Engaged: Megan Strasdauskas & Brian Nee
Engaged couple, Megan Strasdauskas & Brian Nee. (handout art from couple, Baltimore Sun / April 25, 2012)
Wedding date: October 27, 2012
Her story: Megan Strasdauskas, 27, grew up in Towson. Her mother, Leslie Wright, is community coordinator for the Citizen Law Related Education Program. Megan is the jewelry account manager for Radcliffe Jewelers.
His story: Brian Nee, 30, grew up in Cockeysville. His father, Richard Nee, is a retired business executive. His mother, Maureen Nee, is a school nurse at Padonia International Elementary School. Brian is a sales representative for Chesapeake Packaging Products and an assistant varsity lacrosse coach at The Boys' Latin School of Maryland.
Their story: She went to Notre Dame Preparatory School and he went to Boys' Latin, but they didn't know each other in high school. "I know we went to the same parties but I was a lowly freshman and he was a cool senior," Megan says. In 2008, she was living in Canton with some of her friends. He was living in Canton with some of his. The two groups would run into each other and hang out together.
"We all loved him," says Megan. "He was so nice to all of us girls. He was having a party the weekend after Valentine's Day. He didn't want my roommates and me walking home alone. So, he walked us home and at the door, out of the blue, he asked me out.
"[The night of the date,] I was so nervous. I didn't know if this was a real date or just hanging out. But — with parking the way it is in Canton — when he went to trouble of driving up and parking his car, coming up to the house and knocking on the door, I knew it was a date...We went to Holy Frijoles...Our conversation just flowed. It never really stopped. There wasn't any awkward silence or stilted questions.
"My girlfriends said, 'You'd better not mess this up, because we really like him,'" says Megan. "They loved him as a friend and wanted him to still be around."
Their wish came true. The groups of friends played in a kickball league and hung out together. Megan and Brian went on more dates. "And it evolved into a boyfriend-girlfriend thing," she says.
"A big turning point was when I met his family, around May or June [that year]," Megan explains. "That was big deal. He's the youngest of five. We went to his sister's house and I saw all these mini-vans pulling up and all these kids piling out and I thought, What have I gotten myself into? But they're all great. I come from such a small family. I just have one brother. So I love the madness."
And Holy Frijoles has taken on special meaning to the couple.
"We now go there every year to celebrate [the anniversary of their first date], February 18th, in lieu of Valentine's Day."
What makes it work: "He is very shy and quiet and reserved," says Megan. "He's very even keeled in temperament, and I am quite the opposite. I'm more outspoken, more outgoing. Everything gets me going, whether it's good or bad...because I have a temper. But, he doesn't stoke the fire...He'll just say, 'Come talk to me when you're cooled off'...He doesn't sweat the small things. We share the same sense of humor. He just always knows how to make me laugh and make everything okay."
True to Megan's description, Brian's explanation of why he loves her is short and sweet.
"She's just beautiful," he says. "We got along well and she's easy to talk to...[She has a] very vibrant personality. She's always smiling, always laughing; always having a good time.
"I guess there wasn't one particular time I decided to [ask her to marry me]. But if she can put up with me, it was an easy decision for me with such a nice, beautiful girl," Brian says.
The proposal: Both of them have a lot of affection for Ocean City, having spent summers there with their family, growing up.
"I wanted to [propose] down at the beach," Brian says. "We had talked about going down for [this past]New Year's Eve. So, I talked her into going a day early, Thursday night. I just wanted to really surprise her by doing it on the 30th."
"Looking back, he was more anxious than normal," Megan says."It was 65, sunny; this beautiful, beautiful weather...We walked down to the beach and sat down on [our beach] chairs."
She says she had her eyes closed, soaking up the sun.
"We just were talking about friends who had gotten engaged...and I was asking if you can get married on the beach, do you have to get a permit," she says. "And he said, 'I don't know about getting married on the beach, but I know you can definitely get engaged.' And so I opened my eyes, and he was down on one knee with an open Radcliffe ring box. I started screaming and jumping up and down and asking if he was serious. Of course, he said he was."
His next question was whether he had chosen the right ring.
That answer — also — was yes.
The ring: Since Megan works at a jewelery store, Brian knew she would have some definite ideas about what kind of ring she would want.
"Her good friend [and co-worker] Shirley [Spearman] was very helpful," he says. "She did some reconnaissance work for me."
There was a specific New York designer — Joseph Dardashti — that Shirley knew Megan liked when she saw his things at a trunk show three years ago.
"So, Shirley and [store owner] Paul Winicki brought in samples for stock for the store," says Megan."They just knew that because I loved this designer so much that I would come over and try things on."
Shirley took notes and reported back to Brian.
"The ring is a reproduction from the 1920's — very Art Deco style," says Megan. "There are pave diamonds around the center diamond — which is round — and two emerald cuts on either side, set in platinum."
The wedding: It, too, will be in Ocean City, at The Sunset Room — which is part of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, on the bay side.
"The best way I can describe it is that it's a barn by the beach, with exposed beams, floor to ceiling windows and a wraparound double porch," says Megan. "It got its name because you have the best view of the sunset from anywhere in Ocean City."
The ceremony will be outside on the deck, with Brian's brother-in-law, Tim Daly, officiating.
The theme is rustic beach-chic. Lots of ivory and natural candlelight.
"We've been collecting spaghetti sauce jars and taking the labels off them to use as votive candle holders with a Mason jar look," she says.
Tablecloth and napkin colors will probably be a little bit of blush and champagne, beachy neutral colors. They're still working on the flowers with Ocean City floral designer Julie Witt. But, Megan envisions centerpieces of baby's breath and peonies, her favorite flower, if they're in the right price range. Instead of being wrapped with a ribbon tied in a bow at the back, chair covers will be wrapped and tied with strips of burlap.
What's most important to the couple is that everyone at the wedding feel comfortable and have a good time. That's why she's letting her six bridesmaids, maid-of-honor and matron-of-honor choose their own dresses.
"Because I have many a [bridesmaid's] dress that will never be re-worn," she says. "I told them to get something in champagne, blush or a khaki color — a short cocktail dress."
She's asked each to email her a photo of the dress they like for her approval, before they buy it.
As far as her dress is concerned, Megan will only reveal it's an ivory gown with a champagne sash from the Vera Wang White Collection from David's Bridal.
She's still searching for her perfect wedding shoes. But, because they are for her wedding, she'll probably splurge on a pair of Jimmy Choo's from Saks Fifth Avenue.
Brian chose what he wanted all the guys in the wedding party — including himself — to wear; navy blue sports coats, khaki pants, with a soft pink or champagne plaid or gingham shirt.
"The neckwear is still up for debate, either a long or bow tie," says Megan. "That's all up to Brian. He doesn't like to get terribly dressed up. He's more of a business-casual kind of guy.
Brian says he's going for open collar.
The Sunset Room's Centerplate catering will provide food stations offering some of the couple's favorites, like braised short ribs, macaroni and cheese, field green salad and Maryland crab soup.
They haven't decided on a cake yet, but are exploring the possibility of cupcakes.
Brian is in charge of the music, and is scouting Ocean City area deejays.
Other than marrying Brian, what Megan is most looking forward to that day is the morning.
"Getting ready with my mom, my grandmother, my friends and my sisters-to-be...drinking champagne and getting our hair done and getting dressed up."
Her favorite wedding planner: "I'm doing a Pinterest page all about the wedding," says Megan. "It's very useful...I show it to Brian and email him ideas all day long. He's extremely tolerant."