Most people are inspired to say their first "I love yous" over a romantic dinner or perhaps during a moonlit stroll. Not Scott Wolf. He was on a white-water-rafting trip in Washington State with his girlfriend of three months, Kelley Limp, when both were thrown into the violent, icy waters. They'd been told to stay calm should their raft capsize, but, says Wolf, going all Zen was not an option. "It was so scary. It immediately takes all the air out of you," he says. "You know in a second, 'I've got to get out as fast as I can!'" Though freezing and scared, he swam to Limp so they could make their way to safety together. Back on dry land, both felt like frozen, drowned rats. Still, Wolf had never felt more enamored. "The first thing on my mind hadn't been 'Am I going to be okay?'" says Wolf. "It was 'Where's Kelley?'" That's when he turned to his now wife, ready to summon up those three little words. "I said, 'I feel like saying something to you right now, but I don't know if I should ...'" But before he could finish, Limp replied, "I love you too."

These days, Wolf's only life-threatening moments have been on his new ABC show The Nine, where he plays one of nine strangers held hostage in a bank robbery. "People were murmuring about the script before I got it; then once I read it, I said, 'God, let me be in this!'" says Wolf, 38, who's best known for the 1990s family-of-orphans drama Party of Five. The only downside is that his new gig is a 90-minute commute by air from Park City, Utah, where he has lived for two years with Kelley, 30. But, he says, the inconvenience is worth it. "Park City is like living in a Rockwell painting," says Wolf, cuddling his Yorkie, Teddy, and Maltese, Scooter, on his living room couch. "There's good people, good food, skiing and hiking and biking and camping—the outdoors becomes your culture."

Inside isn't so bad either. Looking around at the couple's five-bedroom home, which they moved into when Wolf got a role on the drama Everwood (which filmed in Utah), it's easy to see why they aren't keen on leaving. A rustic lodge with modern architecture, the house, nestled in the hills of the Wasatch Mountain range, has a wine cellar, a screening room and a gym. It's also filled with photos of family and friends and their honeymoon to Africa, where they took $20,000 in donations they'd received in lieu of wedding gifts and delivered it to orphanages.

Charity work, in fact, brought the couple together in the first place. Non-profit consultant Joel Goldman had grown close to Wolf working with him on the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "He's always said, 'How can I use my celebrity to give back?'" says Goldman. Then, in 2002, Goldman met Limp, who had been on The Real World: New Orleans but was eager to do something more meaningful. Goldman told Wolf, who was briefly engaged to Alyssa Milano in 1994 but never married, "You have to call this girl—she's perfect for you."

Despite Kelley being 40 minutes late for their first date ("and I had too much eye makeup on, which Scott told me later," she says), they immediately clicked. "Not to sound cheesy, but it's like the whole room disappeared," says Kelley. They married two years later in her hometown of Fayetteville, Ark. Wolf's family from West Orange, N.J., flew in for the wedding, as well as the couple's closest friends, including Lost star Matthew Fox, who played Wolf's brother on Party of Five.

Are kids on the way? "That's the plan," says Wolf. He laughs when told he still looks like a kid himself. "When I was 16 and looked 7, it was no fun at all. But now it's cool. I just hope I don't hit 44 and all of a sudden, kaboosh!"

For now, he says, the two have enough to juggle without little ones running around. When Wolf is in L.A. shooting The Nine, Kelley keeps busy studying for a psychology degree at Salt Lake City's Westminster College. She also spends much of her time running the couple's Chier Foundation, which raises education funds for Sudanese refugees ("Chier" is a Sudanese tribe's word for "north star"). "She's so kind—I feel like she makes me a better person," says Wolf. "My nana told me to marry the person you want to see across the breakfast table every day, and I did that. I lucked out."

  • Contributors:
  • Monica Rizzo/Park City.