It was the last day of Katie's Match.com subscription. After six months with zero luck, she was ready to say buh-bye.
Then, scrolling halfheartedly through her last list of possibly matching men, she saw Matt, who had just that day signed up for the online dating site.
His profile photo was ridiculous - he was sticking out his tongue. But here was a local guy who had traveled, studied at the University of California at Berkeley, and was rowing-team coxswain both in high school and college. As a dancer, she knew they shared a commitment to tough physical exercise and discipline.
"Hi. I'm Katie," said the message Matt received. "I'm leaving Match.com, but here's my e-mail address."
Matt, a physician recruitment manager for United Health Group, thought talking off-site right away was a bit odd - but really, it didn't feel much odder than looking for a girlfriend online. He noticed that Katie, like him, had a Catholic school education, an all-Irish dad, and an all-Italian mom. Plus, Katie, who teaches dance at Renaissance Academy in Phoenixville, looked really pretty in her dance picture. "So, I kind of went with it," he said.
There were e-mails, texts, a phone call, and a dinner date set for Jan. 13, 2012 - the night before Katie was in her close friend's wedding.
"When I found out how early I needed to get ready for the wedding, I was feeling irresponsible [for scheduling a date]. I canceled on Matt" - with a text message.
Matt acknowledged the message, then wrote Katie off. "There would absolutely have not been another chance." he said.
Katie, who is now 27, had this terrible feeling she had made a huge mistake. She called Matt, now 29, explained her reason for canceling earlier, and asked if they could keep the date, but end it by 11 p.m.
"It was within the hour, and I was busy at work, so I didn't have much time to mope," Matt said. Besides, once he knew her reason, he understood.
Matt, who grew up in Lansdowne, lived in Norwood. Katie lived in Media, but was staying at her parents' place in Springfield, Delaware County, the night before the wedding. Matt picked her up there, and before he even met Katie, met her mother and father.
At Distrito in University City, "we had sincere conversation back and forth, and also a lot of fun," Matt said.
"We both knew right away we wanted to continue to see each other," Katie said. Within a month, they traveled to Berkeley, where Matt suggested they climb a hill for a good view of San Francisco. Katie thought there would be stairs. Nope: Rock climbing!
She was up for it. "Our energy level matched each other," Matt said. In fact, her dedication to dance inspired him to kick up his fitness routine.
A year after they met, Katie moved into the Norwood house with Matt and Cal, the chocolate Lab. In February 2014, they expanded their family with yellow Lab Bear.
How does forever sound?
Katie came home from school in June 2013, and Matt said the gorgeous weather called for one of their walks around Philadelphia.
Usually, they enjoy a neighborhood's sights, then food from a local spot. Not this time.
Katie always wanted to picnic, while Matt rolled his eyes at such a "fluffy" idea. But that day, he'd packed a cooler heavy with her favorites: wine, bread, cheese, prosciutto, and Trader Joe's spinach-artichoke dip.
They spread a blanket beneath the trees of Washington Square Park. Katie was completely delighted.
Inevitably, the time for eating, drinking, talking, and relaxing ended.
Matt was to gather their things while Katie tossed the trash, so she wondered why he was just standing on the blanket, watching her walk back to their spot.
"Ok, let's go," she said.
Instead of folding the blanket, Matt knelt on it.
It was so them
Katie's something old was featured the night before the wedding. She and her mother, Bernadette, worked with a seamstress who transformed the wedding gown that Bernadette wore in 1981 into a cocktail dress that Katie wore to the rehearsal dinner.
The couple were married by the Rev. Thomas Dailey, who was Katie's professor at DeSales University in Allentown. He compared dance choreography to marriage. The pews were decorated with sunflowers - Katie's favorite - and fit well with the blue and gold colors the couple chose in honor of Matt's alma mater.
The reception for 200 - including guests who traveled from Arizona, California, and Ireland - was at the Crystal Tea Room. The couple hired a big band to help them achieve a timeless, classic feel.
The bride taught her father, Jerry, to tap dance, which the two did for their father-daughter number to the Temptation's "My Girl." Adventurous Matt is terrified of crowds, but he also agreed to a few lessons from Katie, who choreographed their first dance to Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."
At the beginning of their song, Katie and Matt improvised some simple, swaying movements. "Waiting for the chorus to hit, Katie and I were reading each other's body language the whole time," he said. "We were so together and on it, and I knew by her eyes what she was doing. I knew there were people in the background, but we were so focused on each other."
Then the chorus began, and so did all the twirling and the lifts. "Matt had never done that with me in my dress, but I fully trust him, and so I decided to go for it," Katie said. "He literally was there to catch me, and I felt really connected."
The bargain: Both their florist and their photographer charged about one-third the price of others they considered for similar packages that the couple loved.
A splurge: The Don Eaton Band. The 11-piece big band made the reception fit their classic theme and was "worth every penny," Katie said.
Ten days in Maui.
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: The Rev. Thomas Dailey, OSFS, of DeSales University
Venue: The Crystal Tea Room, Philadelphia
Catering: Finley Catering, Philadelphia
Photo: Ashlee Mintz, Havertown
Music: The Don Eaton Band, Greater Philadelphia
Dress: Van Cleve Wedding Pavilion, Paoli
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