The Photograph That Started a Romance

When a mutual friend sent a picture of Danielle Dorsi to Najee Fortè, it left Mr. Fortè speechless.

“She was drop-dead gorgeous, and I just kind of froze. I was like, ‘Oh man, I have to meet her,’” said Mr. Fortè, 30, recalling the night in August 2012 when he received the photo on his cellphone. The friend who sent it had been speaking with Ms. Dorsi at a bar in White Plains, N.Y., and felt that she and Mr. Fortè would be perfect for each other.

Mr. Fortè headed to the bar, which was just one town away from his home in Greenburgh, N.Y. But Ms. Dorsi, 31, was already driving back to her home in Middletown, N.J.

So Mr. Fortè did the next best thing. “I got her number and sent her a text asking if she would consider coming back to White Plains to meet me,” he said.

Ms. Dorsi returned to the White Plains bar on Sept. 15, 2012, which just happened to be Mr. Fortè’s 21st birthday.

“She bought me my first legal drink, a Long Island iced tea,” he said, laughing. “We hit it off instantly.”

Ms. Dorsi, then 22, was smitten with Mr. Fortè. “I thought he was such a handsome, kind and gentle person,” she said. “He was also quiet, like me, and we bonded over the fact that we were both Virgos.”

They spent every weekend together for the next three years.

“We had so much fun on what I look back on as our weekend adventures,” Mr. Fortè said. “I knew she was the one for me.”

By 2018, the couple “began to go through some growing pains,” as Ms. Dorsi put it, though neither had lost their love for one another, or their sense of adventure.

That January, they decided to move to Atlanta for what Mr. Fortè said was “a search for better jobs and a change of scenery, and to be together every day; not just on weekends.” The two rented an apartment in the Buckhead district.

The experience reinvigorated them, but Ms. Dorsi and Mr. Fortè lasted just one year in Atlanta, as both missed home. After they each returned to live with their families for several months, they moved into their own home together in Middletown, N.J.

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Ms. Dorsi, who received a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Seton Hall University, found a job as an occupational therapist with the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey, based in Holmdel, N.J. Mr. Fortè enrolled at Missouri Baptist University, where he is studying for an online bachelor’s degree in sports management.

“We have shared so many passions,” Ms. Dorsi said — including fitness and food, gambling and travel, and a 9-year-old Chihuahua named Maci that they adopted together.

They were engaged Jan. 11 at their housewarming party in Middletown. The close family and friends who surrounded them were beyond entertained when Mr. Fortè took more than five minutes to get the ring out of his back pocket.

“The ring was in a huge box, and it got stuck because Najee was wearing very tight pants,” said Ms. Dorsi.

Eventually, Mr. Fortè was able to free the ring box, then dropped to one knee, “old school,” as he put it, to propose.

“I knew it was coming,” Ms. Dorsi said. “But when it actually happened, I was quite overwhelmed.”

They were married Oct. 9 at the Addison Park, a wedding venue in Keyport, N.J.

Richard Dorsi, an uncle of the bride who became a Universal Life minister for the event, led a ceremony that included the bride’s parents, Donna Dorsi and Gary Dorsi of Matawan, N.J., who own a Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices shop there, and another in nearby Hazlet, N.J. Also in attendance were the groom’s Rockville, Md.-based parents, Gloria Ann Fortè and Thomas Hester, a retired chef.

The couple has “grown up together in so many ways,” the bride said. “It’s comforting to know that we are always supporting one another moving forward in life.”