Engaged: Christian Johansson and Lacey Morley
A nautical-inspired wedding on the Eastern Shore is just the ticket for this active, sea-loving couple
Christian Johansson & Lacey Morley (Baltimore Sun / June 18, 2012)
Her story: Lacey Morley, 32, grew up Fork, Md., and currently lives in Federal Hill. She is a member of the leasing team for St. John Properties. Her parents, Paul Morley and Barbara Morley are accountants and partners in Morley & Morley, Inc. in Fork.
His story: Christian Johansson, 40, grew up in Sweden and Omaha, Neb., and currently lives in Federal Hill. He is the Secretary of Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. His father, Sonny Johansson, is a pathology professor at University of Nebraska Medical Center. His mother, Fannie Gaston-Johansson, is a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. His stepmother, Marianne Johannson is a retired educator.
Their story: It was at the old annual summer fundraiser for the Maryland Zoo, "Zoomerang," in 2008.
"We had both come out of long relationships," Christian says. " I see this girl across the way who catches my eye and I feel like I have to go up and introduce myself to her. It was a bit awkward because she was surrounded by five girlfriends. I got her phone number and called her the next day. I don't like to call twice. She didn't call me back for a year and a month."
"It's kind of a miracle that I gave out my number." Says Lacey. "But, I went on an European vacation for a while. Then, I moved. And I was just kind of doing my thing for a while. [However] I saved his number in my phone as Christian Zoomerang, which is where he still is...I saw him at a couple of things here and there, but he was always on the other side of the room. [More than] a year later, July 22, 2009, my girlfriend called me and said, 'I had a client cancel. Do you want to come on this fishing trip with me?' I had never fished in my life. So, I thought it would be something different. I drove down to Solomon's Island, and went on the fishing boat. We caught a bunch of fish, so we took them to this restaurant where they'll cook the fish you caught. I'm sitting there with four guys — captains of the boat and a couple of my friend's clients — waiting for the food. And Christian walks in."
"She was always hard to approach because she was always surrounded by a group," says Christian.
But he did approach. "He said, 'There's a tiki bar around the corner. Let's meet up for a drink,'" remembers Lacey. "I did, and we talked for three hours. I went home, and when I woke up the next day, I looked in my phone and I realized I still had his number. So I texted him - 'It was really fun running into you. It was a great conversation. Perhaps I'll run into you sometime in the Seychelles.' I got a text message back pretty quickly that said, 'Let's not make it so serendipitous. How about we go out on a real date?' So we went out July 26, and I've pretty much seen him every day since then."
Christian took her to Sotto Sopra, where the chef at the time was a friend of his.
"I said, 'forget about the menus. Why don't you make us whatever you think would be good tonight?' And Lacey said, 'what if I don't like it?' So, I said, 'Why don't you tell him what you don't like, and he'll make sure not to include that,'" Christian says with a laugh.
"I don't remember what we had, but it was a very good meal," Lacey says.
Christian says she did seem a little tense, so he decided to do something to maybe get her to relax.
"Sinatra was playing in the background, so, I stood up and asked her dance," he says.
"I was kind of surprised," says Lacey. "I was thinking, why are we dancing when all these people are sitting down eating? But, I was definitely more relaxed when we sat down. I think it was more relief that we weren't dancing anymore."
"It was good music and when you're with someone you're fascinated with, you might be inspired to dance well," Christian says.
"I think after the first date, I was very intrigued by him," says Lacey. "He was different and very smart and very inspiring with what he was trying to do with his job. And I found him very good looking, which always helps. He just had that part of him that you could tell he was a lot of fun, very inspiring, incredibly smart."
"She has these green eyes that you just get lost in," Christian says. "It took me a while to focus on the conversation. But, I just really felt comfortable with her. It felt there was something more than just conversation. I hadn't felt that in a long time."
"I felt like I fell in love with Christian very early [on]," says Lacey. "The whole relationship was so easy. We were both on the same team, trying to better each other's lives and those of the people around us. I remember we were in London [in October 2009] and in a bar called Lab. We were laughing, and I thought, 'I just love this guy and I know I've loved him for a long time.'"
