SPRING HILL — Daniel Plummer walked slowly out to his mark on the stage carrying a newspaper and briefcase. As Christina Perry's 1000 Years began to play, Kathryn Rieker — barefoot with arms in dance position— appeared on the opposite side of the stage.
Daniel's large frame struggled through turns but succeeded as he lifted Kathryn, spinning her lightly before she would touch the ground again and leap into a graceful pose.
At the end, he retrieved a box from stage right and returned.
In rehearsal, he'd always brought back a bouquet of flowers. On the night of the show, he knelt and opened a ring box in front of Kathryn.
The crowd roared — unable to hear the words he'd prepared from his heart.
"You are my beautiful princess, Mary Kathryn Rieker, and I want nothing more than to be your Prince Charming now and forever. Will you marry me and be my happily ever after?"
Kathryn cried and pulled herself closer to him, setting off another wave of roars from the crowd.
"He's always been such a sap," said Kathryn, 24, from Brooksville and a dance instructor at Diana's Dance Express. "When we first started dating, I kept asking him where this book was that he was reading from because everything he said was perfectly worded, not the typical things you hear when you're talking to a guy on the phone."
Like many 21st century relationships, Kathryn and Daniel's began on the Internet. In 2008, they took the same online course at the University of South Florida and decided to link up. Kathryn was nervous, so she had Daniel meet her in a public place with her family present. When he was deemed not a serial killer, they went to see What Happens in Vegas on a double date.
Neither assumed seeing a movie about a marriage on their first date was any sort of foreshadowing.
But as time went on, the relationship grew. Daniel lived in Temple Terrace and got to see Kathryn often when she would commute from Hernando County to take classes. To squeeze in some extra quality time, Daniel would even sit in on a few large lectures.
"He would participate more than people who were enrolled," Kathryn said with a laugh.
People at Kathryn's dance studio found Daniel's attentiveness endearing. He helped out at the annual showcases with setup and technical work, but he'd never before taken the stage.
"I'm a football player. I don't dance," said the 25-year-old Rent-A-Center manager.
But in 2012, something had changed.
Daniel conspired with the studio owner to turn the end of his first on-stage performance with Kathryn into a proposal. Lots of people were kept in the dark — including Kathryn's mother, Mary Rieker.
"She was right there in the front row," Kathryn recalled.
When Daniel dropped to one knee, she joined her daughter in tears.
After Kathryn accepted the proposal, the hard work began of putting together a wedding for 100 guests. The couple chose the First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill for the wedding and reception and kept most everything relatively simple.
For Kathryn and Daniel, the dance is more important than the bows.
Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3373.