Date: May 21
Her story: Karen Hillsley, 25, was born in Durham, N.C., and grew up in Ellicott City. She is a physical therapist at St. Agnes Hospital. Her parents, Russell and Ellen Hillsley, live in Ellicott City.
His story: Jeff Meyer, 24, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and grew up in Cary, N.C. He is an engineer at Zurich Insurance. His parents, Bob and Diane Meyer, live in Cary.
Their story: The two met in late November 2013 at the University of Delaware, where Jeff was in his last year of undergrad and Karen was in her first year of physical therapy school. Karen and Jeff hit it off dancing at a bar, but Jeff didn't get Karen's number.
The two didn't see each other until several months later, when they ran into each other at the same bar. They talked for a few minutes before a group whisked her away to another bar. Jeff wasn't going to miss a second opportunity with Karen, so this time, he made sure he got her number.
"During our conversations, Karen had told me that there had been times when she wasn't sure whether she was on a date. I decided that I better be direct, saying, 'If I took a girl on a date, it would definitely be to Panera.' A few days later that's where we were having lunch," Jeff said.
The two instantly connected.
"We hit it off right away and were at Panera for three hours," Karen recalled. "Jeff did not take a single bite out of his sandwich."
They officially began dating Dec. 5, 2013.
They live in Gambrills with their foxhound-pointer mix, Winnie, and their tabby cat, Frankie.
The proposal: On Jan. 10, 2015, the couple took a trip to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., for the Christmas display. The site was also where they spent one of their first dates.
"Unbeknownst to me, he planned on proposing," Karen said. "I almost ruined his plan by skipping the outdoor exhibits because it was so cold."
Jeff invited their friends to the location so that they could witness the proposal.
"I was distracted," she said. "He had my friends there. I was confused why he had my friends there."
Jeff proposed to Karen at the "Love Temple" gazebo in front of their friends.
"He was down on one knee. I was very surprised," she said. "I didn't expect it. I knew he was thinking about it. But ... I didn't think it was going to be that day. My hand was shaking when I was looking at my ring."
Venue: A total of 175 people attended the wedding, which was held at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, and reception, which was held at Turf Valley.
Flowers and decor: Wicked Willow Floral provided the flowers, which included soft blush roses, blue hydrangeas, white peonies, and dusty miller. Blondell's Accent on Events set up the stage for dancing with a white dance floor, pinlights and draperies, Karen said.
Her dress: Karen found what she called "the perfect dress" — the "Jenny" gown by Enzoani — at Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection. The dress had a scalloped sweetheart neckline, beaded lace and a mermaid skirt.
Bridesmaids' dresses: Bridesmaids wore light aqua strapless dresses with floor-length skirts and sweetheart necklines by Donna Morgan from Nordstrom.
Men's attire: Jeff wore a gray Vera Wang suit from Men's Wearhouse. He completed the look with an ivory tie and vest.
Music: Mydeejay provided the music. For their first dance, the couple performed a routine choreographed by Arthur Murray Dance Studio to "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri. Black Tie Video captured the entire dance on video.
Food and dessert: Turf Valley catered the reception. Cocktail hour included Chesapeake crab and artichoke fondue, brie en croute with raspberry sauce. bacon-wrapped scallops and bourbon barbecue meatballs. Filet mignon and crab cake were the main course. Debi's Cake Studio made a chocolate truffle and strawberry Romanoff cake.
Favors: The couple welcomed guests with bags filled with Herr's Old Bay potato chips, Berger cookies, and chocolate crabs from Sweet Cascades in Ellicott City.
Special touches: The couple honeymooned in Maui, Hawaii.
"Jeff and I enjoyed the idea of leaving for the honeymoon immediately after the wedding," Karen said. "We got married at 4 p.m., ended the reception by 10 p.m., and were on a plane shuttle by 4 a.m."
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