At the end of one Wednesday, John showed up at Dana's office bearing two Wawa hot chocolates. They talked for hours. That Friday night, they exchanged texts. She was hosting a small gathering at her Center City apartment, but yes, she would meet him outside. By the time they got upstairs, everyone else had fallen asleep. They got together the next night for a walk around the city.
"We kept it a secret for six months at our office - or so we thought," John said. One of the administrative assistants had spied them on their first real date, holding hands in Rittenhouse Square.
How does forever sound?
By spring 2010 John and Dana both knew a proposal was coming, but John was determined to surprise her.
In early May, John invited Dana to happy hour. "John doesn't drink," Dana said. "I was thinking everyone was going to be there, and it was going to be our engagement party. I got dressed up." An hour in, Dana was resigned that it was just a happy hour, after all.
John joked about a proposal at a Phillies game the next day. " 'Be ready for the camera crew,' I told her." Much to John's surprise, a camera crew headed straight for them, then stopped two rows in front, where a man proposed to his girlfriend.
About two weeks later, John, who had become an associate in Mercer's client management group, called Dana, who was then doing communications for Campbell's Soup. "My sister called, and she has to go to a work happy hour at the Public House. Do you care if we stop by for moral support?" At John's request, his sister Maryclaire sent Dana a text: "I'm so happy you are coming!"
John said he had a little bit of work to finish, so Dana should meet him in his office.
Dana was not happy. It was the end of a long workweek. She did not feel like going into the city, and certainly not into her former office, when she would not be looking her best. But she went.
John was at his computer when she walked in. "Would you mind reading this?" he asked her. He gave her his seat, then got down on one knee, and asked Dana to marry him.
With her yes, he pulled out the flowers and champagne he had stashed in a file cabinet.
At the home of Dana's parents, Roseann and Albert, family and friends were waiting to celebrate. John's parents, Fran and Mary, were out of town, but joined in by phone.
It was so them
John, now 27, and Dana, now 32, made "Summer in the City" their wedding theme. Dana, who recently became the senior communications manager at Bimbo Bakeries, used a bright orange and hot pink palette. She incorporated oranges, green apples and lemons into the centerpieces, and ordered a Phillie Phanatic ice sculpture.
But Mother Nature played her role in the summer-themed wedding too well. A high of 105 degrees was predicted.
As the forecast grew hotter and hotter, the couple started making contingency plans. They bought handheld, battery-operated fans, and bottles of water for the ceremony at Old St. Joseph's. They found indoor places to take their photographs. Bridesmaid Nicole, who was nine months pregnant, declined their offer to sit this one out.
"Thank God for alcohol and air-conditioning," John's dad quipped at the rehearsal dinner.
The car that Dana chose to bring her and her father to the church seemed like a good idea at the time. "It was a 1957 Rolls-Royce, and apparently the air-conditioning was the same age as the car," she said.
The day's temperature peaked at 105, with a heat index of 115.
At the Society Hill Sheraton, John and his groomsmen were very glad they spent $5 each for extra tuxedo shirts. Dana stripped out of her gown in front of her room's air conditioner, and the bridesmaids sprayed her with water.
"Then I put the dress back on, and it felt like a wet bathing suit," she said.
At the Cescaphe Ballroom, where hardworking air conditioners managed to lower the indoor temperature to about 80 degrees, the bridal party entered to the song "Heat Wave." Dana observed the melting Phanatic ice sculpture's outstretched arms and considered hugging him. Worried she'd wind up wearing the shrimp at his feet, she instead put a napkin filled with ice cubes down her back.
The guests and the band removed as much of their clothing as was decent, drank the melted coconut sorbet, ate melty ice-cream sandwiches, and danced until midnight.
At the rehearsal, the sight of Dana and her father practicing the walk down the aisle left John unexpectedly dumbfounded. "It wasn't even our wedding day yet," he said.
When it was time for the kiss, Dana was still laughing over their having to jam the rings onto heat-swollen fingers. But "afterward, we stayed very close with our foreheads together," Dana said. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is the greatest moment of my life.' "
A bargain: The band was half the price of other bands that had both a male and female lead singer and a full horn section. Plus, they did both the reception and the cocktail hour and provided a DJ during breaks.
The splurge: The bride's double-layer, beaded veil, which was handmade in India. "My veil cost almost as much as my dress, and I couldn't wear it at the reception because it was too hot," Dana said.
Ten days in Maui, three in San Francisco.
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
Father Michael Hricko, pastoral associate at Old Saint Joseph's Church, Philadelphia
Old St. Joseph's Church; Cescaphe Ballroom, Philadelphia
Dinofa Photography,Linwood, N.J.
Tim Robinson Video Productions, Cinnaminson
Il Fiore Bianco, Philadelphia
Second Vision band, Philadelphia
Bridal Garden, Marlton
Groom's Attire Men's Wearhouse, Philadelphia
Invitations by JM, Philadelphia
Love: DO YOU HAVE THE DATE?
Tell us in a short e-mail – at least six weeks before your ceremony – why we should feature your love story. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted in the weeks before your wedding.