Ready to play life's game MICHELLE "SHELLEY" YUSKA AND ERIC MILLER

Just Married

September 27, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The bride descended a long staircase, a vision in white taffeta and tulle. The groom waited with an eager smile, young and handsome in his tuxedo. They were married before a waterfall as an intimate gathering of family and friends looked on. Afterward, they all played miniature golf and raced in motorized go-carts.

Not exactly the typical wedding story. But wedded bliss just the same for Michelle "Shelley" Yuska and Eric Miller. The Catonsville couple were married Sept. 19 at the Family Recreation Park in Hagerstown.

It was the culmination of a courtship that might have started 11 years ago, when they both attended Catonsville High School. But back then, Eric was spending much of his time in the principal's office, while Shelley was feathering an academic career that would ultimately lead to her being chosen mistress of ceremonies at their 1987 graduation. Though there were only 238 members in their graduating class, they never met.

Eight years later, in 1995, the two were introduced at a bar in

Baltimore by mutual friends. They spent the evening talking, but alas, Eric was engaged to someone else.

Three months after that, the former Honor Society president and the former class clown met again, at a holiday party.

By then, Eric's engagement had been called off and Shelley, admittedly intrigued, again spent an evening deep in conversation with him. At the end of the night, she asked him to walk her to her car, and then asked him to accompany her to a Christmas party the following evening.

Eric agreed and within days the couple had embarked on the most romantic holiday season they had ever experienced. They met one another's families and friends and exchanged Christmas gifts.

By New Year's Day 1996, they both knew they'd been bitten by the love bug. The couple spent much of 1996 and 1997 helping to plan their 10th-year high school reunion. In September 1997, just before they left for the gala event, Eric proposed.

Shelley and Eric's atypical wedding started as a joke. Eric, a service engineer for an industrial maintenance company and also a trained mechanic, "is obsessed with cars," according to Shelley. He knew that singer Mojo Nixon had gotten married at a go-cart track and as he and Shelley began discussing marriage, Eric teased that he wanted to do the same thing.

"I thought, if I use reverse psychology and simply agree, the idea will just go away," Shelley recalls.

But then something took hold of her. Maybe it was her love for Eric. Maybe it was the way he always brings out her daring side. But suddenly the idea of "sweet, predictable" Shelley doing something so different really appealed to the 29-year-old speech pathologist.

"No one expected it," she says with a laugh. Even Eric's family was surprised. "When Eric said a go-cart track, we didn't know what to expect," says Karen Connelly, Eric's sister.

Worried that a minister would think they weren't taking their vows seriously, Shelley and Eric decided against marrying on go-carts and opted instead to say their vows on the 10th hole of one of Family Recreation Park's two mini-golf courses.

Eric and his parents, Robert and Kathleen Miller of Catonsville, descended a set of stairs at the wedding site promptly at noon.

About 50 people stood waiting as Shelley - holding a bouquet of white roses and red Gerber daisies - walked down the stairs accompanied by her parents, Dan and Iris Yuska of Catonsville.

Carolyn Burbage, a nondenominational minister, led the couple through their vows.

Not long after, Eric and Shelley made their way - holding hands and still in their wedding finery - to the go-cart track. Eric firmly held the wheel and Shelley clasped his arm as they eased their way out of the starting block.

On the first go-round, Shelley's face was lined with trepidation. But by their third time past the crowd of wedding guests and park patrons, she was waving and laughing as Eric deftly wound his way through the sharp turns - the way Shelley expects him to for the rest of their life together.

Pub Date: 9/27/98

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