Amanda and Mike were matched in May 2009 by the eHarmony dating website. They e-mailed for a few weeks, had one phone call, and then met at West Chester's Iron Hill Brewery.
"I really liked him, and we had a great time at dinner," Amanda said. She had just one worry: Mike was about to leave for a two-week European vacation. "Timing is everything," Amanda said. "I figured he was going to go on vacation, and then I would never hear from him again."
Mike liked Amanda, too. But after touring Germany, Hungry, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Austria, that date at the Brewery seemed like a long time ago. It felt like that opportunity had passed, and Mike likely would have restarted his romance-finding efforts with the latest batch of eHarmony matches had he not got an e-mail from Amanda.
"How was your trip?" she asked.
The simple note reminded him how much fun he'd had on their date, and rekindled his interest. He asked her to dinner in Manayunk on Friday night after work.
Amanda, now 31, is an attorney at Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees in West Chester. She underestimated the Schuylkill Expressway rush-hour travel time, and was horrified to find herself basically parked, nowhere near her destination. She called Mike, hoping he'd understand.
Mike, an engineer with West Pharmaceutical Services in Lionville who is now 36, knew the ways of the Schuylkill only too well. "It was no big deal," he said of the hour delay.
Both Mike, who grew up in Voorhees, and Amanda, who is from West Chester, say the date was worth the wait.
"We had dinner, walked through the town and poked in the stores, had the worst, sour-tasting ice cream that ever was, and ended up sitting in a little parking area with picnic tables by the river," Amanda said. "We talked until midnight about our families, jobs, and friends. And we talked about his trip - my pretense for the e-mail."
Each found the other smart, attractive, and easy to talk to.
"He was just very friendly and genuine," Amanda said.
"I felt like I could tell her anything," said Mike.
How does forever sound?
Mike suggested they spend Valentine's Day weekend of 2011 in New York City. He knew Amanda had been dying to see Wicked. When the car stopped at the Waldorf Astoria, Amanda briefly wondered if something big was up, but she quickly dismissed the thought. They had talked about marriage, but she figured the proposal was more likely in two months, when they were traveling to Ireland.
The couple had dinner at the 21 Club. Throughout dinner, Mike seemed oddly distracted. It got worse after they ordered dessert; Mike kept looking over Amanda's shoulder, to the back of the restaurant. "I must be really boring tonight," she thought.
Mike was doing his best to stay calm, but it felt like he was having a heart attack.
The server brought dessert, then said, "We have a little something extra for you tonight." Amanda thought everyone was getting extra dessert in honor of the holiday. But the little silver tray set before her held a ring box.
The waiter deftly moved the table to make room for Mike to get on one knee.
Amanda isn't sure if he actually popped the question. "I kept interrupting him, saying 'Yes! Yes! Yes!"
With her yes, Mike's heart calmed down, and he enjoyed his dessert. "I was so enthralled by what was happening, that my profiteroles melted away," Amanda said.
The trance was somewhat broken only when the couple realized they were in danger of missing the show. They practically sprinted to the theater, with Amanda calling family and friends on her cell the whole way.
It was so them
Swatches of lace from the wedding dresses of Amanda's mother and grandmother were pinned to the ribbon around her bouquet.
Those flowers were pink, and so were the bride's shoes, the guest book and the napkins, to name a few things.
"We had lots of desserts, because we are both dessert lovers," said Mike. The wedding cake came in two flavors, vanilla with vanilla butter cream for him, and lemon with lemon curd for her. The 120 guests also indulged in a buffet with pastries and other little desserts, a chocolate fountain, and, for the favors, a bar with a candy assortment.
The couple, who live in Glen Mills, left their reception through a tunnel of sparklers held high by their guests, as Katy Perry's "Firework" played.
This was unexpected
A week before the wedding, the tux company told Mike he should choose a different pattern for the men's vests and ties because the quality of the original fabric came in below their standards. But when the groomsmen went to pick things up at tux shops around the country, some got the new pattern, some the original, and some a tie in one and a vest in the other.
Some groomsmen had to make a second trip to the store, and when Mike picked up his tux, he was given a big pile of extra ties in the right pattern, just in case. Everyone matched on the wedding day.
Amanda waited with her father outside the church's main doors. Then the doors opened, the church bells chimed three times, and the guests went silent and stood to look at the bride. Amanda saw Mike at the far end of the aisle. "Oh wow, there he is," she thought. "This is really happening."
On his end of the aisle, Mike was having similar thoughts. "I was very excited to see her, and she looked really beautiful," he said. "After all the effort and planning, this was really, really happening. It's something I'll never forget."
A bargain: Amanda loved the save-the-date cards with ribbon, but the ribbon added $2 to each card. She ordered them without. She and her mother found a similar ribbon at a craft store and decorated the cards themselves. Two bucks bought enough for all the cards.
The splurge: Amanda splurged on a flowered hair comb that replaced her veil during the reception. It cost more than her shoes. Mike's splurge was an upgraded cocktail hour, which included a martini bar with ice luge, sushi and seafood stations, and an oyster shucker. The upgrade added about 15 percent to the cost.
Two weeks in Hawaii.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Rev. Greg R. Stovell, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of West Chester
First Presbyterian Church and RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve, Phoenixville
Sweetwater Portraits by Julie Melton, Philadelphia
Sommerfield Designs, Paoli
Janell Berte Couture, purchased at Posh Bridal, Lancaster
Invitations by Design, Exton