Love: Carolyn Savage & Matthew Ragan

Carolyn Savage and Matthew Ragan exchanged vows at Scotland Run Golf Course in Williamstown, Gloucester County.
Carolyn Savage and Matthew Ragan exchanged vows at Scotland Run Golf Course in Williamstown, Gloucester County. (Meyer Photography)

May 17, 2014, in Williamstown, N.J.

Posted: July 17, 2014

Hello there

Carolyn went on a lot of dates in early 2011 - a lot of first dates.

"I was on Match.com, PlentyofFish, eHarmony," she said. But the potential she felt online always fizzled in person.

Matthew wasn't having much luck in the Internet dating pool, either. "I went out with a few girls," he said, but never found much common ground.

Both kept trying.

In May, Matthew found Carolyn's profile. She sounded interesting and looked beautiful. He e-mailed her.

Matthew was not only cute, but also conveniently located. In the past, Carolyn had driven from her place in her hometown of Voorhees across the river into Pennsylvania, as far as Newtown Square, only to be disappointed. "I noticed he was literally seven minutes away from where I lived [in West Berlin]," said Carolyn, an assistant to the financial adviser at Ameriprise Financial in Medford.

At least it would be a short trip home.

Carolyn, who is now 31, and Matthew, now 35, met on a Wednesday night for what he dubs a "meet and greet" at Champps in Marlton.

This guy would have been worth a much longer drive. "I felt really comfortable with Matt," Carolyn said. So comfortable that she answered his many questions about her and her family. The suit he was wearing also made a good impression. "He was so put-together, like he was actually trying."

Matthew loved that Carolyn laughed at his stupid jokes and told equally stupid ones herself. Her eyes were gorgeous. And her love of dogs meant she would pass muster with Walker the chocolate Lab. When Matthew, who works in telecommunications sales, learned that her father was also in sales and, like him, used to be a wrestler, he thought he might be comfortable with all the Savage clan.

Little did he know how soon he'd find out.

Carolyn really wanted Matthew to be her date at her brother Paul's June wedding to Kelly. But after just a month of movies, dinners, and walking Walker in the park, she was nervous about asking. "I wasn't sure if he'd see that as a big step, and too soon," she said.

Four days before the event, she asked anyway.

Matthew was totally cool. "Oh! I would have thought you already had a date," he said. "I love weddings."

He was a superb date, Carolyn said. "I left him a lot to see family from out of town, and he took that as a chance to mingle and meet other people on his own," she said. "We had a great time. And it was really nice to parade him around with me!"

Matthew says he also had a good time at the after-party at Carolyn's parents' house. He even had cocktails with her father, Michael.

How does forever sound?

In August 2012, the couple expanded their family by bringing another dog, Bella the Boston terrier, into their West Berlin home.

In October, Carolyn looked forward to the Cape May weekend she and Matt had planned, which included a stair-climb up a famous landmark. "Before I went, my grandma said, 'You better make it to the top of the lighthouse!' and I wondered if she didn't think I could do it."

The climb was pretty tough, Carolyn said, but with one breather, they made it.

"She was looking at the ocean when I got down on one knee," Matthew remembered. "I said, 'Carolyn Marie Savage, can I have the honor of having your hand in marriage?' "

"Really?" Carolyn asked. She asked about five more times before it sank in that Matthew meant every word, and was waiting for an answer. After her yes, they celebrated with dinner at the Washington Inn.

It was so them

The much-loved Walker passed away in January 2014. A few weeks later, Matthew asked that the couple adopt pit bull/Boston terrier mix Brutus as Carolyn's wedding gift to him. Brutus gets his name from the Ohio State University mascot. Matthew considers Shamong, N.J., his hometown, but until he was 5, his family lived in Cleveland.

Both the ceremony and the reception for 150 took place at Scotland Run Golf Course in Williamstown. The bride's mother, Carol, made silk flower arrangements, boutonnieres, and bouquets. She also made the bridesmaids' jewelry and sewed the dress worn by flower girl Samantha, Carolyn's niece.

Theirs was the first wedding ceremony performed by Matthew's uncle, Robert, a deacon at an Anglican church in Virginia.

To symbolize the combining of their lives, Carolyn poured purple sand and Matthew white sand into one vase.

The band played Chicago's "Colour My World," Carolyn's parents' wedding song, and the waltz from Doctor Zhivago, the song Matthew's parents, Michael and Sandra, danced to at their wedding.

The cake featured Carolyn's grandmother Carol's cake topper, which her parents had also used.

Matthew's father made the couple a counted cross-stitch with their names, wedding date, and a prayer. The couple displayed it on the place-card table at the wedding, and it now hangs in their home.

Awestruck

Matthew felt amazingly happy dancing with Carolyn to Christina Perry's "A Thousand Years." He felt the love between them, and also the support from all the friends and family who stood watching. "It was a special moment," he said.

At the very end of the reception, the band played Billy Joel's "Piano Man." The guests formed a circle and nudged the couple into the center. Everyone raised their drinks and belted out the lyrics, Carolyn remembers. It was again about love, and it was a whole lot of fun, too.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Carolyn's mom's DIY.

The splurge: Carolyn had planned to hire a DJ, but after her parents and Matthew took her to hear the band the Party Waves, she agreed the extra expense was worth it.

The getaway

A week in St. Martin.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Officiant: Robert Ragan, deacon of the Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Va., and uncle of the groom

Venue: Scotland Run Golf Course in Williamstown, Gloucester County

Photography: Meyer Photography in Williamstown

Dress: Irma's Bridal in Cherry Hill

Music: The Party Wave Band, Blackwood.

Wedding coordinator: JoAnn Radcliffe of Scotland Run

Do you have the date? Tell us in a short e-mail - at least six weeks before your ceremony - why we should feature your love story. Send it to weddings@phillynews.com . Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted.

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