Wedded: Kia Houston and Mike Castille

Date: May 31

Her story: Kia Houston, 37, grew up in Baltimore and Randallstown. She is a budget specialist for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her parents, Vernetta and Daniel Wilson, live in Randallstown.

His story: Mike Castille, 38, grew up in Queens, N.Y. He is a systems engineer for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. His mother and stepfather, Brenda and Lester Yard, live in Bowie. His father, Nolan Castille, lives in Queens.

Their story: Kia and Mike met in late 2007 when they were both working at MBNA Corp., which was based in Baltimore at the time.

Kia was in the company's cafeteria sandwich line one day when she sparked a casual conversation with Mike, who was standing nearby. They made small talk about the food and how they wished there were more lunch options, and talked about their respective jobs and departments. They went their separate ways shortly after, until later that day when Kia looked up from her desk to find Mike standing there.

"He said, 'Oh, so since we both hate the food here, how about we go to lunch together?' " Kia says. They talked for about a week through email and then went to lunch at Chipotle, which they consider to be their first date.

The couple have a 5-year-old daughter, Kayla, and live in East Baltimore.

The proposal: After work one day in January 2013, Kia was at her and Mike's home talking to her mother on the phone. She says that Mike and Kayla kept occasionally walking into the room to see if Kia was still on the phone.

When Kia hung up, Mike and Kayla came into the room, and Mike proposed.

"He came to me and he told me how much he loved me and how he was so blessed that I had given him a daughter," Kia says, "and that he couldn't live the rest of his life without me. And he dropped down on one knee."

The ceremony: Kia and Mike decided to keep their engagement a secret rather than immediately sharing the news with friends and family.

"Out of the blue, I was like, 'Well, why don't we do something different?' " Kia says. "I said, 'Why don't we have a surprise wedding?' "

So for an entire year, the couple didn't reveal the engagement to anyone except their parents.

"We decided to tell the guests that they were coming to a surprise engagement party for us," Kia says. "We got invitations printed and they actually say 'surprise engagement party for Kia and Mike.' We had Mike's mom send them out so they would be postmarked Bowie."

Meanwhile, the couple was planning a wedding that would be revealed to guests when they arrived for what they thought was the surprise engagement party. Kia and Mike chose the Hyatt Regency Baltimore as their venue and worked with event planner Julie Brown-Edwards to coordinate the day.

When guests arrived, they were directed into a ballroom at the hotel, which was set up with a bar, decorations, music and hors d'oeuvres.

An emcee was assigned to walk into the ballroom and abruptly notify the 90 guests that Kia and Mike "no longer want to be engaged." Kia, who later watched a guest's video of the announcement, says that there were gasps and cries.

"You see women like, putting their hands on their chest; they're looking at each other like, 'Oh my God.' You heard somebody say, 'Oh, poor Kia, I know she's devastated.' "

After the shock announcement, the emcee revealed to the guests that instead of an engagement party, they had actually been invited to Kia and Mike's wedding that was taking place later that day on the hotel's rooftop.

"The place roared with screams," Kia says.

Flowers and decor: The theme for the wedding was "Love is…" and the colors were platinum and white.

Sheila Smith Wedding and Event Floral Design in Bel Air made Kia's bouquet and the centerpieces using white hydrangeas and peonies, ivory roses and lamb's ear with crystal and rhinestone accents.

The ceremony space was decorated with a pergola wrapped in white ribbons, and a chalkboard aisle runner was inscribed with love quotes.

Reception tables were named after words to complete the "Love is…" sentiment, including 'friendship' and 'sincere.'

Her dress: The bride wore a strapless, fit-and-flare gown with an embroidered bodice embellished with Swarovski crystals and a ruffled organza skirt from Amanda Ritchey Bridal & Beauty in Fallston.

She wore her mother's heart-shaped diamond bracelet as her "something borrowed."

Kayla, who was the flower girl, wore a tulle dress trimmed with white feathers from Cassie's Closet, an online boutique.

Groom's attire: Mike wore a steel gray Calvin Klein tuxedo from Men's Wearhouse.

Music: DJ K-Swyft of SoundVision DJs in Baltimore entertained. Kia and Mike's first dance was to "For the Rest of my Life" by Robin Thicke.

Food and dessert: The rooftop cocktail hour after the ceremony featured a mashed potato bar with customizable toppings.

For dinner, the Hyatt made a mixed green salad with strawberries and goat cheese, cedar plank salmon and braised beef short ribs.

SugarBakers Cakes in Catonsville made a cake for dessert. A popcorn and candy bar featuring items from and PopDream Gourmet Treats in Owings Mills was set up for guests to pack snack bags as favors.

Special touches: Baltimore-based poet A. Adar Ayira read her poem "When I Said Yes" during the ceremony.

Kia and Mike's friends Shawn and Tolan Zollicoffer of Randallstown are the couple's "mentors in marriage" and read a letter during the ceremony sharing their support.

Kia and Mike wrote letters to each other and sealed them in a box during the ceremony, along with a bottle of wine, to open on their 25th anniversary.


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