When Anastasia Pike met Gregory Chesnut at the National Naval Medical Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center), it seemed like serendipity: She was a volunteer with the American Red Cross; he was a surgical intern. They decided to head to the Center’s coffee shop together for a brief first date, and both felt an instant connection. “We talked effortlessly—it felt like we were just catching up rather than meeting for the first time,” says Gregory, a urologist at the United States Navy. “Anna had to remind me that I was about to be late to start working in the ER, we had been talking for so long!”
After 15 months of dating, Gregory conspired with family friends to pop the question in time for a Sunday morning picnic on the Elizabeth River. “After a breakfast picnic, Gregory surprised me with a nervous one-kneed question,” says Anastasia, a member of the faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. “We went straight to church afterward, but still had to wait eight months before walking down the aisle!” The wedding ceremony at the United States Naval Academy Chapel was followed by a reception at the Crofton Country Club.
When Sophia Stuart met Nuvan Seneviratne, while both were students at the University of Maryland, she thought he was way too smart for her. But Nuvan, a partner at AV Divine, had other thoughts. “She took my breath away,” he says. They had their first date at Siri’s Chef Secret in College Park, coincidentally the same place where Sophia’s parents went on their first date. Five years into their relationship, Nuvan decided it was time to take Sophia’s breath away in a proposal to remember. “We took an ATV [all-terrain vehicle] tour in Costa Rica,” says Sophia, a marketing manager. “When we got to the top of the mountain, overlooking the ocean, Nuvan proposed.” Their equally scenic wedding followed in Rockville 18 months later.
They say you really get to know someone when you travel with them. That was the case with Laura Gorog and Robert Walburn, who connected while on a road trip to North Carolina. “I was going down to visit my sister, and Rob was going down to visit her boyfriend” (now husband), a good friend of Rob’s, Laura explains. “They suggested that we drive together, so we did.” That first trip led to several more, and within six months Laura and Rob had begun dating.
When it came to the proposal, almost five years later, Rob, a restaurant manager, knew it would be a challenge to catch Laura by surprise. “I am never surprised, so he had to pop the question in a way that was not obvious,” says Laura, an executive team lead. “One night I was driving home from a night out with the girls, and he was waiting outside for me. He got on one knee and asked me to marry him.” Six months later they were married in a spring-inspired celebration at the Stone Manor Country Club in Maryland.
When Julie Ackerman begrudgingly attended a work-related golf tournament at the International Country Club, she had no idea it was where she would meet the love of her life. She visited the pro shop to purchase some golf balls and instantly noticed the handsome golf pro behind the counter, Geoffrey Montross. “I noticed he wasn’t wearing a wedding band, and I thought he must be close to me in age,” says Julie, a public relations executive. “I was correct about him being single. I was wrong about him being close to me in age—later it was revealed the charming man was eight years my junior.”
That did not stop Geoff from asking her out, and after 17 months of dating, he proposed on top of Breckenridge Mountain in Colorado on a ski trip. For their wedding, nine months later, the couple opted for a winter white wedding at the International Country Club where they first met.
“Even though it wasn’t love at first sight for us, there was definitely a connection right away,” says Heidi O’Dell, a graduate nurse, of her introduction to Robert Atkinson. They met in Ocean City and soon realized they were both employees of Outback Steakhouse in La Plata, Maryland. After a few months of getting to know each other as they worked together, they decided to explore their connection further by going on a first date.
Almost six years later, Robert, a general manager, proposed to Heidi with the help of their then-three-month-old daughter, Carley. After bringing her to bed where Heidi was sleeping one morning, Robert asked Heidi to give Carley her pacifier. “I remember thinking, ‘You do it, you’re already up,’ but he insisted. On Carley’s onesie, he had written, ‘Will you marry my daddy,’ with the ring attached to it,” says Heidi. “It was the most perfect and surprising proposal I could have asked for.” Naturally, Carley served as the flower girl at their wedding in Maryland 17 months later.
Lynn Chheang and Ryan Hill took five years to make it to their first date. They were introduced by mutual coworkers and friends in 2005 during a happy hour. Despite instantly catching each other’s eye, it wasn’t until a chance encounter on Facebook that they forged a reconnection and set up a first date at Ray’s Hell-Burger in Arlington.
