Donnie Cain had to go halfway around the world to meet the woman he would marry. Little did he know that he and Beth Mantegna lived just eight miles apart in Reisterstown.
In May 1993, Donnie and a group of friends embarked on a three-week tour of Europe to celebrate their graduation from Villanova University. Along with them was a University of Maryland student, who upon hearing that Donnie was from Reisterstown, asked him in London if he knew one of her sorority sisters, Beth Mantegna.
"I told her, 'Nope, never heard of her. The university [of Maryland] has a lot of people from Reisterstown. Whatever,' " Donnie recalls, laughing now at his quick dismissal of the query.
Incredibly, a few hours later, the woman spotted Beth at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Beth and good friend Amy Nichols were also on a graduation tour of Europe.
Beth and Donnie were introduced. Both commented on their common roots. And then they went their own way.
A week later, Donnie and his friends were in the American Express office in Munich, Germany, when Beth and Amy walked in. Plans were made to meet at a U2 concert that night. But Donnie missed the appointed time. Amazingly, as he walked into Olympic Stadium - filled with 60,000 people - he spotted Beth.
After the concert, the two groups of friends separated but then met again in Salzburg, Austria. They toured Venice, Italy, together, split up and then ran into each other again at the Vatican in Rome.
After two days of touring the Coliseum, the Catacombs and other Italian national treasures, Beth and Donnie found themselves at a train station. He was heading to Switzerland, while Beth was continuing her travels in Italy. Caught up in the romance that seems to always be in the air in Italy, Donnie and Beth shared a tender goodbye kiss - though to this day they disagree on who kissed who.
Privately, each hoped the relationship would continue back home.
Donnie returned to Reisterstown first. When Beth got back, she gave him a call and they went on a few dates, but nothing came of them.
In the winter of 1994, Beth and Amy, without plans one day, called Donnie and met him for a beer. Tanned and fit from a recent ski trip and settled into a new job, Donnie made quite an impression. A year and a half after Beth and Donnie's chance meeting in Europe, a romance began to blossom.
In May 1997, Donnie proposed to Beth in an elaborate series of surprises that culminated with the presentation of his journal entry from June 10, 1993 - the evening they shared their first kiss. The passage discusses continuing their newfound friendship when they return to Reisterstown.
"I have to admit that it is pretty amazing," Donnie wrote, referring to their many meetings. "We'll see."
On June 20, Donnie, a supervisor for W. R. Grace & Co., and Beth, a manager for Sequoia Software Corp., were married in the chapel at Loyola College. Their parents, Linda and Peter Mantegna Jr. and Karen Cain, all of Reisterstown, were there. And the day was filled with memories of Donnie's father, Donald E. Cain, who died in 1995.
Though they chose to go to Jamaica for their honeymoon, Beth and Donnie, both 26, plan to return to Europe some day to revisit the places where their love began - half a world away from their native Reisterstown.
Pub Date: 6/28/98