When Katie Carr and Chris Payne arrived at a mutual friend’s house to watch a football game on a September day in 2006, he knew they were being set up. She didn’t. “Hence the lack of makeup and shower,” says Katie, 28, a public-relations consultant. “I thought Chris was cute, and I was especially drawn to his blue eyes and witty banter. But I had no idea he was single and didn’t know he was interested in me until he invited himself out to dinner with my friends and me.”
Well Chris was interested, and he was completely hooked after Katie gave the waiter her dinner order: red meat. “Not a vegetarian—awesome!” thought Chris, 29, a graphic designer. “Is that steak she ordered medium-rare? Wow.” He didn’t ask for her number that night, but he did successfully stalk her on the Internet, Katie says, finding her e-mail address and contacting her the next day.
Fast-forward two years of dating bliss, and Chris wanted to make sure this one didn’t slip away: “I spent a lot of money on a handmade ring, slept with it under my pillow the night I got it, and bit my nails the entire next morning. I couldn’t wait to get the proposal over with and start celebrating.”
The following Saturday, they planned to take a drive through Shenandoah National Forest and then head to a friend’s house to watch Virginia Tech, Chris’s alma mater, play a football game. “Katie got cold in the car and put my jacket over her knees—the very jacket that had the ring in the pocket,” Chris says. “I was flipping out and finally snagged it from her at a rest stop, which, for once, I was more than happy to pull over for.”
Chris and Katie pulled off to the side along Skyline Drive to take in the view. Despite the fact that it was raining, they both got out of the car, and before she knew it, he was down on one knee. Instead of answering, Katie gasped, “Oh, my God—I love that ring!” Says Katie: “We smooched, snapped a photo, and got back in the car, at which point Chris informed me that the plan was not to watch football.” Instead, he was whisking her off to Bryce Mountain, where his parents have a house the couple loves to visit.
“As if that wasn’t enough,” Katie says, “Chris packed me an outfit for the evening, which happened to be the outfit I wore on our first date.” They arrived at the house, he made a fire and opened a bottle of wine, and then they headed out to a celebratory dinner. “It was the most romantic night anyone could ever imagine,” Katie says.
When: December 31, 2009.
Where: Katie’s hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.
Colors: Black, white, silver, and red.
Music: A jazz duet for the cocktail hour, then a DJ.
Cake flavors: Chocolate and vanilla.
First dance: “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss.
First date: Del Merei Grille in Alexandria. “Chris picked me up at the Metro in his green Jeep Wrangler wearing jeans, white sneakers, and a nice yellow button-down shirt,” says Katie. “He kissed me at a stoplight on the way home and then again when he walked me to my front door. I was smitten.”
Silliest fight: “Chris got upset because I suggested he use fresh broccoli in the chicken-Divan casserole rather than frozen,” Katie says.
Least favorite nickname: Chris calls Katie K-rock; she calls him Topher.
Favorite nickname: She calls him Crispy; he calls her Katie Kane.
Something others would be surprised to know about Katie: “She has a habit of sniffing her wrist while in the car,” Chris says.
Something others would be surprised to know about Chris: “He’s basically blind in one eye,” Katie says.
Most romantic gesture: The surprise proposal, Katie says. For Chris, it was a Valentine’s Day cookbook that Katie put together of recipes they’d made together, his family recipes, and photos.
When Chris knew they were meant to be: When Katie took a trip to Africa and they spoke every day.
When Katie knew they were meant to be: In November 2006, when Chris went home with her to Massachusetts to meet the family.
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