Michele Pascuzzi and Brian Nowicki were adamant about not dating. Both had been married before — Ms. Pascuzzi was married twice and Mr. Nowicki once. Ms. Pascuzzi had a son; and Mr. Nowicki had a son with his first wife and two stepchildren. When their mutual friends offered to introduce them, each refused.
“I was never going to marry again — I was done,” said Ms. Pascuzzi, 55, an office manager for Honda of Westport, an automotive car dealership in Westport, Conn. “When my friend showed me Brian’s photo, he looked like Ed Begley Jr. from ‘St. Elsewhere.’ I told her this wasn’t happening.”
Divorced since 2006, Mr. Nowicki uttered similar sentiments about staying single. That didn’t stop their friends from introducing them. In April 2015, at the East Coast Swamp Flyers field in Northford, Conn., Ms. Pascuzzi and Mr. Nowicki met for the first time, unexpectedly.
“Our friends tricked us,” said Mr. Nowicki, 53, a freelance electrical engineer. “I though I was only having lunch with them. Then I saw Michele get out of the car. I was blindsided.”
The foursome ate at a picnic table. Ms. Pascuzzi watched Mr. Nowicki fly the remote control airplane he had made.
They saw each other two weeks later at the American Cancer Relay for Life, a 24-hour cancer fund-raiser that Ms. Pascuzzi helped spearhead. They walked the riverfront in Shelton, Conn., and built a fire. Mr. Nowicki taught her how to fly a plane. They talked all night.
A camping trip happened two weeks later. And again in June, where Mr. Nowicki serenaded her to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
“I impressed her more than I realized,” he said. “She was attentive and interested in what I had to say. She liked my plane models. You don’t find many women who like that.”
The summer was spent camping, talking and connecting.
“We talked about what other people did to hurt us and why neither of us wanted to be in a relationship,” Ms. Pascuzzi said. “We bonded over that, and the personal stories we shared. Brian was nice and kind and interesting.”
Mr. Nowicki thought Ms. Pascuzzi was, too. “She was easy to talk to, and likable. She made me feel comfortable,” he said.
The friendship slowly eased into a relationship, and in September both realized they were OK with that.
Over the next four years they celebrated holidays together and met each other’s families. Mr. Nowicki had a cardiac ablation operation, he also moved in with Ms. Pascuzzi.
On Oct. 19, 2019, Ms. Pascuzzi surprised herself, and Mr. Nowicki, by proposing. “I couldn’t believe I was doing this, that I wanted to get married,” said Ms. Pascuzzi, who had purchased their rings on Amazon. “I had them for three weeks before asking because I didn’t know what to say. I loved this man. I wanted him to stay in my life. I thought he would say no.”
Mr. Nowicki immediately said yes. “I liked that she asked,” he said. “It would have taken me another year to do that.”
On Nov. 27, the couple were married before 29 friends and family at Vazzy’s, an Italian restaurant in Bridgeport, Conn. Santa Claus (yes, that’s his legal name and yes, he is very busy this time of year), who was ordained by the Universal Life Church, officiated.
Ms. Pascuzzi found Mr. Claus on Facebook 15 years ago in an effort to connect with extended family members. “Santa went by Frank Pascuzzi back then. Our last name is so specific, there are very few of us,” Ms. Pascuzzi said. “We’ve become very close.”
Ms. Pascuzzi made the arch and table arrangements with silk flowers. A friend made the cake. Miniature wooden hearts were tossed like confetti on the table.
“She’s the perfect person for me,” Mr. Nowicki said. “I don’t have to change who I am to make her happy. She’s this loving person who I want to be with for the rest of my life with.”
Ms. Pascuzzi echoed his sentiments. “Brian makes me feel safer than anyone else, he’s my home,” she said. “I never had that before. I don’t have to find a way of loving him, he’s just lovable.”