Caitlin Grace Gorham and William Robert Wheeler’s first date began with a little fairy-tale symbolism. They met while Robert was in his first semester at Harvard Business School and Caitlin was finishing her senior year at Brown University. Three months after being introduced by a mutual friend at a Brown party, they went on their first date, during which Robert took Caitlin around Harvard’s campus. The tour included a trip to the baseball field where Robert played as an undergraduate. “I was in totally inappropriate shoes. He had to pick me up and carry me across the baseball diamond, since I was sinking like quicksand,” says Caitlin, a model and manager of digital business development at Condé Nast.
After an almost two-year courtship, Robert, now a senior management associate at Bridgewater Associates, proposed during a vacation at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, on a little clearing by the water. “The moment was perfect. After I said yes, a boat came by honking and cheering. It was amazing,” recalls Caitlin.
In 2010, Table for Two food blogger Julie Chiou hosted a Super Bowl party for several friends—and friends of friends. One of those in attendance was Jason Wampler, a cute IT professional who exchanged a brief “hello” and a few words of introduction with his host. While it may have seemed like polite party chit-chat, both felt a spark, and a week later when Julie friended Jason on Facebook, he returned the social media compliment and began following her on Twitter.
Soon after, Julie received a text: “Hey, this is Jason. I got your number from Facebook. Don’t freak out! What are you doing tonight?” Intrigued, Julie told Jason to meet her in Arlington, and the rest, as they say, is history.
How does Washington royalty tie the knot? If you’re Paige Johnson, the 27-year-old daughter of BET cofounders Sheila and Bob Johnson, you do it with four days of partying at the One&Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Reached by phone yesterday in New York City, the bride’s mother said she was “just trying to recover” from the long weekend’s extravagant celebration. The part-owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics said her daughter chose the tropical destination for her nuptials because she’s “a James Bond freak” and parts of Casino Royale were shot at the Ocean Club.
The first time Andrew Woo asked Angela Pan for her phone number, following a brief encounter at a party, Angela said no. Not because she didn’t like the Bahamas-born app developer, with whom she felt an instant connection, but because she thought she was being cute by playing hard to get. “However, he didn’t think it was so cute, and he walked away,” says Angela, a landscape and nature photographer.
As fate would have it, the two ran into each other again a few months later, and by that point Angela had learned her lesson; she didn’t hesitate to share her contact information. A first date at Coastal Flats quickly blossomed into a relationship that grew over six years, until Andrew made it official with an over-the-top romantic hot air balloon proposal.
Kathleen Schneider knew that before she even thought about her wedding dress, she wanted to pick out her wedding shoes. “The dress was easy. But I wanted the shoes to be memorable and unique,” says the business developer of her seriously fashionable wedding to James Dyson Jr. on September 1, 2012.
The bride and groom met in 2008 when Kathleen was looking for a host for a music event at a local club. Even though James, now a recruiting director, turned down the hosting gig, the couple spent the next four hours talking on the phone before agreeing to meet face to face.
“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young filled the room as Ashley Kircher joined G. Bradley Laken II for their first dance as a married couple. “The lounge seating by the dance floor really allowed everyone to be part of the moment, even if they weren’t dancing themselves,” says Ashley, an attorney at Seyfarth Shaw, who adds that the intimate setting was one of her favorite wedding details.
The bride and groom met during new student orientation at Georgetown University Law Center and immediately clicked. A year of dating turned into a long-distance relationship when Bradley, an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis, moved to Chicago for work. In the spring of 2011, the day before Ashley’s birthday, Bradley flew back to DC to see her and celebrate—with a surprise. “My ‘birthday gift’ was in a small box within a larger box within a larger box, and I didn’t realize what was happening until I got to the smallest box and Brad got down on one knee,” says Ashley, who three months later moved to Chicago to be with her fiancé.
By the time Lauren Sugierski and Joseph Kuchta got married on March 3, 2013, they had been dating for almost a decade. Wanting to keep their nuptials intimate and personal, they decided to ditch many conventional elements of a wedding and instead focus on celebrating their love. “I will never forget Joe saying that he didn’t care where we got married—that the only thing that mattered was that we were marrying each other,” says Lauren, who works for the federal government.
The couple met at the Georgetown Waterfront over Labor Day weekend eight years ago. After they’d eyed each other from across a bar, Joseph, a DC Police officer, finally asked for Lauren’s phone number. A first date at Carlyle restaurant in Arlington, which would later serve as their rehearsal dinner venue, ultimately led to a proposal at the Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, Virginia.
When Matthew Murphy first met Kimberlee Ryan, the chemistry was instantaneous. A public interest environmental lawyer by day, Matthew was bartending at Rhino Bar & Pumphouse where Kimberlee, then a senior in college, picked up a few waitressing shifts during her winter break. The only thing standing in Matthew’s way from asking her out was that their boss happened to be Kimberlee’s uncle. “Everyone thought he was crazy to go for the owner’s niece, but we were both smitten,” says Kimberlee.
Lucky for Matthew, it turned out to be a risk worth taking. After a first kiss on New Year’s Eve, the pair dated for two and a half years before a snowy proposal at the Georgetown Waterfront. They would be engaged for just as long—Kimberlee decided to go back to school to become a nurse, thus putting their nuptials on hold for a bit longer than initially planned.
Erin Waetjen and Joseph Ferraro’s first date got off to a great start. Having met at a mutual friends’ housewarming party in spring 2009, the couple immediately connected. A first date at Ireland’s Four Provinces, where they chatted for four hours, led to a semi long-distance relationship—Erin, now a registered nurse, was finishing her degree in Baltimore while Joseph, a software engineer, was based in Virginia. A year into the relationship, Erin took a job in the District and moved in with Joseph. It would be another year before a romantic proposal at The Homestead Resort, where Joseph took Erin under the pretense of celebrating her birthday.
Monica and John are the quintessential DC couple. They met on the first day of law school orientation and got engaged the day after taking the bar exam almost three years later. When it came to the wedding, the duo decided on a June garden theme at the Meridian House in the heart of Washington.
The ceremony took place in the picturesque outdoor space, with a reception that followed indoors. Theme colors—purple, pink, and blue—were interwoven throughout the wedding, from flowers on the altar to elegant table settings, and fun decor details included Chinese lanterns and Mad Libs. The couple recalls their custom-made ketuba, and their personalized wedding vows. “It was definitely nerve-racking to pour our hearts out in front of our guests, but it made for one of the most memorable moments of the wedding,” says Monica.