Not long after moving to Carrboro in late 2009, New Orleans native Katherine Richards began climbing at the Chapel Hill Community Center. Soon, her friend (and future groomsman) Paul Alabanza introduced her to fellow climber Mauro Calabrese. A post-climb brunch at Foster’s Market (now The Root Cellar) was the beginning of their friendship.
Pals from the climbing wall offered Katherine two extra tickets for a show at Cat’s Cradle, so she invited Mauro. After nearly two years of dating, the pair spent a July 4 weekend exploring the historic district in New Bern. Waiting at their hotel were flowers and a bottle of cham- pagne and before long, Mauro got down on one knee and popped the question. Completely surprised, Katherine immediately said, “Yes!”
A few months before the big day in New Orleans, the couple took dance lessons with Richard Badu in Hillsborough to ensure that their first dance was perfect. These turned out to be “wonderful date nights during the often stressful wedding planning process,” says Katherine. More special dances followed: Katherine took a spin with her father to “Brown Eyed Girl,” which he had sung at the rehearsal dinner as his toast. Mauro and his mother opted for the song used during her first dance from her own wedding, and she sung all the words in Italian as they swayed.
Mauro is an assistant professor in the Pharmacology Department at UNC, and Katherine works at FHI 360. Just two weeks before the wedding, the couple purchased their first home in Carrboro.