She was so focused on her studies that she failed to take note of him until he got into a heated debate over architectural theory with a professor.
“I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ ” Katie recalls. “Why is he arguing with the professor?”
As architecture students, they spent long hours in the same studio and often wound up going out with overlapping groups of friends. Katie’s impression of Scott softened after noticing that whenever somebody needed help — whether on an assignment or getting a printer to work — he would drop whatever he was doing to come to their aid. But she didn’t spend much time thinking about him.
Scott, on the other hand, was growing increasingly smitten with the reserved, dark-haired beauty.
“She had this one shirt, and it was a picture of a pig and it said, ‘Please don’t eat me. I love you,’ ” recalls Scott, now 31. “The way that shirt was kind of adorable was also the way that she was adorable and cute. She was really sweet and nice to everyone.”
He frequently came by to chat, and whenever he saw her pedaling her bike uphill to campus he offered to give her a tow with his truck. Still, Katie was oblivious to his crush. Finally, an observant friend clued her in to Scott’s interest.
“At that point, I started to notice that Scott was coming to talk to me more than most people were,” says Katie, now 29. “It was fine.”
In the spring of 2005, realizing he needed to be a little more overt, he made up an excuse about missing her birthday and asked her to dinner after class.
Somehow the pig shirt failed to tip him off to the fact that she was a vegetarian, and he chose a local watering hole that served mostly fried meats. Katie, who was nervous because she’d never done much dating, ordered a beer and a side salad.
Eventually they both relaxed, and soon after the date they were spending more time together both in groups and on their own. They discovered that they had both grown up with tight-knit extended families and a love of the outdoors — although hers evolved into vegetarianism, while he became a hunter.
Within a month they considered themselves a couple, but he could feel her holding back. “I think she was still a little wary of my intentions, I guess,” he says.
In fact, it was just Katie’s cautious way. It takes her a while to let someone in fully, but once she does, she is fiercely loyal.
“It took me a little bit longer to get used to and be comfortable with him,” she says. “It’s funny, when you’re growing up you hear all these stories that you meet the person and you know right away. It doesn’t always have to be like that. The more we hung out, we just got along. We just want to be with each other.”
They stayed together throughout the rest of their five-year architecture program and agreed that they should each go wherever they got the best job offer. Even before graduation in the spring of 2007, Scott had accepted a job in Washington.
But even with both of them working in the District, they found separate roommates and were deliberate about building their own lives in the city. Even as they worked intense hours establishing their careers, Scott was growing certain that their commitment would be a permanent one.
After almost two years living apart, he suggested they move in together. “No,” she told him. “I’m not ready.”
“At this point, we’d been together five years,” Katie says. “And one of my friends was like, ‘Well, what’s the deal? Why are you holding off? And I said, ‘Well, I’m just not ready.’ I couldn’t explain it, but I just knew I wasn’t ready.”
Scott would raise the subject every few months, and Katie would always repeat her answer. He began to worry that she might never be ready, but one day in 2009, she was. “I’m not sure what made me decide,” she says. “But it was just that I knew.”
Once they moved in together, both focused on a series of difficult licensing exams. And Scott started asking about marriage. Katie gave the same answer as before — “I’m just not ready. I will tell you when I’m ready.”
So he waited. Until one morning before Thanksgiving in 2011, when she suggested they go look at engagement rings. The following February, just before Valentine’s Day, she came home from work to find him in the living room in a suit, with flowers, candles and a ring. “It was very private,” she says, “and exactly what I wanted it to be.”
“Persistence pays,” Scott said, looking back on their courtship.
On March 29, the two were wed at the Athenaeum, an art gallery in Old Town Alexandria, and celebrated with a reception for 65 guests at nearby River Farm, a historic home once owned by George Washington. Scott and Katie both had tears in their eyes as she walked down the aisle.
“They finally, finally made it to this moment,” declared their officiant, Amy Ruth Schacht, eliciting laughs from the crowd. “I think we have no doubt that Scott and Katie did this responsibly and prayerfully and carefully.”
Almost eight years after their first date, the newly married couple walked back down the aisle to the song “You Are My Sunshine.”