"I knew I was [definitely] in love with her then, too," says Christian. "I knew there was no going back when we were in Australia together [in December, 2010]. We were at the Great Barrier Reef, on this boat where we were learning how to dive. We're sitting on the top deck of the boat, watching the sunset. And I remember thinking, there's no way I cannot be without this woman ever again."
"Christian inspires me," says Lacey. "Every morning he wakes up and he's excited about the day what he's going to accomplish. I'm always learning something when I'm with him and that's something that I love — taking on new things. He has me believing that I can accomplish almost anything. I'm lucky to have that from him.
"He's always up for anything. He rarely says no. He has a very, very, very adventurous spirit and I think when he does something, he does it 100 percent. There's no half way.
"For instance, I'm a division one athlete," Lacey continues. "I played soccer and lacrosse in college. I love any outdoor activity or sports. Christian said he wanted to get in shape for the wedding. We work out six days a week now. I think he's maybe missed two days since January. That's the kind of work ethic he has."
"I have a tendency to be serious," says Christian. "Lacey makes me feel relaxed and that it's okay to have fun. I'm a better person being around her. I love her and I always feel that no matter what happens, she always has my back. I've never felt that way with anyone except my family."
The proposal, Memorial Day, 2011: Christian started talking about marriage in February, 2011.
"I started thinking about rings and kept trying to ask her what she liked and what she didn't," he says. "She wasn't very helpful at all. It was like talking to a brick wall because I was trying to do it without her thinking it was about her. She would say [things like], 'I'd be happy with a mood ring if you asked me,' he says.
By the end of May, he had asked her father's permission and had everything set up for the big ask.
"I was about to leave on a trip to China and Viet Nam we were going to be gone for about two weeks. There had been a fair amount of work-related travel for both of us [during] the weeks leading up to it, and we hadn't had any quality time together. I had promised that Memorial Day weekend we were going to spend the weekend together with her parents at their place in Ocean City. I was leaving on the Tuesday after Memorial Day."
"Thursday morning, I call her and say, 'there are complications for tonight. I have to stop on the way to Ocean City at the Inn at Perry Cabin [inSt. Michaels] because the board has a meeting there and I just have to stop and say hi," says Christian.
Lacey says she was not exactly happy with that hitch.
"She said, get your own ride and hung up," says Christian, with a chuckle.
"Then I called him right back and apologized," says Lacey. "I said I just want to spend some time with you and you're leaving. But if it's important for your job, we'll stop there first. I said it was wrong that I reacted that way. I picked him up and we drove all the way down there."
"I was trying desperately to get the ring in time," says Christian. "I spent months trying to get the diamond and the setting at Radcliffe Jewelers. They agreed to meet me at a parking lot downtown to drop the ring off. I was running late for this meeting on the set of [HBO's] 'Game Change' with the governor. I get [to the parking lot and] pick up the ring, and run to the set of 'Game Change.' It's 100 degrees. I've been running. I'm sweating. My shirt is plastered to me and I'm hanging onto this engagement box for dear life. And I'm looking...not good. I end up joining [the governor and other members of the group] and thinking, 'How am I going to ask her to marry me tonight?'"
Things didn't get any better when Lacey picked him up.
"She hadn't eaten," he says. "And when Lacey hasn't eaten she gets irritated."
"It's called angry," says Lacey, with a laugh.
"She's insisting on stopping at Royal Farms for a grilled cheese," he says. "And I said, 'No, we're not stopping. We have to get there.' Then, I stop saying anything because any time I say something, I'm getting a verbal barrage from Lacey," he says, as they both laugh.
"We get to the Inn at Perry Cabin," he says. "I've already called the hotel, so we have a plan in place. She says, 'I have to go to the bathroom to put some lipstick on.' I went out to the point and waited for her outside."
