The proposal, Oct. 8, 2011: "We had a crazy September last year because Andrew was defending his dissertation and then moving out to California where he had a post-doc fellowship this year at UCLA," says Christina. "In September, we drove across the country together to move him out to California. The day before we did, Andrew told me we had to return something to my parents' house. And so I thought he was going to run this quick errand. But, he put on nice clothes, nice shoes and he shaved. So, I knew he was going to talk to my parents about proposing to me. But I didn't say anything because I didn't want to ruin his surprise. In our drive across the country, I thought he would propose. But he didn't. So that threw me off a little bit."
"I did think about doing it on the drive out to California," says Andrew. "But I didn't want to do it without a ring. So, the first thing I did when I got out to LA was to look for an apartment and go ring shopping. I was looking for a ring that matched her personality and who she was. I found an artisanal jeweler, Julio Benez, of Artisan L.A. Jewelry. It's a funky small place in Los Feliz. And this guy just does great work. He brought out a box of stones. And he and I sort of designed it together."
Christina was coming out to visit the next weekend, so Andrew told the jeweler he wanted to propose to her then. Benez informed him there was no way the ring would be ready. But, he offered a placeholder ring, which can temporarily hold the stone in a setting.
"I went out to visit him," says Christina. "He had just gotten an apartment and he told me we were going to go to Ikea to get furniture, but we were going to stop in this park for a picnic on the way. So, we got to this beautiful park in Palos Verdes and went to a place on the edge of cliff overlooking the ocean.
"He pointed out Catalina Island across the water," she says. "Then, he very simply got down on one knee and said, 'Will you marry me?' and held out a ring. And I said, 'Of course.' He didn't say anything else. And I said, is that it? Because he's usually extremely loquacious. I expected him to have some big speech planned. But, he said that was it — he had asked his question and got his answer. The funny thing is his brother—- who's usually very quiet — had just proposed to his girlfriend and had a big speech. So, they had kind of switched positions.
Something else that surprised Christina was how much the ring mattered — more than she thought it would.
"Andrew said, 'I know you don't really care about the ring, so I knew you wouldn't care if it wasn't ready,'" she says. "But, I was actually in California enroute to Argentina to visit a friend there. And I realized I didn't want to get off the plane in Argentina and not have a ring to show my friend that I was engaged. The next day we went into this little cheap jewelry store and we bought a ring for $20 with a huge fake diamond on it and that's what I wore to Argentina."
The ring: "A couple of weeks later, [Andrew] came to visit me in Baltimore and brought me the real ring and it's beautiful," Christina says. " It's a Ceylon sapphire, [because Andrew] knew that I had concerns about blood diamonds. It does have little diamonds on the edges, which he verified were not blood diamonds."
The wedding: The ceremony will be at the Friends Stony Run Meeting House, which Christina grew up going to with her family. There are no attendants.
"It's going to be a Quaker ceremony and Quakers traditionally don't have bridal parties," Christina explains.
While there's no church officiant, they will have someone there who is a legal officiant — a family friend, Dorothea Thorne.
Christina says they will share their vows with each other. Then, they will sit down.
"And as our guests feel — in the Quaker words — 'moved by the spirit,' they can stand and speak spontaneously or share a message that they have written or a [do a] reading of something somebody else has written," she says. "The idea is that there's no set program. But our family and friends will create an organic program."
"I thought it was important that we write our own vows," Andrew says. "I'd never been to a Quaker meeting until this year. But, I like the way they operate. And I like the way friends and families can stand up and spontaneously voice their support and happiness. They can talk about us or about marriage."
The reception is going to be at Clifton Park, with the cocktail hour on the porch of the Clifton Mansion.
"We think the spot is going to be beautiful," says Christina. "It's also meaningful to us — to me in particular — because I do a lot of work with community open spaces in Baltimore. So, it's significant to us that we're spotlighting this mansion that was, at one point, the center of one of Baltimore's biggest parks...The Mansion has so much character. And the lawn will be good for kids."
Dinner and dancing will be in a tent on the lawn.