Noting her petite frame, Mike handed her the smallest size.
"Are you kidding me?" Nicci asked.
"I'm sorry," said Mike. "I didn't know you had freakishly large man hands."
Nicci was stunned the comment came from someone she hardly knew, but not at all offended - she recognized her own sense of humor.
"It was playground high jinks," Mike admits. He teased Nicci because he found her so attractive.
A few weeks later on a slow night, Mike was outside the firehouse when he saw Nicci's patrol car and waved.
Nicci, who is now 32, drove past, but then turned around and pulled into the firehouse lot.
Mike, now 31, and Nicci discovered a shared affinity for kids movies, including The Muppets and Finding Nemo. And they realized they spent summers at houses not far from each other down the Shore.
Nicci stopped by again on her night off to introduce Mike to her new silver Lab puppy, Bella. Realizing they would be down the Shore at the same time, they decided to meet up. Mike came to Nicci's place in North Wildwood with a bottle of wine, and again the conversation flowed. They fixed tuna and corn on the grill, then hit the boardwalk, where they rode the scariest rides they could find.
The night ended with plans for dinner the next night, July 1, which they consider their first real date.
How does forever sound?
Mike had an apartment in Malvern, but about a month into his relationship with Nicci, "he pretty much stopped going there," Nicci said. "She kept finding things for me to do around the house!" said Mike. Six months into the relationship, they began talking marriage.
In October 2011, Nicci and Mike joined his family at Mike's parents' time-share on Captiva Island, Fla. The couple rode their rented bicycles down to the marina to meet everyone for a sunset cruise, and Mike planned to ask Nicci an important question as the sun set.
It got a little cloudy, though, and the sunset was not up to the usual Captiva standard, so Mike thought he'd wait until the next evening. After dinner, everyone headed back to the beach house.
The clouds and lack of moon made the night much darker than Mike had expected, but they could see the lines of the road. They were goofing off and having a fine time when Mike pulled ahead of Nicci. "I hear her coming up next to me, going faster than I'm going, and the next thing I know, I'm on the ground," Mike said.
His first thought: Did two sober adults really just crash their bikes? Then he asked Nicci if she was OK. She did not answer him.
Using the light of his cellphone, he could see that Nicci's eyes were open, but she was not conscious. He called his mom and sister, both nurses, and asked them to drive back and find them. Emergency personnel were also called.
Nicci had a serious concussion and broken ribs. She had road rash and was bleeding heavily from her scalp. She came to while medics were putting her on the board. "Where's my gun? Where's my gun?" she asked.
"She has a gun?" asked the sheriff, who had just arrived.
Mike assured him she was a police officer back home. But they could not find Nicci's badge wallet.
Mike told the story about the bike accident, but the sheriff interrupted him. "What bikes?" They were gone.
"So you were allegedly riding bikes we can't find. You were allegedly in an accident where she was hurt, but you are fine. She loses her gun, and you can't find it. You say she's a cop, but there's no ID to prove it."
"Oh, my God," Mike said. "I swear to God this is the truth."
Mike's mother yelled, "Your dad put the bikes in the car! He was trying to be helpful!" Nicci's wallet turned up in her back pocket. She eventually remembered she had left her gun at home.
Nicci left the hospital with three staples in her head and a lot of pain everywhere.
The next evening Nicci wanted only to see the sun sink below the horizon, and then come right back to the house. But before long, she was scanning the sand for the shells Captiva is famous for and enjoying herself. The next thing she knew, Mike was beside her, on one knee.
Mike began saying all manner of wonderful things about her, then he took out a blue diamond ring, and asked Nicci to marry him. She said yes, but the concussion had taken a toll on the proposal.
"I don't remember anything you just said. Can you say it again? It was probably really nice," Nicci said.
Two days later, Mike's thumb became really sore. From the Philadelphia airport, he went straight to get an X-ray, which disclosed that it had been badly broken.
It was so them
The couple were married before 170 guests, three years to the day after their first date, in a meadow along the Ridley Creek.
Nicci walked to Mike to Train's "Marry Me."
The couple included a sand ceremony, in which each pours sand into one vessel to show the merging of their lives. Nicci's sand came from North Wildwood and Mike's from Captiva.
Nicci made her bouquet from antique brooches donated by friends and family members. It also included small framed photos of her late great-grandfather; of Mike's nephew Ethan, who is recovering from an injury related to surgery; and of dogs Bella and Shiloh, a charcoal Lab.
Nicci and Mike walked into the reception in handcuffs.
Guests were given little tags, also made by Nicci, on which they could give the couple advice. The firearms instructor from Nicci's police department offered this to Mike: When Nicci is angry, you should run, but zigzag, because then you're harder to hit.
This was unexpected
When a cop and a paramedic meet over a dead body and get engaged after an accident, they get a lot of jokes about needing ambulances at their wedding. The big day went by without any medical incidents, or so they thought. The next day, Mike's father went to the emergency room because he couldn't walk. He had torn a muscle on the dance floor, trying to keep up with his 7-year-old nephew.
Before the ceremony, Mike could hear Nicci walking up to him for the big reveal. "I was like a little kid going on his first date," Mike said. She tapped him on the shoulder. "I felt so lucky. I couldn't stop staring at her," he said. Nicci felt pretty lucky, too. "Even though the photographer was there, it was our one time alone that day to talk, and it was really special," she said.
A bargain: The photo booth. They saved a couple of hundred dollars with Groupon.
The splurge: A Groupon for group dance lessons also made them reasonable, about $100. But the couple got hooked, and have committed to spending thousands on a full year's worth of private lessons.
Two weeks on St. Thomas. They did not rent bicycles.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Bob Dimond, the Media tax collector and former mayor of East Lansdowne
The Old Mill, Rose Valley
Don Connor from Connor Catering, the exclusive caterer for the Old Mill
Jason Prezant and assistant Robin from Jason Prezant Photography, Newark, Del.
John Romani of Electric Entertainment, Ardmore
Designed by Oleg Cassini, purchased at David's Bridal in Springfield