A Big Fat Greek Wedding in Wilmington

By Ann Ipock

Today is Valentine’s Day, a perfect time to announce our daughter, Katie’s, engagement to Michael.

He popped the question a few weeks ago, and it’s an amazing story. Their introduction was perfect – when it finally took place – and they’ve been together ever since. Though it was their friends’ second attempt to set them up, it almost didn’t happen at all.

At the first gathering, Michael came, hoping to meet this blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who sounded pretty cool. But Katie didn’t make it, so she missed meeting this black-haired, blue-eyed boy who also sounded pretty cool.

A second get-together was set. This time Katie went, but Michael couldn’t make it. As a chemist, he was finishing up four days of twelve-hour shifts. About 10 pm the group of seven drove to the Triangle Lounge. Katie said she’d pass; she was tired and had to get up early the next morning. But they persuaded her since Rodney and April had a secret plan: they called Michael – who was snoozing comfortably at home – and insisted he come and meet Katie RIGHT THEN! Michael fell back asleep, but mysteriously was jerked awake. (He says now that something made him get up and go.) Finally they met.

The next morning Katie was all smiles. She said they talked the whole night, and she liked him a lot. Later that day Michael invited her to play tennis, even mentioning future dates: walks on the beach, skiing. She agreed and reciprocated, by inviting him to her cousin Lindsay’s wedding, in Raleigh (Katie was a bridesmaid), and he gladly accepted. Just imagine, on their third date he met Katie’s entire family!

Talk about a unique first date: they met at a sushi restaurant downtown, each driving separately – too bad, I wanted to meet Michael! On the sidewalk, an acting scout invited Katie to be an extra in Hollywood East, a locally filmed TV show. Katie was intrigued, but said her date was waiting upstairs at Yosaké. “Fine,” the woman said, “he can be in the show too.” Michael loved the idea and was ready to leave. But Katie insisted they have dinner first. Afterwards, they went across the street and were assigned parts as extras. I ask you: what are the chances?

Michael has already blessed our family immensely – I hope we have his. Interestingly, I discovered Michael’s parents own Olympia, the finest Greek restaurant ever. The shock was, Russell and I’d been going there three years but had never met the owners. Michael himself is a wonderful chef. He prepares divine pasta carbonara right here in our kitchen! He’s even teaching Katie how to cook.

Also, we’ve fallen in love with his dog, Gus (now Katie’s dog, too), non-animal lovers that hub-Russ and I are. I even wrote a column about him. When Katie returned to school (for nursing), Michael’s family hired her as a part-time waitress. Michael often bartends – he, too, is going back to school. His family is very close, warm and gregarious, and his relatives hail from New York, Pennsylvania and Greece. We’ve enjoyed New Years Eve at the restaurant, complete with authentic belly dancing, and an amazing Easter feast where we experienced delicious new foods and interesting customs. At Christmas, we hosted his family in our home for my first ever standing rib roast – which was magnificent, if I say so myself.

But my favorite story deals with their engagement. In December, after dating fourteen months, Michael asked Katie to go snow-skiing in Sugar Mountain. I knew they were getting serious and had discussed marriage. Both seemed ready, yet time marched on. As Christmas drew closer, I imagined Katie was hoping for a ring. She’d hinted that when the time came, Michael would first ask us for her hand in marriage. The trip was fast approaching, and I was getting nervous – at least, for her sake.

The night before their trip, Russell and I dined at Olympia. They were both working and visited our table, even sitting with us off and on. Katie was getting us drink refills (about fifteen feet away), when Michael sat down and blurted out, in a hushed tone: “So, I’d like to ask you for Katie’s hand in marriage.” Do what? No warning, no casual leading up to it, no clearing his throat or cracking his knuckles. I was so shocked my jaw dropped. During this time, Katie would walk over, chat a moment, then leave. In between her visits, I (being the big mouth) told Michael how much we adored him, and how happy he’d made Katie. Russell echoed my sentiments and offered best wishes. Keep in mind, we couldn’t react: no hugs, handshakes or pats on the back. Eventually I realized we’d not answered his question, so I said, “Michael, the answer to your question is ‘YES!’” This, I also had to whisper. He smiled and nodded, appreciatively. Katie came back to the table, and Michael went back to the bar. I don’t know how I kept a straight face. I do know we quickly left after that.

That night Katie packed, and I remained quiet (a tough feat). When they arrived the next day, she called – but didn’t mention a ring. She called again the next afternoon, describing the cozy surroundings but difficult skiing maneuvers. Again, no mention of a ring. Finally, she called that night, and I knew instinctively “this is it!” I picked up the phone and heard her breathless squealing, “Moooooooom! I’m engaged!” And what a celebration it has been!

The date will be September, 2012, because Katie wants to finish nursing school. The location will be our beautiful church in downtown Wilmington. It’ll be a great affair because Morris weddings (my maiden name) are often interesting, sometimes quirky and always entertaining! (And did I mention FUN?)

We are thrilled beyond measure! Isn’t this what every parent wants for their child? To find true love and happiness? One thing’s for sure: whether it’s a big fat Greek wedding – we’ve already been asked – or a small skinny Greek wedding, it’ll be a marriage made in heaven with a honeymoon in Greece!

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell. www.annipock.com

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