Her story: Jannette Merritt, 31, grew up in Owings Mills. She is a technical accounts manager at Livefyre, a social content sharing company, in its New York City office. Her father, Otis Merritt III, a retired warden of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and stepmother, Clarice Paschall , live in Baltimore. Her mother, Marlene Merritt-Hall, and stepfather, Charles Hall, live in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
His story: Michael Phillips, 40, grew up in Queens, N.Y. He is a network engineer for Collective, an online audience targeting company based in New York City. His mother, Shirley Phillips, lives in Weeki Wachee, Fla. His father, C. Alex Phillips, died in 2011.
Their story: In 2009, Jannette, who was living and working in Maryland at the time, went on a weekend business trip to New York City. One evening during the trip, she met Michael at a dinner lounge, and the two briefly made small talk. They exchanged phone numbers at the end of the night, but with her return to Maryland, Jannette says she didn't think much else of their encounter.
A year after their meeting, Jannette was going through the contacts in her cellphone and came across an entry for "Michael P." She couldn't place who the number belonged to, so she called and left a voice mail explaining that she might delete the contact. Michael returned her call, and after a short conversation, the two realized that they had met the previous year. A friendly relationship followed, with the two occasionally checking in and sending text messages of well wishes on holidays.
"Most of the time, we would just have these really good conversations over the phone, and I think maybe that's where my interest grew," Jannette says.
Michael also frequently traveled to Virginia for work and would invite Jannette to meet at a halfway point in Washington for dinner. In late 2010, Jannette suggested that they spend a weekend in Philadelphia to see if their relationship could potentially grow.
"We went to Love Park and took a picture in front of the Love statue," Jannette says. "I was like, 'Oh, he's really sweet.' Our next phone conversation was kind of based around, 'How do we make this work?'"
They dated long-distance for the next three years, visiting each other twice a month by riding the BoltBus between Baltimore and New York.
Jannette moved to New York City after the wedding to live with Michael.
The proposal: In May 2013, Jannette and Michael returned to Philadelphia for a weekend trip. They went back to Love Park and asked a bystander to take a picture of them in front of the sculpture, which was part of Michael's secret plan.
"The first real picture we have together was in front of the Love statue, so it just seemed like a great place to propose," Michael says.
He knelt down on one knee as Jannette was posing for the camera and a crowd gathered to watch as he proposed.
"I was really impressed with how everything just came full circle," Jannette says. "I was totally surprised that Mike actually listened when I said I'd dreamed of an Asscher-cut ring."
The venue: About 110 guests attended the ceremony and reception at Milton Ridge wedding chapel in Clarksburg. Jannette's stepbrother, Charles A. Hall Jr. of Owings Mills, presided.
Men's attire: The men wore dark gray Vera Wang tuxedos from Men's Wearhouse. Michael wore a white tie and pocket square, while the groomsmen wore pink ties and pocket squares.
Each groomsman received a personalized flask as a gift from Michael.
Music: Milton Ridge provided a DJ for the evening. Jannette and Michael's first dance was to "You Don't Understand Love" by Jah Cure.
Food and dessert: Milton Ridge Catering made bacon-wrapped scallops and crab cakes as appetizers, followed by filet mignon and chicken breast stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat for dinner.
Meghan Gourley of Sweet and Savory in Frederick made a two-tier cake decorated with pink ombre icing. A custom cake topper from Etsy.com was modeled after the Love statue, with Jannette and Michael's monogram inside the "O."