For a pair of dancing partners, the start to the 2005 Cotillion in Wheeling had an inauspicious beginning: he wanted to be paired with a school friend; she was concerned that he was missing dance lessons because of mononucleosis.
However, by the time the formal dance arrived, Jeffery Kaiser and Loren Mueller, both of Wheeling, were having great fun - and something "clicked" between the two seniors from different high schools. After eight and one-half years of dating, they were united in marriage last August.
As the 2014 Cotillion prepares for the Viennese Winter Ball, organizers believe the Kaisers are the first Cotillion couple to meet at the event, fall in love and wed.
Loren Mueller and Jeffery Kaiser of Wheeling met as dancing partners for the 2005 Viennese Winter Ball’s Cotillion, above. Eight years later, at right, they were united in marriage on Aug. 17, 2013.
Asked if they had any advice for this year's dancing duos, Loren said, "Just have fun. It's so much fun. Regardless of whether you end up like us, it's so much fun."
At the time of their Cotillion, Loren, daughter of Carl and Holly Mueller of Wheeling, was a senior at Wheeling Park High School, while Jeff, son of C.J. and Debbie Kaiser of Wheeling, was a senior at Linsly School. Even though they both had grown up in Wheeling, "we had never ever met," Loren said.
They were introduced after being chosen for the Cotillion and being assigned as partners for the affair.
It was a slightly rocky start, they acknowledged.
"When we were first paired up, he had mono," Loren recalled. "I was practicing by myself."
After missing the first rehearsals in November, Jeff recovered from illness and was able to rejoin Loren to learn to waltz for the big dance. "By the time of the Cotillion, I was a lot better," he said.
Initially, though, Jeff had been a wee bit disappointed in the dance pairings, he admitted. "I had a lot of friends in the Cotillion. In the beginning, I was hoping I'd get paired up with one of my friends," he explained.
"In the long run, it worked out," Jeff said, smiling at his bride.
"Once we got to know each other," he said, they found a common spark and began dating "pretty much right after" the Viennese Winter Ball that year. They dated throughout the second semester of their senior year and continued seeing each other after heading off to different colleges.
"I started college at Miami (University) of Ohio," Jeff said. "After the first semester, I transferred to WVU. That's where she was."
Loren's presence at West Virginia University influenced Jeff's decision to switch schools. "It wasn't the only factor, but it was definitely a significant factor," he remarked.
They dated all the way through their undergraduate and graduate studies at WVU. "When we got married, it was eight and a half years (of dating)," she said. "By the end of this month, it will be nine years."
They earned Bachelor of Science degrees from West Virginia University in 2009 - in biochemistry for Loren and in economics for Jeff. They remained in Morgantown, where Loren graduated from WVU School of Medicine in 2013 and Jeff graduated from WVU College of Law, also in 2013.
The couple was united in marriage on Aug. 17 at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Wheeling. They now reside in Wheeling, where Jeff is employed as an associate attorney at the law firm of Phillips, Gardill, Kaiser and Altmeyer. Loren is awaiting word, expected in March, on her placement for a medical internship. "I'd like to go into pediatrics," she said. "I'd like to stay in Morgantown."
Since their fateful meeting, the pair did attend another Viennese Winter Ball a few years later when Loren's sister, Mallory Mueller, was a member of the Cotillion. Unlike them, Mallory was paired with a friend as her dancing partner.
"It was a totally different experience for her (Mallory) than it was for the two of us," Jeff said. Loren agreed, noting, "She (Mallory) was not having to learn to dance the waltz with someone she didn't know. She didn't have to make friends (with her partner)."
Despite the Kaisers' Cotillion experience, waltzing was not incorporated into their wedding day. "We did not. We thought about it, but with him taking the bar (examination) and me taking tests, there was no way we were going to fit in choreography for our first dance," Loren said.
Except for her sister's Cotillion year, Loren and Jeff haven't been able to attend the ball. "Ever since then, we haven't been in town," Jeff said. "We're hoping to go next year, after we get settled as to where she (Loren) is."
Noting that "there's not a whole lot of towns the size of Wheeling to have a symphony," Jeff commented that attending the ball, which is a fundraiser for the orchestra, is an opportunity to do something beneficial for the symphony and for the community, as well as being a chance "to have fun and meet new people."
Regarding the chance of other young people meeting at the Cotillion and falling in love, Loren said, "Realistically, that's not going to happen again," but she encouraged teens to "take the opportunity" to have fun and aid a good cause.
Jeff said they haven't heard of any other Cotillion-related marriages. "I think there have been some short-lived romances or relationships, but I don't think anyone else has gotten married," Loren said.
The Kaisers, though, are living proof that as the lyrics to the tune sung by Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen in the classic holiday movie, "White Christmas," suggest, "The best things happen while you're dancing."