Love: Jamie Smith & Sean Dawes

Jamie Smith and Sean Dawes. Hoffer Photography
Jamie Smith and Sean Dawes. Hoffer Photography

May 10, 2014, in Wilmington, Del.

Posted: June 19, 2014

Hello there

Sean still remembers when Jamie transferred into the sixth-grade class at Nazareth Academy Grade School in Northeast Philadelphia in 1997. With just 27 students, a new girl - especially a cute one - made an impression.

Back then, Sean was quiet and shy, Jamie said. They hardly talked at first, but she suspected he had a crush on her. He did, but never acted on it.

With so few classmates, "Everyone was friends, and we all hung out together," Sean remembered.

After eighth-grade graduation, Jamie, who grew up in Southampton and Horsham, continued at Nazareth Academy High School, and Sean, who grew up in the Northeast, went to Holy Ghost Prep.

They stayed in touch with AOL chat.

Four years later, when Sean had just begun his zoology degree at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown and Jamie her nursing studies at La Salle University, they and a few other elementary alums began chatting about an unofficial Nazareth reunion.

In early 2005, five old friends met at what is now Dave & Buster's in Franklin Mills for pool, bowling, and dinner.

"He was a whole different person," Jamie said. Once quiet, Sean had become confident and talkative. The smallish kid was now a tall, handsome, college freshman. "There was an immediate attraction there," she said.

For Sean, "It was almost like an extension of where we had left off" in elementary school. "We enjoyed hanging out before, and we still did."

OK, maybe it was a little different. "We both felt like there could potentially be something there," he said.

They continued talking online, and a month after that night out with friends, decided to do something, just the two of them.

Sean had a sweet ride back then - a 1995 Mitsubishi 3000 GT. "We should go driving sometime," he suggested, knowing the car had caught Jamie's eye. He picked her up and they parked in front of their destination - World Cafe Live - but never made it in. "We spent three or four hours just talking," he said.

Most of their early dates were mainly hours of talking, with a meal thrown in, Sean said.

He liked how they were together. "The biggest thing was just our personalities," he said. It's not that they are the same; it's that they complement each other so well.

Jamie concurs. Sean is no longer shy, but "he is very reserved and businesslike, while my personality is bold, loud, and outgoing. He balances me out."

How does forever sound?

Seven years had passed since their first date.

Sean had graduated Del Val, got an online marketing job at American Muscle, and later left that company so he and two business partners could start their own online marketing consulting business, Rocket Dove.

Jamie had transferred to and graduated with her nursing degree from Jefferson. She's now a nurse anesthetist for Christiana Care Health Services.

But in February 2012, she was in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and one day, Sean was waiting for her in a parking lot after class.

"I gave her a blindfold, asked her to put on the blindfold, and didn't tell her anything else," Sean said.

The car stopped, and Sean guided her inside a building. He spoke of their shared memories going back to childhood, and of his love for her. She could hear his voice shaking. "Please take off the blindfold," Sean said.

Jamie immediately recognized the lobby of Nazareth Academy Grade School, where class pictures were always taken. She saw her old choir teacher, now school principal, and about 20 students. And she saw Sean on one knee.

"Will you marry me?" he asked.

The choir sang a song they wrote for the couple, and Jamie and Sean, who now live in West Chester, were given a congratulations card made by the first grade.

"The eighth-grade girls were crying and screaming more than I was," Jamie said.

It was so them

The couple, now both 28, said their vows and lit a unity candle in front of a stone wall in a Winterthur flower garden. Their 134 guests walked to the nearby museum for cocktail hour and were shuttled to the Wilmington estate's visitors center for the reception.

The venue was so perfect that the couple can hardly believe they had originally selected another spot. Just before they made their deposit, that venue drastically increased its prices. Jamie was discouraged, but her sister found Winterthur online.


Sean is used to seeing Jamie daily, but they were apart for two days prior to the wedding. The photo reveal came, and there she finally was, looking especially beautiful in her wedding dress. "Once I saw her, it was like, 'Everything starts now. Everything is finally here,' " he said.

Jamie had styled her hair to accentuate the curls Sean loves and picked a dress to highlight her curves. At the ceremony, she knew everyone's eyes would be on the couple. But the reveal? That was private. "We're actually getting married," she thought when they locked eyes.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Jamie's late grandmother gave her a succulent every year, and while Jamie always managed to kill the hardy plants, she loved the tradition. The couple ordered small potted succulents in bulk, then wrapped them with colored cellophane and tied them with bows and notes saying they were in memory of Nana.

The splurge: The couple was so stunned by Hoffer Photography's work that no one else would do. "We cut anywhere else we could," Jamie said, and they picked their wedding date to fit the photo team's schedule.

The getaway

Twelve days on three Hawaiian islands.


Officiant: Patricia Painter of Vows of the Heart, Wilmington, Del.

Venue: Winterthur Museum

Catering: Restaurant Associates, the venue's exclusive caterer, New York

Photography: Hoffer Photography, Greater Philadelphia

Dress: Bijou Bridal & Special Occasion, Ardmore

Music: Synergetic Sound & Lighting, Bensalem

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