How we met
There are so many places to begin this story. Do we start with Lauren's job at The Hotline - which prompted her to read the Jerusalem Post online one afternoon? With Mark's passion for the Internet and penchant for first dates? Either way, both of us ended up on JDate, an online "meeting place" for Jewish single people. Mark met more than 30 women. Lauren met one other guy before Mark. We were almost pioneers in this Internet dating thing - so much so that Lauren didn't want to tell anyone how we met. For the first couple of months we were dating, she told people we were set up - which was true.
Our first date was terrific. A marathon date that started at the Daily Grill, a local DC bar, moved to Ozio, another around the corner, then onto dinner at Uni for sushi, then pool at Buffalo Billiards, and finally Mark walked Lauren home before he drove back to Alexandria. By the time dinner was over, we had two more dates planned. Within two weeks, we had gone out five times.
Lauren didn't make it easy. Our second and third dates were awful, and had we not set up the fourth and fifth ahead of time, you probably wouldn't be reading this right now. But our fifth date sealed the deal - thanks to Michalove, Oron and Patrick, and Rachel. You all helped get us to this place.
How we got engaged
Fast forward about two-and-a-half years to Lauren's 27th birthday. You have to understand that though we have been talking about marriage for a long while, Mark had Lauren convinced it was not happening anytime soon - and he also mentioned long ago that he would never propose on a special occasion. So it really did not occur to Lauren that we would be getting engaged on her birthday.
In fact, even after Mark called and told Lauren to meet him at the Daily Grill and she realized he was recreating the first date, she said she had thought of the idea for his birthday but thought he would use it for a more "special" occasion.
He did recreate our first date, punctuated by the exact same seats at Ozio's bar and the same pool table at Buffalo Billiards. When Mark suggested we walk past Lauren's old apartment, she didn't argue. We stopped downstairs, in front of the building, and we kissed and Mark said that two-and-a-half years ago this was where we ended one of the best nights of his life and he couldn't imagine a better place to begin the rest of our lives together. And he got down on one knee and proposed.
Lauren was shocked. The first words out of her mouth were "Is this real?" But Mark got up and put the ring on her finger, and she recovered - more or less - and said yes. Moments later, a stretch limousine pulled up in the driveway and took us to the Lincoln Memorial, which is just gorgeous at night, all lit up. Mark had hired a photographer to take pictures of us in front of the Memorial and at the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument reflected in it. The joy of the moment was captured - and you can see it reflected in our faces on this site.
When we finished with the pictures, we went back to the limo, which was waiting to take us to the next stop on this endless night - to the Mandarin Oriental, a new luxury hotel in DC. Mark had already checked in, so we went upstairs. There were candles all over the room, champagne on ice, a huge bouquet of red and white roses, flower petals strewn across the bed, wedding magazines he had bought, chocolate fondue. He had thought of everything - as is Mark's trademark. It was the engagement story Lauren always dreamed of.
And now we're planning the wedding both of us have always dreamed of. Thank you for being a part of it.
Born in Baltimore, Lauren lived there for seven years before moving to suburban Chicago. She graduated from Buffalo Grove High School and moved to Connecticut, where she started as a freshman at Wesleyan University. That is where she did most of her growing up. Lauren moved to Washington the day after graduation in 1999, ready to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. Six years and much cynicism later, she does marketing for a nonprofit organization.
Mark lived on Staten Island for nine years before spending seven more years in Freehold, New Jersey. For this reason, he calls himself a New Yorker. In 1993, Mark moved south and became a Dixie and, although he remains a Yankees fan, he still has a touch of Southern charm. Mark moved to Washington after graduating from Washington & Lee University in 1997 and began a career as an entrepreneur.
Still reading? Want to see if you would have set these two up? See what originally brought Mark and Lauren together.