Camille Griswold and Dan Cooler
December 31, 2017 in Warrington
At a Savannah, Ga., bar called Saddle Bags in June 2015, Dan saw a woman he just had to ask to dance.
"She looked liked the perfect combination of cute and sexy," the Georgia boy said of Jersey girl Camille, who had moved to the city a year before to work for the Citi Trends retail chain as an allocator.
Dancing sounded like fun, Camille said. They did a sort of two-step. Dan thanked her for the dance, then returned to his cousin's fiance and the other bachelor party revelers with whom he'd come to celebrate. A few country songs later, he returned for another turn on the dance floor with Camille, and then again went back to his friends. It went that way until the end of the evening.
"I asked her for her number," said Dan, who then worked as a landscaper.
"I gave it to him," Camille said. "And then he walked away, and I thought I'd never see him again."
But three days later, Dan picked her up at her place and they talked and drank at Starbucks, then saw the movie San Andreas. After that, a torn-up and swampy construction road by her apartment was the perfect place to introduce Camille to the off-road sport of mud bogging.
"We got my truck all kinds of dirty," Dan said.
"It was a little interesting, and kind of scary at the time, but it's really fun now," Camille said.
"We've been inseparable ever since," Dan said.
One night that August, they watched a DVD of The Notebook and realized they had met on the same day and month as the main characters, Noah and Allie. That felt like a good omen, and Dan asked Camille to be his girlfriend.
Why was Camille the one for him? "She's smart, and she has a lot going for her," he said. Camille also believes in him. "She's held me up high, where I felt like other people in my life have torn me down," he said. Her support and faith in him has helped him achieve much, he said.
They were spending so much time together that "I kept waiting for him to get on my nerves, but he never did," Camille said. "And he's just so kind to me, and together those things turned into love." Camille also loves that Dan forever has her back: Even when he knows she's wrong, he'll take her side in any argument.
The October after they met, he moved into her apartment. When that lease expired, they rented a house together.
While Camille, who is now 27, lived and worked in Savannah, she earned her MBA online from the University of Phoenix. She chose a September 2016 graduation ceremony in New Jersey so her parents, who live in Flanders, could easily attend.
"While we were there, I asked her parents' permission to ask for their daughter's hand in marriage," said Dan, who is now 24.
The next day, the couple took the Griswolds' dog, Buddy, for a walk.
Afterward, they were hot and sweaty, and Camille turned away from her boyfriend to the fridge to get them some water. When she turned back around, Dan was down on one knee.
"I was very nervous, so I just kept it simple, 'Will you marry me?' " Dan remembered.
"I was so caught off guard, so I asked him a few times, 'Are you sure?' and he kept saying yes, and so, after a lot of crying, I said yes, too."
The week before their trip north, Camille had accepted a job in Houston as an associate planner for Charming Charlie, so the newly affianced flew back to Savannah and immediately packed for Texas, where Dan found his niche as a car salesman.
The couple had lived in Houston for about a year when Hurricane Harvey hit. Because they lived within the evacuation zone, Camille and Dan drove an hour north to her aunt and uncle's house. They stayed until the hurricane was over, then headed home. "That's when the flooding happened," Dan said.
Their neighborhood was surrounded by water, and some came into their apartment. But they were lucky, and safe. "When the rain stopped, we ventured out to see if anybody needed help," Dan said. The water was up to Camille's knees, but Dan's lifted Jeep Wrangler could get through it. They rescued a couple who were stranded at a gas station and drove them home.
"Our house was deemed unlivable because of mold," Camille said. Both had had enough of Texas. In December, they packed a U-Haul and drove to Cranberry Township, Pa., where Dan is a salesman for Ron Lewis Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat and Camille is an associate planner for Rue21. The couple share their home with adopted creatures Wallace, a gray, black, and white cat; Bailey, a Chihuahua/dachshund mix; and Zoe, who, as far as they can tell, is part German shepherd and part chow.
Camille grew up Catholic and Dan Baptist. Each has a deep connection to God, but neither attends services, so they opted for a nondenominational and personalized ceremony officiated by Kevin Barr of Journeys of the Heart.
Ceremony and reception were held at the Warrington Country Club in Bucks County.
Their officiant told Camille and Dan's story, drawing comparisons between them and The Notebook's Noah and Allie, from the shared date on which the fictional couple and the real one met to a need to bridge differences in upbringing and culture to the pivotal role of a storm in each relationship.
They and their 83 guests enjoyed dinner and dancing and, at midnight, a celebration of the New Year with noisemakers and hats for all.
It took hours for Camille to get ready, and Dan wasn't allowed to see her that whole time. "I really missed her!" he said. "Then, when I saw her in her dress, it was magical, and it was emotional, and I knew I was doing the right thing."
The couple chose fairly standard vows, but saying them to each other produced feelings that were anything but standard, Camille said. "We were both crying in different parts, and it was not a pretty cry, but an ugly cry," she said. "That will stand out to me forever, because that was how I knew that I had married the right person."
A bargain: As hard as it was, keeping the guest list as small as possible saved their budget, Camille said.
The splurge: "I adore crab cakes," Dan said. "It was his one request for the wedding," said Camille. Besides, he agreed to the doughnut wall — a board covered with pegs, each holding a doughnut.
The couple, who are expecting a girl in June, plan to honeymoon in Jamaica in early 2019.
Officiant: Kevin Barr from Journeys of the Heart, Jenkintown.
Venue: Warrington Country Club, Warrington.
Music: Matt Ostroff of EBE Talent, Philadelphia.
Photography: Lynda Berry Photography, Doylestown.
Flowers: Domenic Graziano Flowers, Southampton.
Dress: David's Bridal.