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Love: Danielle Hawkes & Michael Donnelly

October 12, 2013, in New York

Danielle Hawkes and Michael Donnelly at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Nathaniel Johnston for George Street Photography)
Danielle Hawkes and Michael Donnelly at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Nathaniel Johnston for George Street Photography)Read more

Hello there

About a decade ago, Hatboro native Danielle was a Rutgers journalism and psychology student and Mike was working for a Connecticut investment management company and living in his native Queens.

When procrastinating on assignments, Danielle would log on to and enviously read about DJ appearances, parties, and other New York club events she mostly couldn't attend.

Mike was a regular commenter whose postings were so hilarious that Danielle always read them.

In 2004, Danielle moved to New York and became a publicist. "I was going on [the website] more, and meeting people in real life who I saw on there," she said.

Mike did the same. "You become really friendly with people, because you have this common interest," he said.

By 2006, they had friends in common. One recommended Mike meet Danielle in real life, because their personalities were so similar. Mike admits it wasn't personality that got him to e-mail Danielle. "Somebody posted a very hot Halloween picture of her," he said.

They messaged through the club site, and then in fall 2006, Mike invited her to go out with a group of friends. He picked her up at her Upper West Side apartment. The group had dinner and drinks at Cody's Bar and Grill in Tribeca, where Mike's dad Bob tends bar, and then hit up Cielo in the Meatpacking District.

Despite Mike's attraction to Danielle, he tried to set her up with one of his friends - a move he now attributes to stupidity.

"He's OK," Danielle told Mike when asked about his friend. "But I like you," she thought to herself.

They kept in touch through AOL Instant Messenger. Finally in January 2007, Mike worked up the courage to ask her on a real date, for sushi.

"I knew he was hilarious before we met. He's the sweetest person, and he really can talk to anyone," Danielle said. "And he's very handsome, as well."

"She's witty, smart and beautiful," Mike said. Their friend was right about the personality match: They're both sarcastic jokesters.

It was not quite happily ever after. Mike and Danielle, now 31 and 34, respectively, say they were really into the late-night club scene, and all of that going out wasn't conducive to a serious, grown-up relationship. They began fighting. Mike broke things off. Danielle told him she wanted no contact, so she could heal.

About six months later, her Phillies won the World Series, which made Mets fan Mike miserable, but also gave him an idea. "I used it as an excuse to reach out to Danielle, to congratulate her," he said. He didn't tell her he missed her, and still had strong feelings, and wanted to try again, but Danielle said his intentions were obvious. "No Mets fan would call to congratulate a Phillies fan," she said.

They made a conscious decision to focus more on their relationship than on going out with friends, and to communicate more.

In April 2010, Danielle, now a publicist for Napoleon Perdis Cosmetics, and Mike, now a fixed-income senior specialist for Jennison Associates, got a place together in Forest Hills, Queens.

How does forever sound?

The couple visited Danielle's parents in Hatboro in December 2011. Mike stole a moment alone with her father, Hatboro Mayor Norm Hawkes, and got his blessing.

Back in New York, they dined at a fancy restaurant. Danielle was annoyed that Mike was texting. She didn't realize he was summoning a limo. They rode down Fifth Avenue, which was so beautiful with holiday lights, that Danielle thought, "If he's not going to propose, he's some kind of sociopath."

Mike got on one knee as they drove back past Central Park and Danielle's old neighborhood.

They celebrated with champagne.

It was so them

The couple wed at Brooklyn Bridge Park. At one point, a huge party boat went by on the river, blasting "It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right." Danielle did a little dance-floor shimmy, and their 50 guests burst into laughter.

"It was completely fitting for us," Danielle said.

When the ceremony ended a bit after 6 p.m., the lights of Manhattan were just coming on, and the brass quintet played the couple and their guests through the Brooklyn streets with "New York, New York" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." Kids stepped out of doorways to watch the impromptu parade to the reception at reBar, a gastropub housed in a former tea factory.


Danielle and Mike agree the sunset ceremony was magic. "With all of our friends and family there, holding her hand and saying the vows, I just thought, 'Wow. This is really special,'" Mike said. It was so perfect, Danielle said, that "I still can't believe it was real. God was looking down on us." Someone else, too, she thinks: Danielle's brother Justin passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. "We really felt like he was there with us," she said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Mike's Uncle Jim is a founder of Precise Continental printing company. He and cousin Sheila designed and printed the invitations as a wedding gift.

The splurge: The premium open bar at the reception and the bridal suite at reBar.

The getaway

Eight nights on Italy's Amalfi coast.


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