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.
When Christine Godsey saw Victor Bonomi at a bar, she thought he had the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen; Victor, in turn, thought Christine was the prettiest girl in the bar. They exchanged numbers but didn’t go on their first date until a month later. After that, though, things were smooth sailing—and after almost four blissful years, Victor, the owner of Tech 24 Construction, decided to propose. “Victor wanted to do something intimate so that the moment was just ours, so he proposed on our last night in Miami at home,” says Christine. “It was such a perfect moment that we shared together, just us.”
When it came to the winter wedding, 18 months later, the couple opted for a destination celebration in Puerto Rico. The bride, a wedding planner with Engaging Affairs, naturally decided to organize her own big day. “I actually brought some of my dream team down with me to take care of me on my special day and even had my dear friend and colleague run my wedding day for me,” says Christine.
Emily Spiering met Blake Baron on a blind date—with someone else. The two now-attorneys were introduced during their first year in law school, when Emily was set up with one of Blake’s friends. “Blake was the ‘wingman,’” on the date, says Emily. “Luckily they worked it out between them, and Blake and I soon began dating.”
Two years into their relationship, Blake planned a very DC proposal during the Cherry Blossom Festival in April. He took Emily for a ride in a paddleboat, and popped the question in the middle of the Tidal Basin. “We celebrated afterward with Champagne at the Willard InterContinental hotel and called our families, who did not believe that we got engaged on account of it being April Fool’s Day!” says Emily. After a two-year engagement, two passed bar exams, a move to Chicago, and a backpacking trip through Europe, the busy couple returned to Maryland to tie the knot.
“I knew right away he was going to be very entertaining,” says Casie Kiel of her first impression of Adam Bizuwork. The two were introduced by mutual friends while at Old Dominion University, and Casie remembers, “Adam was telling a story and had the whole room laughing.” But he only had eyes for Casie; a first date followed at Tandoori Nights (now Zaika) in Clarendon.
Four years later, Adam, now a restaurant owner and real estate agent, brought Casie back to Zaika to propose in the same booth they sat in on their first date. After Adam insisted they have dessert, Casie read over the “dark-chocolate snowflake fondue” special, not realizing the description of the dessert was actually a synopsis of the couple’s relationship. “Adam had made his own dessert, which the restaurant inserted into their menu,” says Casie, an event planner. “When I looked up, Adam was on his knees.” An elegant wedding, worth the wait, followed two and a half years later.
“We were married after just six months of knowing one another,” says Lindsey Coleman of her courthouse wedding to Maurice Johnson. “Oddly enough, this was the same time frame for my parents, who are still happily married more than 40 years later.” Lindsey and Maurice met online and had their first date at Ram’s Head Tavern in Annapolis. “It was the day after my birthday, and she had brought me cupcakes from Baked & Wired. Who knew it was that easy to impress me?” says Maurice, who works for the State Department. Lindsey, who works for the US Agency for International Development, was equally impressed—she recalls instantly deciding he was the man she would marry.
Six months later, she got her wish: Maurice proposed to her at home, and they wed at the courthouse a mere ten days later. Before relocating to Rwanda, the couple threw a second wedding on June 2, 2013. The “great American sendoff” celebration at Nationals Park featured cocktail hour in the batting cages, baseball-inspired decor, and an appearance by Racing President Teddy Roosevelt.
Alexandra Vuxton and Robert Bradley Guest both attended the University of Virginia, but their paths didn’t cross for their first two years on campus; in fact, they didn’t meet until a monthlong summer study abroad trip to England. When Alexandra walked in late to the first orientation meeting, Brad gallantly offered to share his seat, and sparks flew immediately. Over the next four years the well-traveled couple lived, together and apart, everywhere from Paris to Baltimore to Nashville, as Alexandra pursued a law degree and Brad began his post-graduation career.
After getting engaged in Nashville on November 11, 2011, the couple agreed they wanted to have their wedding in Virginia. “It was where I was born and raised, and its beauty and enchantment is what led Brad to UVA, and ultimately what led us to each other,” says Alexandra, an attorney. “I always knew I would get married under the warm Virginia spring sun, and it wasn’t long before Brad fell in love with this vision, too.” After choosing Marriott Ranch as their venue, Brad and Alexandra got married in a family-focused celebration on May 25, 2013. They currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Brad is attending law school, and hope to return to Virginia some day to settle down and start a family of their own.