On her second day in Washington, five years ago, Kate DiEmidio spotted Patrick Ledesma wearing mesh shorts, iPod ear buds and a backward baseball cap at a cafe on American University’s campus. Based on his attire, she assumed he was a student.
She was shocked to learn he was, in fact, the assistant director of the university’s student center. Jokingly, she told him, “It must be nice to come to work [dressed] like that.”
He was charming, confident and, as a co-worker who introduced them noted, a good person to know on campus, given that she was new to the university and they both worked in student affairs. Plus, he was funny and a fan of her favorite TV show, the cult series “Lost.” She had a feeling they were going to be fast friends.
Patrick felt a similar chemistry. “I thought she was beautiful,” he remembers. “It was something about her eyes and smile that grabbed me.”
After co-hosting a series of student events and spending time together with mutual colleagues, the two became flirtatious friends.
Kate, who now works as a federal management analyst, admired his thoughtfulness and energy, while Patrick appreciated her generosity. “She’s always, whenever I see her in the room, taking care of everybody else,” says Patrick, who is now the director of events management at George Mason University and will soon become the director of Georgetown University’s new Healey Family Student Center. “It’s never ever all about her.”
Within a month, Patrick was smitten and decided to woo her with some good old-fashioned romance. “For the first date, he e-mailed me a surprise poem . . . a clue to where we would be going,” Kate said. The riddle signaled that they were headed to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
Impressed with his creative, romantic gesture, Kate eagerly accepted. The pair spent the day exploring the zoo and later enjoyed dinner at Alero Restaurant in Cleveland Park. “By the end of the date, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I really like him,’ ” she says.
The surprises didn’t end there. Soon after, he sent a student to her office with an envelope that contained a thumbnail picture of a historical portrait and a matchbox: a hint that their next date would be at the National Portrait Gallery, followed by dinner at Matchbox in Chinatown.
“When you know she’s the right one, you really want to be unique and to be memorable,” Patrick says he realized early on. “You always want to create memories with that [special] person, so you can remember [them] for the rest of our lives.”
A few dates later, he had her select a date from three notecards inscribed with different date suggestions. She chose a movie screening of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. It was a hit.
Before long, the two became close confidants and recognized how special their relationship was. “It sounds so cliche, but we really became best friends first. It wasn’t as if three months went by and we [said], ‘Oh, we must get married, I am so in love with you,’ like what you see in the movies,” says Kate. “It was more like, ‘I know you are going to be there forever.’ ”
Meeting the parents was a crucial step and turning point for them.
“When he met my family it was like, boom, they had known him forever,” recalls Kate. “It didn’t even take 30 minutes for them to be joking with him and breaking out the baby books.”
Patrick selected the engagement ring on his birthday, knowing Kate wouldn’t suspect he would be shopping for her that day. Although he debated planning an elaborate proposal scheme — one that involved a flash mob — he instead decided to keep it simple and popped the question toward the end of March 2013 on the Georgetown waterfront.
During their dinner at Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place, Kate was suspicious of his behavior. “I can tell when he’s hiding something, because he gets all smiley and giddy,” she says. “At one point, I [told him], ‘I know you have the ring. I can tell!’ ”
Luckily, she didn’t have to wait long. He had the ring hidden in his wallet and proposed after dinner in front of Sequoia restaurant.
The couple decided to wait to get married until 2014, for fear 2013 might bring them bad luck.
On June 21, Kate DiEmidio, 29, and Patrick Ledesma, 35, were married at their parish, St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church in the District. Afterward, they returned to the Georgetown waterfront and celebrated with 200 guests at Sequoia.
The bride carried her grandmother’s rosary and a cross from Patrick’s mother in her wedding bouquet. Some of their former American University students arrived early to help the couple set up wedding programs and decorations.
“Everybody’s been telling me that I’ve been glowing,” Kate said, days after the wedding. “I feel like I might be, because I am just so happy.”