By Sloane Brown, Special to the Baltimore Sun
1:57 PM EDT, April 12, 2012
Wedding Day: June 16, 2012
Her story: Katie Cooney, 32, grew up in Ellicott City. Her father, Robert Cooney, is a retired banking executive who now works in ticket and fan services at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Her mother, Constance Cooney, is a retired corporate controller. Katie is a contracting officer at the Social Security Administration.
His story: Joel Southworth, 32, grew up in Ellicott City. His mother, Jaci Goldhammer, is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker residential brokerage. His stepfather, Lee Goldhammer, Jr., is president of CitiRoof. Joel is sous chef at Lee Lynn's in Ellicott City.
Their story: Katie and Joel were classmates from the 4th grade at St. John's Elementary School through Patapsco Middle School and all the way to Mt. Hebron High School, from which they both graduated in 1997. They knew each other, although they weren't close friends. Not that a young Katie had wanted it that way.
"I do remember in middle school I had the biggest crush on Joel. But nothing ever came of it," she says. She recently found a photo taken of her and some of her classmates in 5th grade on which she had written -- and misspelled -- the word "gorgeous," with an arrow pointing at Joel's head.
Fast forward five years later.
"After graduating at Drexel University in 2002, I moved home to live with Mom and Dad and start working my new job [as a contracting specialist] at SSA," says Katie. " One night, I was out with friends for a few drinks. I walked into the Phoenix Emporium and ran into an old familiar face, Joel [then a pizza shop manager]. He looked right at me and said, 'I know you. Your name is Sarah.' I said, 'Nope. Sure isn't, but nice try,' and kept on walking to the bar. Upset that he got my name wrong, he came over to chat and we really hit it off. We started hanging out and shooting pool and within a month, [we] were in complete love with one another."
They dated the next eight years before moving in together in 2010.
The proposal, December 25, 2010: Joel was going to propose by putting the ring in a bag and attaching it to the collar of their rescue dog, Duckie. Two days before, he decided maybe that wasn't the best idea.
On Christmas Day, Katie woke up and starting watching Toy Story 2, which was a gift from her parents.
"Joel came down and said, 'Okay, present time -- me first,'" remembers Katie. "He gave me a bag and it was filled with Yankee candles. The next gift was a big black velvet champagne box. Inside were two champagne flutes. And I'm thinking, these are really pretty but we don't drink champagne. He was on the floor, pretending to playing with Duckie. He said, 'I figured we would need those.' He pulled out the box with the ring and [on his knee] said, 'Will you marry me?' "
And what was her immediate response?
"Do you really want to argue with me for the rest of your life?"
After his positive reply, they celebrated with the flutes filled with some champagne he had told her he had gotten for New Year's.
The ring: Joel worked with a friend who was a jeweler to combine elements from several different samples into one engagement right. "It's a circle-cut diamond in the middle with smaller ones on each side," he says. "It's simple."
The invitations: While Joel was happy with Katie doing most of the planning, she deferred to his preference for the non-fussy.
"It took us a really long time to find invitations," Joel says.
"It seemed like a every night she was showing me invitation [samples] and I was saying no. I wanted them to be a little bit more modern."
They went with a zippy, graphic invite that she found online at Minted.
The place: With a Baltimore-centered theme, the couple thought The Mansion at Valley Country Club was a perfect fit.
"They have this gorgeous sports bar with all this sports memorabilia of [owner] Art Donovan's," Katie says. It also made the wedding planning easier, with the club supplying the catering, liquor, and tables and chairs.
About 130-150 guests are expected, first for an outdoor ceremony.
"We'll stand on the stairs of the mansion, above everyone, so they can see us well," Katie explains.
All 11 of their nieces and nephews -- ages 1-13 -- will be part of it, as well as four bridesmaids, five groomsmen, a maid-of-honor and best man.
The colors: The colors of wedding are the colors of the Orioles -- orange and black. The bridesmaids will wear short black dresses with pockets from David's Bridal. They'll each carry a bouquet featuring an orange-colored mango Calla Lily, with a little bit of purple mixed in, to give the Ravens fair representation. All the smaller girls will carry orange Gerber daisies. All the flowers will be from Betty's Garden in Towson.
The guys will wear black tuxedos with orange vests, ties and pocket squares.
The couple will use engagement photos they took at various well-known Baltimore locations as table toppers, with guests finding their seats according to locale.
The cake: It's Balmer all the way, hon -- thanks to SugarBakers Cakes.
It's more of a sheet cake that looks like a picnic table, topped with fondant "newspaper" and two life size fondant "steamed crabs." Each crab is holding a ring in one claw, and the other crab's claw in the other.
Something extra: Guests will also get a little something to play with -- customized Mad-Lib sheets (printed on orange paper).
An example: "Wedding advice for the happy couple!
We are so (adjective) for Katie & Joel! They are the most (adjective) (plural noun) and we wish them nothing less than (adj)(noun) for the rest of their lives together."
Why it took 10 years: "We're glad that we had our misspent youth to get out all the nonsense out that made us into the people we are today...There have been ups and downs over the years, but our bond is stronger than ever," says Katie.
"[We've learned] you can't sweat the small things. We can be arguing about something one minute and a couple minutes later, it's gone."
"[Marriage] is one of those decisions that you want to be really, really sure about," says Joel.
"You don't want to do this twice."
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