Amber grew up in West Deptford, but moved to Los Angeles, then New York, where she took parts in commercials while studying for her MBA. She told friends she had no time for dating. There's always time for that, one friend said, and set up Amber's profile on PlentyofFish.com. Amber looked at profiles mainly to avoid homework. They were often humorously similar: likes movies and walks on the beach. Does not play games. Blah, blah.
Then in November 2008, she read that John, an online marketer living in Monroe Township, Middlesex County, loved playing games - especially Trivial Pursuit and checkers. This one was clever, she thought. She liked those kinds of games, too, she wrote to him.
Amber's limited-info profile told John next to nothing, and her photograph made him think she was out of his league. His curiosity was piqued, though, so he wrote her about Othello, and she told him it sounded like fun.
E-mails led to phone calls.
"He's just so sweet," said Amber, now 33. "He kept sending me pictures of his little niece and nephews. And he's really smart - he's not just a pretty face."
Amber has "an ability to make people feel very special and important. She listened to, and was interested in, everything we talked about," said John, also 33. "And she laughed at a lot of my jokes!"
While he lived in a small town, John actually loved New York. He met Amber at the Upper West Side's Scaletta restaurant for their first date, with Othello in hand. "On our second date, he took me to see the Rockettes and told me he was going to move to New York," Amber said.
There were more great dates, including a stroll around Central Park, where snow obscured part of a beautiful statue. "It's a bird," Amber said. "It's an angel," said John. He was right, but she was persistent.
John had thought about moving to New York for years. Spending time there with Amber strengthened his resolve, and in February 2009, he did it.
But just when their relationship seemed to have a real chance for success, it fizzled.
John became busy with learning a new city and his new online marketing job. Amber was still taking classes, acting, and teaching dance. They saw each other less and less, until communication faded to nothing.
A year and a half after John's big move, he was at a Dredge concert at the same venue where he and Amber had heard the same band a year before. When "Same Ol' Road" began, John remembered holding Amber's hand. "I missed her a lot, and I decided to reach out to her, even though I was not expecting her to get back to me," he said.
Amber replied to his text immediately. They clicked all over again, and met at Starbucks a few days later.
"The chemistry was still there, even stronger," said Amber, who now hosts her own blog series, www.ABCCoasttoCoast.com. This time, things got serious.
How does forever sound?
In February 2012, John asked Amber to go skating in Central Park. They were walking past the angel statue of their long-ago date when John stopped and looked into her eyes. "I will agree to call it a bird for the rest of our lives if you agree to marry me," he said.
Amber said yes. When they got to the restaurant of their first date, both families were waiting to celebrate.
It was so them
The couple were wed before 180 guests at the bride's childhood church. John surprised Amber by wearing a tux with tails.
Their reception was the first held at the Simeone Automotive Museum. John's got a family full of mechanics and other car enthusiasts - his grandfather once raced stock cars. Amber's family has motorheads, too. But it was the flexibility of the museum's space - it's a converted warehouse - that convinced her this was the place.
During the cocktail hour, guests admired the Alfa Romeos, Jaguars, and other automotive history. The party then moved to the center of the large space, an area Amber had draped in fabric. Tables and trees were decorated with sparkling crystal, faux snow and icicles. The white, silver and ice blue colors added to the wintry feeling. And guests found their seating arrangements on silver angel ornaments.
This was unexpected
John's father, whose name was also John, passed away 15 years ago. Amber filled a Christmas tree with handmade ornaments that featured pictures of father and son through the years. "It was extremely heartwarming," John said.
When the church doors opened to reveal Amber, John's eyes filled with tears, and all conscious thought left his head. "I had to remember to breathe at that point," he said. "I was overcome with happiness."
After the ceremony, Amber and John piled into a limo, and he pulled her close to him. "We had just pronounced ourselves man and wife in church, but this was more intimate. This was just us," Amber said.
A bargain: The couple, who live on New York's Upper West Side, pinched pennies everywhere with DIY. But Amber got really lucky with her dress, which she found at the Sample Rack in Philadelphia. Even with alterations and a bit of added bling, she paid about one-third the suggested retail.
The splurge: a Star Wars-themed groom's cake from The Cake Boutique in Mullica Hill, which featured Yoda and his famous line, "Do or do not. There is no try."
Two weeks in Paris, Barcelona and Rome.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Pastor Tom Newton of Christ Our Light Parish, Cherry Hill
St. Patrick's Church, Woodbury, N.J., and Simeone Automotive Museum, Philadelphia
Simeone's in-house caterer
Joe Gidjunis, JPG Photography, Philadelphia
DDM Entertainment, Fair Lawn, N.J
The Sample Rack, Philadelphia
Flowers By Design, Glassboro.
The bride made her own brooch/ornament bouquet.
Designed by the couple.