On Jan. 2, they took the plunge together, before an intimate audience of family and friends in Lowell, Mass.
Their story begins in the summer of 2005, and it involves sausage from the start. The sausage link on David's dinner plate, that is.
One night that summer, Gretchen's friend L.J. invited her to a party at another friend's house in Fall River, Mass. Gretchen was mildly interested in going, but Fall River is 45 minutes from her job in Worcester — a job that she can get paged back to at any time, day or night. She worked at a funeral home, and when she got the call, she had to pick up the new "customers" right away.
L.J. twisted her arm with the promises of great food, including a clam boil, and of a cute Army guy just out of boot camp being there. Gretchen decided to chance it.
(A couple in the audience, so enamored by the beauty of the scene, starts nibbling on each other.)
The "Army guy just out of boot camp" was David — who at this point would like to clarify that he serves in the Massachusetts National Guard, and had just finished phase one of Advanced Infantry Training. He was at the party just to hang out with old friends, and among the appetizers on his plate, he had picked out a few sausage links.
Then, from out of nowhere, this girl comes over and starts demanding that he give her one of his links. David obliged, and a conversation began.
The sausage-crazed girl was Gretchen — who at this point asserts that she did not demand anything. The clam boil had been delicious, and she was merely wondering if "Army guy" recommended the Portuguese links. She agrees that this is where the conversation began.
During that conversation, though, Gretchen got paged — a new client had rang. David walked her to her car, and they parted with plans for a first date.
That led to the second date, dinner at Thai Cha Da in Worcester. David started telling stories about swimming with his buddies in local lakes. Gretchen told him there was a lake near her house that was pretty deep.
Barefoot in the dark, the two discovered that this lake was home to a gander of geese. They stepped on lump after squishy lump of poop to get to the shore. Then they found out that it was more of a gigantic spill than a lake.
"It was so anti-climactic," Gretchen lamented.
"It was like swamp water," David added.
But in the knee-deep muck that was supposed to be a romantic adventure, the two started to see things they were looking for in each other.
"You gotta scout this out a little bit," David recalled telling his date — and Gretchen was attracted to his appreciation of forethought.
But David knew that if she had, they would never have experienced that unique moment.
"He liked my impulsiveness," Gretchen said.
(David's best man, Josh, is engaged to LJ, Gretchen's maid of honor.)
And with time, they forged a unique bond.
"We realized that our strengths and weaknesses complimented each other," she said.