By STEVEN KURUTZ
At the wedding of Smriti Keshari and Matthew Danzico, which took place on Nov. 19 at Basilica Hudson in Hudson, N.Y., the groom mounted a horse and led a parade of guests who sang and danced their way to the site, in an Indian tradition known as a Baraat. A Hindu priest lit a fire to symbolize the illumination of the mind, knowledge and happiness. And the groomsmen and groomswomen wore top hats and cartoonish striped socks.
All of these things were meant to reflect the couple’s similar personalities and diverse backgrounds. But the most intriguing element was quieter and almost hidden: a video playing in a loop, behind curtains in a small room inside the reception hall.
In the video, Mr. Danzico, 34, and Ms. Keshari, 31, appear 10 years earlier. They laugh in a house with three young women, hold a group pizza-eating contest in a restaurant that Ms. Keshari wins, and sit alone together talking on a New Jersey Transit train bound for New York.
The footage is at once banal and remarkable, for it captures the couple’s very first meeting and conversations. It’s fitting that a filmmaker (Ms. Keshari) and a video journalist (Mr. Danzico) should have such a memento. And in many ways, the short clip and how it came to be contains the story of their entire relationship.
Some exposition: Mr. Danzico grew up in Dunmore, Pa., and graduated from American University in Washington, where he studied literature and media. He said he had long been drawn to video cameras and travel. When he was a child, his mother, Katherine Danzico, read him adventure stories by Jack London, and he experimented with video equipment owned by his father, Louis Danzico.
After college, Mr. Danzico taught English in Japan before moving to New York to work at a Japanese-language newspaper, Tokyo Shimbun. But in 2007, he quit his job and embarked on a “digital hitchhiking” tour across the country. Over 80 days, he was transported, fed and sheltered by strangers who had volunteered through a website he set up. He conceived and recorded the project, titled “Around America in 2.0,” to give himself a crash course in video journalism.
“I lived with 56 different strangers,” Mr. Danzico said. “Everyone from a porn actress in Las Vegas to an older gay couple on the U.S.-Mexico border to a grandmother in the Rocky Mountains.”
His last leg before returning home to New York was from Philadelphia to Sea Bright, N.J. A group of young women transported him by car. In that car was Ms. Keshari, then 20 years old.
She had traveled quite a bit herself. She was born in India, where her parents, Vijaya and Dwarika Prasad Keshari, came together in an arranged marriage. Because of their jobs as researchers and university professors, they moved their family to Buffalo, then Puerto Rico and finally central New Jersey, where Ms. Keshari graduated from high school. Along the way, Ms. Keshari learned to speak three languages — Hindi, Spanish and English — and to make friends in a short time.
After attending Rutgers University, she lived briefly in Australia, where she befriended three fellow Americans and traveled with them around the country. Those friends were the other women in the car. As he had been doing all along on his trip, Mr. Danzico filmed the group’s interactions, occasionally pointing the camera on himself.
Ms. Keshari, who was living in New York and working for ESPN, was initially suspicious of Mr. Danzico. Who was this random guy from the internet? But soon she was charmed by his enthusiastic personality and sense of adventure. They discovered they were reading the same book, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, and began sharing favorite passages.
“We were instantly friends,” Ms. Keshari recalled. “We got along together.”
Reflecting on that first filmed meeting, Mr. Danzico was more effusive. “When I met Sweety, I fell hopelessly in love with her,” he said, using a nickname given Ms. Keshari by her friends. It was not just her beauty, he said, but what he called her optimistic outlook and her creativity.
Ms. Keshari’s friends thought they had witnessed a love match, too. “We put them on the train and said, ‘He’s totally going to fall in love with Sweety,’” said Rhyan Sharkey, one of the women in the car and a bridesmaid at the wedding.
But Ms. Keshari already had a boyfriend — something Mr. Danzico glumly discovered when he invited her to lunch and she showed up with a date. So despite their chemistry and shared interests, Mr. Danzico settled for being friends.
