'Best friends' enter a new phase


Sandy Rhee and Chris Ross

April 14, 2002|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,Sun Staff

Sandy Rhee and Chris Ross celebrated their 12-year friendship, and started a new phase in their lives together, by becoming husband and wife on March 23.

"I can't imagine any experience and not doing it with [Chris]," says Sandy.

The couple, both 30, met in 1990 at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Chris, from Devon, Pa., was a freshman and Sandy, a Towson native, was a sophomore. They became close friends, spending a lot of time together -- and graduated together in 1994.

They shared a long-distance friendship while Chris went to the Rochester Institute of Technology in northwestern New York state to earn a master's degree in computer science and Sandy earned her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. They were able to see each other more often when Chris moved closer to Brooklyn to take a job near Princeton, N.J.

"I love doing new things," and Sandy "is one of the smartest, funniest people I know," says Chris. "If we want to do something fun, I know she's up for it."

During their relationship, Chris sometimes suggested the two should date, but Sandy says she resisted because, "We were best friends. I wanted to preserve that."

And their relationship continued to grow until in 1997, she says, "all of a sudden I realized he was the best person I knew." She started to think the attractive person she had so much fun with also might be a perfect romantic partner.

They remember one day in particular when Chris suggested they do a bunch of tourist-oriented things, like going to the top of the Empire State Building and seeing the Brooklyn Bridge. Sandy says, "I think we both knew there was just something different" about that day.

After that, their friendship became even deeper and soon they decided to rent a house in Maplewood, N.J., which offered an equal commute to work for each of them.

Two years later, they started looking for a house to buy, settling on one a half mile from the rented house.

Along with buying a home came discussions about marriage. But Sandy thought they were too busy house-hunting to get engaged. She was unaware that Chris was planning anything in December 2000 when he suggested they go to New York.

He insisted on brunch at a cafe near the Brooklyn Bridge, and Sandy was not happy to find it was closed until noon. She initially resisted Chris' suggestion to walk across the bridge while they waited for the restaurant to open. But when they got to the halfway point, she turned around to find Chris on one knee with an engagement ring in his hand.

"It was absolutely perfect," Sandy says.

Their wedding weekend started with a taste of Baltimore: crabs at Jimmy's Famous Seafood in Dundalk for 70 guests, including close friends from high school and college. The next day, they were married in a Catholic ceremony at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore. Afterward, two trolleys took everyone to the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion in Mount Vernon for a reception.

The event reflected the couple's whimsical side. They made flower-shaped centerpieces using foam and plastic building toys. There were candy dispensers in the shape of bugs for all the guests and the wedding cake was iced in three colors.

After a honeymoon in French Polynesia in the South Pacific, which Chris planned as a surprise for Sandy, the two returned to their home in Maplewood. Sandy is corporate counsel for VTech, which makes telecommunications products in Parsip-pany, N.J., and Chris is a development manager for dynamicsoft, a computer-technology company in East Hanover, N.J.

They are looking forward to continuing their friendship in a whole new way.

"We've seen it all ... good and bad," says Chris. "This just feels right."

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