They had so many friends in common that, even now, Melanie and Phillip Dooley can hardly believe their own paths had not crossed before.
Melanie, 42, manages the Central House at All Children's Hospital for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay. Years ago, she helped her mother, Midge Trubey Decker, in Personal Touch Catering & Florist, and at Mansion by the Bay in downtown St. Petersburg, which Decker owned before she sold it and retired.
Phillip, 49, is a senior accountant for Business Law Group in Tampa. He moved from Atlanta to St. Petersburg in 1990 to be closer to some Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers he had befriended while attending Mercer University.
Melanie Trubey and her friend, Tracey Keim, were having dinner at Harvey's 4th Street Grill one night five years ago. Phillip stopped by their table to say hi to Tracey, who introduced him to Melanie.
"We just started talking," Melanie said. "We had so many things in common, so many friends. He was so easy to talk to. And the more we found out about each other and that we had similar friends, we were dumbfounded how we never knew each other."
Phillip asked for her number, and the next week, they had their first date, attending a comedy performance by New Kids in the Hall at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.
"We just really clicked," Phillip said. "We've been together ever since. She's very attractive. When I started to get to know her, I fell in love pretty quickly. We make each other laugh."
Both had been married before. When Phillip introduced Melanie to his daughter Morgan, now 20, she seemed familiar.
Back when Morgan was a student at Shorecrest Preparatory School, Personal Touch sometimes catered meals there, and Melanie helped out. As a kindergartener, she remembers, Morgan "always wanted extra ketchup."
"You're the lunch lady!" Morgan said after they were reacquainted.
"We have so many of the same friends," Phillip said, a broad group who "embraced the relationship," Melanie said. "Everybody was just so happy."
Last March, they took a vacation in the Florida Keys. Phillip proposed on the Seven Mile Bridge.
His parents, Dr. William Donald and Virginia Jo Dooley, are deceased. Midge and Ray Decker and Melanie's father, Dennis Trubey, attended the wedding, which took place between Christmas and New Year's in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
Tracey Keim is a notary public and seemed to be an ideal candidate to officiate. Other longtime friends helped: Rob Carlson did the flowers and decorations, Mike Keeney styled her hair, and deejay Rob Morey presented the music.
Phillip says he and Melanie ride bikes, go to the beach a lot and just ran their first 5-kilometer race together. He plays golf, and both like to cook. "Sometimes I get kicked out of the kitchen," Phillip said. "Sometimes she gets kicked out of the kitchen. She has a great sense of humor."
"We both can be ourselves," Melanie said. "We both feel so lucky."