September 23, 2023, Paula Errigo & Robert Hopkins: It’s a Match!

After being single for 20 years, Paula Errigo was still hoping to find “the one.” Then, an online dating site led her to Robert Hopkins, a widower from Bucks County. 

Paula and Robert celebrated their wedding with family and friends at The Inn at Leola Village. These members of the baby boom generation took a page from younger generations and met through an online dating site.

Looking back, Paula says living the single life after being married for 32 years had its ups and downs. “It was a lot of hits and misses, mostly misses,” she says of regaling her girlfriends with tales from her latest dating disasters. Paula even considered applying for a spot on The Golden Bachelor, which recently aired on ABC. “Oh, my, gosh, the application was 20 pages long,” she says. “It was too daunting, so I didn’t apply.” 

Still, Paula’s life had been far from empty. A graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School and Immaculata College, Paula started her career as an English teacher and spent much of it with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, retiring in 2003. She then spent the next 15 years as a private educational consultant to state departments of education and local school districts. Her daughter, Francesca Vaughn, made her a grandmother. She loved to travel, dine out and shop. 

Paula and Robert exchanged vows before their 75 guests. The officiant, Marie Dacey, was Paula’s college roommate.

Robert, who is a retired civil engineer, had been married for 40 years and served as his wife’s chief support during her five-year battle with cancer. He is the father of one son, Stephen. 

The program reflected the wedding’s burgundy-and-gold color scheme.

Both had posted bios on match.com and in the spring of 2021 they noticed each other, began corresponding and agreed to meet in King of Prussia. The two felt an instant connection. Thus began months of driving back and forth to spend time together. Paula told dubious friends and family that this relationship “could be different.” She was impressed by the effort Robert was making to move it forward. “He was still working, so seeing each other was limited to weekends,” Paula explains. 

After saying “I Do,” the couple was greeted by a flurry of cell phones that captured the moment.

By fall, Robert was ready to retire and made the decision to move to Lancaster. He told Paula to begin looking for a house they could buy together. She found the perfect candidate in East Petersburg, where Traditions, a 55+ community was underway. Robert inspected homes that were under construction, liked what he saw and agreed they should buy into the community. “We had a long way to go,” Paula says. “We both had to sell our houses, downsize, and then blend what was left. Our house at Traditions would take a year to build. There were a lot of moving parts. It proved to be no easy feat!” 

Paula was attended by her daughter, Francesca Vaughn, and her granddaughters, Ava and Emerson. Robert’s best man was his son, Stephen.

By the fall of 2022, Paula and Robert knew their relationship was forever. They even designed an engagement ring with a jeweler. All that remained was a formal proposal. “We were going to a wedding in Mexico, and I thought maybe it would come then,” Paula recalls. Instead, the proposal came out of the blue. It was Black Friday and as Paula remembers it, Robert said, “You know what? We should do this proposal thing now.” He then presented her with the ring and asked her to marry him. She laughs and says the proposal wasn’t delivered on bended knee. “It’s too hard to get back up at our ages,” she says of being 76, while Robert is 69. They celebrated their engagement while attending the aforementioned wedding in Mexico. 

The next step was getting married. “I wanted to have a wedding,” Paula says of what she envisioned as being “simple and small, with maybe 60 guests.” After assembling guests lists, the number climbed to 75. 

Paula worked with the inn’s bakery to create a cake similar to one she had seen on Pinterest. Upon arriving home after the wedding, Paula and Robert polished off the top of the cake instead of waiting for their one-year anniversary.

Where to hold the wedding and reception was the next hurdle. “Someone told me about The Inn at Leola Village, so we looked at it,” Paula says. “It’s a lovely facility, the staff is very accommodating and best of all, they take care of everything, including the food, flowers and cake. We just had to arrange for an officiant, a photographer and music.” They set a date for a fall 2023 wedding, which would allow them time to move into their new home (January 2023) and plan their big day. 

One matter that required Paula’s attention was finding a dress. Knowing she didn’t want to go the bridal shop route, she started perusing the internet. She was looking for something that would be appropriate for a wedding but didn’t scream bridal. In total, Paula bought seven dresses online, one of which proved to be perfect. “I lucked out with that one,” she notes. “It looked more special occasion [than bridal], fit well and didn’t need any alterations.” (She plans to sell the other six.) 

Keepsake picture frames directed guests to their tables.

For her walk down the aisle, Paula carried a bouquet of cascading orchids. “When they brought it to me, I was flabbergasted. It was beautiful, just what I envisioned,” she says. 

In need of an officiant, Paula suggested to her college roommate, Marie Dacey, who is a college professor in Massachusetts, that she obtain the credentials to conduct the ceremony. Marie agreed to the request. It was Marie’s husband, John, who walked Paula down the aisle. (Paula’s father, noted photographer, Frank Errigo, passed away in January 2018, while her brother, Chip, died a year later. “That was a tough year,” she comments. Paula’s mother, Anne, died in May of 2021.)  

The Bella Giardino Room accommodated the wedding’s 75 guests for dinner.

Despite the absence of her parents and brother, Paula wanted the wedding to emphasize the importance of family. “I want the holidays back!” Paula says of her desire to welcome family and friends to her new home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. While Francesca and her daughters, Ava and Emerson, served as Paula’s attendants, Robert’s son, Stephen, served as his best man. Paula’s niece and nephew, Katie and Eric Roering, provided party favors from their Fontana Candle Co. A cousin’s wife, Janet, made cookies for the dessert table. During a toast, Francesca and Stephen shared their pleasure at knowing they are “no longer only children.” 

The newlyweds danced to Because of You, by Tony Bennett and K.D. Lang. Paula ordered seven gowns online before she found “the one” that she deemed not too bridal but more special occasion.

Paula and Robert wrote their own vows. Both report that their careers as a teacher and an engineer were reflected in the words they spoke, as Paula’s discussed relationship development and future promises while Robert’s touched on three shorter and more concise points.  

After the ceremony, guests gathered in the bar area for cocktails. Dinner, which Paula describes as “flawless,” was held in the Bella Giardino Room. After dinner, guests danced to music provided by the Flamin’ Caucasians, a Philadelphia-area band whose song list spans six decades. “Our first dance was to Tony Bennett and K.D. Lang’s duet, Because of You,” Paula recalls. “After that, we were finished!” 

Baby’s breath is having a moment! The inn’s floral designers utilized it to create an arch for the ceremony and for table arrangements.

Like many weddings, Paula and Robert’s was a weekend-long affair that began with a rehearsal dinner held at The Log Cabin. “We had guests come from as far away as Norway and Guatemala,” Paula says of wanting to spend time with them. The newlyweds and guests who were staying at the inn gathered on Sunday morning for breakfast. Guests were also invited to their home Sunday afternoon. 

Thank-you gifts included candles from Fontana, a company that is owned by Paula’s niece and nephew, Katie and Eric Roering.

Paula and Robert decided to honeymoon at home. “We were exhausted!” Paula says. Nonetheless, she was thrilled with the wedding she and Robert had planned. “Francesca said to me, ‘Mom, there’s not a lot of 76-year-olds who have a wedding like that!’” 

Advice to Singles 

Paula: “Where there’s breath, there’s hope. Go for it! I never thought I’d get married again, but life is full of unexpected joys. Don’t be afraid to embrace them.” 

Robert: “We all need someone. The young make things happen. At this stage of life, I’d advise you to let them happen. Don’t give up.” 

The Flamin’ Caucasians prompted guests to dance the night away.


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