Julie Sloan was one month into a three-month internship in Charlotte when Adam Mark invited her to dinner.
She said yes, and then confessed to her sister, “I hope he doesn’t think it’s a date.”
In fact, Adam did hope the evening would turn romantic. He and Julie’s sister Holly worked together at a Ruby Tuesday’s, and he had been intrigued by Julie from the moment he first saw her, when she was sitting at the bar in May 2010.
He picked up the tab for their sushi dinner — “my way of making it a date without her knowing it,” he says — but sensed her hesitation and didn’t go in for a kiss at the end of the evening.
Julie, then 21, liked Adam and found herself laughing whenever he was around. But she was heading back to Maryland in a couple of months to finish her graduate degree in occupational therapy. She wasn’t interested in starting a new relationship and was particularly hesitant about the prospect of one with someone in Adam’s situation. He had a 3-year-old son from a previous relationship, and Julie wasn’t sure that was something she could handle.
But she loved hanging out with Adam in groups with her sister and other friends. They went to the movies a couple of times, and when he offered to cook dinner for Julie and his son, Greyson, she accepted.
That night they played airplanes and read books, and after Greyson was put to bed, Julie started hoping Adam would kiss her.
“He’s just really funny, and he’s really sweet and caring,” Julie says. “And to see him with Greyson was just really wonderful.”
Before she left that night, Adam did kiss her goodbye.
For the next six weeks, they were together as much as possible. But Adam often worked until nearly midnight, and Julie had to report to her internship at 7:30 a.m., so that left them just the pre-dawn hours and very little sleep. “You can sleep when you’re dead,” Adam remembers saying.
The week Julie was scheduled to return to Maryland, they spent three days at the beach, where Adam asked whether she would be his girlfriend.
“I had never met anyone like her before,” says Adam, now 29. “Seeing her with Greyson was amazing. And she was always so sweet and so loving that I couldn’t not ask her.”
Julie wavered. She had been in long-distance relationships before that had ended badly. “I was like, ‘I don’t know. We have so much going on right now.’ He was starting a new job. I was going to Maryland, starting grad school,” she says. But after thinking about it and consulting with her mom, she decided to give it a shot.
Hectic schedules meant they were able to visit each other only every couple of months, but they talked every day by phone. “Which, honestly, I think really built a solid ground for us,” Julie says. “We got to know each other really well, because all we were doing was talking and telling stories about our day — everything you would do in a normal relationship, just on the phone. It built the groundwork for our relationship, because I really feel like I know everything about him.”
The three-month period in which Julie lived in Charlotte was the only time she had ever spent living outside Maryland. But, as her graduation neared in spring 2011, she began to think about moving back to North Carolina, where she knew almost no one except Adam, because her sister had returned to Maryland.
“I grew up in one house my entire life in Gaithersburg and then went to college in Towson, so it was a very hard decision,” she says. But she decided to make the leap. And, in August 2012, she started renting a Charlotte apartment near Adam and Greyson.
Six months later, the three of them moved in together. Suddenly, Julie was cooking dinner for Greyson and asking him to put his things away. They played games at night and found fun adventures on the weekends. The thing that had given her the biggest pause about dating Adam was now one of the factors she loved most about life with him.
“We have a lot of fun together,” she says. “Greyson is just a special kid, he really is. So once I got to know Greyson, there was no turning back.”
In July 2012, during Greyson’s first visit to Maryland, Adam intended to propose near the reflecting pool on the Mall. His plans started to go awry when the ring in his pocket set off security alarms at the garage where they had parked. Panicked, he subtly flashed the ring at the guard, after hiding it in his shoe, and was waved through. Then they got to the reflecting pool only to find that it had been drained. Finally, as they watched planes fly overhead from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he asked Julie to marry him.
By the time they woke up the next morning, Julie’s mom had picked out several possible sites for the wedding for the couple to consider. That night, they visited Glen Echo and immediately fell in love with the art deco amusement park.
Wedding planning was a breeze, until a week and a half before the big day, when Julie heard that an impending government shutdown might prevent private events from happening at Glen Echo, which is part of the National Park Service. Two days later, her fears were confirmed, “and I had a minor panic attack,” Julie, now 24, says.
After calling around to other reception sites in the area, they arranged to move the wedding to the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda.
“Welcome to Glen Echo East,” Cantor George Henschel said to the 90 guests gathered under a gray sky at Strathmore to watch the pair exchange vows Oct. 13. Greyson stood by as one of Adam’s two best men. Then he, Julie and Adam poured sand of different colors into a vase to symbolize their becoming a family.
Before the wedding, Julie reflected on what makes her relationship with Adam special.
“Our senses of humor match each other,” she said. “We both just like to laugh at ourselves and be goofy. And we’re just comfortable with each other.”