From where Tara Blackman sat — on a beach chair in the glow of a warm sun — the mere sight of Jake Musiker created visions of sand castles in her mind.
“He was this adorable, curly-haired blond guy sitting next to his friends, and his girlfriend,” said Ms. Blackman, 29, recalling the moment in July 2011 at Westhampton Beach, N.Y., where she first laid squinted eyes on him. “He was cracking jokes and making everyone around him laugh.”
Her chair parked a heartbeat away from Mr. Musiker and his entourage, Ms. Blackman pretended to be reading as she listened in on their conversation.
“I was actually giggling like a schoolgirl,” she said. “But then I noticed that his girlfriend wasn’t laughing. She was kind of ignoring him, and I thought, ‘She doesn’t appreciate him.’”
Smitten by what she called Mr. Musiker’s “charisma and good looks,” Ms. Blackman was soon introduced to him, albeit briefly, by Ben Weindorf, a mutual friend who went to Roslyn High School on Long Island with Mr. Musiker and to Binghamton University with Ms. Blackman. Mr. Weindorf had invited Ms. Blackman to the beach outing.
“Let me know when that guy is single,” Ms. Blackman said to Mr. Weindorf as their shadows grew longer in the sand. “I want to date him.”
A year and a half later, Mr. Weindorf sent a news flash to his college buddy: “By the way, that guy Jake you wanted to meet,” he wrote in a text, “he’s single now.”
Ms. Blackman was stunned. “I could not believe that after all that time, Ben remembered to tell me,” she said. “When I told him that I wanted to date Jake, I said it in a casual way. I didn’t follow up or harass him about Jake’s situation, yet he still remembered.”
That same night, Ms. Blackman, now a senior account executive in Manhattan at LiveRamp, a San Francisco-based advertising technology company, sent Mr. Musiker a Facebook message that read: “Hey there, what’s good? Ben said some good stuff about ya, and from what I remember, you’re the blond with decent banter and humor from the Hamptons. Perhaps we can grab a drink sometime?”
But Mr. Musiker did not reply, nor did he reply the next day, or the next.
“Tara wasn’t thrilled about Jake not calling, but she’s always been a very confident girl and basically said, ‘Well, if it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out, it’s time to move on,’” Mr. Weindorf said.
As it turned out, Mr. Musiker never bothered to check Facebook messages, as was his policy. “My issue with Facebook messages in those days was that most of them consisted of washed-up acquaintances from high school inviting me to some kind of nightclub,” said Mr. Musiker, also 29, who graduated from Colgate and is a media planning professional at Fearless Media, an advertising agency in Manhattan.
By the time he got around to checking his messages, it was June 2014. Another year and a half had slipped away — and so, it seemed, had his chances with Ms. Blackman.
“I had tons of unread junk mail, but when I came across Tara’s message,” he said, laughing as he spoke, “it was like finding a virtual note in a bottle that had traveled across the cyberseas and washed up on the shores of my inbox.”
He quickly responded, but to Mr. Weindorf, not Ms. Blackman. “Ben, the next time you see Tara, tell her I’m really sorry, I swear I didn’t see her message,” he wrote in an email. “Give her my number and we’ll see what happens.”
Though Ms. Blackman was more than a bit wary, she was still interested. “I spent the next week or two writing messages to him and then deleting them,” she said. “Finally I was like, ‘Whatever, I’m just going to do this.’”
She reached out again, this time with better results, arranging a first date with him at a bar in Manhattan, where they were both living at the time.
“He was the same hilarious guy from the beach that I had remembered,” Ms. Blackman said. “He was also very kind and very smart, and he was still extremely handsome.”
“I just had a really good feeling about him,” she said. “Before going on that first date, I told a friend, ‘I’m going out with my future husband tonight.’”
That friend was Rachel Klein, who knew Ms. Blackman from their days growing up in Wayne, N.J., where they attended youth groups together.
“Somehow, from the very beginning, Tara just knew that Jake was the one,” Ms. Klein said. “She was always a very happy person, but when she met Jake, who is fun-loving and sweet, her happiness rose to a new level, and so did his.”
But there were hurdles to clear, especially in the early minutes of their first date, when their conversation nearly drowned in a pool of awkwardness.
While chatting, Ms. Blackman noticed that a bottle of water in the bag she was carrying “had accidentally exploded,” as she put it. In a moment of sheer panic, she poured the bag’s entire contents onto the table, including her laptop, “which I thought was fried,” she said. (It was not.)
