorada, graduated from Florida State with a finance degree and moved to Tampa in 1990 to work for NationsBank, now Bank of America. He divorced in 2002.
"I was skeptical," he said. "A friend who doesn't even live in Tampa found someone he thought would be a great fit for me?"
Neither had ever been on a blind date, he said, but trusted their friends enough to join them for dinner — freshly caught lobster from Key West — at Scott's house.
"So many of our circles overlapped,'' Jennifer said, "we were surprised we hadn't met before." The pair have mutual friends from the Tampa Yacht Club; Jennifer's nephew is a classmate of his daughter's at the Academy of the Holy Names; and both are avid boaters and love skiing and skydiving.
A month later, they were tourists on Jennifer's first trip to New York. They did it all: Central Park carriage ride, Empire State Building, Broadway theater.
"I never did anything like that before," she said.
Last May the couple flew to the Bahamas; in June they celebrated Scott's 40th birthday in Spain.
On Nov. 2, in a limousine headed to Napa Valley, he proposed.
"On the Golden Gate Bridge, on one knee, mimosa in hand, he pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him," she said. "I was stunned."
They called their parents right away but waited until they returned home to tell the children in person.
"They are our world, our center," she said.
The pace quickened. During the two-month engagement, Jennifer and Scott organized hectic Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, purchased a new home in Virginia Park, put their own houses on the market and spent 10 days in Hawaii on a company trip that Scott won.
Oh, and planned a Jan. 19 wedding.
Cocktails and the ceremony were to be on the beach, and dinner would follow in the clubhouse at the Carlouel Yacht Club in Clearwater Beach. When they saw storm clouds, everything moved inside.
The wind rattled the building as the bridal party huddled for the photographer. Then, boom! The power went out, then right back on. Amazingly, only one circuit on the entire island worked: in the bride's dressing room and the tent where 60 guests waited.
"Jennifer always wanted to get married near the water, now she's getting married in the water," announced the Rev. John DeBevoise of Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church.
The kitchen ran on gas, so dinner came out just fine. The band ran an extension cord and played just fine.
The bride and groom exchanged rings — plus one for each of their children — and focused on what matters.
Amy Scherzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3332.