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Couple speaks same language after meeting at dental school

Paul Canallatos, whose ancestry is half Greek, knew how much her Italian family meant to his girlfriend, Jessica E. Silvestri. So before he proposed to her in February 2014, he went to the Kenmore home of her grandparents, Rocco and Domenica D’Abate, and asked for their blessing.

And he asked in Italian.

“He doesn’t know Italian, but he figured out how to ask them in Italian,” said Jessica.

The D’Abates are the parents of Jessica’s beloved mother, Dora, who died in May 2013. “Because my mom had passed away, he wanted to ask them,” Jessica said.

The pair met in August 2010, when Paul, from Long Island, was a third-year student at University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, and Jessica, from Grand Island, was attending her first-year orientation.

“He thought I was someone else,” said Jessica of their meeting. “He knew there was a Greek girl in the first-year class and he thought I was her. So he came up to me, and I said I wasn’t that girl, but we started talking a little bit and we realized we had the same birthday, although he is two years older. So that kind of made us stick in each other’s minds.”

After “a few dates,” Jessica and Paul became a couple in January 2011. In February 2014 – the week after Valentine’s Day, because Paul “doesn’t like to do cliched kinds of things,” said his bride – he invited Jessica for what he said was a historical tour of Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

“It was just the two of us on the tour,” she said. Even when it ended on the stage, on scattered rose petals, she still “had no idea,” said Jessica. “He asked me right there.”

After her overjoyed “yes,” the couple had lunch, then went to her grandparents’ house for a family get-together, with espresso.

“They were so excited,” said Jessica of her grandparents, who knew of her fiancé’s intentions before she did.

The couple are both first-year residents in the three-year prosthodontics program at West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va. The dental specialty deals with dentures, implants and other tooth replacements. Although they plan to return to Western New York after graduation, they might not practice together. “He wants to do more hospital-based work, and I’m thinking more of a private practice,” said Jessica.

The pair were married at 2:30 p.m. on March 7 in St. Paul Catholic Church in Kenmore, with the Rev. Joseph Vatter of St. Paul’s hearing their vows. Guests gathered for a reception at Hotel @ the Lafayette.

The bride, daughter of Philip J. Silvestri of Grand Island and the late Dora M. Silvestri, is a graduate of Nardin Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from SUNY Geneseo and a doctorate in dental surgery from UB Dental School.

The bridegroom, son of Paul Canallatos of Mamaroneck and Paula Canallatos of Deer Park, graduated from Farmingdale High School. He earned a bachelor’s degrees in biomedical sciences with minors in pharmacology and toxicology from the University at Buffalo and a doctorate in dental surgery from the UB Dental School.

After a trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the couple are back at home in Morgantown.

— Anne Neville