The first time Katie Thorne ran into Christian Baumann, he was dressed like a leprechaun and wearing a bright orange T-shirt that said, “Show Me Your Shamrocks.”
It was St. Patrick’s Day 2011, and both were celebrating with friends in Dublin’s well-known Temple Bar. Katie’s friend, who spoke German, started chatting with a group of three spirited, costumed Germans.
“One of the guys could tell I was a bit lost in translation, so he started to talk to me in English,” Katie says. “And that’s when I first met Christian.”
The pair immediately hit it off. Katie, a Vienna, Va., native, had recently moved across the world for a position at the University of Edinburgh as a residence life coordinator. “I didn’t know a single person. I just got on the plane and went for it,” she says. Christian, who then lived in Böhl-Iggelheim, Germany, had a similar passion for traveling and adventure.
The two spent the entire night swapping travel stories and singing along with the pub’s live band. They bonded over their mutual love of music, particularly hard rock legends AC/DC, whom Christian had seen in concert about a dozen times. At the end of the night, they parted ways and made plans to meet up at the same place the next night. “I told my friend, ‘There’s just no way those guys are coming back,’ ” Katie says. “You know, you often meet people at bars and it just doesn’t work out.”
Much to her surprise, all three returned and were wearing the same leprechaun outfits from the night before. “They said they didn’t want us to forget what they looked like,” she jokes.
The rest of the weekend, the group was inseparable. “We spent the whole weekend taking day trips to the beach and celebrating at the pub,” recalls Christian, who is now a sales and logistics administrator at the U.K.-based food company Genius Gluten Free. While in Dublin, he bought an Edinburgh travel guide and made plans to visit Katie at the end of May.
During the next month, their connection continued to blossom over Facebook chat. “I told my parents I had met an American girl in Dublin, she lived in Scotland and that I was going to visit her,” Christian says. “Everybody thought I was crazy . . . but I just wanted to give it a shot.”
Wanting to impress Katie, Christian read every post on her travel blog (in her post about their trip to Dublin, Christian was dubbed “the German”) to learn about her interests.
Katie, wanting to show off for Christian, went online and bought a live DVD of AC/DC to have strategically placed in her home during his first visit. “I thought, I’m just going to have it in my house and so when he comes I’ll say ‘Oh that old thing, I’ve had that forever,’ ” she says.
Little did she know that by purchasing the DVD she was automatically entered into a raffle to win a pair of tickets to a live showing of the DVD with AC/DC band members at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. She won and immediately invited Christian, who eagerly accepted.
“I was shaking, I was so excited!” he remembers.
They booked their flights and decided to meet at the London airport. “When I walked off that plane, I saw him holding a sign for me with my name on it and I just thought, ‘That’s going to be the man I am going to marry,’ ” Katie says.
It was a whirlwind 36 hours. They spent the weekend celebrating with fellow AC/DC fans and exploring the streets of London. Knowing Katie’s love for the British rock band Queen and singer Freddie Mercury, Christian surprised her with tickets to the rock musical “We Will Rock.”
Ten days later, the pair met up in Edinburgh and spent the weekend hiking, bicycling, visiting used record shops, and meeting Katie’s friends at local pubs. Christian immediately felt at home. “I absolutely loved it,” he says. “She was so welcoming and lovely. . . . I was close to crying when I left.”
Despite knowing each other for such a short period of time, it was clear they had serious feelings for each other. “I always have said that Christian turned my light on and made me shine brighter,” Katie says. “With him, I always feel 100 percent relaxed and 100 percent myself.”
For the next year, they planned getaway trips to various European destinations, including Munich, Amsterdam, Costa del Sol in Spain and Strasbourg in France. She visited his family in Germany in August 2011, and he made the sojourn to the United States to meet her folks around Easter 2012.
After a year of a long-distance dating, they moved in together in Edinburgh. “Looking back, it was a huge risk for him,” Katie says. “Christian had never left his home town, so for him it was a huge adventure. He moved to an English-speaking country, left his friends and family and gave up his job.” However, Christian knew in his heart that their relationship was worth risking everything. “I realized how big of an opportunity it was,” he says.
In April 2013, they went on a week-long vacation to Lanzarote, Spain, in the Canary Islands. On their final day, they took a stroll on the promenade and stopped at a little lookout over the bay at sunset. “We talked about how good of a time we have had together, how much we love and respect each other and all of the various steps in our relationship,” Christian recalls. “I told her the next step I wanted to take was to grow old with her and asked her if she would be Mrs. Baumann.”
On April 25, Katie Thorne, now 30, and Christian Baumann, now 31, exchanged vows in front of 101 guests at the Links at Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pa. The theme was vintage travel, and guests signed a globe instead of a guest book. Selected readings and programs were offered in both German and English, and the two other German leprechauns from the night they first met were in the wedding party.
Katie walked down the aisle to one of Christian’s favorite songs, an acoustic version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. “I remember when we were in Dublin, during our very first weekend, she sang along to that song at Temple Bar,” Christian says. “It is one of my favorite, earliest memories of her.” The last song of the evening, an homage to their very first date, was “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC.
“I honestly couldn’t have written a better story for us,” Katie said. “And I feel like the continuing chapters just get better and better.”