November 15, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

This is what it's like to marry young in the '90s: Your friends think you're crazy, and complete strangers ask terribly rude questions like "Are you pregnant?"

Fortunately, Laura Moeller and Charles "Charlie" Lingner Jr. have each other to depend upon - along with the love and support of their families.

At 20 and 23, respectively, the couple appear mere babes in the woods when it comes to romance. "No one my age gets married today 'just because,' " Laura says. But there's more to great love than age and experience. And if Laura and Charlie want to reach their goal of being married for half a century or even longer - the way Laura's grandparents were - there was no point in putting off their wedding, the couple says.

Laura and Charlie met in October 1995 when Laura began emergency medical technician training at the Middle River Volunteer Fire Department. Charlie was already a volunteer EMT/firefighter with the fire company. Weekly conversations in the ambulance bay as Laura left class soon led to the arrangement of a double date with friends. But the friends backed out at the last minute, and Laura and Charlie spent the evening at her parents' home, watching a movie. Except for a few days when Laura went to Ocean City with her girlfriends, Laura and Charlie have been together every day since.

On Valentine's Day in 1996, Charlie gave Laura a diamond and sapphire ring to signify his commitment to her. A few months later, in June, the couple went together to choose Laura's diamond engagement ring, which Charlie then bought.

Neither set of parents could find reason to argue with their children's youthful nuptials. Bridget and Paul Moeller walked down the aisle 25 years ago when she was 21 and he was 20. Jeanne and Charles Lingner Sr., together 37 years, were also just 21 and 20, respectively, when they married.

Age notwithstanding, their mothers say they knew Laura and Charlie were meant to be together very early in the couple's relationship. "Since Laura and Charlie met, Laura has grown up so much. She really has blossomed," says Bridget Moeller.

Jeanne Lingner says she loved Laura immediately when she saw how happy Laura made her only son. "They have so much fun together, and they're always smiling."

In March 1997, Laura and Charlie moved into their own apartment just minutes from her folks' house in Perry Hall and his parents' home in Essex. That same month, Charlie was hired at TransCare Inc. - the commercial ambulance company that already employed Laura.

Plans include Laura's returning to college next year to begin earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education. And five years or so down the road, Laura and Charlie expect to start a family.

On Nov. 7, Laura and Charlie were married in a Roman Catholic Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Fullerton. Laura's sister, Sarah Moeller, was her maid of honor, and Charlie's sisters, Mary McKenna, Phyllis Lingner and Karen Privette, were bridesmaids. Mary's husband, Danny, was among the groomsmen.

Catching his first glimpse of Laura in her wedding gown, Charlie began to weep. His obvious emotion was contagious, and soon many of the guests were crying also.

The tears running down Charlie's face endeared the young groom forever to his in-laws. And they were a fitting tribute to his bride from a man who says his desire to marry her was as simple as this: "All my life I wanted nothing but a family. And I couldn't imagine having a family with anyone but Laura."

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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