After graduating college with a performance degree, Garner moves to New York City to pursue acting. "I wasn't naturally talented, just really, really driven," she says to PEOPLE. "My parents never said anything except 'Go for it.'"
While landing a small role in the Danielle Steel miniseries Zoya, the aspiring actress pays the bills by working as a hostess. Years later she recognized a familiar face at an ABC party. "I said, 'Hi, I'm Jennifer Garner. I'm on Alias,'" she recalls to PEOPLE. "He said, 'Hi, I'm Steven Weber. I'm on Once and Again.' I said, 'You recognize me, don't you?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm trying to figure out where.' I said, 'I used to seat you on Sundays for brunch at Isabella's.'"
Working steadily in TV and film, Garner lands a guest spot on Felicity as Scott Foley's ex-girlfriend Hanna, and an offscreen romance follows. "I was definitely attracted to [Foley] at first sight," said Garner to PEOPLE. "But I didn't realize I was going to marry him until a while in. It grew really gradually and sweetly, and it was a real courtship." They marry on Oct. 19, 2000.