When Lauren Morris moved to Washington from Indiana two years ago, the dating scene felt like a whole new ballgame.
“In Indiana, if you’re not married by the time you’re 25, it’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ ” says Morris, 26. “But coming out here, it was like, ‘Oh, okay! It’s all right.’ ”
Morris joined eHarmony and lined up almost two dozen first dates over the next year. But few of them led to second dates, and she soon realized that in the District many people “don’t get married until they’re in their 30s.”
So at 25, the international development worker bought a small condo, thinking she’d be on her own for a while.
Justin Thorp had also tried eHarmony, but with even less success. He found it easier to bury himself in the technology work he loved.
The two had both been attending the Church of the Resurrection on Capitol Hill for months, but didn’t meet until a party in May 2010. Morris left thinking how different Thorp seemed from the other guys she had met. He was quirky and engaging and a little “outside the box.”
Thorp was impressed by Morris’s stories of a year-long mission trip around the world. “She was someone who was interested in trying new things,” he remembers thinking. “There was just something there — she had depth.”
The two became Facebook friends and occasionally spotted each other at church. Thorp showed up at a birthday event for a mutual friend (knowing Morris was on the guest list), but he couldn’t find a way to make a move.
“The groups are so tight-knit, it’s hard to isolate a girl and bring her out of her girlfriend community to get a phone number,” he says.
But when Thorp’s birthday came around in June, he added her to the party invite list, which included lots of friends from the tech circles he’d developed as the community manager at Clearspring Technologies. “Being a nerdy person and having nerdy friends there, talk of the iPhone 4 came up,” he recalls. A friend asked if he had an application called “Bump,” which allows people to share contact information by touching their smartphones together. Morris mentioned she had the app and a mutual friend — suspecting that the two shared an attraction — prodded Thorp to download it so she could see the technology at work.
As soon as Thorp caught on that he would “get her phone number out of this equation,” he loaded it immediately.
The next morning, Morris woke to his text thanking her for coming to the party. Later, they chatted on Facebook for two hours about friends, careers and interests.
When they met for coffee the following weekend, the date felt different from all the others. “I was at ease,” Morris recalls. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh my gosh, is he gonna call me?’ There was no stress about where it was going. It was just good.”
Thorp had an infectious enthusiasm for life and passions that were as varied as her own. And in Morris, he found a woman who did finance for nonprofits, but had an artist’s soul and was fluent in geek speak.
“The same person who loves making her own Christmas cards also likes Excel and reading social media blogs,” he says. “I’m a weird person . . . and I’m all over the place at times. And she’s also got these two very distinctive traits.”
After a week, they had a “define the relationship” talk and declared themselves a couple. “I felt like we just started going and then it just made sense,” he recalls. “Everything was clicking.”
In July, they went to New York and stopped to look at the Brooklyn Bridge. Morris would tell Thorp later that, at that moment, she knew he was “the one.”
“We both have so many interests that somehow they all kind of swirl around together and we each grab on to each other’s,” she says. “And we’re both up for the ride together.”
They were talking openly of marriage by the end of the summer and in September, they started looking at rings. When Thorp told Morris that her October birthday would be the “best birthday ever,” she thought she knew what was coming. But it turned out he was referring to a surprise party.
Two months later, Thorp took Morris back to their spot near the Brooklyn Bridge and asked her to be his wife.
On May 28, they were married beneath a grove of trees at a friend’s home in Sabillasville, Md. After the ceremony, 160 guests wandered the yard while enjoying the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, playing lawn games, listening to a bluegrass band and waiting for a pig roast. Morris, who recently quit her job to become a financial adviser to freelance artists, designed many of the decorative elements to evoke the spirit of an old-time country wedding.
And although it has been a little more than a year, both say the time before they knew each other seems like long ago. “It’s like a distant memory now,” he says.
“Yeah,” she adds. “I can’t even remember what it was like to not have my other half around.”