When she got too big a whiff of chemicals in sophomore chemistry class, Matt rode his bike to see her at the hospital.
Junior year, he sent her a dozen red roses.
Katie was flattered by these things, and she truly liked Matt as a person. But that was all.
They graduated high school in 2002. Katie, now a first-grade teacher at Copper Beach Elementary in Abington, attended the University of Delaware. Matt, an accountant for Unisys Corp., studied at Villanova University. He took with him a framed photo of him and Katie, snapped at senior prom, even though they were not each other's date.
"If I ever marry anyone, it will be Katie Hartung," Matt told his best friend Alain during one of their deep conversations.
In his last attempt to win Katie's heart, Matt drove to the University of Delaware to surprise her. She was not there; in fact, she was visiting her then-boyfriend. Her roommate called Katie to tell her of her visitor. Katie was not upset that Matt had shown up unannounced, but she didn't come back to see him, either.
The prom photo stayed on Matt's desk for three years. Then he took it down, and started dating someone else.
Katie and Matt saw each other occasionally during college breaks and on group outings with mutual friends.
After graduating, Matt, who is now 29, was traveling extensively for work, living out of hotels. In fall 2008, he took his current position and needed an apartment.
That Oct. 1, Alain helped Matt move to Manayunk. Alain was dating Katie's good friend Megan, who is now his wife. "Did you know Katie Hartung is moving here, too?" Alain told Matt as they carted boxes.
Katie, now 28, was moving to Manayunk that same day.
Matt thought he'd eventually run into his old flame, and maybe they'd hang out. But two weeks later, he met someone, and they began dating.
The next month Megan asked Katie if she would help set up for a surprise birthday party for Alain, at Matt's house.
"We started talking that night," Katie remembered. After the party, everyone went out - Alain and Megan, Matt and his new girlfriend, and Katie, who was then single.
Since realizing they had moved to Manayunk on the same day, Katie had been thinking about fate, and about how kind Matt had always been to her, and how long he had pursued her. Seeing him with another woman was not pleasant. "I just kept thinking, 'That's supposed to be me,'" she said.
As the night went on, Katie began to flirt with Matt.
Matt did not want to disrespect the woman he was seeing. He pulled Katie aside. "I would date you any day, any month, any time. But not right now," he said.
Matt's head was spinning. Should he really take another chance with Katie?
He broke up with his girlfriend. Matt invited Katie to dinner with him and his roommate, just in case they had nothing to talk about after all these years. That was not a problem.
In early December, they went on their first real date, to Bella Trattoria in Manayunk.
How does forever sound?
Katie loves how smart Matt is, and how dedicated he is to everyone and everything important to him, including Glenside Fire Company, where he volunteers, as members of his family have since 1957.
She gets choked up when she talks about Matt's love for her. "It makes me love him as much as he has loved me," she said.
Katie "is still the most beautiful girl I know," Matt said, and she still has a happy, bubbly personality that draws everyone to her. Matt now also appreciates her love of history and tradition.
For part of 2010 and 2011, after Katie's grandparents died, Matt and Katie were the caretakers of Katie's family estate, built in 1884 in Elkins Park.
Matt took a day off in February, and when Katie came home, he asked her to join him in their favorite room, the library.
Matt had placed the photo of the two of them from senior prom on the mantel. He directed her attention to it. She walked over and had a look. She smiled. "That's nice!" she said.
"There's something behind it," Matt prompted.
Katie lifted the photo and found a ring box.
She began to shake and cry, but not so much that she couldn't say yes.
It was so them
The couple were married at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where Katie's family has attended since the 1880s, and where her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were married. Her parents, Robert and Wendy, met in the church's youth group. (Matt's parents, John and Theresa, met at the local Catholic high school, Bishop McDevitt)
As a surprise for Matt, Katie arranged to have a fire truck from Glenside Fire Company waiting outside the church.
The reception for 150 was held at Knowlton Mansion.
Katie will never forget the delighted look of surprise on Matt's face when he saw the fire truck. It was her way of saying that his volunteerism was now an important part of their lives together.
Katie's first-graders from last year came to the ceremony, where they all spilled out into the aisle so they could see over the taller guests. "The looks on their faces were really precious, when they saw Katie in her gown, and she waved to them," Matt said. It made him think "about how good she is with little kids, and how good she's going to be with our children."
A bargain: The limo driver is a friend of both families, and gave the couple the family discount.
The splurge: Katie had planned to do the reception lighting and design herself, but two months before the wedding, thought better of it, and hired the entertainment company to provide that service along with the music. It more than doubled the bill, but greatly reduced her stress, she said.
Ten days in Greece.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Rev. Emily Richards, of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Glenside
St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Elkins Park, and the Knowlton Mansion in Philadelphia
Conroy Catering at Knowlton Mansion
Linked Forever Photography, North Wales
DJ Mark Mehler of Synergetic Sound and Lighting in Bensalem
Penny's Flowers, Glenside
SGS Paper Co. in Glenside
Colette Pastore of Pastore Events in Wallingford, friend of the bride
Love: DO YOU HAVE THE DATE?
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