“I just thought I’m not going to ruin this,” he said. “Then came the most chaotic five years I will ever have.”
He couldn’t find a job after the hitchhiking project, so he had to move back into his parents’ home and be a bartender for a while. But he quickly became busy, and his résumé from that time includes a stint as a producer for the Discovery Channel in Washington and a scuffling period as a freelance video journalist before he landed a full-time job with the BBC, which took him all around the world.
Ms. Keshari was also traveling frequently. She left ESPN to work on a film about surfing in India, which returned her to her native country for an extensive period for the first time since she was a child. Then she was a producer of “Food Chains,” a documentary about farm laborers in the United States.
Throughout this time, the pair stayed in touch, updating each other on their professional and personal lives. Boyfriends and girlfriends came and went. Sometimes they happened to be in the same city and would hang out.
“We’d always get along and always tease each other,” Ms. Keshari said.
She had not really thought of Mr. Danzico in a romantic way until a moment came in 2011 when they were together in New York with a group of her friends. Later, one of the group’s members told her the chemistry between her and Mr. Danzico had been “so obvious.”
That casual comment got her thinking about all the things she and Mr. Danzico had in common, including their creative careers, their love of travel and their wide-eyed exuberance. The cliché is that opposites attract, but what she found appealing were the many likenesses. She thought, too, about the serendipitous, unlikely way they met, and saw a deeper plan in it.
Soon Ms. Keshari found herself traveling to Washington to visit Mr. Danzico for his birthday. She remembered calling a friend from the train. “I said: ‘I’m single and I think Matt Danzico might be, too. That’s interesting.’”
After they become a couple that same year, Ms. Keshari and Mr. Danzico kept up their busy, independent, travel-filled lives, as they continue to do. Mr. Danzico spent a majority of 2015 on the road for the BBC, often in foreign countries. Ms. Keshari traveled to make and promote the film and music installation she created with Eric Schlosser about nuclear weapons, “The Bomb.” They sometimes go weeks without seeing each other, and meet up in cities around the world.
In December, Mr. Danzico left the BBC for a job at NBC News in New York, which may finally station the couple in one place. Mr. Danzico said they were cautiously “investigating this thing called an apartment lease,” but having both been footloose for so long, fear the idea of being grounded.
“Every relationship I’ve ever had I’ve thought, if we stay together, in 50 years I know where this is headed,” Mr. Danzico said. “With Sweety, I don’t know where this is headed. The possibilities are endless.”
He described their relationship as “extraordinarily whimsical.”
The same phrase could describe their wedding. Along with traditional Indian elements like the Baraat and the Mangal Fera, or fire ceremony, the evening included a reading from “The Call of the Wild” by London, a talent show featuring their friends, and a fireworks display.
Watching her son mount a horse, Ms. Danzico laughed and said, “He’s been waiting his whole life to do this.”
Ms. Keshari said she grew up with epic tales like the Bhagavad Gita that gave her a fantastical outlook on the world, a quality she also sees in her husband. “Matt is a magical human who loves adventures,” she said.
Asked about the video of their first meeting, Ms. Keshari said it was put in the space as a kind of art installation, for guests to discover. What does she see when she looks at it now?
Ms. Keshari smiled and said, “Two big dreamers with wild ideas.”
ON THIS DAY
When Nov. 19, 2016
Where Basilica Hudson, Hudson, N.Y.
Two Ceremonies Three days after their wedding, the couple flew to India to hold another ceremony there witnessed by Ms. Keshari’s extended family. After that trip, Mr. Danzico is looking to nest for a bit with his bride. “I want to stay in one place so I can see her every day now that we’re married,” he said.
Pitching In In addition to hiring a wedding planner, the couple asked their friends to gather the night before and help decorate the space. Papier-mâché planets were hung over the dining tables, and the seating chart corresponded to “Mars,” “Venus” and so on.