A phone call unearthed a shared love for The Misfits and a comfort level so high they talked not only about politics and religion, but also his five-year marriage that had dissolved a few years earlier. He assured her he was open to marrying again.
That led to the February 2009 evening when Matt was at her door in Media, the perfect physical embodiment of her type. "He was too perfect," she said.
Matt, who is now 39, found Danielle, now 32, very beautiful - even when she wasn't dressed as a dragon. He never considered that things could be too perfect.
Halfway to La Na, a Thai BYOB, the couple realized they had forgotten the wine. On Danielle's doorstep for the second time, she joked, "It was nice meeting you," as though their first date had ended.
Matt figured if the date was over, it was time for a kiss.
"I tricked him into it," Danielle says with a laugh. She is now an entertainer at the Tilted Kilt, a job the Bala Cynwyd native likes to describe as "a scantily-clad purveyor of chicken wings."
On their second walk toward the restaurant, he asked permission to hold her hand.
They closed La Na, then sat talking on Danielle's couch until 5:30 a.m. On their second date, both agreed it was time to take down their dating profiles.
When Danielle's lease expired in October, she and Krimpet, her orange tabby-baby, moved into Matt's place in Phoenixville.
How does forever sound?
Rehoboth Beach has always been a favorite spot for this couple, and unseasonably warm temperatures in late December 2012 made some offseason ocean time irresistible.
"We did the usual boardwalk thing, and had pizza," Matt said.
"And a nice, stereotypical walk-on-the-beach thing, except with snow boots on," Danielle added.
They stopped walking to look at the view, and Matt began talking about all the things they'd shared that year for which he was grateful: a harmonious life, even in their 700-square-foot space, the adoption of their second ginger cat, Jackson.
"I have one more thing to be thankful for," he said.
She looked away from the ocean to find him on one knee in the sand.
It was so them
The couple wed at the Phoenixville Foundry. Guests could start celebrating early: A table near the outdoor ceremony site offered both sangria and lemonade.
The DJ played a smooth-jazz version of the Game of Thrones theme song, and then Howard Shore's instrumental "Concerning Hobbits" from Lord of the Rings as Danielle walked down the aisle.
"We kept it classy, but with a personal touch," Matt said.
Danielle was raised Unitarian, but her father's family is culturally Jewish. Matt had a nondenominational Christian upbringing. They both admire traditions of many cultures.
So a Unitarian minister led them through the vows they wrote, then bound their hands together with a ceremonial cord in an old Celtic ritual. In a modern twist on Jewish tradition, Danielle and Matt together stepped on a glass at the end of the ceremony, symbolizing that what had been done could never be undone.
And then it was time to eat.
Food stations included seafood cakes with crab and lobster, ahi tuna, chicken and beef skewers, and made-to-order pasta and sushi bars.
Dessert featured options from a milkshake bar and a patchwork quilt cake. The couple and some of their family members and local guests each made 9-inch-square cakes of different flavors and decor. The couple made one with a rainbow flag to symbolize marriage equality. Some had flowers. Some polkadots. Some were white, some chocolate. Some had lemon wheels, some strawberries. The caterer arranged them into a single unit before the reception. The guests ate the whole thing.
Beer came from Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, wine from Sand Castle Winery. "It was important to spend our money locally," Matt said.
The couple's photographers set up the pre-ceremony moment when the two first saw each other. Matt stood on a wooden footbridge with orders not to turn around until he felt Danielle tap his shoulder.
"The anticipation of seeing her in the dress, that culmination of emotion, was so intense," Matt said. "I turned around and I saw her, and it was a flood of emotion that I can't describe. It was just the realization that we are actually getting married. It made everything so real."
That moment was Danielle's favorite, too. "It blew me away how emotional he was," she said. "He started tearing up, and then I started tearing up. I found myself melting in response to his emotional response."
A bargain: That nifty patchwork cake shaved $800 off the catering bill.
The splurge: When Matt moved to Phoenixville in 2007, the Foundry was just an empty shell of abandoned industrial equipment and broken windows. From the time the renovated space opened, he thought it was the perfect wedding venue. Savings from their DIY cake, centerpieces, and programs didn't make much of a dent in the five-figure cost.
A fall trip to Las Vegas is planned.
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: The Rev. Peter Friedrichs of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, Media
Venue: Phoenixville Foundry, Phoenixville
Food: J. Scott Catering, Malvern
Photography: Uncorked Studios, Philadelphia
Music: Jam on Sound Productions, Mount Penn
Planner: Heather Pasko, Lovely Events and Occasions (LEO), Phoenixville
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