Mary Bannister and Christopher Spearman owe their meeting to circumstance and to Mary's mother. The couple had no idea their introduction would lead to love.
Their story starts in June 1998. Mary was in Salisbury to interview for a summer position at a Victoria's Secret store. Her mother had accompanied her on the drive from Perry Hall. Mary was hired for the job and she and her mother decided to stop for lunch at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Salisbury before heading for home.
Soon after they entered the restaurant, Mary's mother noticed Christopher, performing his duties as an interim manager.
"That's the kind of guy I could see you with," Michele "Shelly" Bannister told her daughter, pointing out Christopher's cute smile and friendly manner as he went from table to table, making sure each party was having a satisfactory meal.
When he got to the Bannisters' table, Mary's mother "chatted him up," Mary recalls. She soon learned that Christopher was from out of town, had been in Salisbury for only one month, wasn't dating anyone and hadn't found much time to socialize.
Mary says she was "mortified" when her mother suggested Mary take Chris sightseeing in Ocean City when she returned for her job.
Though she swears she initially had no intention of following up, Mary called the restaurant when she returned to Salisbury and found out when Christopher was working. Then she went to lunch at Ruby Tuesday by herself. The couple talked briefly and set up a date for that night.
Mary showed Christopher some of the local nightspots and then the two sports fans settled in to watch an Orioles game on television. It was a "nice date," Christopher recalls. "I was thinking that if everything were to fall into place, this person could be special."
The logistics didn't appear promising. Mary lived in Baltimore. She was working in Salisbury only because her family summered in Ocean City. Christopher, who grew up in Williamsburg, Va., was working for only a few months in Salisbury before moving on to a position near Richmond.
But as the end of the summer neared, the couple had met each other's families. And already they were planning how to remain together come fall.
At the end of August, Mary returned to her teaching position with the Baltimore City school system. In September, Christopher moved to Colonial Heights, Va., to become managing partner of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant there (a position he still holds).
In October, Mary resigned from the school system here and took a job in Richmond. (She is now a middle-school teacher at St. Patrick's School in that city.)
On Nov. 18, Christopher dropped by Mary's apartment and surprised her with a marriage proposal. She said yes.
Mary, 26, and Christopher, 25, were married Sept. 17 at St. Pius X Church in Baltimore. Mary's mother and her father, Gerald Bannister, and Christopher's parents, Michael and Mary Spearman of Williamsburg, were among the 150 guests.
Upon entering their reception at the Belvedere, Mary and Christopher were greeted by their parents, who presented them each with a glass of wine and a plate of salted bread to share. The Polish custom -- a tradition in Mary's family -- symbolizes a wish that the newlyweds never know hunger or thirst and that their life together is always spiced with happiness.