Cristi Korbeck Reid and Michael Reid never imagined a chance meeting at an airport rental-car counter in Canada would lead them to a trip down the aisle -- twice.
But that's exactly what happened after Cristi and Michael's long-distance friendship became a long-distance romance.
The couple met in October 1996 when Cristi attended a girlfriend's wedding in Michael's hometown, Montreal. Cristi had a broken foot and was using crutches. Though she could safely drive, she found she could not make the long trek to her departure gate once she had returned her rental car. In stepped Michael, an employee of the rental-car company. He drove her to the departure area and escorted her and her luggage to the ticket counter.
During their time together, the couple chatted about Cristi's visit to Montreal -- her first -- as well as her hometown, Baltimore. When he left, Michael jokingly told Cristi to send him a postcard of Baltimore. But he never gave her his address.
That night, Michael -- using the address on Cristi's rental-car contract -- sent her a get-well card. She responded with a postcard of Baltimore and soon a friendly correspondence was born. The two wrote monthly and even exchanged local delicacies, including Old Bay seasoning.
By January 1998, Cristi and Michael had exchanged telephone numbers and were talking almost daily. That March, Cristi, a doctoral student, spent her spring break in Montreal. Despite Michael's worries that Cristi wouldn't appreciate the bitter cold weather (they once got lost and ran out of gas in a blinding snowstorm), Cristi had a wonderful time. In fact, when Michael asked her, as they waited for a tow truck in his freezing car, what she would tell her roommates about the trip, she boldly answered, "I'm going to tell them I met the man I'm going to marry."
"I don't know where I got the guts to say that," Cristi says laughing, as she recalls the moment.
But Michael was thrilled by her answer. "It made me really happy," he says.
Cristi surprised Michael by driving up for a visit in May. In June, Michael came to Baltimore. In July, Cristi went to Montreal once more. And in September, Michael returned to Baltimore. While he was here, the couple took a trip to Ocean City, where Michael proposed on the beach after jokingly "winning" Cristi's hand in a miniature golf game. (Michael had asked Cristi's parents for their blessing beforehand.)
In February 1999, Michael arrived in Maryland and moved in with Cristi in Mechanicsville, St. Mary's County. It was extremely difficult to leave his friends and family in Canada, he says. But because Cristi is a doctoral student in marine science at the University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Lab in Solomons, it made more sense for Michael to relocate.
In March, Cristi and Michael -- with their parents present -- married in a brief courthouse ceremony that satisfied the requirements of Michael's fiance visa. Two days later, Michael, an aspiring journalist, started work as a sports reporter for the Recorder newspaper in Prince Frederick.
On Oct. 9, Cristi, 28, and Michael, 35, were married again, this time in a full Catholic Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Bushwood. The 100 guests included Cristi's parents, Bob and Nancy Korbeck of Timonium, and Michael's parents, Norman and Patricia Reid of Montreal.
The reception at Holy Angels Church Hall in Avenue reflected the couple's shared love of the sea as well as their humorous and playful nature.
The wedding cake was adorned with fish and included a fountain flowing with blue water; the centerpieces offered two glass fish suspended in fishbowls; and the hall was decorated with fishnets and large paper fish Michael made himself.
Especially popular with the guests were the wedding favors the couple chose for their "real" wedding: pens shaped like fish. They bore the announcement: "It's no fish story. Michael and Cristi got hooked. Oct 9, 1999."