But it was too intense a relationship for either of them, and they had a difficult breakup in junior year. They had still not spoken when Rebecca left to study education at New York University and Mike departed for film school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Then, a few months in, one called the other. They can't remember who picked up the phone, or why, but by their second year of grad school, they were talking almost daily, about everything. On weekends, they would talk for six hours straight.
"We were not dating," Rebecca said. "It was a very intimate relationship through conversation."
There were a few cross-country visits, but it was only when graduation approached that they tried to figure out what it all meant. The answer "horrified" those closest to them, Rebecca said.
Mike and Rebecca decided he would move to New York - and into her apartment, just south of Harlem.
"All our friends and family were like, 'But you're not dating! You can't move in together!' " she said.
Rebecca flew to California that June, and she and Mike drove East with all of his things.
How does forever sound?
Soon after graduation, Rebecca, now 28, began teaching high school English at New Heights Academy Charter School. Mike, now 27, became an administrator for the theater and urban studies departments at Barnard College of Columbia University.
Eighteen months later, Mike secretly told his parents, Scott and Shelley, that he planned to propose. He ordered a ring.
On the day the ring arrived in January 2010, Mike was anxiously awaiting Rebecca's return from work when she called to say she was stopping to pick up worms for Natasha, their bearded dragon.
Natasha has plenty of worms, Mike said. Still, when Rebecca got home, he asked her to look in on the reptile. "What is she giving to you there?" he asked. "What is that box doing in there?"
Neither of these conversationalists remembers what was said next. "We had an emotional blackout," Rebecca says.
After recovering, they called her parents, Amy and Rob.
It was so them
Rebecca and Mike, who now live in Washington Heights, asked two musical friends to sing. Blair sang Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" at the rehearsal dinner. Lydia set e.e. cummings' "i carry your heart with me" to music she wrote; the ceremony opened with her song.
The couple's ceremony was based on the traditions of Rebecca's Jewish faith. Mike was raised Catholic. Knowing that about half the guests would be unfamiliar with key elements of the ceremony, Rabbi Heller explained everything.
The couple composed their own vows. Mike told Rebecca that while weddings can get complicated, his love for her was very simple: "I like you a lot, and I want more of you, and I choose to be by your side."
Rebecca told Mike that she wanted them to be "home" for each other.
This didn't happen at rehearsal
The couple had a photo booth. "I don't think people knew we got a copy of all the pictures," Mike said. Couples of all ages got into the romantic spirit of the wedding. "It was everyone kissing everyone!" Rebecca said.
The couple will always treasure the few moments when it felt like just them: The instant before the photo shoot when Mike first saw Rebecca in her dress. The minutes after the ceremony, when they were given a private room to absorb the step they had just taken.
A bargain: The seven Ben Sherman ties found at Filene's Basement for $15 each. The groom had just seen them in the wrong color at SoHo boutique for $100 each.
The splurge: Rebecca Barger was one of the more expensive photographers the couple considered, but after seeing her work, no one else would do, they said.
Rebecca spent the summer before the wedding teaching English grammar, poetry, and literature in Uganda. She loved it so much, the couple decided to return for their honeymoon.
Rebecca contacted friends she had met during her previous visit in hopes that she and Mike could meet up with them. The Rev. Leonsyo Akena, a priest and founder of Peace Together Uganda, insisted the couple stay with him for part of the time. They accepted, on the condition that he allow them to do something nice in return.
Rev. Akena asked for something he thought was a real long shot. Peace Together Uganda really needed a short documentary to show potential donors, as the organization is raising money to build a school.
Considering that Rebecca is a teacher and Mike works in education and studied film, the request was perfect.
The honeymooners interviewed students whose educations were interrupted by the conflict in Uganda. "They have only known peace for four years of their lives," Rebecca said. "Some said, 'My school shut down,' some said 'My family was killed.' "
A few students were themselves child soldiers.
The film, now in postproduction, will be submitted to film festivals and posted on Peace Together's website, Mike said.
The couple booked hotels for their two-week stay in Africa, but never set foot in them. They stayed with friends the entire time. "We attended someone's grandmother's 80th birthday party," Mike said. "We saw a priest being ordained, and a whole village put on a presentation and danced for us."
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
Rabbi Patrice Heller, Ambler
Cescaphe Ballroom, Philadelphia
Rebecca Barger, Jenkintown
CTO Park Central, Philadelphia
Kleinfeld's Bridal, New York
Il Fiore Bianco, Philadelphia
Party Please, Jenkintown
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.