Pat Miles and Dena Sicola went to different high schools, but Pat certainly noticed Dena. She was the head cheerleader at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School and a full year older than Pat, who went to Hollidaysburg Area High School.
"I knew her, but she never knew me," said Pat, who never dreamed he would marry the girl he admired from afar.
More than a decade after high school graduation however, Pat, 29, and Dena, 31, found themselves at the altar.
Photo courtesy of Ray Kauffman Photography
They became friends a few years after high school. Though there was a mutual attraction, they didn't start dating until 2010 when they both were single. Then, they were inseparable. They had the same goals, likes and dislikes and they couldn't get enough of being together. (Dena is a physician's assistant and Pat is vice president in the commercial lending department at S & T Bank in Altoona.)
"He was the most awesome guy, and he had all the qualities I wanted," Dena said. "When we had the opportunity to be together, it was just a given. It was so natural. I think I knew from the start that he and I were meant to be together."
Pat's brother, Randy Miles (who was also his best man) said they were a great match from the start.
"I think she centers him. She really helps give him direction. They share a lot of the same values and views on everything," Randy said.
Sarah Richard, Dena's best friend, said she suspected they would one day become a couple.
"We knew it was a long time coming," she said.
On July 16, 2011, while on vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., Pat dropped to one knee and proposed. Around sunset, Pat walked with Dena out to the beach, bottle of wine in hand.
"I told her I wanted to show her this special spot on the beach," Pat said. "I definitely wasn't nervous. I knew it was something she did want. I finally felt like this was the person I would be with for the rest of my life."
Dena insists she was completely surprised, though she knew she wanted to marry Pat from the moment they started dating.
"I couldn't have been more surprised or happy," Dena said.
The day after the proposal, the couple began planning the wedding, and reserved Oct. 20, 2012, as their wedding date.
"We just thought a fall wedding sounded good," Pat said.
Dena's family church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Altoona, was chosen for the ceremony and Scotch Valley Country Club for the reception.
"He and I decided on Scotch Valley for the venue based on how beautiful it was, as well as the size of the ballroom. It was also chosen based upon the beautiful scenery given the time of year and the fall foliage," Dena said.
Dena and Pat opted for a traditional Catholic mass, with a lot of involvement from family and friends. Pat's sister, Jessica Connell, sang "Ave Maria" during the ceremony, and other family members read Bible passages, passed out programs, helped with the guest book or took the gifts to the altar.
As for the reception, Dena and Pat opted for a back-to-basics celebration. Bucking the recent trends of candy bars, photo booths and sweetheart tables, Dena and Pat planned a more traditional wedding, which in a way, made the affair much different from modern weddings. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin dominated the reception play list, the bridal party sat at a head table and the couple had a traditional wedding cake.
"If everyone else was doing it at the time, then I didn't want to do it," said Dena. "I just wanted a traditional, classic wedding."
Unlike recent trends of short, simple dresses, Dena's six bridesmaids wore long, burgundy gowns, accented by the champagne-hued dresses worn by the flower girls. Though the wedding wasn't entirely autumn-themed, Dena and Pat chose fall tones, especially burgundy and champagne.
"I saw those two colors in a bridal magazine, and I thought they looked great," Dena said.
The flowers were a mix of ivory, taupe and burgundy roses, hydrangeas and ranunculus. The centerpieces were also a mix of the same colors and flowers, and Pat and Dena chose not to provide wedding favors.
"Everything was perfect," said Richard, who served as Dena's maid of honor.
Dena wore a strapless satin ivory gown with a sweetheart neckline, as well as a train with fabric buttons lining the zipper.
"It was the first dress I tried on," she said.
Though Dena said she couldn't think of any "special touches" for the wedding, she said it was the perfectly simple wedding she and Pat had imagined.
"Everything went really well. It was worth all the planning. It really was a perfect day for both of us," Dena said.