Engaged and Ready
For the cover of our 2020 Wedding Issue, we issued an open call to Charm City’s engaged, asking them to tell us their love stories. We chose one couple to be featured on the cover, but the other submissions were too sweet not to share. These precious pairs jog together, travel together and even study together. Read each couple’s unique journey — trust us, these remaining couples will restore your faith in modern love.
Bethany Tognocchi and Julie Lyst Gaithersburg
Wedding Date: August 8, 2020
Missed connections can be disappointing. But luckily, when Bethany, 31, and Julie, 34, matched on Bumble but failed to message each other within the dating app’s 24-hour time limit, Bethany found a loophole: She signed up for a premium membership, which allows users to restore expired matches.
“I paid a cool $2.99 to reinstate my connection with the most amazing person and the ultimate perfect match,” she says.
What about Julie compelled Bethany to shell out the cash?
“According to her profile picture, she was cute, looked pretty normal and had a dog,” Bethany says.
Bethany, a marketing director, and Julie, a special education teacher, quickly realized they had more in common than they thought. They both graduated from Towson University, where they served in student government. The happy couple has been dating for two years.
“We honor, respect and show genuine passion for one another on a daily basis and cannot wait to make this love official,” Bethany says.
Melissa Halpern and Lee Brill
Wedding Date: November 7, 2020
Love and loss are closely intertwined. Melissa, 35, and Lee, 29, learned that the hard way when Lee’s father passed away from pancreatic cancer just eight months into the couple’s blossoming relationship.
“We drew support from one another and learned a lot about each other and the differences between physical strength and other kinds of strength, both traits his father embodied,” Melissa says.
Melissa and Lee certainly came out of the experience stronger. Now they’re engaged after two years of dating.
The pair were introduced, thanks to Melissa’s coworker, at Chizuk Amuno Congregation where she serves as marketing director. A couple days later, they happened to be seated at the same table at a Jewish National Fund breakfast.
“He joked with some friends that ‘only a marketing person can get away with constantly being on her phone,’ something we still laugh about today,” Melissa says.
Since then, Melissa and Lee, a personal trainer, have run half marathons together, traveled to Disney World and attended football games. And of course, to bring their love story full circle, they plan to marry where it all began:
Lindsey Rennie and Brian Epshteyn
Wedding Date: January 16, 2021
“Law school brought us a lot more than stress and debt. It brought us love.”
That’s according to Lindsey, 26, who met her fiance Brian, 26, during a Trial Team gathering at Pickles Pub.
The two were both enrolled in the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Within a year of that first encounter, Lindsey and Brian moved in together downtown.
“Our time together on Trial Team found us going head to head in the final round of a competition in D.C.,” Lindsey says. “Thankfully I won, or Brian would have never heard the end of it.”
During the summer of 2018, as Brian studied furiously for the bar exam, Lindsey came home and cooked dinner every night. Brian returned the favor in the summer of 2019, when it was Lindsey’s turn to study for the exam. And when she found out that she had passed, one year after Brian received the same news, Brian took her out to dinner — and got down on one knee.
Now Lindsey works as a public defender, while Brian practices immigration law. They can’t wait to begin their lives together and to continue co-parenting their dogs, Ginsburg and Muffin.
JaQuelia Conley and Shane McDuffy
Wedding Date: March 13, 2021
“Love & Basketball” isn’t just a movie — it’s also a real-life love story.
JaQuelia, 31, and Shane, 32, met as teens, when they played a one-on-one basketball game at JaQuelia’s father’s suggestion. Shane won and the two went their separate ways.
“Now that I think about it, he probably won because I was too distracted looking at him,” JaQuelia says. “I could have beaten him!”
Four years later, they met again at a basketball camp as counselors, officially started dating in 2008 and broke up in 2012. JaQuelia, a reagent manufacturing lead, and Shane, an IT analyst, were on and off again for two years until they ran into each other at a bar in 2014.
“I knew I wasn’t going to let him walk out of my life again and we have been together ever since,” JaQuelia says. “I believe we were bought back by fate.”
Shane proposed to JaQuelia last October at his birthday party, surrounded by friends and family. The two consider each other soulmates and are thrilled to start their next chapter.
Lesley Deyesu and Colin Drane
Wedding Date: TBD
The beauty of marriage is that it bonds two people together — or in this case, eight people!
Lesley, 42, and Colin, 49, met on the dating app Bumble two years ago and had their first date at Woodberry Kitchen.
They were so smitten that they decided to arrange for their kids, six in total, to meet each other shortly after. Now the happy family — plus a new rescue puppy — lives together in Towson.
Lesley and Colin, both small business owners, are drawn to each other’s similarities, but also each other’s differences.
“I love the variability and spontaneity he brings into my life and he loves the structure and kindness I bring into his,” Lesley says.
The couple got engaged this past August on a trip to Bermuda. They enjoy hiking, reading, and above all, eating together.
“I especially love that he is always up for dessert,” Lesley says.