March 3 on the upper deck of the Moshulu, docked at Penn's Landing. Diane Smith-Hoban, of Journeys of the Heart, officiated before 20 family members and close friends. Dinner and dancing followed.
In November 2001, on Match.com, where Michele, a divorcee, had posted her profile on a friend's dare. She had gone on a few not-so-great dates when she spotted Mike's profile. "I liked his dimples," she recalls, and didn't mind that this fellow divorcé also had children - four to her one. She also appreciated his acceptance of her son Billy, now 13, who has cerebral palsy, and whom Michele mentioned in her profile.
After an e-mail and a phone call, Michele and Mike agreed to meet, but a canceled flight and missed messages delayed their first meeting until Jan. 9, 2002. She came to Maggiano's in King of Prussia with a coworker and an escape plan: "If I kick you that means leave." But, Mike "was very handsome," Michele says. "A gentleman. There are still some of them out there."
Dec. 19, 2005, outside the Plaza Hotel in New York. Two months earlier, at a local antiques show, Michele had eyed an estate ring set from the 1950s: six diamonds set in white gold with a matching diamond wedding band. Mike secretly made a note of the local shop and returned a few weeks later, Christmas bonus in hand. At the Plaza's cobblestone courtyard, under thousands of twinkling lights, he declared, "I have your Christmas present," then got down on one knee and presented the estate ring. They celebrated over Italian in Little Italy.
9 to 5
Michele, 49, of King of Prussia, is a senior leasing representative for Liberty Property Trust in Malvern. Mike, 47, of the Bustleton section of Northeast Philadelphia, is a branch manager for Hardware Specialty in Blackwood, N.J.
Making a home
Michele, Mike and their family live in King of Prussia.
To "The Way You Look Tonight."
Doing it their way
"We wanted everyone to be a part of the day," says the bride, who wore a rose-colored, off-the-shoulder dress with a beaded, ruched bodice. Stephanie, 11, and Brittany, 18, acted as junior bridesmaids, with wristlets of creamy spray roses and pink waxflower. Ringbearer Billy had the ring pillow tied to his wheelchair and his new siblings, including Tim, 14, and Mike, 16, helped pass it around.
Disco and show tunes dominated the reception, along with popular children's songs - Billy's favorite. Mother and son also had a special dance to Bette Midler's "Baby Mine" - Michele lifted him from his wheelchair and cradled him on the dance floor.
The decadent vanilla pound cake was filled with fresh berries and covered with delicate royal icing lacework, while the cake topper reflected Michele and Mike's sense of humor: The bride grips the jacket of her fleeing groom. Guests received custom candy tins of assorted mints, and the newly united family took the after-party to Dave & Buster's.
Not a dry eye
Billy, who is nonverbal, used his head to activate a switch on his wheelchair, which relayed a message to Michele and Michael during the ceremony. When officiant Diane reflected on the bride's feelings for her groom - including his wonderful role as stepfather - Billy said "yes." "Everyone was crying," Michele says. "He never talks."
The Delaware River breezes blew out the unity candle before the couple could say their vows.
"Let other people help you with your arrangements. It helped me in the long run and it helps them be a part of the day."
The newlyweds spent their wedding night at the historic Thomas Bond House in Old City, and Monday at the Flower Show. They plan an extended honeymoon in 2008.