Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported Erin Richter's title. She is a senior manager at the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, not the executive director. This version has been corrected.
Erin Richter noticed Dan Weber right away on Match.com. He was an attractive, Midwestern guy who enjoyed travel and seemed to have a good sense of humor.
There was, however, one catch: He was from Michigan. She was from Ohio.
She decided to play the state rivalry to her advantage: “I like everything about your profile, except for the fact that you’re from Michigan,” she messaged him in September 2009.
“He was somebody who, if I met him, we would have things to talk about. Whether or not there was an attraction, we would probably still be friends,” remembers Erin, a senior manager of the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, a D.C.-based nonprofit group that works to simplify health-care administration.
Her witty comment immediately caught his attention. The communications director for Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) quickly wrote back: “I am willing to overlook that fact, if you are.”
After exchanging online messages for two weeks, the pair decided to meet up for drinks at Hawk & Dove in Capitol Hill. Casual drinks turned into about two hours of chatting. They discovered they had a lot in common, including parents who lived abroad and similar progressive values.
“I felt comfortable and at ease in the conversation,” Dan recalls. “Nothing felt forced.”
Erin was also pretty confident the date was going well when she stepped away to the bathroom for a moment. When she returned, however, Dan was putting on his coat.
He had made the mistake of checking his BlackBerry while she stepped away, only to learn he had to leave immediately to address a work emergency.
“I obviously knew that he worked for the congresswoman,” Erin says. “But you never know if you don’t know someone if it’s really that urgent . . . or if he was just using it as an escape route while I was in the bathroom.”
As it turned out, Dan wasn’t lying and felt terrible about cutting the date short. “We had a great conversation. . . . I think we could have kept on talking for a while,” he says.
Erin remained positive the next day. “I remember telling my co-worker that I thought it went really well, but of course I didn’t know because he left,” she says. “But I knew I wanted to see him again, and I felt pretty confident that I would.”
His text at 10 a.m. confirmed what she was feeling. The message included an apology and a promise to make it up to her.
After a couple of dates, Dan confided in Erin that he had received in fall 2007 a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system that tends to strike young adults, and that he had been in remission for two years.
“It’s hard because you’re looking at this person, and he’s obviously very healthy and not sick,” Erin says. “In the moment, you don’t appreciate what a big deal it is in their life.”
Although shocked by the news, she made it very clear that whatever happened, she was there for him. “I went through treatment, and every couple months I had to get tests done and go in for checkups. It caused a lot of stress . . . the what-ifs,” Dan says.
She would send him texts of encouragement that let him know that he was on her mind and that it was important for her to hear how he was doing. “To know that someone was there [for me] regardless of the news that I got helped me get through it, especially in the later stages of those tests,” he added.
For the next six months, they saw each other regularly but kept things casual. “We became friends first more than anything, which is sometimes frustrating but in the end was really good for us,” Erin says. “I am really glad we took the time to get to know each other.”
They grew closer, both realizing how easy it was to discuss anything and everything, from families and careers to challenges and frustrations. By March (after Dan texted her often during a guy’s trip to Las Vegas with his college buddies), they agreed to be exclusive and were soon spending much of their free time together.
Their personalities complement each other. “I like her determination. She’s a very caring person and is always doing things for others. . . . She has a great, positive disposition,” Dan says.
“Dan is smart, funny and very thoughtful,” Erin remarked. “He does little things, like he’ll send flowers when I’m not expecting it.”
In June 2012, she moved into his Columbia Heights condominium and, after five months of living together, they decided to add a deck. It was the first place that was really theirs, she said.
Dan proposed April 19, 2013, one month after his five-year remission mark.
“For my own peace of mind, it was important for me to reach that milestone and close that chapter of my life before opening a new one with her,” he says.
When Dan mentioned he wanted to plan a date night a week in advance, Erin, the planner of the two, was suspicious.
On the morning of the proposal, a beautiful floral bouquet arrived in her office with a note: “I hope these beautiful flowers help mark a beautiful day.”
Feeling anxious and excited, she ran home early to prepare for the big night. When she stepped into a Metro car, she was surprised to see Dan, who had also managed to sneak out early.
The two were stunned to see each other because they work at different stops (she typically uses the Archives stop, and he works near the Capitol South station). Dan, quickly pulling himself together, asked if Erin could pick up a sponge they needed for the kitchen at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Like, right now. Erin took the hint.
While at the register, she received a one-word text from him: “Ok.”
She hurried home and found him on their deck with a jewelry store bag and a bottle of champagne. After he tricked her into opening an empty ring box, she turned to find him on one knee with a real jewelry box in hand. Then he surprised her with dinner at Floriana Restaurant in Dupont Circle.
Erin Richter, 35, and Daniel Weber, 34, exchanged vows Dec. 28 in front of 140 guests at the Tidewater Inn in Easton, Md. Dan’s aunt and uncle officiated the wedding. After the festivities, the couple traveled to Hawaii, where they spent two weeks island hopping.
“He’s my best friend. Anything we do together is better than when we are apart,” Erin said after the wedding. “He’s my rock.”