Married

April 28 at St. Thomas of Villanova Church, on the Villanova University campus, with associate athletic director Rev. Robert Hagan presiding. A reception for 220 guests was held at the Montrose Mansion at the Villanova Conference Center in Radnor.

They met

In 1995, when Rick was Tara's swimming coach at Rutgers University. Their relationship was strictly a friendly one, and they kept in touch occasionally after Tara's graduation. "We shared so many common interests," says Rick, now 39. "But you establish a huge psychological boundary [as coach and student]."

About five years ago, a closer friendship began to take shape. But Tara, now 31, eschewed romance. "She was afraid of me," Rick jokes. But in November 2001, Tara was in town for a conference and agreed to meet Rick in the city at Monk's Cafe to catch up. "Monk's was the transition," he recalls. "She saw me more as a peer than an authority."

He asked

August 17, 2005 along the canals of Venice, Italy. The couple planned a last-minute trip - just one week's notice - and Rick was looking for the perfect opportunity to propose. On their second evening in Venice, feet dangling over the water, he asked for her hand, then phoned Tara's mother to ask for permission.

9 to 5

Tara, of Salisbury, N.C., is a registered dietitian at Nutritional Health Systems in Wayne. Rick, who grew up in Philadelphia and Blue Bell, is head coach of the varsity men's and women's swim teams at Villanova University.

Making a home

The newlyweds live in Malvern.

First steps

Tara and Rick passed on a traditional first dance. In preparation for their big day, they threw a "One Year Out" party in April 2006 - a wine tasting at Rick's house - as an alternative to a traditional engagement party.

Doing it their way

"The priest made the ceremony very personal," Tara says. "He knew us very well." 'Nova swim-team members were invited to the Mass to see their coach tie the knot; about 12 seniors attended the reception. Tara wore a Romona Keveza strapless ballgown with a ruched bodice; her eight bridesmaids wore strapless tea-length black cocktail dresses and carried lavender roses and sweet peas. Rick's vest was crafted from Tara's leftover gown fabric. The groom chose his mother, Eileen Simpson, to be his "best man" - with the title "honor attendant."

Veronica Venonsky of Berwyn's Perfect Weddings helped pull together an Italian feel at Montrose Mansion, with a tower of chocolate- and vanilla-filled cannoli subbing for a wedding cake (no cutting ceremony required). Tables were named for Italian cities, with the bride and groom seated in Venice, of course. Corks saved from the One Year Out party acted as escort card holders. Out-of-towners got into the mood the night before at the rehearsal dinner at Fellini's Cafe in Paoli, where an Italian singer crooned. At the conference center hotel, gift bags of biscotti, Pellegrino, and rosemary or basil seeds awaited them.

Not a dry eye

"My favorite moment," Tara says, "was when I got to the end of the aisle and saw Rick's face and how happy he was . . . that was the most emotional for me."

Bloopers

The driver of the couple's rented limo bus had some issues opening the hydraulic doors - to let Rick and his groomsmen in - and then to let them out at church.

Tara says

"You want to greet all the guests and still be able to dance. We were at our entire cocktail hour."

The honeymoon

A fantastic three-week getaway. The newlyweds flew to Puerto Rico, then set sail on a 13-day cruise to Rome via Spain, France and Morocco. They spent seven days in Italy, ending in Venice, where their journey began.