When a First Date Becomes a Family Reunion

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Matthew Hayes was immediately attracted to Anne Muscarella when they first matched on the dating app Bumble in February 2018. “She had a big smile in all of her photos,” he said. “I could feel her warmth. I had a feeling that she would be a fun and real person.”

Ms. Muscarella was living in Sunnyvale, Calif., at the time. Mr. Hayes was in San Francisco. The two exchanged messages for weeks, bonding over their mutual love of skiing and travel.

They finally found one evening when they would both be in the San Francisco Bay Area. They set up a date for Friday, March 2, 2018.

Ms. Muscarella, 33, warned Mr. Hayes, 36, that she would only have time for one drink. She said she was planning to attend a concert by the band Rockridge Station; her uncle, Tom Muscarella, was a lead singer and saxophone player.

“I said this as an exit strategy,” she said, in case the date didn’t work out.

One drink turned into three and Ms. Muscarella texted her cousins, who were already at the concert, asking if she should bring this guy she’d met on Bumble. “Good thing they said yes,” she said.

Mr. Hayes is a senior scientific manager, head of safety assessment, data, and system operations for Genentech in South San Francisco and a graduate of the University of California, Davis. He bravely joined Ms. Muscarella at the concert. Just hours after meeting her for the first time, he met her aunts, uncles and cousins. He made a great impression on everyone.

“He was so comfortable — talking to everyone, not glued or clinging to my side, just very natural,” Ms. Muscarella said. “At one point my aunt asked me, ‘Where’s your date?’ We looked over and he was talking to my uncle and cousin. She was like, ‘Go get him.’”

After that evening, Mr. Hayes went on a two-week business trip. When he returned, they went to Lake Tahoe, Calif., the first of many ski adventures together.

In the spring of 2019, Mr. Hayes was selected for Genentech’s road scholar program and offered an opportunity to work at the headquarters of Roche in Basel, Switzerland. Around the same time, Ms. Muscarella, who graduated from Boston College, took a job as the chief of staff of Braintrust, a San Francisco-based start-up company that connects enterprises with technical talent. Because her company was remote, she was able to travel with Mr. Hayes. They spent the entire summer traveling through Europe.

“Those three months really solidified that we were meant to be,” Mr. Hayes said.

The couple were engaged the day before Thanksgiving in 2019. They were about to go hiking at the Muir Beach trailhead, northwest of San Francisco, when Mr. Hayes said, “Let’s go down and look at the water before we start our hike.” That was where he got down on one knee and proposed. “I was genuinely shocked,” she said. “Of course I exclaimed yes.”

The couple were married on June 19, 2021 at the Killington Peak Lodge in Killington, Vt. Each of the 110 guests was required to have had the Covid-19 vaccination.

The date and location of the wedding were significant, as the bride’s parents were married June 19 at Killington Mountain 39 years ago.

The bride’s father, Leni Muscarella, died in 2009. “He was a former sports reporter and editor, a small-business owner, a pillar of the community, and my role model,” Ms. Muscarella said. “His death left a gaping hole in my family that will never be filled.”

Ms. Muscarella’s mother, Sally Calcagni, walked her down the aisle. A chair was left open for her father in the front row at the ceremony. Her father’s brother, Tom Muscarella, got a special online authorization from the State of Vermont to officiate at the wedding. Ms. Muscarella did her father-daughter dance with all four of her uncles. In lieu of favors, they made a donation to the American Heart Association.

“That’s what my dad would have wanted,” Ms. Muscarella said. “He was there with us — I am sure of it.”

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