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If Detroit-native David Johnson had never transferred from Canisius College to Daemen College, he would not have met his new wife, Bridgette Burke. Fate was on their side in January 2009. He was on Daemen’s men’s basketball team, and she was on the women’s team.

The two paid homage to the way they met at their wedding reception, where they had a monogrammed basketball that guests could sign instead of the traditional guest book.

Johnson and Burke were married July 12 at St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church in Buffalo, almost five years after they started dating.

Even though the couple had their first date at Outback Steakhouse in February 2009, they “did their own thing” in the following months, Burke said. They would hang out but he was back in Detroit for some time.

Then, in August 2009, Johnson returned to Western New York, and the two have been together ever since.

While Burke said she pursued Johnson, who she affectionately refers to as ‘DJ’, first, he was the one to ultimately propose. It was Christmas Eve 2012. It’s her family’s tradition to go out for dinner and then exchange gifts afterward. Burke knew a proposal might be coming because the couple had looked at rings together a month earlier.

Johnson had promised he wouldn’t propose on a holiday, however, because it was too cliché, which is why Burke was completely surprised to find a certain message at the end of her present, a chronological slideshow of pictures of the two of them together.

“At the end, the last slide said ‘Sweets, will you marry me?’ ‘Sweets’ is his nickname for me,” the bride said.

Her family was nearby and ready for hugs and pictures after the moment.

Pastor Ron Lemon of Koinonia Christian Fellowship, Frewsburg, heard the couple’s vows. The bride’s parents are Patrick M. and Rebecca M. Burke of Lockport. The bridegroom’s parents are Johnson A. and Vanessa Johnson of Detroit.

The bride is a graduate of Lockport High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in childhood/special education from Daemen College and also earned a master’s degree in special education from Daemen College. She currently works as a substitute teacher for multiple schools in the area.

The groom is a graduate of Bishop Foley High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Daemen College. He remains close to the place where he met his wife and is currently working toward a master’s degree in executive leadership and change, a program focused on higher education. He is also an admissions counselor there and an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team.

The two will spend their honeymoon in St. Lucia before returning to their home in Amherst.

– Andra Cernavskis