As luck would have it, Michael and Elizabeth went to a mutual friend’s party that night, where Elizabeth does remember meeting Michael.
“I pulled Michael aside and — I kind of hate the bar scene because people are judging people based on superficial things, and Mike struck me as someone who was interested in actually talking, and we talked for, like, I don’t even know how long,” Elizabeth says. “And not about things people ask when they want to hook up. We were talking about life and how to derive meaning from life and what we were dissatisfied with and meaningful things that I think lay the foundation for a friendship.”
In the following months, Michael and Elizabeth enjoyed a close friendship. Then he decided to write her a letter that would change everything.
“We lived on the same street during law school, and right before winter break, on the day of my last final exam, there was a letter tucked underneath my windshield wiper about how happy he was to meet me,” Elizabeth says.
“I just wanted her to know how special she was to me at that point, and how happy I was to know her so well,” Michael says.
The wheels started to turn for Elizabeth, and butterflies started fluttering. When she left for a research trip to Sri Lanka that winter break, she took it upon herself to not lose touch. She wrote him an e-mail that would begin a long, meaningful and sweet online conversation.
“It was sort of a bummer because law school’s kind of weird because of this five-week winter break, and I remember being really bummed that I wouldn’t get to see her,” Michael says. “I’m thinking it was Christmas morning when she wrote me that first e-mail, and I was so happy to receive an e-mail from her that I wrote back almost immediately.”
They went on their first date the week after Elizabeth got back.
They had dinner at Shenandoah Pizza before seeing a play at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va. After the play ended, the two didn’t want the date to end, so they walked across the street to see a movie. After the movie, they walked around Staunton at midnight and danced in the gardens adjoining the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. They spent more than six hours together and still weren’t sick of each other. They both thought it was a very good sign.
“When we made that transition from being friends to dating, it all of a sudden sort of dawned on me that we had been sort of pseudo dating all along, and within the first month it seemed like it would be serious,” Michael says.
And it did, in fact, become serious. Michael graduated from U-Va. that May and took a job in Washington. With Elizabeth graduating a year later, they began a long-distance relationship that was less strenuous than most. They both had access to a car and were dedicated to seeing each other as much as possible.
Elizabeth already knew he was the one.
“I think other people have a slow buildup to knowing you want to marry someone. As long as I’ve known Mike, I’ve known that I wanted to be in his life and wanted him in the rest of mine,” she says.
After nearly a year of long weekends together and thousands of miles clocked, Michael decided to propose to Elizabeth in a sneaky sort of way.
Elizabeth was convinced it would happen soon. She would be on spring break in just a few days, which she thought was a logical time to get engaged, so she asked her friend Dana if Michael had any set plans. But Michael had already conspired with Dana to throw Elizabeth off.
“We lied to her, basically,” Michael says with a laugh. “Or I guess you could say we just tricked her.”
He asked her to meet him at the St. Regis Hotel on March 15 to visit a friend, and she thought nothing of it.
When she arrived, Elizabeth opened the hotel room door to find a pitch-black room with what looked like rose petals scattered about. She was confused.
“I was looking around the room and thought it looked so romantic and lovely, and I was like, ‘Oh, is Dave proposing or something?’ ” Elizabeth says.
Michael had “Will you marry me?” spelled out in rose petals. Once it dawned on her that there was no Dave, she said yes.
Elizabeth, 26, and Michael, 35, married Dec. 14 at the Carlyle Club in Alexandria, Va. The night was inspired by 1930s glamour and old-fashioned romance, something that, Elizabeth says, they have taken to heart.
“We want to be married for 80 years. We’re both really looking for that old-fashioned dedication” Elizabeth said before the wedding. “We had very similar feelings on life and happiness and families. And he’s always been familiar to me in terms of who he is. He makes me feel like I’m home.”
“I had never really wanted to marry anyone before, much to my mother’s chagrin,” Michael said. “I never really was ever really thinking about getting married until I met Elizabeth, and it was very natural. It was just making official what already existed.”