Whether Valentine’s season causes you to swoon or to swear off love forever, these couples will make your heart squee. We followed up with six standout duos — profiled last year on Express’ B.I.O. page before their weddings — to find out how they made their Big Days their own, and to see pictures!
Daissan Ortiz + Elvis Colbert: Elvis asked for Daissan’s hand “in a regular way. She was at home in the kitchen.”
Fast-forward a few days. Daissan returned from lunch. “I walked into my office. I sat down. And then the intern came and said she couldn’t find a file. I got up to help her.” When she came back, local singer Kenny Wesley, one of her favorite artists, and a guitarist were waiting to serenade her. “I was like, ‘Whaat? Did the intern know?’ ” (Yes.) Wesley performed Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl” and “All In Love Is Fair.”
Daissan and Elvis wed on Oct. 6, with plenty of live music from Wesley and others. “He sang ‘Rock With You’ by Michael Jackson to get the party started,” Daissan says. “BIG HIT!”
Katarina Vilkman + Daniel J. Maloney III: Basic cable brought these two together. After a couple of dates, they decided to just be friends. Zombies, of all things, revived their initial spark. “I didn’t have cable,” Dan says. “I asked her if I could come over and watch ‘The Walking Dead.’ ” They began viewing it together every week.
The cake topper at their Oct. 6 wedding paid tribute to their early days. The zombie hand, made by Charm City Cakes, holds the bride and groom and all of their pets. Mahogany the dog dangles from the thumb, Joyce the cat nestles in Kat’s train, and what’s that on Dan’s shoulder? Sal the lizard, who Dan didn’t know about until the wedding day.
“I kept him hidden from Dan for months,” Kat says. He didn’t catch on, even when he heard the crickets — i.e. lizard food — chirping in the room where Kat stashed Sal. She kept Dan out by telling him it was full of bride’s-eyes-only wedding stuff.
BEST THEME I
Tiffany Welch + Oliver Gray: “I’m a big Tolkien fan. Always have been. It’s like a dream to have your wife say, ‘Hey, we should have a hobbit party’ ” as your wedding, Oliver says. The couple married April 14 in Middle-earth-style splendor, with big outdoor tents and banners arrayed in a field alongside a river. They modeled the event on Bilbo Baggins’ birthday spectacular from “The Fellowship of the Ring.” “Bilbo’s birthday party looked like the most fun party I had ever seen, so when the opportunity came to throw an expensive party, I went with it,” Tiffany says.
Little touches emphasized the hobbit theme. Oliver’s mandolin teacher and two other musicians played songs from “The Fellowship of the Ring” movie on mandolin, guitar and fiddle. Oliver says a loud donkey — unplanned! — gave the event a real Shire feel. But when the officiants, a Wiccan high priest and high priestess, suggested mentioning Balrogs (demonic baddies from the Tolkienverse) in the ceremony, the pair drew the line. “We weren’t sure our parents would understand,” Oliver says.
BEST THEME II
Ellen Mueller + Robert Fox: Some people like bicycling. Other people REALLY like bicycling. Ellen and Rob fall into the latter category. Their shared passion became obvious on one of their first dates, a bike ride. “It was nice for me when I got off the Metro and she was wearing bike shorts,” Rob says. “I had mine on underneath my pants, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is gonna be weird.’ When I saw hers, I was like, ‘Oh, sweet.’ ”
To celebrate their love of two-wheeled transport, Ellen and Rob threw a bicycle-themed wedding Oct. 13. Their invites pictured a tandem bike; Ellen’s mother, in Minnesota, scored bicycle plant stands. The photographer even talked Rob into taking his bike for a spin in his suit. “I was so proud of Rob, because it was raining,” Ellen says.
She’s glad the wedding was in Minnesota, because her mom had to help plan: “If I had taken full control, I would have had bicycle everything — and it would have been too much.”
MOST INTENSE FIRST DATE
Mo Goff + Shawn Brandon: Shawn was living in Minnesota near the Canadian border when he met Mo, who lived in D.C. When Mo flew to International Falls to visit Shawn for their first date, a road closure meant they had to drive through Canada to get to Shawn’s house.
“That was when we got pulled in by U.S. Border Patrol, searched and questioned,” Mo says. “It happened four times on that trip.” The fourth time, Shawn said, “You are a spy!” “He is never going to travel with me again,” Mo remembers thinking.
Which they thought would be OK. “We had anticipated and hoped that it wouldn’t work out,” Shawn says, because neither wanted to be in a long-distance relationship. “Once that first visit was over, it was like, ‘Oh, crap.’ ”
The couple wed Aug. 18 on Capitol Hill. They wore matching white dinner jackets “inspired by the wedding picture of Mo’s mom and dad. It turned into a 1960s, ‘Mad Men’ sort of thing,” Shawn says.
Alison Wright + Andrew MacDonald: Andrew’s family has been holding the Rock Sock Cup — a “competition of strength, agility and mental acuity” — every year since 2006. (Andrew’s grandfather once told a local paper his name was “Hank Rock Sock,” hence the title.)
The 2012 games were held at Andrew and Alison’s wedding on May 19. Events included a stump toss, a Jagger walk (as in Mick) and “the skip strut — you have to skip and strut while wearing a goofy hat,” Andrew says. Alison didn’t get to vie for the Cup this year, as she was busy being the bride. “I sent my dad as a representative,” she says. “I told him it was like the Highland games, so he showed up in all plaid.”
Andrew won both the bride and the day and will keep the Cup until the next round. “It’s a faux Grecian urn with a sock in it,” he says. “From the dollar store,” Alison adds. “It’s an upgrade,” Andrew says. “The first one was a Dixie cup.”