Mr. Musiker, a bit startled, took it all in stride, using the same sense of humor that hooked Ms. Blackman three years earlier to ease the situation. “‘I noticed a hit list fell out of your bag,’” he told her. “‘I didn’t think you were that kind of girl.’”
He made a few more silly jokes, including one about her water breaking on their first date, and she was soon laughing, the awkwardness gone in a single guffaw.
Their conversation took a more serious turn when Ms. Blackman mentioned her mother, Claire Blackman, who died in September 2013, around the same time that Mr. Musiker’s parents — Elizabeth Hartman and Robert Musiker, both of Manhattan — got divorced.
“I remember talking to him about my mom and getting choked up,” Ms. Blackman said. “It was a pretty vulnerable time for both of us, and even though it was just our first date, neither of us were afraid to show the other our true feelings. We were very comfortable around each other.”
They made plans to go out a week later, on a Sunday at 6 p.m., but two hours before their date was to begin, she had not yet heard from him.
Refusing to accept his silence, Ms. Blackman reached out to him, and he told her that there had been a death in his family, and that he had spent his entire day at the funeral. “‘I’m sorry,’” he said to her, “‘but it’s not going to work out tonight.’”
Ms. Blackman, who didn’t believe him, immediately called an aunt to vent her frustration. “I said to her, ‘Oh my God, I just got stood up and lied to,’” she said.
This time around, however, Ms. Blackman did not have to wait a year and a half to hear back from Mr. Musiker. He called an hour and a half later to apologize again, and to invite her out on a next date, which became dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in Manhattan.
“I felt much better after that phone call,” Ms. Blackman said.
Another hurdle cleared, they began dating steadily, each learning to cope with and appreciate the other’s personality traits, habits and quirks — “We want to inspire each other to be better people,” Ms. Blackman said — while bonding over shared family values, ambitions, as well as a love of travel, theater, comedy clubs and long walks around New York City.
“Tara is incredibly confident and organized, and let’s just say that Jake isn’t. He’s a little on the laid back, sloppy side,” said Mr. Musiker’s mother, Elizabeth Hartman. “But Tara motivates him to take things to the next level. She believes in him and likes his kind of mushpie teddy-bear-ness.”
Mr. Musiker put it a bit more succinctly: “Tara is more Anna Wintour. I’m more Cheech and Chong.”
In December 2014, they reached a significant milestone, each telling the other, “I love you,” for the first time. A year later, another milestone, as they moved into an apartment they bought together in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn.
“Our road together has just been a real nice, steady, natural progression, and along the way, she’s laughed at about 51 percent of my jokes,” Mr. Musiker said. “I’ve come to find out that Tara is the most confident, goal-oriented person I have ever met in my entire life, and that she has a heart the size of the entire universe.
“All of this, combined with the fact that she’s pretty hot,” he added, “gives her a radiance I have never seen in any other woman I have dated.”
That steady road led them to the Palm House, an event space on the leafy grounds of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where Ms. Blackman and Mr. Musiker were married on Dec. 2.
“The fact that we are celebrating Tara and Jake’s wedding is a mini and modern miracle,” said Rabbi David Levy, who went on to tell the couple’s story. “This could have been a missed connection for the two of you, but you are meant to be. The universe has plans far too big for you to let a few years and a missed Facebook message get in the way.”
During the ceremony, the bride, her outstretched hands interlocked with the groom’s, turned to her father, Clifford Blackman, and said, through a flood of tears: “I can feel Mom, she’s here with me right now.”
A few moments later, the groom took his left hand and held it out momentarily for both of his parents to clasp, a way of getting them back together, if only for a symbolic moment.
“Tara and Jake are the most loving and good and innately kind people you will ever meet,” said the elder Mr. Musiker. “They are really kindred spirits, a perfect match who are truly meant for each other.”
Later at the cocktail hour, Ms. Blackman’s father, standing beside her stepmother, Beth Blackman, smiled as his eyes followed his daughter and her husband through a maze of tuxedoed servers carrying Champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
“Though I’m sad that Tara’s mother is not here to see this, it is still the happiest day of my life,” said Mr. Blackman, as the newlyweds pranced around the room, hugging and kissing many of their 230 guests.
“When Tara sees Jake, she just lights up, the same way she did when she first saw him that day on the beach,” he said. “This is what Tara always wanted, and Tara is the kind of girl who gets what she wants. Just ask Jake.”