Shanavia Thomas, a 29-year-old insurance claims adviser, was working in Hamilton, N.J., on a summer day in 2017 when, she said, a familiar smile “just lit up the entire office.”
That smile belonged to Cianni Pitt-Matthews, now 24, who had just been hired at the CSAA Insurance Group, a company based in Walnut Creek, Calif., that offers automobile, homeowners and other personal lines of insurance to AAA members.
“I thought I remembered seeing her somewhere before,” Ms. Thomas said, “and then it finally kicked in — she was the girl from Willingboro.”
Ms. Thomas (left) recalled the day in 2009 in her hometown Willingboro, N.J., when she first noticed Ms. Pitt-Matthews, the daughter of Michelle Matthews, who lives in Mount Holly, N.J., and the late Dr. Brian Pitt.
Then a 17-year-old high school senior, Ms. Thomas had gone to a friend’s house after school and when she walked into his living room, she Ms. Pitt-Matthews, who was sitting on the couch and chatting with two other friends.
“I said hello to her and took my friend into his kitchen and said, “Who is that? She’s gorgeous.”
Ms. Thomas’s friend said that Ms. Pitt-Matthews was his girlfriend’s sister, and then he surprised Ms. Thomas when he told her she was still in middle school.
Ms. Thomas, the daughter of Joseph Thomas Jr., who lives in the Bronx, and the late Beverly Smith, went on to graduate from Cheyney University in West Chester, Pa.
Ms. Thomas had not seen Ms. Pitt-Matthews again until she resurfaced eight years later at Ms. Thomas’s place of employment.
By then, Ms. Pitt-Matthews was a single mother of a 2-year-old boy, but she also had no trouble remembering Ms. Thomas.
“She was so pretty, it was hard to forget her face, even eight years later,” said Ms. Pitt-Matthews, who was initially assigned to train with Ms. Thomas upon joining the company.
They eventually began dating, their romance initiated by Ms. Pitt-Matthews. “She went old school on me by handing me a piece of paper and saying ‘can you please write your phone number here,’ ” Ms. Thomas said, laughing.
They were married Aug. 20 at Pennington Park in Delanco, N.J. C. Andre Daniels, the former mayor of Westampton, N.J., who is also Ms. Pitt-Matthews’s stepfather, led the ceremony.
The couple had kept their original wedding date, but because of the coronavirus scrapped plans to marry at the Atlantis Ballroom in Toms River, N.J, along with 200 guests.
“Cianni has made my life so much happier,” Ms. Thomas said. “Because of her, I go to sleep happy every night and wake up even happier every morning.”