Dana Canuso spotted Todd George on the dance floor at Prospectors Steakhouse & Saloon, a country line-dancing hotspot in Mount Laurel, on June 21, 2003.
"He had on a cowboy hat and tight jeans," Dana recalled of the Prospectors regular. My friend said, 'There's a hot cowboy.' "
A first-timer, Dana was impressed by his dance moves and approached him. "I thought, 'This girl's pickin' me up,' " said Todd, now 26. But he didn't mind. "She was cute."
They danced "every dance," Dana says, for three hours. "My poor friend got left in the dust."
Dana, now 24 and a med student at Temple's School of Podiatric Medicine, wrote her phone number on a cocktail napkin, which Todd still has.
He called her the following evening and they chatted for about 45 minutes. Then Todd asked her out for ice cream.
This time he picked her up, but Dana was confused. A darkened bar and a few drinks had obscured Todd's red hair and freckles. When she opened the car door, "I said, 'Hold on a second.' I didn't even know who he was."
The Marlton native got past her hesitation over a cup of cookies and cream, and the two clicked for the second night in a row.
Then, Todd says, "we saw each other every day until she went back to school [to Fordham University]." Just before college began, they went on a cruise together to the Bahamas.
At first, Todd says, "I didn't admit [my feelings] to myself. But the more I was around her, the more I realized I was done for."
After Dana's graduation, in June 2004, she moved into Todd's condo. He's a part-time Realtor for Weichert and owner of East Coast Fence in Atco, and he grew up in Shamong.
In November that year they adopted Dexter, a border collie/springer spaniel mix. By July 2005, there was a puppy named Bentley and talk of marriage. They decided, despite Dana's continuing education, to have a house built in Atco.
Todd also started a ring fund - an envelope in his office drawer. It took four months to save for the setting, three or four more for the stone.
On settlement day, Jan. 31, 2006, Todd invited friends and family over for pizza and champagne to toast their new home. Before everyone arrived, he got down on one knee on the front porch. Dana accepted his proposal and he carried her over the threshold. The "congratulations" cake did double duty.
Was she surprised?
"She got her nails done the night before," Todd said.
They expect 135 guests at Glen Foerd on the Delaware for a black-tie-optional ceremony and reception on June 8. The color scheme: black and white with hot pink accents.
She has caught up to him on the dance floor at Prospectors, where they go about once a month. "We're on par now," says Dana, who drew on her years of jazz dance training. They even did a line dance at his brother's wedding.
So, will the cowboy make an appearance on June 8?