After three decades of shared milestones, twins Veronica and Laura Schad definitely did not want to share a wedding.
Each wants to fully support her sister on that day. Each wants the other to have her own spotlight.
Besides, “Try celebrating every birthday together for 29 years straight,” says Veronica, the elder twin by two minutes. “Can I have my own party?”
It wasn’t just joint birthday parties. The fraternal twins shared a bedroom at their Fitler Square home, played on the same youth sports teams, and, in high school, took the same courses and ate lunch together daily.
It was fine with their mother, Mary Ellen, if her girls did the same things, as long as it was their choice. She took her daughters on separate college tours, but they both chose the University of Pennsylvania.
“I think they let me in because Ronnie’s SATs are so good,” said Laura. “The admissions office said, ‘We can’t separate them — they’re twins!’ ”
“I’m not sure that’s how the Penn admissions office works,” Veronica deadpanned.
In 2010, their freshman year, the sisters requested separate dorms. On move-in day, Veronica unpacked, then went to help Laura. She noticed the next room’s door was open and two young men were inside — including Charles J. Gress III.
“Hi! I’m Veronica,” she told them. “My twin, Laura, lives next door.”
The roommates and the sisters ate together in the dining hall that night, and almost every night that year. All were friends, but especially Laura and Charlie — who grew up in Mayfair. They were constantly together, except when both studied abroad. Even then, they frequently met up to travel around Europe together.
“It was clear they liked each other, yet no moves were made,” said Veronica.
“We didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship,” said Laura.
One night in 2013, Veronica ran into one of Charlie’s friends. “Does Laura like Charlie?” he asked her, “because Charlie likes Laura so much.”
A jubilant Veronica burst into the apartment she, Laura, and other friends had shared since sophomore year. “Charlie likes you!” she told her sister.
A week later, Laura called him.
“Do you want to have dinner with me?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“As a date,” she clarified.
“Yes, and I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
Veronica led the apartment in cheers.
Spring of their senior year, Veronica played Cards Against Humanity at a party. Round after round, she made it to the end, only to be defeated by Tim McCarty, a recent Pitzer College grad who was visiting a friend. They talked a little, but she had another party to go to.
Tim told his friend, who told his girlfriend, who told her friend, who told one of Veronica’s roommates that Tim thought she was cute and was bummed that she left early. The roommate texted Veronica, suggesting she join the group at a bar.
Veronica and Tim — who grew up in Wilton, Conn. — hit it off so well that they closed the bar.
Laura was on the opposite side of the same crowded bar when the twins spotted each other. “She waved, and I waved back. I saw she was sitting with a guy, so I didn’t go over,” Laura said. “Then Ronnie wouldn’t let me meet him until they went on 100 million dates.”
Tim wanted to meet Laura, too.
“I told him beforehand, she’s going to be tough on you at first,” Veronica said.
“I was not going to laugh at his jokes, I was not going to make it easy for him,” said Laura. “He was this brand-new person that I didn’t know. This was a big deal.”
Laura soon saw what she was waiting for: “I was convinced that no one could love Ronnie as much as I do, but he proved that he could,” she said.
Veronica, now 29, is an attorney practicing intellectual property law with Devlin Law Firm in Wilmington. In April 2019, she and Tim, who is 30 and a senior business development associate at Lombard International, were at their Washington Square apartment, and Veronica was working on a legal brief. “Are you done yet, or can you take a break?” Tim asked periodically until 6 p.m., when Veronica said she was hitting a wall.
He took out a jewelry box and knelt, she said yes, and both families gathered to celebrate.
“She’s the nicest soul, and the kindest person to everyone,” said Tim. “It’s awesome to see someone who cares that much, who loves me that much, and who isn’t too bad to look at, either.”
Veronica said she loves Tim’s sense of humor, how smart he is, how loyal he is. “There’s no situation I can think of that wouldn’t be improved by him being there.”
They were planning a June 20, 2020, wedding. That March, as Tim was about to head to Las Vegas for his bachelor party, he and Veronica watched a basketball game get canceled in progress because a player tested positive for COVID. Tim canceled his trip. The entire country shut down.
The wedding was rescheduled for Aug. 8, and then April 2021.
In August 2020, Laura, a social studies teacher at Southwark School, was at their South Philadelphia apartment when Charlie, also 29, suggested Mexican takeout. The next day, she had to drive him to Yale (he recently finished his MBA and will soon begin a consulting job). After dinner, Charlie suggested a walk, so they headed to Washington Avenue Green, where they had the trail to themselves.
He told her he loved her, talked about their eight-year journey, knelt, and asked her to marry him. Then they walked to Fitler Square for a masked, outdoor celebration with family, and soon began planning a late August 2021 wedding.
Laura says Charlie is the smartest, most generous, kind and thoughtful man she has ever known. “He’s the person I can talk to about every aspect of my life. He’s always made the time for us.”
“Laura cares for other people, and I love the genuineness with which she expresses that care and shows up for people, including me,” said Charlie.
They are expecting 140 guests at the Penn Museum, where there’s an option to move the event outdoors.
In March 2021, with COVID vaccines just rolling out, Veronica and Tim opted for one last postponement to mid-September — three weeks after Laura and Charlie.
She and Tim are expecting 125 guests at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Whatever happens with the delta variant, they will not postpone again.
“We are getting a self-uniting license, so we’ll just get married somewhere,” she said.
What’s it like to love a twin?
“In the beginning, Laura was a little suspect of me, but now she’s one of my best friends, too,” said Tim. “Same with Charlie.”
“There’s just a magnetism with the family orientation around Laura and Veronica, and now Tim, too,” Charlie said. “When you’re around people who love family like they do, you want to mimic it and to be a part of it.”
Next year, both couples hope to buy homes in Philadelphia. “The goal is being able to push baby strollers to each other’s houses, or at least to a park in between,” said Veronica.
The couples want to enjoy married life before having kids. The sisters say deciding when the time is right will require conversations with their husbands and each other.
“Just like we’ve done everything else together, I can’t imagine that next life step without Ronnie simultaneously doing that, too, so we can support each other,” said Laura. “In our case, family planning really involves the family planning.”