On occasions when both her brother and bestie were single, Mandy would drop less-than-subtle hints to Deanna. "Wouldn't it be cool if you and Dan got together?"
Deanna thought Dan was a great guy and a wonderful brother. But a failed relationship with her best friend's brother would be an awkward nightmare. Mandy never pushed.
By March 2011, Mandy was married to Sean, but continued to arrange group get-togethers. She invited everyone to take advantage of a Longwood Gardens coupon. It turned out the only attendees were Mandy and Sean, Deanna and Dan.
Mandy "saw the opportunity, and she pounced," Deanna said. Mandy and Sean disappeared, leaving Deanna and Dan to take in the beautiful scenery, and talk, all by themselves.
This was the longest they'd spent talking one-on-one, and Dan and Deanna found it remarkably easy.
A couple asked Dan to take their picture together, then offered to reciprocate. "Are you two together?" the woman asked. Both hesitated, unsure how to answer, before one of them awkwardly muttered, "We're together with the same group."
A week later, Dan asked Deanna if she'd like to go to lunch or dinner sometime. She did. But between him helping a new roommate move in and taking night classes, and her church activities and coaching the high school softball team, the scheduling was brutal.
Dan had recently started attending Deanna's church, Covenant Fellowship in Glen Mills. The morning of May 1, they went to the same service, then had lunch and toured and tasted at Chaddsford Winery.
They got a little lost, but that just added to the fun of driving the back roads, listening to Dan's mix CD. Deanna smiled when the Red Hot Chili Peppers followed "Canon in D."
How does forever sound?
That June, Deanna, who is now 30, went to Spain for a month to take a workshop for AP Spanish teachers and travel. Dan, now 32, e-mailed her every day, and Deanna looked forward to the next Internet hot spot as much as she did the next cathedral.
Not long after she returned to Pennsylvania, they started talking marriage.
Dan, now a loss control representative at Nuclear Energy Insurance Limited, suggested they spend their five-month dating anniversary walking in Ridley Creek. The rain that morning didn't dampen his enthusiasm.
The couple scoped out a field as a possible place for a football game with friends. On the way back, Deanna spotted a big sycamore tree. Sycamores, with their distinctive bark, are one of the few she can identify by sight, so she stopped to point it out to Dan.
Little did she know he had been wracking his brain, trying to think of a way to get her to stop by that tree.
Deanna stopped talking when she saw that Dan was looking straight into her eyes.
"Deanna," he said. "I love you with all of my heart, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
He got down on one knee. She said yes. Dan reached behind the tree, where he had stashed a bottle of wine from the winery they visited on their first date, some chocolate, a rose, and a card with a long love letter.
Deanna was glad the misty weather kept most everyone else away.
It was so them
The couple, who live in West Chester, were married on the grounds of Waterfall in Claymont, Del. The Rev. Jim Donohue, a pastor at their church, performed the ceremony.
Deanna carried a small white Bible that her late grandmother, Lucia; her mom, Angela; and both of her sisters had also carried down the aisle.
The couple wrote their own vows.
"Deanna, my beautiful bride, I am so thankful to God for bringing us together. You have brought more joy and happiness into my life than I ever thought possible," Dan said to Deanna.
"You are the most loving, caring, thoughtful, and sincere man I have ever known and I couldn't imagine God creating anyone more perfect for me," Deanna told Dan.
Deanna's sister Christina was about two weeks from giving birth and could not fly from California for the wedding. But she attended virtually. Deanna's dad, Richard, Skyped Christina in with his laptop.
The couple, their 160 guests, and Christina via laptop moved inside for the reception.
The couple took two dance lessons to prepare for "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds.
Deanna is half Italian and half Chinese, but when her high school offered neither language, her love affair with Spain began. Deanna and her dad began the father-daughter dance to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but halfway through switched to flamenco.
Dan and his mom, Ellen, danced to the Beatles' "In My Life."
Dan's parents, Kevin and Ellen, make their own wine and maple syrup. The couple helped them make mini bottles of both for wedding favors.
Dan will never forget seeing Deanna and her dad walk around the corner of a building onto the aisle. "This is the woman I'm going to marry and spend the rest of my life with. We've been waiting so long for this."
Deanna will never forget holding Dan's hand and looking into his happy eyes at the altar. "It was our day, our moment. It was finally happening," she said.
A bargain: The couple made their invitations with a kit from Michael's. And they had a half-off coupon. Total invitation cost: $100. Friend Christy addressed the envelopes in calligraphy as a gift.
The splurge: Deanna's thrifty nature was no match for her Enzoani gown. She walked away from it and tried on a slew of non-designer gowns that cost less than half as much, but they didn't compare.
A week at the Grand Canyon.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Rev. James Donohue of Covenant Fellowship Church, Glen Mills
Waterfall Banquet & Conference Center,
Kelli Cohee, West Chester
Ben Parris, Phoenixville
MoonLite Sound Inc.,
Dress by Enzoani, purchased at Bridal Sophisticate, Media
Tish Long, Villanova
Lucy Scotto at Waterfall