At a college as small as Loyola, everyone kind of knows everyone, and Alex and Matt could have picked each other out of a lineup ever since freshman year. But they didn't officially meet until fall of their junior year, in 2007, waiting to board the plane for a study-abroad program in Paris.
She was reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road as she waited. He said it was one of his favorites. They talked about it a little, but soon were boarding the plane.
Matt, a business major from Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., was actually dating someone else. But he and Alex, a communications major from Robbinsville, Mercer County, got to know each better when subgroups of the 30-student program explored the city and beyond together.
Alex was impressed. "He was so gentlemanly, always opening doors for everyone and carrying stuff for them - traits you don't normally find in 19-year-old men," she said. Plus, "I thought he was very handsome."
Matt found her looks and personality attractive, too. "She liked to have fun. We both love food, we both love to read, and we are both Democrats - all important things to me."
They kept their mutual attraction to themselves as long as they could. Then on a side trip to Munich, they confessed, Matt said. He broke up with his girlfriend.
Their first date was just lunch, but a fancier one soon followed at a Parisian restaurant known for its oysters. The semester ended three weeks later, and each went to their separate parts of New Jersey for the holidays. Back in Baltimore in January, their coupledom became official.
After graduation, the two moved to Alex's grandparents' house on Long Beach Island and waited tables for the summer. They then moved to New York City, where Alex worked first for InStyle, then W, and Matt worked for Bloomberg.
They moved to Philadelphia in June 2012, when Matt took a bond-trading job with Janney Montgomery Scott. In June 2014, he joined Mercedes-Benz USA as a treasury analyst. Alex is a senior public relations account executive for Neff Associates.
On a Friday in August 2013, Matt told Alex he was playing golf, but instead drove to her grandparent's house in Mercerville to tell them and Alex's mother of his intentions. He received their enthusiastic blessing.
The next day, the couple, who live in Old City and are now both 27, left for St. Michaels, Md. Alex was delighted to spend a weekend in a shore town B&B with her man and their dog, a Boston terrier/pug mix named Indie. She assumed it was to celebrate her birthday.
They went to dinner that night at a waterfront restaurant. At the host stand, Matt was alarmed to see "HE'S GOING TO PROPOSE!" written in huge letters, and tried not to be too obvious as he nudged Alex out of sight range.
During dinner, Matt knocked his fork off the table. He bent as if to pick it up, but instead used the table as cover so he could take a ring from his pocket without Alex seeing a thing.
The next thing Alex knew, Matt was kneeling beside their table. "Make my life, be my wife?" he asked.
At her yes, other guests burst into applause. A married couple sent the newly engaged two glasses of champagne.
The couple took their vows and celebrated doing so on Long Beach Island, where Alex has gone each summer since childhood, and the couple has traveled together since they fell in love. The ceremony was held at the old, beachy, nondenominational Spray Beach Chapel and performed by Matt's family pastor, the same man who had presided over Matt's confirmation.
In the vows they wrote but did not share until their wedding day, Alex joked she would try to compromise, and promised to always love Matt and support his professional ambition. Matt promised to love Alex unconditionally, and to try to give her the life she's always wanted.
Afterward, their 150 guests gathered at the Boathouse restaurant in Beach Haven. Ambler's Belovely Floral & Event Design created the vibe the couple wanted with neutral colors and all-white flowers. When they weren't snapping shots in the open-air photo booth, most guests spent most of the night on the dance floor. "It was a fun party!" Matt said.
"When I stood up there waiting with my buddies, my six groomsmen, at the altar, I knew this was going to be the greatest day of my life," Matt said. "Seeing her walking down the aisle is something I'll never forget."
When the pastor announced Matt and Alex were husband and wife, a roar of cheers and screams erupted from the crowd, Alex remembered. "He had to say, "Shhh! We're not done yet!' "
A bargain: Mike's Affordable Shuttle provided all-day, wherever-they-needed-to-be transportation to the couple, bridal party, and guests for $700.
The splurge: Matt's custom-made suit and shirt from Henry A. Davidsen Master Tailors & Image Consultants in Rittenhouse and the hiring of Belovely. Matt said he'll have the suit forever. And Alex said hiring the event designers meant "I showed up and the place looked perfect" with no stress on the couple.
A dozen days on three Hawaiian islands: Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.
Officiant: Rev. Dan Kreller of the St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.
Venue: Ceremony: Spray Beach Chapel, Spray Beach; Reception: Boathouse Restaurant, Beach Haven
Catering: Taste, Philadelphia
Photo: Jeff and Liz Frandsen of Brook Courtney Photography, Lancaster
Music: Ceremony: Guitarist Chris Fritz, violinist Katherine Cramer, and pianist Sue Vehslage, all based in Beach Haven; Reception: DJ Dave Beck of No Macarena, Philadelphia
Dress: Designed by Katie May, purchased from Lovely Bride Philly
Wedding-Day Coordinator: Events by Renee, Philadelphia