Alex Richardson likes to say she met Scott Patten “the old-fashioned way”: No matchmaking. No dating Web sites. Just by chance and pure luck.
“We had zero mutual friends, had never tried online dating, and were both very content being single,” says Alex, a 26-year-old software developer.
It was April 7, 2012. Alex and Scott decided, separately, to stop by the same Arlington bakery. The stop was not a part of either of their daily morning routines — Alex usually visited the bakery with friends and Scott usually drove to the shop only when he needed somewhere to hunker down and get some work done.
Scott retreated to the patio, and there was only one other person sitting outside: Alex. She had arrived at the bakery a bit earlier and snagged the only table in the small patch of sun. Nose deep in her book, “The Night Circus,” Scott walked up to her and asked whether she would mind sharing her table with him.
“I asked if I could move a little closer because she was hogging all the sun,” Scott says, jokingly. Noticing that Scott was a little underdressed for the chilly weather, she, of course, said yes. “If [there had been another] open table, we probably would have never met,” Scott says.
“It was really like one of those romantic movies that you see,” Alex added.
Instead of scanning their smartphones, slipping on headphones or simply ignoring one another, the two did the unthinkable: They started a conversation. Alex was immediately attracted to Scott’s laid-back, easygoing demeanor. He, like her, was an old soul who enjoyed getting up early and preferred books to television.
“She was bubbly, cheerful and smiley, even though I was a complete stranger,” recalls Scott, a 32-year-old Naval architect. Even though Alex was six years his junior, he remembers her seeming confident and mature.
Two hours later, they realized it was probably time to go their separate ways. Today, both admit neither one of them got much work done.
“I don’t think Alex read a single word of her book,” Scott says.
“I was very distracted,” Alex says. “I guess it was worth it.”
He walked her back to her home, got her number and, two days later, asked her out for drinks at Westover Beer Garden in Arlington. “He called and didn’t text, which is a big rule of thumb for me,” Alex say.
The two went on a pair of dates — both, coincidentally, on patios — before Scott headed off on a 10-day trip to Ireland. He recalls breaking the news to his buddies in Ireland that he had met someone special and admitted the only thing he looked forward to once he returned to the States was the chance to see her again.
He brought her back a souvenir stuffed animal, and on date four, they shared their first kiss. It was at a surprise picnic Scott had arranged for the two of them next to the Tidal Basin. “It was very nice and chivalrous,” Alex says. “I was very impressed by that.”
The two quickly fell into a comfortable routine and became exclusive. Four months in, Alex invited Scott on a weekend trip to meet her aunt in Colorado, and at the end of one year, the pair moved in together.
“We didn’t think about how soon it was,” Alex says. “It just kind of happened naturally.”
Over time, she realized Scott had all of the traits, values and qualities she wanted in a boyfriend and, ultimately, a husband. Among many things, he was loyal, trustworthy and mature. “I have always heard from others relationships are hard and you have to work really hard to make them work,” Alex says. “With Scott, there was nothing I needed to work with. It just worked.”
“When people say you know, you just know,” she added. “Maybe a lot of people settle before they meet that person, but luckily we didn’t.”
Scott knew Alex was a romantic and, with the help of her best friend, he plotted a surprise proposal on July 6, 2013, under the guise of a “girls’ weekend” at their favorite vineyard, Mountfair Vineyards in Charlottesville, Va. He said he was going to be out of town that weekend and even threw a red herring into the mix, telling her “not to plan anything” for the next weekend.
His plan was airtight and the proposal was a complete surprise, Alex says. Typically the planner of the two, she wasn’t even tipped off when her friend insisted they paint each other’s nails during their lunch break.
As soon as she pulled into the vineyard, Scott approached her with flowers and escorted her to a secluded area of the estate that overlooked the vineyards and the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he proposed. After the private proposal, a group of close friends — including Alex’s best childhood friend and her sister who lives in Charlotte — surprised Alex in the vineyard’s tasting room. The group spent the rest of the weekend celebrating the couple’s happy news.
On May 3, the pair returned to Mountfair Vineyards to exchange vows in front of 80 friends and relatives. The wedding, like both of their personalities, was easy, fun and laid-back. A mutual friend officiated the ceremony, and the reception featured two piñatas, a black dragon and a pink pony, in early celebration of Cinco de Mayo. It was only fitting that the ceremony was held outside, given their romantic milestones all took place outdoors. Luckily, the weather cooperated — it was 75 degrees and sunny.
“You welcome me with your warm smile,” Scott said in his vows, “and without a doubt, I know I am home.”
“You are the peace of mind I didn’t know was missing,” Alex replied, “and the joy I didn’t know I lacked.”