"When I came out of the bathroom, this lady was there and she said your boyfriend's outside at the point and we start walking out there and I asked her, 'Where are the other board members?' And she said, 'Actually they're right there.' She points to a table of men and she says, 'They're going to meet you outside for a glass of wine.' In true Christian fashion, he's out there [with his back to me] with both phones talking away. I go to sit down. Both phones go in his pocket. He turns around and says, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'I'm just sitting and waiting for you to get off the phone.' As I stood up, he got down on one knee, and I thought, 'Oh. My. God," she says.
"And I asked her to marry me," he says.
"I said, yes. And I was saying to myself, 'Boy, I haven't been on my best behavior today, have I?" Lacey admits.
"She really hadn't," says Christian with a laugh. "I had asked the place to prepare settings outside. We sat outside and had dinner and had a night with all phones off — no disturbances. And we talked about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives."
The ring: "It's a round diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds. I looked for something that I thought was classically beautiful and hoped she would like it," Christian says.
"I did," Lacey says.
The wedding: The couple chose a venue on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay; a place that could also accommodate friends and family coming from out-of-town and overseas.
"It's a union of two families but also a family reunion at the same time, especially for my family, where we don't get to have that that often," says Christian.
The ceremony will take place outside next to the water. Canterbury Strings, a string quartet will provide more atmosphere for the cocktail hour out there, afterward. Then, guests will be invited to a seated dinner under a tent.
"We love the Chesapeake Bay," says Lacey. "We love the ocean. We love anything with water...[So, we're doing] a completely nautical wedding. We did a save-the-date video about us tying the knot. So, the whole wedding revolves around tying the knot, like sailor's knots."
The maid-of-honor, matron-of-honor and five bridesmaids are all wearing navy blue Jim Hjelm short dresses from Gamberdella Bridal Salon.
"They have a ruffled neckline, but they have a very nautical feel. They're gorgeous," Lacey explains.
And gold shoes.
They'll all be carrying bouquets of green goddess calla lilies with lime green hydrangea, finished with natural rope.
Lacey will be wearing an ivory Rivini wedding gown from Betsy Robinson.
"It also has a very nautical feel," she says.
Her bouquet will be large white calla lilies with rolled bear grass, and finished with natural rope.
Christian, his best man and four groomsmen will all wear classic black tuxedos, with small calla lily boutonnieres — his white, theirs green — with a little tied loop of rope.
All the flowers are being done by Floral Impressions, of Parkville. That includes the dinner table centerpieces set on navy tablecloths.
"Some of the tables will have lanterns with rings of white hydrangeas, green thistle and green hypericom berries and various greens," Lacey says. "Some other ones will have a 5-x-5-x-5 glass tube with masses of white hydrangea wrapped in white nautical rope. And other [centerpieces] will have big tall glass cylinder vases with [natural river rocks inside and] curly willow branches, white hydrangea, white Fuji mums, hanging [greens]. There will be votive candles all the way around. I want it to feel as if you're on the water and each table is like you're on your own pier."
The nautical theme shows up on the menu, as well — in hors d'oeuvres like crab dip, crab balls, and scallops wrapped in bacon. For dinner there will be a seafood table with choices like cocktail shrimp, coconut shrimp and oysters on the half shell. There will also be an antipasti bar, a carving station with both beef, turkey, salad, grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes. The catering is being done by the venue.
Christian and Lacey wanted food stations, with no set dinner time.
"[We want you to] get up and eat whenever you want," says Lacey. "We want it to be more free flowing, so people can do what they please"
Around 10 p.m., mini-cheeseburger sliders — a particular favorite of Christian's — will come out.
"That was a bigger priority than the wedding cake," says Lacey.
Speaking of the cake, it'll be vanilla cake with a navy blue fondant frosting, decorated with a white anchor and nautical rope.
Another priority was another of the couple's favorites — the popular Eastern Shore band, Johnny Bling. "Wherever they are we try to see them," says Lacey
The honeymoon: The couple loves to travel, especially when it's not combined with business. They're taking a cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Italy, and then staying a couple extra days in Tuscany.
"That's what Christian's in charge of," Lacey says. She has never been to Italy, and he has only spent a weekend there.
"We wanted to do something we could explore together and make memories together," she says.