On the night of her company's holiday party three years ago, Amy Strong's date called her to cancel. Just hours before the biggest party of the year for the staff of Union Memorial Hospital, she was left dateless and wearing a new dress.
Instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for herself, Amy went solo to the event at the Belvedere in Baltimore. "I figured I would just go for the dinner, and leave before the dancing started," she said.
Toward the end of dinner the band began to play and Amy felt a tap on her shoulder. Behind her stood a handsome hospital employee who asked: "May I have this dance?"
Saied Asfa, a surgical resident from Iran, had never met Amy, who is assistant vice president of communications for the hospital. "I was just sitting at a table with all my of colleagues and said to one of them, 'Why don't you go dance with that beautiful girl?' He didn't do it, so I decided to. I didn't even know her name," he said.
"I wasn't done with my dinner, but I thought I'd have one dance with him," Amy said.
One dance turned into two, two into three and three into an entire evening of swaying and talking in each other's arms.
"We didn't leave the dance floor all night," said Amy.
When the party came to an end, Amy gave Saied a ride to his car and her phone number. Two days later, they started dating.
After six months of seeing each other regularly, Amy had made up her mind: Saied was the man she wanted to marry. Unfortunately, Saied came down with a classic case of cold feet. "He didn't know what he wanted, and I made it clear I wanted one thing," said Amy. "Things got really strange after that."
So strange that Amy and Saied decided to take a break. "I was devastated," said Amy. "I was having a really hard time getting over him."
Meanwhile, Saied saw what he was missing. "I always told myself that marriage is something that stays with you forever," he said. "I just needed some time to think by myself. When I did this, I knew that she was the right person."
Fast-forward to December 2001, the night of another company holiday party at the Belvedere. Amy and Saied had not spoken in six months. With butterflies in her stomach, Amy took to the dance floor with a friend. Suddenly, she felt a familiar tap on her shoulder. It was Saied, asking to cut in. Reluctantly, Amy agreed to dance.
"I was trying to steer clear of him," Amy said. "So I had no idea what to expect."
Right there on the dance floor, surrounded by hundreds of their co-workers, Saied asked Amy to forgive him. Then, he asked her to be his wife.
"I was in tears, and all my colleagues were gathered around me to make sure I was OK," said Amy. "Then they realized I was crying because I was so happy."
"I always wondered who could complete my life," said Saied. "And I never thought about hair color or eyes, just personality and mind. I'm lucky, because she completes my soul, and she's beautiful, too."
To complete their wedding celebration, Saied's parents, whom he had not seen in six years, were granted visas to travel from their home in Isfahan, Iran, to the United States for the event.
On Aug. 30, Saied and Amy, both 36, were married at the Belvedere in a ceremony incorporating several Persian traditions. For one tradition, the couple tasted a rock of sugar from caves in Iran. "It celebrates love," said Saied. "And a long, sweet life together."