Save the Date: Michelle and Nik

A spring-break cruise sealed the deal for this couple.

By: Lynne Shallcross

Michelle Zinski and Nik Scalise met during their first week as freshmen at James Madison University. Michelle had gone to visit a classmate, and when she arrived at his room, he wasn’t there—but his roommate, Nik, was. Michelle and Nik hit it off and became inseparable friends. But it wasn’t until they decided to go on a cruise together for spring break senior year that their friendship developed into something more. Says Michelle: “I remember seeing an article in a magazine titled ‘Signs That Your Best Friend Is Your Future Husband’ and thinking that all those signs were right in front of me.”

After graduation, Michelle and Nik landed jobs in DC and moved in together. But about a year later, Michelle was offered a job with CBS in New York, so for the next five years, she and Nik endured the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship. Despite a few breakups and makeups, their love survived. In November 2007, Michelle was offered a job as a production consultant with CBS Sports in Washington and moved back.

When Michelle, 29, and Nik, 30, vice president of sales for GE Capital Solutions, were living together in DC after graduation, they used to walk his dog at Great Falls. As they’d hike around, Nik thought how it’ would be the perfect place to get engaged. So one sunny day this past August, they headed to Great Falls and hiked about a mile to a quiet cove looking out over the Potomac. “As she looked over the edge,” Nik says, “I quickly took the ring out of my cargo shorts, got on one knee, and as she turned back around, I tried to say some loving words I’d rehearsed, but none of them actually made it out. Michelle was completely shocked: “At first, I thought he was joking. I cried for about 20 minutes. I didn’t even get to finally look at the ring until I stopped crying!”

After leaving Great Falls, they headed to Nik’s parents’ home in McLean, where they celebrated with a glass of Champagne. “I remember thinking how elated I was but how sad I was that my parents were not here to celebrate this magic moment,” Michelle says. Little did she know that Nik had thought of everything. From his parents’ house, they went into DC, where they planned to have dinner at DC Coast and stay the night at a hotel.

As the hostess led them to their table, Michelle noticed two people sitting with menus covering their faces. “I wondered why she took us to someone else’s table,” Michelle says. “The menus moved, and it was my parents! It was an incredible moment.”

When: August 22, 2009.

Where: Cape May, New Jersey.

Colors: Teal, fuchsia, and sand.

Honeymoon: Possibly Buenos Aires. “This is Nik’s job,” Michelle says.

First date: “On our first real date, we both knew it was turning into something more,” Nik says. “We had a great time as we knew we were on the brink of taking the friendship to a more serious relationship. Looking in her eyes, I could tell that the feelings were mutual, which really made the atmosphere.”

First impression: Says Nik: “I could tell right off the bat that she was someone I wanted to be around. Great personality, fun, and she had a great sense of humor.” Michelle says she felt an instant connection: “It took a few years to really open up to my feelings, but I knew instantly there was something remarkable about him and that my life was changed forever.”

Silliest fight: Which movie to see, Nik says. Squabbles when they were long-distance, Michelle says: “We used to argue about nothing.”

Most romantic gesture: “One birthday he told me to pack a bag with warm-weather clothes,” Michelle says. “We went to the airport and got on a flight to Miami for the weekend.” Michelle also planned a birthday surprise for Nik’s 30th. “She had only been back in DC for eight months and organized 50 to 75 of my closest family and friends at a local bar,” Nik says. “She pulled off a surprise party like none other. I had no idea. No one has ever done anything quite like that for me in my life.”

Favorite date spot: Brunch at Ragtime or Monday-night football at Mister Days in Arlington.

When Nik knew they were meant to be: A few years after Michelle moved to New York. “My life changed completely—I felt this void whether I chose to believe it or not,” he says. “One weekend in New York City, I told her enough is enough and we need to be together in the same city. Fortunately, she has been feeling the same way, and the rest is history.”

When Michelle knew they were meant to be: On the second day of their cruise in St. Lucia during spring break. “We were joking with the bartender and telling him we were brother and sister,” she says. “The bartender said to Nik, ‘Mon, I think we both know that’s not your sister!’ As crazy as it sounds, as we were walking away from that beach bar, I felt like I got struck by lightning. He was everything I ever wanted, and he was my best friend.”

Something others would be surprised to know about Nik: “He’s very involved in the wedding planning,” Michelle says.

Something others would be surprised to know about Michelle: “It’s pretty cool to have a 4.0 in school your whole life,” Nik says. “She’s the only person I know with such grades!”

Sweetest nickname:
Nik is “Honey,” and Michelle is “My Princess.”

Their romantic spot: Nik and Michelle’s apartment. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but after being apart for so long, it’s so incredible to me that we share a home,” Michelle says. “We make dinners, walk the dog, watch movies, have late-night dance parties. All those little things that I always wanted to do when we were apart.”


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