In July 2011, Perry Rosen gave Bryon Bereano the hard sell. Rosen had seen Bereano, an old high school friend from Rockville, through a divorce, plus a series of bad dates and dead-end relationships.
“It’s time,” Rosen insisted. “You need to meet Margaret now.”
Rosen didn’t mention she hadn’t seen Margaret Becker in decades, or that most of what she knew about Becker was gleaned from her Facebook profile. Their fathers had been college roommates, so she knew Becker was from a nice Jewish family, and that she had graduated from the Air Force Academy, traveled the world as a civil engineer and recently bought a home in Washington. Rosen, who loves to play matchmaker, had a gut feeling about this one. So she showed Bereano a picture of Becker.
“She was absolutely stunning,” Bereano recalls. He quickly agreed to the blind date.
Becker was a little more skeptical. To start, Bereano lived in Annapolis, which seemed far. And although Becker left the Air Force in 2008 with the intention of improving her personal life, so far she had found the D.C. dating scene severely lacking. She met smart, cool girlfriends everywhere, but guys were a different story. Just a week earlier, she had been set up with a man who got drunk at dinner and tried to put his hand up her skirt as she drove home, causing Becker to swerve into a pole.
Still, she figured there was no harm in meeting Bereano — it couldn’t get much worse. Because her car was in the shop, she asked him to come to her H Street neighborhood. Over drinks at the Argonaut, they traded tales of bad first dates.
“I was like ‘Sweet, I’ve got a very low bar to get over,’ ” remembers Bereano, a 40-year-old real estate lawyer. “I found her very interesting and obviously attractive. She was just very easy to talk to and had a really good sense of humor.”
Knowing Rosen would call for an update the next morning, they decided to tell her they were still together, having breakfast.
In truth they didn’t see each other until the next week, when conversation grew more serious. They talked easily about their childhood upbringings and past relationships. Becker was sure of a mutual attraction, but when they said goodbye, Bereano didn’t kiss her.
On the third date, he did. And after that, Becker, 33, didn’t spend much time worrying about where the relationship was headed. “It was just so easy,” she says. “There was never any drama. He always called when he said he was going to call.”
They started spending every weekend together, and Becker, who considers herself high-strung, noticed that Bereano had an ability to calm her in a way nobody else ever had. He made her laugh constantly and, unlike some previous boyfriends, her strong personality didn’t overpower his. “Bryon gives me my way 85 percent of the time, but he stands up for what’s important, too,” she says. “He’s definitely not afraid to call me out.”
Bereano was amazed by Becker’s fearlessness and independence — she was a marathon runner who had bought her own home and never seemed to run out of interesting stories. “She’s very well-rounded and kind of a deep person,” he says. “That’s why we always have these great conversations, because she’s had great experiences.”
In October, after meeting Becker’s family, Bereano told her he loved her. Two weeks later, at a friend’s wedding, he vowed that he was going to marry her someday.
“I had butterflies,” she recalled. “But it just made sense when he said that.”
They began to talk openly about getting engaged and looked at potential dates for a wedding. Although they had dated for less than six months, neither saw any reason to wait.
“It was a relationship unlike anything I’d been in before. Everything was just so natural,” he says. “And at that point it’s like, You know what you want. Why are you going to wait? This is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. Might as well go ahead.”
They each felt as if they’d spent their lives preparing for this relationship.
“Bryon and I both have very long and different paths, but it definitely makes us appreciate each other,” Becker says.
“Yeah,” Bereano adds. “It got us ready for each other.”
Because Becker’s 93-year-old grandfather had been a jeweler, Bereano arranged to go ring shopping with him. In December 2011, the two men picked out a diamond.
And in January, Becker returned from a work trip in California on an early-morning flight. She arrived at her house to see rose petals strewn across the floor and Bereano down on one knee. “He’s saying all these sweet things, and all I could think was, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t shower!’ ” she remembers.
Becker said yes anyway. In May, Bereano moved into her home in the District.
On Dec. 2, 2012, the two exchanged vows at the Jewish chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Becker’s childhood rabbi officiated the ceremony, and Bereano laughed as he nervously stumbled through his vows. Becker was worried she’d feel woozy, but standing under the chuppah with Bereano and their families, she felt only joy. “I remember thinking, ‘It’s going to go quick, take this in.’ ”
Rosen, of course, was delighted with her handiwork. “They’re so hopelessly in love with one another,” she says. “You can just look at them and tell.”