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Couple meet on Facebook, cook up a romance

Anna Leo and Jason Holder got engaged at Holder’s birthday party and married on New Year’s Eve.

Gillman Photography

Anna Leo and Jason Holder got engaged at Holder’s birthday party and married on New Year’s Eve.

While Anna Leo was in the middle of getting her teeth scraped, scrubbed and polished, her hygienist whipped out her phone and pulled up Facebook.

"Do you like bodybuilders?" Jessica, the hygienist, asked.

"Uh, I don't know …" Anna said.

Jessica showed Anna a shot of a dude with Hulk-like arms.

A few hours later, Jason Holder sent Anna a friend request.

"This was (Jessica's) twisted way of getting (Jason) out of the house because he was living with her and her husband," Anna says, laughing.

Anna and Jason met two weeks later at a birthday party for Jessica's cousin. Anna learned that he had moved from Titusville three years earlier so he could be closer to his bodybuilding team. Anna, who does compliance and collections for Frank Crum Staffing, had grown up in Clearwater. Her family had owned a now-shuttered Italian restaurant called Fiore's. She was from a long line of Italian cooks and could serve up a mean lasagna.

Anna had planned a trip to England and Wales and left a few weeks into dating Jason.

He realized how much he missed her.

Then she traveled to California.

It was then that he realized he loved her.

In March 2012, when she went to Italy for two weeks, he realized he couldn't live without her — or her food.

"When she went to Italy, I was already so dependent on her cooking," Jason, a personal trainer and security guard at Walmart, says. "I had to go to her parents' house for good food. I burnt some frozen pizza!"

Jason began penning a little speech on the notepad in his iPhone. He rehearsed it any chance he had.

In a remarkable coincidence, Jason planned to propose the same day that Anna was planning to throw him a surprise 28th birthday party.

He slipped a package in among the mound of others. When it came to opening time, Jason made sure he saved that one for last. He pretended it was a housewarming present from his sister, so he and Anna could "open it together." Inside were five boxes going from big to small. The littlest one contained her grandmother's engagement ring.

Cue the speech: "This ring is a promise that as your husband I will do my best to love, protect and cherish every moment with you for the rest of my life. I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?"

Anna, flabbergasted that this was actually happening, said yes.

"My surprise was bigger than yours …" Jason teased before planting a big kiss.

"For my birthday, I got a drill, a shotgun and a wife," Jason said later. "My life is complete."

Anna, 25, and Jason, 28, married at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater on Dec. 31, 2012 — New Year's Eve. They had a live feed of the ball drop in New York City, and at midnight, balloons fell from the ceiling.

"I couldn't think of a better way to end a year and start a new one," Anna said.

Sabrina Rocco can be reached at srocco@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8862.

Couple meet on Facebook, cook up a romance

03/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 11:13am]

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