They talked by phone after work, and discovered a mutual fondness for family. Perry respected Anna's strong Jewish identity. Anna found Perry kind, honest, and interesting. "I think I might end up with this man," she thought to herself.
Anna remembered that a big industry trade show was happening in Toronto. She and Perry made plans to meet that week in person. Then, Anna persuaded her coworker friend to let her go to the show in his place.
The night after Anna arrived in Canada, Perry took her to a Greek restaurant, where he passed her his olives and asked what she was looking for in a man. "I want somebody who's serious and doesn't just want to date," she said. She shared her hazelnut gelato with him.
Date No. 2 began with a walk at Lake Ontario and ended with kisses in a wooded park, in the company of raccoons and skunks.
They fit one more outing around Anna's work schedule before she returned to Warrington.
There were phone conversations and e-mails, but it was three months before Perry visited her. Perry, who is now 52, said he really liked Anna, 43. "I just wanted to be sure. I do things a little slower."
But she became frustrated and confused. "Do you just want to be phone pals?" Anna asked as her August birthday approached without a planned visit.
She didn't know he had already mailed her a sweatshirt with a note saying she'd need it for her next visit. That reference to the future made Anna feel better, but enough doubt remained that she began dating someone else.
Perry came to Philadelphia in October. Anna showed him the sights, and he met her family. Perry had an amazing time. Anna still felt unsure, but agreed to visit him over Thanksgiving weekend. He took her to Niagara Falls. He told her, "I think I'm falling in love with you."
She stopped seeing the other man.
How does forever sound?
The couple were moving forward, but not at the same pace.
Perry told Anna he had a special Hanukkah present for her. On the plane on the way to their week at his time-share in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, he pulled out a ring box.
"Don't get excited," he told her, "it's not an engagement ring."
Anna's disappointment was tempered by the story behind the pretty gold-and-diamond-chip ring: Two years before, at a Cabo Hanukkah party, he purchased a raffle ticket to support the local synagogue. The ring was the grand prize.
"I told the rabbi, 'I'm a single guy - what am I going to do with this?' " Perry remembered. The rabbi said, "Go find a nice Jewish girl, bring her to Cabo, and put it on her finger."
Perry introduced Anna to his family at his brother Joel's birthday party. She again began asking pointed questions about their relationship. Perry suggested she move in with him. "We'll get married eventually," he said.
"I'm not leaving my country, my friends, my family, with no commitment," she said.
A May trip to Vegas brought more pressure from Anna. Under the gun, Perry confessed that he'd been planning to propose near Anna's Aug. 20 birthday. "What reason is there to wait?" she asked.
"Because I need more time," he said.
They broke up briefly, which made them both miserable. Once back together, Anna told herself she was through worrying about marriage. She would enjoy the time they spent together, whatever happened.
Fast forward to a Friday just before her birthday. Anna answered a knock at the door and couldn't believe her eyes. "What are you doing here?" she asked Perry. "I wanted to hand-deliver your birthday gift," he said.
This included a gift certificate for golf lessons, a fancy dinner out, trips to Center City and Atlantic City, rowing on Lake Galena, and tubing down the Delaware River.
Three days into the birthday trip, Perry was acting strange. He said he needed to lie down. Anna followed him. "Are you OK?" she asked.
"I haven't been completely honest with you," he said.
"Is this goodbye?" she asked nervously.
It was not goodbye.
He opened a dresser drawer and took out a small box. "I would be thrilled if you would be my wife," Perry said. With Anna's yes, he slipped the ring that had been his mother's onto her finger. Harriet had given the ring to her son shortly before she died in 1992, telling him to meet a nice girl, but take his time.
Anna likes to say that he certainly took his time.
It was so them
The couple married in a traditional Jewish ceremony. Perry walked down the aisle with his father, Jack. Anna walked with her mother, Sara, and father, Albert.
They exchanged vows beneath a chuppah borrowed from their rabbi. His father had used it for the weddings of many Holocaust survivors in the days just after World War II.
The 130 guests were seated at tables named after cities the couple have visited, from Montreal to Doylestown. They danced to a mix of Top 40, Israeli, and Yiddish music.
Perry met Anna at her parents' house to have pictures taken, and he will never forget seeing her in her dress for the first time. "She looked beautiful, and I thought, 'Wow. This is happening.' "
Anna had been a nervous wreck for weeks. She spent the entire night before the wedding talking to her sister, Rachel. But walking down the aisle with her parents, her anxiety was replaced with calm happiness.
A bargain: The chuppah. It was beautiful, meaningful, and free.
The splurge: The couple estimated that bringing in a kosher caterer added 30 percent to their cost, but said it was worth it because everyone talked about the food.
The getaway: three weeks in Cabo.
Behind the Scenes
Rabbi Isaac Leizerowski, Congregation Beth Medrash HaRav B'nai Jacob, Philadelphia
Belle Voir Manor, Bensalem
Barclay Caterers, Philadelphia
Mitlas Productions, Philadelphia
Baruch Schwartz Photography, Wyncote
Fortune Flowers & Gifts, Feasterville
One Stop Wedding Shoppe, Willow Grove
Do You Have the Date?
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