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Wedded: Michelle Zilka and Joshua Mawhinney

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Date: Dec. 7

Her story: Michelle Zilka, 36, grew up in Bel Air. She is an assistant lab director at the Center for Inherited Disease Research at Johns Hopkins' Bayview Medical Center. Her parents, Patricia Zilka, who retired in December, and Paul Zilka, a contractor for Lockheed Martin, live in Bel Air.

His story: Joshua Mawhinney, 34, grew up in Bel Air and Fallston. He is an assistant controller for Aerotek, a staffing agency based in Hanover. His parents, Linda Mawhinney, a speech pathologist, and Merv Mawhinney, director of transportation for Baltimore County's schools, live in Fallston.

Their story: Michelle and Josh met through a mutual friend in June 2010. Michelle says her friends persuaded her to go with them to a block party in Canton one weekend, where she ran into a friend from high school who had brought Josh.

About a week after they met, Josh, who plays softball with the Baltimore Sports & Social Club, had a game canceled. He asked Michelle to dinner that night for an impromptu first date at El Salto, a Mexican restaurant near her Parkville home.

"We kind of joke about it, because normally on a first date, I'd go to a fancier place," says Josh.

The proposal: Michelle and Josh say they skipped a few date nights in a row last spring because of their busy schedules. To make up for lost time, Josh suggested they plan something special.

One night in April 2013, they dined at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Harbor East and later stopped by Vaccaro's in Little Italy to pick up dessert.

"She was supposed to go to a bench, and we'd eat our ice cream and it'd be really romantic," Josh says. But Michelle was rushing to get to their car because it was cold outside, so Josh had to improvise. He crossed the street to where Michelle was standing, knelt down on one knee, and proposed with a ring from Smyth Jewelers.

The venue: About 190 guests attended the ceremony at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church in Kingsville, where Michelle attended grade school. Deacon Frank Laws, the father of one of Michelle's friend from grade school, presided. A cocktail hour and reception were held at the 1840s Ballroom in Baltimore.

Decor: "I really love the idea of a Christmas-y, holiday-type wedding," says Michelle. Guests rang jingle bells as Michelle and Josh left the church after the ceremony. The couple drove away in a 1934 classic Lincoln from Lasting Impressions in Westminster.

Lanterns holding candles were accented by winter greens, pine cones and red berries to make the centerpieces. Nutcrackers and a Christmas tree already in place at the venue added to the festive decor. Christmas bulbs decorated with snowflakes served as escort card holders and favors.

Flowers: Jonathans Wedding & Flowers of Forest Hill created Michelle's bouquet using white lilies, stephanotis, red roses, red berries and cedar leaves. The bridesmaids' bouquets included red roses and red gerbera daisies.

Her dress: The bride wore a strapless satin, ivory A-line gown by Essense of Australia from Amanda Ritchey Bridal & Beauty in Fallston. Her jewelry was made by Faye Daniel Designs in Bel Air. Her "something blue" was a sapphire ring that was a gift from Josh for their first Christmas together.

Bridesmaids' dresses: The women wore floor-length, strapless, black satin gowns with pleated bodices from K&B Bridals in Bel Air.

Men's attire: The men wore black tuxedos and black-and-white spectator shoes from Men's Wearhouse. Josh wore an ivory vest and tie to match Michelle's dress, while the groomsmen wore black vests and ties.

Music: DJ Jason Burns of Baltimore entertained. Michelle and Josh's first dance was to "Smile" by Uncle Kracker.

Food and dessert: Dinner, provided by Hunt Valley Catering, included basil fettuccine, chicken marsala, crab cakes and steak. SugarBakers Cakes of Catonsville provided a four-tier cake with raspberry amoretto and red velvet layers. The cake topper had been used by Michelle's grandmother, mother and sister in their weddings. Josh's mother and aunt made Italian cookies in honor of their side of the family's heritage.

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More wedding info

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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