Deborah and Tom met in June 2004 on Match.com. After a brief e-mail exchange, Deborah cut to the chase. "Let's just meet, because that's why we're on here." They met at a wine bar in Doylestown, where Deborah has lived for much of her life.
Their connection was instantaneous. "When I first met her, a voice in my head said, 'You're going to marry her,' " said Tom, who grew up in Long Island and was living in Holland, Pa., at the time.
That voice was not something Tom, who is now 57, had ever heard before. He had had long-term relationships over the years, but never met anyone he wanted to marry.
Deborah, now 51, said she and Tom have a similar romantic past. "There was never anything dramatic, no big breakups or broken engagements," she said. "Things just kind of fizzled out."
There was no fizzling between the two of them, however.
They first clicked over their shared sense of sarcastic humor and similar work. Deborah is a direct-mail account manager, and Tom is a freelance advertising copywriter and artist.
Tom liked that Deborah is smart and enthusiastic about her work but realizes life is about more than the daily grind.
Deborah fell hard for his kindness and thoughtfulness. She loves to cook, and as her birthday approached four months into their relationship, he wrote to some of her favorite chefs, asking them to sign photos with birthday greetings. Those photos, from the likes of "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten, Mario Batali, and Paula Deen, now hang in the kitchen the couple shares in their Sellersville home.
Tom's mother, Rose, had told her son that she did not want to leave this earth until he had found someone. She loved Deborah. Tom said he never directly told his mother that he had met the woman he planned to marry, but "I think she knew." When Rose died in July 2005 at age 80, she left Tom her engagement ring.
On Christmas morning 2007, Deborah unwrapped a beautiful jewelry box from Tom.
"I was hoping there would be a ring in there," she said, but none was apparent. She began opening each drawer, hoping simultaneously to find a diamond and not to show her growing disappointment as each turned out to be empty.
"Look closer," Tom urged. Finally, he took the wooden box and pushed aside the warranty papers to reveal the ring that had been his mom's. They both cried.
After the ceremony, Tom and Deborah rocked down the aisle together to Queen's "You're My Best Friend." Tom was thrilled that the church would allow that because "the lyrics are really appropriate for us," he said. A sampling:
You're the first one / When things turn out bad / You know I'll never be lonely / You're my only one / And I love the things / I really love the things that you do / You're my best friend / Ooooh you make me live
All went smoothly until Deborah discovered that her dress had gotten wrinkled. There was no place in the dressing room to plug in an iron, but a series of extension cords did the trick.
Deborah got emotional as nephews Matthew, 20, and Eric, 16, walked her down the aisle toward Tom. Tom got all choked up saying his vows.
A bargain: Deborah's $99 halter-style, ivory satin dress from David's Bridal.
The splurge: Deborah loves flowers, and she wanted "many, many, many flowers," including a large number of Black Beauty roses, which cost about twice as much as a typical red rose.