Hello there

Matt and Steph lived in the periphery of each other's lives for years. They had known each other well enough to say hello since grade school, as both their families attended Aldan Union Church. At Springfield High School in Delaware County, their social circles were linked by her good friend Julia and his good friend Matt - who are brother and sister.

"She came over to my house with Matt and his sister, and the four of us were hanging out and playing games," Matt remembered. After that, "Steph and I started talking at church a little bit."

Each enjoyed the other's company during such group gatherings, but when Matt asked Steph to do something as a twosome, she gently brushed him off. "At the time, I was hanging out with another guy," she explains.

Matt, who is now 26, graduated from high school the year before Steph, now 25, and studied physical education at West Chester University. That spring was when Steph realized things weren't going to work with the other guy, leaving her dateless for senior prom 2009.

One Sunday at church, with the encouragement of their friends Julia and Matt Correnti, Steph asked Matt W. whether he would be her prom date. He asked her whether she'd like to go out before the prom so they would know each other better before the big night.

A trip or two to Rita's Water Ice, a few meals at fun restaurants in Media, and their feelings for each other grew. Prom was a blast.

But Steph tempered her feelings with caution and practicality: She would soon leave for Messiah College in Harrisburg to earn a degree in health and exercise science and run cross-country and track. She needed to focus on those things, she told Matt, and she would have little time for anything else.

Matt understood, but after mulling it over, he still wanted to spend time with Stephanie before she left. She agreed. "I could tell he was really interested, and I loved hanging out with him, too," she said.

Truth is, Matt was holding on to hope. "For quite a while, I had been looking for a nice girl from my church, with no luck. She came out of nowhere, and I really fell for her," he said. "I knew we had a really good thing going."

When fall arrived, Matt stayed local, switching his focus from college to a Steamfitters Local Union 420 apprenticeship. As planned, Steph was off to Messiah and was very busy with academics and athletics, but they never stopped seeing each other.

Steph says they are, in some ways, opposites. She is type A and tends to make decisions based on logic. He is more spontaneous and uses his heart as well as his head.

They admire each other's traits and balance each other out, they said. Plus, "he was very patient."

Steph graduated from Messiah in 2013 and began her graduate physical therapy program at Drexel. She graduated in April, and now works at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby.

Matt finished his apprenticeship and began working as a journeyman steamfitter in February 2015.

How does forever sound?

On a Thursday in September 2014, Steph and Julia admired the flowers and foliage at Longwood Gardens. Following Matt's request, Julia concocted a story about free admission with tickets that her sister and brother-in-law weren't able to use. Matt periodically sent Steph the typical I'm-on-break-thinking-of-you texts of most workdays, even though this wasn't like most days at all.

When the strolling ladies approached a stream and willow trees, Julia said she would run ahead so she could snap photos of Steph. But as Steph walked around the turn in the path, it was her boyfriend who came into view.

"I was kind of shocked for minute, and I was just standing there," she remembered.

"I gave her the little wave to come on over," Matt said.

They both laughed from happiness. Matt said nice things that neither remembers, knelt, and asked Steph to marry him.

She said yes and cried. Then they called her parents, Marguarite and Craig, and his, Dan and Lou Anne, and she cried some more.

Julia snapped pictures the whole time.

It was so them

The couple now live in the town they loved to visit in high school, Media, and the pastor of their new church, Blue Route Vineyard, performed the ceremony at the Aldan church they grew up in.

Matt's four brothers, Jon, Jason, Mike, and Jordan, took part in the ceremony, with Jordan and Matt C. serving as co-best men. Julia, the groom's proposal conspirator, was a bridesmaid. Steph's brother Randy was also a groomsman.

The unity ceremony was based on a Bible verse about a cord made from three strands woven together being stronger than any one strand alone. Matt attached three pieces of rope to a rustic-looking board, one representing himself, one representing Steph, and the third representing their faith and the role it will play in their marriage. The couple braided the cords together during the ceremony.

The reception was held at the Old Mill, which has an outdoorsy feel the couple loved.

"The cake we had was special," Matt said. His cousin Rachel, a professional baker and cake decorator, stayed with his family the week of the wedding so she could bake and assemble its tiers, decorated with sugar flowers she handmade in Seattle, where she lives, and carried onto the plane.

Awestruck

Matt finds marriage inspiration in his grandparents Frank and Norma Jean. "They have always been a great example of a happy marriage. They still have fun together and poke fun at each other," he said. He was so glad they made it to the wedding - some days are rough due to Norma Jean's Alzheimer's, but this was a good day. The DJ announced that Frank and Norma had been married for 65 years, then began playing the song they danced to at their wedding, "Blueberry Hill." "Grandpop doesn't dance much, so I danced with Grandmom," Matt said.

Toward the end of the night, a popular song brought everyone to the dance floor, including the newlyweds. "That's when it hit me, that this was the best day of my life," Steph said. "I had just married the man I love, and I get to spend the rest of my life with him. And all these people are here celebrating with us. I took it all in pretty deeply for a few seconds."

"All the stress of planning was gone, and we were just out there together dancing," Matt said. "We were having fun together, and with everybody, and it was this moment where you just didn't want the night to end."

Budget crunch

Best bargain: The cake, which was made for them as a gift, and the work of photographer Ashlee Mintz. "Her work is outstanding, and the fact that she was among the most affordable of the photographers we considered made it even more wonderful," Steph said.

The splurge: The food, served family style, included filet mignon, chicken, pasta, an ice cream sundae bar, and plenty of everything, Matt said.

Honeymoon

A week in Punta Cana.

Love: BEHIND THE SCENES

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Officiant: Pastor Mark Tindall, Blue Route Vineyard Community Church, Media.

Venues: Aldan Union Church, Aldan; the Old Mill, Rose Valley.

Food: Conner Catering; Havertown.

Photography: Ashlee Mintz, West Chester.

Flowers: Amaranth Florist, Narberth.

Dress: Designed by Essence of Australia.

Music: Kevin Henley Productions, Springfield.

Planner: Lauren Schmitz of Table 1 Events, Havertown.

Do you have the date? Email us - at least six weeks before your ceremony - why we should feature your love story: weddings@phillynews.com. Unfortunately, we can't respond individually to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted.

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