When Kari Lewis and Arash Ardalan first met, they didn’t think that they were a good match. Arash found Kari really shy; Kari was nervous that they had a lot of friends in common. “Our best friends were actually engaged to each other,” says Kari, a customer success manager. “I was very cautious because we had so many mutual friends, but there was definitely something that drew me to him.” A first date at Arash’s condo, where the groom, a capture manager, prepared a five-entrée meal because he “couldn’t decide what to make,” dissipated both of their fears, and a two-year relationship began.
To propose, Arash came up with a complicated plan that included telling Kari they were going to spend a weekend in New York, something he knew she wasn’t exactly going to love. “I usually don’t enjoy trips to New York City, and I had a terrible work week, so I was not in a good mood and I didn’t want to go,” says the bride. Right before they left to “catch their train,” Arash surprised Kari by getting down on one knee and asking her to marry him. “After we celebrated and called our families, Arash informed me that we were in fact not going to New York, but that he did have a surprise getaway planned”—a relaxing and celebratory weekend at the Goodstone Inn in Middleburg, Virginia, filled with massages, walks in the country, and wine tastings. The couple’s vintage-inspired wedding followed nine months later.
Sara Borsari, an intensive-care unit nurse, didn’t catch the bouquet on her cousin’s wedding day—but she met David Nutt, the groom’s brother, regardless, and sparks flew. After a 13-month relationship, David, a physical therapist, surprised Sara with a Christmas Day proposal at the National Cathedral. Ten months later, a classic wedding, complete with monogram details and a surprise performance by a bagpiper, followed in Virginia.
Washington has played a special part in the relationship of Andrea Palm, a senior adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Dan Utech, who works on the White House Domestic Policy Council, from the beginning. The two met when both were working as staffers for then-Senator Hillary Clinton. After several years and numerous dates at their favorite restaurant, Ray’s the Steaks, they got engaged in Paris over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend.
For the wedding that followed five months later, the couple opted for black and white decor and a DC theme, complete with a weekend tour of the White House, city-inspired wedding favors, and a scenic ceremony on the balcony at the National Society of Daughters of the Revolution.
It took Michelle Ogden and Jared Hintze years to figure out that they were meant for one other. After a mutual friend introduced the two, Michelle found herself instantly attracted to Jared’s smile and red hair. “I was head over heels over Jared, but he didn’t like the nine-year age difference,” says Michelle, a hairstylist. “After many attempts I gave up and moved on.” It wasn’t until four years later, when the two accidentally bumped into each other outside of a Dunkin Donuts, that Jared finally asked Michelle out.
More than two years later, Jared, a custom car painter, planned a proposal to perfectly reflect the two of them. After they spent the day antiquing at their favorite shops in historic Ellicott City, Jared suggested they watch one of their favorite movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas, at home to cap off the night. “During the ‘What’s This?’ song he got on one knee and asked me to marry him,” says Michelle. “We cried together and then couldn’t figure out on what hand the ring went on.”
The wedding, which took place almost a year later, was similarly unique. The couple settled on an intimate ceremony with a “ ’til death do us part” theme. From the brooches in the wedding bouquet that Michelle found in thrift stores to the handmade black veil and homemade food and cake, the wedding was full of DIY touches and personal details. When an unplanned rain storm came down on the outdoor reception, the couple embraced the good-luck superstition and ended the night with dancing under the rain and a cake fight.
It wasn’t love at first sight for Karen Hoobler and Andrew Myers. In fact, they met through Andrew’s close friend, who Karen ironically then had a crush on. Andrew and Karen quickly formed a strong friendship, even though the groom’s initial reaction was, “Why is she hanging out with him and not me?” It took the couple two years to discover their mutual attraction, and Andrew finally asked Karen on an official first date to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Two years later, when Andrew, an occupational therapist, was getting ready to propose, he planned one for the books with the help of several friends. The day started with Karen’s best friend Erica showing up at her office with a letter from Andrew. “At first I thought she was just dropping off an old letter that I had forgotten in her car. But when I opened it, I immediately knew that today was the day!” says Karen, who currently works with middle school students at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. Per Andrew’s instructions, Erica drove Karen to several places that were significant to the couple, starting from the cafe where they first met. At each location, a close friend was stationed to greet Karen and pre-congratulate her before sending her on to the next site.
