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When Kristen Emanuel and David Martignetti decided to marry, they knew exactly what they wanted their wedding reception to be: the beginning of a long line of great parties they would give together.

And so on Nov. 28, the newlyweds gathered 140 family members and friends at the historic Elkridge Furnace Inn for the party of their lives. From the time they wandered hand-in-hand down the inn's well-worn brick path to the second they dashed out the door at night's end, Kristen and David savored every single moment.

In cozy rooms dotted with framed childhood photographs as well as pictures taken during their courtship, the couple laughed as guests recalled old stories and offered blessings.

"You are a beautiful, beautiful bride," David's grandmother, Roberta Pekerow, told Kristen as she and the bride shared a quiet moment in an upstairs room. "May your life together shine ** as you do," the older woman said with a smile.

In the heated tent behind the inn, Kristen and David held court among evergreens sparkling with tiny lights and tables covered with white and gold satin, crowned by grapevine wreaths wrapped with ribbon and roses.

They shared their first dance - to Elton John's "Your Song" - with family and friends circled around. And though he held her close to him for most of the song, David offered Kristen a few surprise spins, much to the delight of the crowd.

A few minutes later, the guests applauded with gusto once more as Kristen's parents offered the couple their good wishes. Reading an excerpt from a poem she wrote to mark Kristen and David's wedding day, Kristen's mother smiled as she said, "So good-bye to the past for your mother is ready to say 'Hello, Mrs. Martignetti.'"

It was a special night for a relationship that didn't have such an ethereal beginning.

Two years ago, in the spring of 1996, David was a transplanted New Yorker who was working at the TGI Fridays restaurant in Towson while he earned his Maryland teacher's certification. Kristen, an interior designer and space planner for MIE Properties in Catonsville, joined the wait staff part time to supplement her income.

David, with his black T-shirts, Long Island upbringing and self-proclaimed "rebel attitude," wasn't overly impressed with the new girl who claimed to be an interior designer. "Everybody who's a waiter always says they do something else," he recalls with a laugh.

And Kristen didn't think much of the guy who didn't take her career seriously and seemed to be going out of his way to antagonize her. "He was annoying," she says, though there is a teasing tone in her voice as she recalls her first impression.

In August of that year, depending on whose version you find more credible, David invited Kristen - or Kristen invited herself - to Dewey Beach, Del., for a weekend at the coed group house David shared with friends.

It was a three-hour ride in a car without a radio. But Kristen and David survived the journey, and by the end of the weekend the unlikely couple had become, as David puts it, "partners in crime."

Their friendship quickly blossomed into a relationship, though Kristen's friends say it was months before the normally stoic Kristen would talk about her feelings for David to them.

In August 1997, Kristen moved to downtown Baltimore and she and David, who already lived in the city, saw each other nearly every day. That autumn, David began teaching English at the city's Garrison Middle School.

In May of this year, Kristen bought the two-bedroom, two-and-a half story Federal Hill rowhouse the couple now share. It was during the renovation process - after a long July weekend sanding floors - that David took Kristen out for dinner and surprised her by proposing as they sat on a bench in Canton Square.

"I'm not the kind of guy who could keep it a secret," David says, explaining that he had bought the ring just a few days earlier. "It was burning a hole in my pocket and I wanted to plant it on her finger."

On Nov. 28, Kristen, 26, and David, 29, were married at Chestnut Grove Presbyterian Church in Phoenix. Kristen's sister, Laura, was her maid of honor. The groomsmen included David's brother, Rich.

David's parents, Philip Martignetti of Sebastian, Fla., and Susan Cunliffe of Winston-Salem, N.C., smiled broadly as their youngest son and his new wife were introduced. Kristen's parents, Jim and Marilyn Emanuel of Baldwin, eagerly welcomed their new "son" to the family.

The happiness the newlyweds and their parents shared that day was increased by an unexpected but joyful turn of events. Kristen and David announced in September that they are expecting their first child - news which became "a double blessing for all of us," says Marilyn Emanuel.

How did you two meet?

To share your unique story with readers, send a brief letter to Just Married, Features Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Or fax us at 410-783-2519. Tell us how you and your fiance or fiancee met and how you courted. Did you meet on the job, at a health club or through a dating service? Where did you go on your first date? To a neighborhood coffeehouse or an amusement park? We want to know.

Letters must reach us at least 30 days before the wedding and must include the wedding date and a daytime and evening phone number for the bride and groom.

If your letter is selected, someone from The Sun will contact you so that we can get the full story for our Just Married feature.

Right now we are looking for January and February weddings to spotlight.

Pub Date: 12/06/98

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