Engaged: Sarah Friedman and Joshua Wilen
It will be the Ravens vs. the Steelers at this Baltimore couple's wedding
Joshua Wilen and Sarah Friedman's wedding will pit Steelers fans against a die-hard Ravens family. (Justin Mein, Baltimore Sun / March 18, 2012)
Her story: Sarah Friedman, 31, grew up in Baltimore. Her father, Lou Friedman, heads up Lou Friedman & Co., an Owings Mills accounting and financial services firm. Her mother, Paula Friedman, is a cardiac nurse at Sinai Hospital. Sarah went to college at the University of Pittsburgh, where - in her junior year - she had to watch the Super Bowl alone in her dorm room, because all her friends were Steelers fans. Friedman returned to Baltimore, where she is now a pediatric nurse at Sinai Hospital.
His story: Josh Wilen, 31, grew up in Pittsburgh. His dad is Ron Wilen, Get Go store manager in the Pittsburgh area. His mom, Barbara Libman, is a former executive assistant for Hanover Insurance Group and lives near Boston. He went to Indiana University in Pennsylvania and was moved to Baltimore five years ago by Target, where he is now the executive team leader of assets protection at its new store in Crofton.
Their story: They met on JDate. "I wrote my profile, but it wasn't very appealing...It's hard to talk about yourself and try to brag," says Sarah. "So, I didn't get very many responses. And those I did get weren't people I was really interested in pursuing. So, then a friend went behind my back and made another profile [of me]. When she started getting responses, she had to tell me and give me the password. Then, she told me to start responding.
That led to an email correspondence, where they found they had several common interests.
"We don't like the typical stuff. We like things that are little bit unique," says Josh. That meant a July 8, 2009 first date that was a tad quirky - miniature golf, followed by dinner at Friendly's.
Something else they had in common? Each is a rabid fan of his and her hometown football team. "But we're very good together," says Sarah. "When the teams play, we watch together, but we're very civil. However, we have to watch the family. The family is not so civil."
How he proposed two years later: "Because our first date was miniature golfing, I wanted propose on a miniature golf course. Then, when I'd go to pick up a ball, I'd go down on my knee and propose. That was my vision," he says. It didn't quite work out that way.
Sarah was on call that day and had to go in to work. So, Josh got the spare key to Sarah's car from her mother, and hunted down her car in the hospital parking lot. Then, he acted like he was swinging by to pick her up to go for their usual Tuesday night gym night, and took her to her car.
"When I opened the door, on the middle console were a dozen red roses. I picked them up, and when I looked under them, there was a ring. And when I turned around, he was on his knee in the parking lot."
The ring: Sarah told Josh that because the ring would be a gift from him, he should be the one to decide its design
"It looks like a tension ring, with a diamond floating between two bands. But, he knew - as a nurse - I would be bumping it too much and it might loosen the diamond. So he wanted to make it more secure, with added prongs. He put a lot of thought into it...He says it looks like the band is hugging the diamond, because it looks like two arms."
The other ring(!): Josh says he had been kidding Sarah for a while that he didn't think it was fair that only females got engagement rings.
"So, later the night [I proposed], we were at home. She went into one of her drawers and pulled out a box and asked me to marry her," he says. She had gotten the ring - tungsten with carbon fiber weaving through it - and had been saving it to give to him after he proposed. It's now a permanent fixture on his right ring finger.
The place - M&T Bank Stadium: "We both come from rather large families and we knew it was going to be a pretty large wedding," says Sarah.
"So, when it came to nailing down a place for a big wedding - about 400 - it was either a hotel or one of the stadiums. And we're not big baseball fans. So, we looked at some hotels. They're gorgeous, but a hotel is a hotel. My brother got married at AVAM and my sister got married at the Hippodrome. So, I felt like I had to do something extra special. So, my mom mentioned the stadium. For Josh, it was really hard to absorb that it was Ravens stadium...When we talked about looking at it, he wasn't interested. So, I said, what if we made the colors [the Steelers'] black and gold? And he said, well, okay."
His family is a different story.
"His brother is still having a hard time believing he's coming to Ravens stadium. His walls are Steelers memorabilia, so for him to be the best man at the wedding there, it's a lot to swallow," says Sarah.
"My brother asked, how are you going to raise the children?" says Josh, with a laugh.
"And my uncle asked if the stadium authority would allow us to bring in terrible towels."
The attire: Black tie optional, but no jerseys.
The colors and decor: The bridal party will be wearing black and gold, with one exception. One of the three flower girls, Sarah's 1-year old niece, will wear black and purple.
The flowers in Sarah's bouquet will be yellow and purple, while those in her bridesmaids' will be yellow - and all from Radebaugh.
And, yes, Josh will sport either a gold vest or tie with his tux.
Because the stadium's club level already has a lot going on, the only added decor will be black tablecloths with yellow floral centerpieces. Not to worry, Ravens' fans, the room itself has lots of purple.
The dress: A pearl strapless fit-and-flare with an ivory lace overlay by Essence of Australia, from Betsy Robinson.
One of the best planning moments: Officiating Rabbi Jay Goldstein, from Beth Israel, asked the couple to write each other letters about why each wants to marry the other
"Sometimes you get lost in the planning," says Sarah.
"So, it was nice to sit down and remember why we were doing this. Even if it was homework."
She and Josh decided to wait to read what the other had written until the night before the wedding.