With anticipation at an all-time high, Karen got to the National Cathedral—the final stop and the site of the couple’s Sunday afternoon picnics. Andrew’s best man was waiting there to escort Karen to the gazebo in the gardens, where the groom was anxiously waiting to propose. “He hid a photographer in the gardens, and not only did she capture the sweet moment when he asked me to marry him, but she also took engagement shots around the garden after I said yes,” says the bride. “Afterward, we shared Champagne toasts on a picnic blanket with our two closest friends.”
It was only natural for the couple to enlist their friends to help to create invitations and paper decorations, and even sing the first-dance song for their wedding, which followed seven months later.
It was clear skies from the beginning of Nicole Persons and Robert Rhodes’s relationship. The two met in Meteorology Club while both were attending California University of Pennsylvania. Nicole had just started her first year of college, and the two instantly bonded over their mutual interest in photography and weather forecasting.
When it came to the proposal, almost seven years later, Robert, a system engineer, opted for a personal family affair. “We had invited both of our families over for a barbecue, and he knew I wouldn’t expect him to propose in front of everyone,” says Nicole, a configuration management specialist. “So right before we had cake, he said that he had something to say and then got down on one knee.” The couple spent the next year scouring thrift store and yard sales and incorporating family heirlooms to make their wedding a heartwarming “something borrowed” celebration.
Andrea Chan admits she had a love-at-first-sight moment when she met Pablo McCarthy. They were introduced by a mutual friend (who would eventually become Pablo’s best man), and a first date at a sushi restaurant quickly followed, which Pablo remembered left him thinking, “This is the type of girl you bring home to your parents.”
After three love-filled years, Pablo, a consultant, began planning his proposal and decided to create a weekend of “firsts” by whisking Andrea away for a weekend in Boston. “He planned fun activities for me, since it was my first time there,” says the bride, also a consultant. “We saw all the Boston sights, ate lobster rolls, and went to a Red Sox game, and then Pablo took me to meet his grandparents for the first time.” One night, Pablo surprised Andrea with a romantic dinner and a long stroll around the city. “We ended up at the Public Garden, where he popped the question,” says Andrea, who recalls being speechless, starting to cry, and finally saying yes.
Fifteen months later, a wedding inspired by the groom’s Latin American roots and the bride’s Filipino heritage followed at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More.
There could be several dozen disgruntled brides- and grooms-to-be roaming the District this week as a result of the government shutdown. Both of the wedding “rooms” at DC Superior Court will be closed, meaning anyone with a planned nuptial celebration scheduled for this week, and into the foreseeable future, will be forced to postpone or cancel their ceremony.
There are up to 22 wedding slots available each day at the courthouse, where ceremonies are held in two dedicated rooms, one of which opened just two weeks ago to accommodate the rise in ceremony requests after the recent ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. DC Courts spokesperson Leah Gurowitz says that on average of late, there are usually around ten wedding ceremonies performed each day, with most couples typically reserving space between one and two months ahead of their planned wedding date.
According to Gurowitz, couples with ceremonies scheduled for this week were notified by telephone of the cancellation due to the government shutdown. However, romance isn’t completely dead at Superior Court: You can still apply for a marriage license or pick up a license for which you have already applied.
It was a chance encounter that brought Lacey James and Joe Echenique together. Lacey, an oncology nurse, and Joe, a police officer, met at a charity event for a cancer foundation, and immediately there were sparks. They began dating, and in August 2011, on the eve of Hurricane Irene, the couple braved the elements to have a special dinner at the Oval Room, during which Joe popped the question. “He got down on one knee in the middle of the restaurant and proposed,” recalls Lacey, who says she would have agreed rain or shine. Luckily there were no weather surprises on July 28, 2012, when the couple tied the knot in a playful summer ceremony.
Katie Barkley and Court Crenshaw’s romance played out like something from Bridget Jones’s Diary. The two met during a Christmas house party hosted by Court’s cousin. “Katie immediately stood out because she was the only one who chose to wear a tacky sweater to the Christmas party,” says Court, now a medical student. “Despite the sweater, I thought she was beautiful.” Katie, a marketing specialist, was equally smitten with the groom, who she admits instantly made her “feel giddy.” The romance continued for exactly a year before Court proposed on Christmas day at Katie’s parents house. The couple were wed in June 2013 at Raspberry Plain in Leesburg, Virginia.