Matthew Ryan and Michelle McNamara after their wedding reception at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington, DC on August 6, 2011. (Paired Images)
Michelle McNamara & Matthew Ryan

Michelle McNamara, 28, is an education researcher. Matthew Ryan, 28, is a lawyer. They live in New York City.

Wedding date: Aug. 6

Location: Carnegie Institution, Washington

Guests: 120

How they met: The two lived in the same dorm during their freshman year in 2001 at the University of Maryland at College Park and became friends. Ryan wanted romance; McNamara wasn’t sure. They quarreled the summer before their junior year and didn’t talk for several days. McNamara says it was the longest few days of her life, making her realize how much Ryan meant to her. After that, their first real date was a trip to Baltimore’s National Harbor Aquarium, followed by dinner in Little Italy.

The proposal:In 2009, the weekend before McNamara was leaving to teach English in France for six months, Ryan announced that they were going to Montreal. There, near the St. Lawrence River, he told her how important their relationship was to him, bent on one knee and asked her to marry him. They kissed, but Ryan was so nervous he forgot to pull the ring out.

The wedding: After the couple exchanged rings, there was a hand-tying ceremony, blending McNamara’s Filipino and Ryan’s Celtic traditions. McNamara’s seven bridesmaids participated in party preparations, making hundreds of cookies for the buffet table and creating a photo booth backdrop from paper rosettes and paper fans. Both fans of soul music, the couple chose the 1970 hit “Groove Me” by King Floyd for their first dance, a combination of cha-cha and Hustle steps that their dance instructor choreographed.

The honeymoon: They spent their trip to South Africa on safari in Kruger National Park and touring Capetown. Cheetah sightings, penguin colonies, vineyards and a trip to the top of Table Mountain were among the highlights.