Engaged: Lauren Gormley & Michael Koehler
It was an instant connection for this couple who met on match.com.
Lauren Gormley and Michael Koehler. (handout art from the couple, Baltimore Sun / April 19, 2012)
Wedding date: November 17, 2012
Her story: Lauren Gormley, 29, grew up on the Eastern Shore, outside Ocean City, in the small town of Bivalve, Maryland. Her father, Richard Gormley, is a professor of hotel and restaurant management at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Her mother, Christine Gormley, is a point of care coordinator for Atlantic General Hospital. Lauren Gormley is an optometrist with Katzen Eye Group.
His story: Michael Koehler, 28, grew up in Catonsville. His father, Peter Koehler, is a module manager at the U.S. Social Security Administration. His mother, Doreen Schweitzer, is a retired IT specialist at SSA. His stepfather, David Schweitzer, is general manager of dining services at Charlestown Retirement Center. Michael Koehler is an editor/producer at VPC, Inc. He is also a musician, and plays guitar, piano and sings in a local band, an acoustic trio, called Gutter Rose.
Their story: Lauren and Michael met on match.com. in 2010.
"We are an internet love story," says Lauren. "I had been out of a relationship for a little while and was looking for something a little bit more serious."
"I decided there weren't too many places to meet people. With my [day] job and stuff, I don't work with too many women. And the only girls I would meet when I was out with my band and playing were either drunk or crazy," says Michael.
They immediately found they had a lot in common.
"We're pretty quirky people," Lauren says.
"One of the things we talked about a lot is that we both were fans of the show 'The Walking Dead.,'" she says. "We had conversations about what we would do for the zombie apocalypse. It was really funny. We both really like music, live music. And we both have dogs."
After a few conversations, the couple had their first date, November 11, 2010, meeting at Starbucks for coffee. Only one problem: Michael didn't tell her that he doesn't drink coffee or tea.
"I don't drink any hot liquids at all," says Michael. " But Lauren was really good at walking me through the steps of picking a tea out.
"If it wasn't love at first sight, it was pretty darn close to it.
"Within the first 10 minutes of talking to her, I knew this was someone I was going to get along with very, very well," he says.
"I would say, as soon as we met and sat down and talked, I was quite certain it was going to be a serious relationship," she agrees.
"What was supposed to be a half hour coffee date turned into a two hour plus pizza date," he says.
The relationship was off and running.
The near miss:The couple knew early on that this was "the" relationship. But, Lauren still wanted to make sure.
"I'm much more the practical one and he's much more the romantic,' says Lauren. " And so I had told him pretty early on that being together for a year was the minimum amount of time to be together before getting engaged." Michael promised he would honor that request.
But, an event last summer threatened to make him look like he had gone back on his word.
"We were at the beach [at Ocean City] with my family last June. Lauren was up on the beach sunbathing and I was out in the water with my family," he says.
"This plane flies by with this banner that said, Lauren, will you marry me?" she continues.
"I see it and I'm trying to decide whether to pretend I'm asleep because I was almost positive that it wasn't his airplane. But what were the chances that it would be there?"
Michael picks up the story.
"I look up and saw this airplane and thought, Oh no, because my family had been giving her a hard time [about the proposal delay] all week," he says. "So, I started running out of the water, flailing my arms, yelling, 'It's not my plane, it's not my plane.' Then the plane starts circling us. And everyone's looking at us because I'm running, waving my arms and screaming."
"We finally convince everybody it's not us and get them settled down. And his 92 year old grandmother turns to me and asks, 'Well, did you say yes?' "
They never found out whose plane it was.
The real proposal: "I had known for months and months and months that I was going to ask her. I knew that it had to be sometime around November 11th. But I knew the only way I could surprise her was to jump the gun," says Michaeld.
He planned it for the morning after her birthday, October 23, 2011. He didn't sleep well.
"I ended up waking up at 5:45 in the morning and I had to wait 2 hours for her to wake up," he says. "I'd make little noises and get the dog to make noises. Finally I got the ring and poked at her until she woke up. I just couldn't wait any more."
After she said yes, the couple went out to brunch, where he surprised her with a big group of family and friends.
The ring: Michael worked with Steve Brown, a goldsmith and jewelry designer, and the father of friend Matt Brown. Three interwoven bands of pave diamonds surround the 1.25 gem.
The place: The couple plays kickball in Federal Hill and on the way to games drive by the American Visionary Art Museum.
"It's such an awesome funky place," Lauren says. "It's very much our personalities."
Two days after the proposal, they booked it.
Lauren and Michael decided they didn't want a strong theme, nor did they want something really traditional — not a whole lot of flowers, no bouquet toss, no garter. The bridesmaids dresses are a dark fuchsia. The groomsmen will wear charcoal gray suits. And the flowers are mostly greenery.
Instead of traditional centerpieces, tables are going to be tablescaped with all sorts of things — branches, candles, mixed metallics of silvers and bronzes, candle stands and candleholders.
"With sequins and glitter, making it really, really fun," Lauren says.
To keep the spirits up and the energy flowing, Chef's Expressions will have food stations set up, instead of a served sit-down dinner.
"There will a lot of our favorite things, like mini grilled cheese sandwich sandwiches and tomato soup, a slider bar; fun food that are easy to eat and keep the festive mood going," she explains.
"I've really enjoyed working with the caterers and picking the food and doing the food tasting," Michael adds.
Lauren says music is Michael's area of expertise. A childhood friend of his, Mike Keller, is a professional deejay.
"If I'm going to pick someone to play music at my wedding, it might as well be someone I'm friends with," he says. Music-wise, Michael is helping put together the play list of "rock 'n roll and dance music and just a little bit of everything."
The photographer: This was a wedding component Michael felt strongly about.
"If we're going to have this big party we're putting on for everybody, we want to have the best pictures we can to commemorate it," he says. They're using Annapolis photographer David Hartcorn.
"He's a fantastic photographer and has a lot of quirky ideas that fit with our personalities," says Michael. "The [engagement photos he's going to do] are going to be slightly non-traditional. I can tell you that it is going to have something to do with our first conversations. There will be slight post-apocalyptic theme."
Stress level: "It hasn't been terrible because we're paying for the wedding ourselves. I think sometimes people get bogged down with other obligations when there are other people paying," Michael says.
"Once it's over, Lauren and I will lock ourselves in the house for a month, not talk to anyone and get into being married," he says.
"I already thought my life was pretty good, but I've found someone to make it even better," she says.
"Though she's still working on getting me to drink coffee," he declares.