On first date, she knew fate



Tricia Smith realized on her very first date with Andrew McGhie that he was the man she would marry.

The couple were having dinner at a restaurant near the Inner Harbor and Andrew, hoping to extend the evening, wanted to order a dessert wine. But the restaurant didn't stock dessert wines. Pounding on the table in mock exasperation, Andrew-- in the thick accent of his native Australia -- was jokingly pleading with the waiter to come up with some beverage besides coffee, explaining how much he wanted to impress Tricia and keep the night going.

It was then, as the waiter laughed and other diners turned to see what the friendly commotion was about, that "all of a sudden it hits me that I'm going to marry this guy," Tricia recalls.

"At that very moment, the feeling just overwhelmed me and it really hasn't gone away," she says.

Tricia didn't tell anyone about her revelation. In fact, she wondered whether she should truly believe it herself. ("I didn't want to jinx it," she confides.)

But Andrew knew that something extraordinary was happening, too. The couple saw each other every day for three weeks after that first date. They met for dinner, went bicycle riding and arranged casual outings after work.

The dates marked the first time that Andrew truly felt comfortable in the United States. Originally from Boggabri, Australia (a "little country town," he says), Andrew moved to Baltimore in November 1997 to become director of customer service for Northeast Foods, the local firm that supplies buns to the region's McDonald's restaurants.

Andrew knew very few people when he moved here, and on the spring day in 1998 when he and Tricia had their first date, he found himself a bit homesick, wondering why he had come to the United States in the first place.

Tricia has lived in the Baltimore area since 1996, when she came here to take a radiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has been a staff radiologist at Hopkins since July 1997. She and Andrew met through a friend.

They had their first date in April 1998. On Mother's Day, Andrew met Tricia's mother, Patty Smith, and her younger sister, Jane, who live in Fairfax, Va. That June, Andrew and Tricia joined two of her brothers (she has four), their families and her father, Rodger Smith of Omaha, Neb., for a brief vacation in Hilton Head, S.C. The couple went to Holland later that month -- to attend the wedding of one of Andrew's friends -- and when they returned home, it was obvious to all who saw them together that they would be the next to marry.

They became engaged in August while Andrew's mother, Zima McGhie, was visiting them in Baltimore. She took home a glowing report to her husband, Malcolm, and Andrew's three siblings, about the striking, self-assured woman who had stolen Andrew's heart.

When the couple made a relatively sudden decision to marry on Valentine's Day, Mrs. McGhie knew she couldn't miss it. And so on Feb. 14, Andrew, 35, and Tricia, 33, were married at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore. It was an intimate affair with just 40 guests: a few of the couple's friends, Tricia's parents, her siblings and their families, and Andrew's mother. (Mrs. McGhie will hold her own reception for the couple during their honeymoon trip to Australia.)

Though Andrew and Tricia seemed to have overcome most of the cultural differences between them, during their reception at the Admiral Fell Inn in Fells Point, it became obvious that Andrew still has a few things to learn about American customs.

When Tricia's nieces and nephews began enthusiastically tapping their spoons against their water glasses, Andrew looked around the room, perplexed.

"You have to kiss her every time you hear this," someone called out. "It's an American thing," another guest chimed in.

"Oh," said Andrew, suddenly grinning. And the room filled with laughter as he obligingly swept Tricia into his arms and kissed her straight on the lips.

Pub Date: 02/28/99

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