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Celebrating his 35th birthday on location in Boston in October 2011, Ryan Reynolds is joined by a very special reveler: former Green Lantern costar Blake Lively, 24. It is the second time Reynolds, who split from wife Scarlett Johansson in December 2010, and Lively, who is fresh from a breakup with Leonardo DiCaprio, are spotted together that month. "They are very much a couple," a source confirms to PEOPLE. "They're really happy together."
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The relationship heats up through the winter – even as the pair enjoy some frosty delights on a December date to a Connecticut ice cream parlor. "They picked their own flavors," says an observer, "but put them in the same cup and shared it." Aww!
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Lively seems ready to meet the family just in time for the holidays as she jets off to Reynolds's native Vancouver, where the actor's parents and brothers live. The sugary lovebirds visit a local cupcake shop, where an employee tells PEOPLE, "They seemed like a really sweet couple."
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In January 2011, Lively and Reynolds take things easy in New Orleans, where they first became friendly on the set of Green Lantern. While in the Big Easy, the two snag cozy corner seats in another ice cream parlor and enjoy a local staple: beignets. "To be around me, you must love food or I'm the most obnoxious person you've ever met," Lively would tell Marie Claire in June (the same month they stylishly step out for Green Lantern's Hollywood premiere).
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HOME SWEET HOME
Lively and Reynolds go from sharing ice cream to sharing living quarters in April. The couple digs $2 million-deep into their pockets to take a serious step in their relationship, purchasing "a beautiful country home" in Bedford, N.Y., a source confirms to PEOPLE.
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Once again, Lively seems to earn approval from the Reynolds clan during a May visit to Vancouver. The two meet his family for a mountaintop dinner and enjoy a fireside game of Tic-Tac-Toe. After a weekend of bonding, they retreat to Vancouver Island, where they hang with Reynolds's brother and his wife.
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The freshly minted housemates' romance shows no sign of cooling off as they continue settling into their five-bedroom abode at the start of summer. In June, they're photographed stocking up on groceries, and Lively freshens up the décor with $1,000 worth of knobs from Anthropologie.
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Spotted! Fireworks spark for the family-oriented sweethearts as they celebrate Independence Day with Lively's relatives in New York. The couple manages to sneak away for a little P.D.A. after playing in a dunk tank, and Lively wraps her arms around her beau's neck for a smooch.
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LA BELLA VITA
The Hollywood power couple makes their way to Italy in August for the Venice Film Festival in what is their last public outing before their Sept. 9 surprise wedding at a South Carolina plantation. Just shy of their one-year anniversary, Lively and Reynolds keep their arrival low-key as they board a boat into the Italian city.