Madly in love, two and a half years later, Ryan, a fixed income trader at Fannie Mae and part-time graduate MBA student at Georgetown University, decided it was time to propose. He chose the scenic Japanese botanical gardens at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, to pop the question. Wanting to ask in Lynn’s native Cambodian, Ryan had turned to her family for the right words in Khmer weeks before. “At first I did not understand Ryan’s proposal because his Khmer was poorly enunciated,” says Lynn, an accountant. “I finally realized what was going on when he got down on one knee and in English said, ‘I love you; will you marry me?’” Seventeen months later, they were wed at Baltimore’s Evergreen Museum & Library.
It was initially friendship that brought Andrea Grassi and Paul Franklin together. The two grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and went to the same high school but didn’t get a chance to connect until Andrea’s older sister started dating Paul’s childhood best friend. Andrea and Paul quickly bonded over being the couple’s “wingmen,” and a friendship began. “Obviously Paul is quite the looker, but really my feelings for him just evolved into something much more deep over time,” says Andrea, a community manager. “He is my best friend in the entire world.”
Eventually their friendship blossomed into a relationship, which five years later led to a romantic proposal at the Nemacolin Woodland Resort’s Falling Rock. “We were going home to Cleveland for a weekend in August to see family, and he surprised me with a pit stop to Nemacolin, where we had stayed before,” says Andrea. “He got down on one knee right near the 18th green overlooking the mountains and popped the question! It was perfect and so romantic.” The next day, they arrived in Cleveland, where Paul, a financial adviser, had already organized a surprise party for Andrea with both of their families.
For their wedding, 14 months later, the couple knew they wanted an intimate celebration with just their closest friends and family. But they didn’t forget to give their Maryland wedding a Midwestern touch. “We had the [Ohio State] Buckeyes game playing during cocktail hour,” says Andrea.
It didn’t take long for Kelly Harper and Kyle Pumroy to realize they were meant to spend the rest of their lives together. The two were introduced by Kelly’s colleague Jen, who grew up with Kyle; sensing a possible love connection, she invited them on a boat ride. “I knew it was a setup; Kyle didn’t,” says Kelly, who works at the Pentagon. “At the end of the day Kyle asked for my phone number, and we went on our first date the very next night.” Just nine months after that first date, at Acqua Al 2, the two knew they wanted to tie the knot. “We knew we wanted to get married even sooner—it was right, and it was easy. Like no happiness we’ve ever known,” says the bride.
For the proposal, Kyle, who is in the Air Force and works at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chose the roof deck of his apartment, the same spot where the two shared their first kiss. “The deck was covered in candles, music was playing, and it was all about us. It was perfect,” says the bride. Nine months after that, they tied the knot in a Christmas-themed wedding, at which Kyle surprised his bride with a red raincoat similar to the one Kelly’s grandfather surprised her grandmother with on their wedding day. “My grandparents were married for almost 60 years. If we have a small bit of the success they had, we will have a very long, happy marriage,” says Kelly.
When Sean Garrity met Anna Frey, through mutual friends from college, he was instantly smitten. “I thought Anna was beautiful, had a great sense of humor, and seemed like a genuinely nice person,” says Sean, who works in federal affairs for a medical society. Anna reciprocated the attraction, and they had their first date at an outdoor concert. Seven years into their romance, Sean proposed to Anna, who works in commercial construction, on Christmas Day at her family house. For their wedding, 11 months later, the couple opted for an Eastern Shore inspired wedding full of nautical touches and thoughtful details.
When Felicia Fernandes and Armando Silva met, through mutual friends, they both agree they “instantly clicked.” A simple first date at the movies followed, and soon the pair were officially a “couple.” When it came to the engagement four years later, Armando chose to surprise Felicia with a proposal on her birthday. “We went out for dinner, and he popped the question before we headed home to celebrate with my entire family,” says the bride. “It was perfect, and a total surprise to everyone. There were a lot of happy tears that night.” After an 18-month engagement, they tied the knot in a celebration so joyful not even unexpected rain could put a damper on it.