Dana grew up in Cherry Hill, and in November 2007 she was back home on Thanksgiving break from the University of Baltimore, where she was earning a law degree.
One day as break was winding down, Dana's friend Tiffany invited her to meet up with her, her then-boyfriend Patrick, and some other friends at PJ Whelihan's.
Patrick's good friend Andrew was among the group, and before long, Andrew approached Dana. "What are you drinking?" he asked. A Jack and ginger.
Another friend had encouraged Andrew to talk to another woman, but once Andrew talked to Dana, there was no way that was happening. "She had a nice smile. And I got very nice vibes from her," he said.
Dana felt those vibes, too. "I could tell that he was a really good guy, right off the bat. That he was a sweetheart. And he had nice blue eyes."
The night ended without a phone-number exchange, or certainty that the spark was mutual. Dana, now 28, went back to school. Andrew, now 30, returned to his paralegal job in Lindenwold, his hometown.
When Dana came home again in December, Tiffany told her Andrew thought she was cute. "I told Tiffany to give him my number."
Dana was going back to Baltimore that weekend, "so I had to call her soon," Andrew said.
In early January 2008, Dana and Andrew hit Kaminski's Bar & Grill. "It was very good, very conversational, with no awkward pauses," said Andrew.
Everything between them was easy — except the distance between their addresses. "We tried to do every other weekend," Dana said.
"I felt like he was a good counterpart to me," she said. "I'm practical and I'm a planner. Andrew plans, but he is more of a dreamer and is more spontaneous. And he let me become more of a dreamer."
"She had herself together," said Andrew, who holds an international relations degree from Seton Hall University. "She liked to travel, and a lot of my interests are due to her."
Dana observed Andrew's fondness for "thick Belgian beers that look like molasses," so she took him to a Baltimore bar with more than 100 beers on tap, and a brewpub specializing in Belgian beer. He has become a connoisseur.
The two did a ghost tour on another Baltimore weekend, and had so much fun that they planned a trip to Gettysburg specifically for its ghostly reputation.
"I got him a ghost-hunting kit from the Discovery Store," Dana said.
"It became an obsession," said Andrew.
Within a few months, Dana and Andrew knew they wanted to be together forever.
How does forever sound?
One weekend in May 2010, Andrew went to Baltimore with a ring in his pocket. At sunset, he took Dana to the top of Federal Hill, which has views of the harbor and the city.
"I felt because he was taking me to this romantic location, that maybe something was up," said Dana.
"She was trying to go through my pockets, looking for a ring," said Andrew. Quick-thinking Andrew asked Dana to look at something down the hill, and in the seconds when she was distracted, he reached around Dana's back and slipped the ring into her shopping bag.
He told Dana to look in the bag.
After she found the ring, Andrew took it from her long enough to drop to one knee and ask her to marry him.
The long-distance portion of their relationship ended in February 2011, when Dana landed a position at Liberty Mutual and moved back to New Jersey. Andrew is now a paralegal for Phelan, Hallinan & Schmieg in Mount Laurel.
It was so them
When Dana was a little girl, her parents, Nancy and Stuart, took her on day trips to Philadelphia, and always gave in to her requests for a horse and buggy ride. On those trips around Independence Mall, Dana began dreaming of a similar ride on her wedding day.
A white, horse-drawn carriage, decorated with flowers outside and red velvet inside, took Dana and her father to the church. He brought carrots for the horse.
The couple dedicated their wedding Mass to Andrew's father, John, who died several years ago.
They chose to marry at St. Thomas More Church in Cherry Hill specifically so they could be married by Msgr. Thomas Morgan. He made the wedding personal, joyful, momentous, and yet really funny at times, she said.
As the monsignor began to speak about romantic love and mature Christian love, he went all game-show-host on the bridal party, and asked them for definitions.
"I think most of their answers were wrong," Andrew said. "But all of our guests enjoyed it." The couple are now members of St. Thomas More.
After the ceremony, the horse and carriage took Dana and Andrew to their reception for 125.
Along with their mutual love of travel and the law, Andrew and Dana share a disdain for icing.
"We decided we didn't want to get a wedding cake," Dana said. "We did a gelato bar, with chocolate, mango, banana, vanilla, and mint chip, and other desserts — little cheesecakes in mini martini glasses and Viennese cannoli."
Patrick and Tiffany remain good friends with each other and the couple. He was a groomsman and she a bridesmaid. "I gave her my bouquet, to thank her for bringing us together," Dana said.
This was a surprise
Dana's family is from Abruzzi, and the couple followed the tradition of serving Italian cookies made by the bride's mother. They asked the DJ to play some traditional Italian music for ambience when they passed out pizzelles. Their guests, of all ethnic backgrounds, began dancing the tarantella.
Riding to the church, Dana turned around and saw a line of wedding guests in their cars, following the horse-drawn carriage. "I knew Andrew was in the church waiting for me at that point, and it just hit me, 'This is my wedding day,'?" she said.
Andrew had that same feeling a little later. "When Dana walked down the aisle, and when she stood next to me, and all eyes were on us … that was the moment it sunk in — we're getting married," he said.
A bargain: The flowers were a gift from Andrew's mother, Kathy. The florist, a relative of Andrew's sister-in-law, gave her a special price.
The splurge: The horse and carriage.
Eight days in St. Lucia.
Msgr. Thomas Morgan, at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church, Cherry Hill
Ceremony, St. Thomas More; Reception, Laurel Creek Country Club, Mount Laurel, N.J.
Laurel Creek Country Club
Sam Catrambone of Center Stage Entertainment, Lindenwold, N.J.
Douglas Trace of Douglas Photographics L.L.C., Woodbury, N.J.
Sterling's, New Hope
Sue Parker, Grove Floral Shop, Westville, N.J.
Sealed With a Kiss, Haddonfield, N.J.
Horse and Buggy