The Wedding Planners

Romance is on the agenda for these young couples. Snapshots of the soon-to-be newlyweds.

Steven Lehotsky & E.R. Caitlin Talmadge ’03

July 5, 2003

The high school debating circuit drew together E.R. Caitlin Talmadge ’03 and her fiancé, Steven Lehotsky. They first met in 1997 at a tournament where Talmadge was debating. Lehotsky, who is four years her senior, was judging. The second time they met, Lehotsky was Talmadge’s counselor at debate camp and, though they became well acquainted, Talmadge says, “It seemed unlikely that anything would happen.” Nevertheless, the two began dating while Talmadge finished high school in Dallas and Lehotsky completed his college at Dartmouth. Talmadge says Lehotsky visited her in Texas during the year and the two continued to spend the summers together at debate camp. “My mom was very overprotective,” she says, but her father, also a Dartmouth alum, figured that anyone sharing his alma mater must be alright. When Talmadge became an undergraduate at Harvard, Lehotsky entered Harvard Law School. The two became engaged on Valentine’s Day last year and will get married at Dartmouth this summer.

Benjamin D. Grizzle ’03 & Heather A. Woodruff ’03

June 21, 2003

Benjamin D. Grizzle ’03 and Heather A. Woodruff ’03 met in Annenberg as first-years. Woodruff remembers being intrigued as Grizzle recounted the story of one Harvard senior’s wedding proposal to another. She says she was impressed by the future groom’s creative tactics, but Grizzle assured her that some day his own proposal would be more elaborate. Grizzle and Woodruff became friends that year, while each maintained a long-distance relationship with someone from home.

At the time, it seemed unlikely that any romance would develop between the two. Grizzle recalls that after running Primal Scream in his first semester, he returned to Thayer Hall and bumped into Woodruff, who had observed the event. “Benjamin David Grizzle,” she said, as she approached him, “I just saw more of you than I ever hoped or needed to see!” But by March of their sophomore year they began dating, and they became engaged last August. Grizzle asked Woodruff to marry him while standing in a field of wild daisies at his farm in Virginia. “What else do you do with beautiful places, but propose to beautiful people?” he asks. The couple, who both have parents that met at Harvard, will continue a family tradition when they marry this summer.

Jeffrey W. Helfrich ’03 & Elizabeth B. Cullum ’02

June 19, 2004

With only two weeks left in the school year last year, Jeffrey W. Helfrich ’03 may not have been searching for a wife. But when he met Elizabeth B. Cullum ’02, who was a senior at the time, that’s what he found. The two went to the Dunster spring formal together for their first date and spent a good part of the summer together. Helfrich flew often to visit Cullum at home in Texas, and she traveled to Denver where he was working. Cullum stayed nearby this school year, working as a costume designer in Vermont and driving to Harvard on weekends. The couple plans to live and work next year in Denver, where Helfrich proposed a month ago when the two looked at houses in the city. Helfrich says he took Cullum to the Ritz Carlton hotel and asked her to stand in front of a mirror with her eyes closed. “I got her a necklace,” he explains, “because she sews and can’t wear rings on her fingers.” She opened her eyes to see a necklace with a ring on it around her neck. The wedding is set for next summer.

Eric A. Millican ’03 & Summer Mansur

June 21, 2003

Eric A. Millican ’03 and Summer Mansur have known each other since middle school, when they worshipped at the same church. But it wasn’t until Millican’s sophomore year at Harvard that the two started to date. After spending time with Mansur the summer after his first year, Millican says he asked her out only to be declined. Mansur wanted to begin her first year at Oklahoma Christian University without romantic ties. But Millican didn’t simply return to Cambridge and give up on Mansur. “I e-mailed her every day,” he says. And she wrote back. By October, Mansur came to Harvard to visit, and the two began a long distance relationship nurtured by Southwest Airlines vouchers and cell phones with free long distance. “It was sad at times,” Millican says of being apart from Mansur, adding that he never doubted their relationship would last. They will tie the knot June 21.

Eli J. Lederman ’03 & Meg Barenson

August 2004

A United Synagogue Youth convention in Chicago brought Eli J. Lederman ’03, a Newton resident, and Meg Barenson, a Maine native, together in high school. “He told me I had flabby arms,” Barenson says of their first interaction. Lederman claims “I was just trying to get her goat. And it worked.” The two stayed in contact even while Barenson spent her first year of college in Israel. When she returned to Brandeis the next year, the two began spending more time together. This past December, they took a road trip together to Virginia in search of warmer weather. “We bummed around for a week, but on the last night, New Year’s Eve, we decided to splurge and stay in a bed and breakfast,” Lederman says. After spotting a quality of diamond certificate in the car’s glove compartment, Barenson suspected that a proposal might be coming soon. “I’m not good at surprising her,” Lederman says, “but I was going to do it before we left.” So, after a dinner of cheap Mexican food, he brought Barenson out to the balcony of their room and proposed to her. Conspicuously unsurprised, she said yes.

Eric M. Tulla ’03 & Nilda M. Isidro ’04

July 2004

“After six-and-a-half years of dating, the time just seemed right,” Nilda M. Isidro ’04 said of her engagement to long-time boyfriend Eric M. Tulla ’03. Both members of the couple are natives of Ponce, Puerto Rico, where they started dating in high school. They decided to come to Harvard and managed to stay close despite their busy schedules.

Tulla and Isidro were both swamped with work in April when she suggested they go out to dinner in the North End. Though Isidro proposed the date, Tulla used the opportunity for a proposal of his own. He had the waitress bring out a bottle of champagne, and then asked Isidro to marry him. “I cried for 45 minutes,” she says. “The whole restaurant was watching.” The two will marry next July, and Tulla will stay in Boston next year, developing video games.

Eric S. Barr ’03 & M. Rachael Lovett ’03

August 2004

Eric S. Barr ’03 and M. Rachael Lovett ’03 lived about eight miles apart in Louisville, Ky., but it took them until pre-frosh weekend to meet each other. Though both entered Harvard dating other people, they became good friends their first year, and more than friends by the December of their sophomore year.

After two years of dating, the two became engaged. They will live apart for a year after graduation while Barr will work in Seattle for Microsoft and Lovett studies neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin. “We’re not looking forward to being apart, but it makes the most sense for both of our careers,” Barr says, adding that he will most likely purchase several plane tickets next year. The couple will marry next August, before Barr joins Lovett at the University of Wisconsin, where he will attend law school.

Joshua C. Herring ’03 & Lauren Webb

July 21, 2003

The summer before he began high school, Joshua Herring ’03 went to a Christian camp in his home-state of Tennessee. While there, he met Lauren Webb, who lived in a neighboring town. Though the two spent the summer together, Herring says they did not stay in close touch when school began. Their high schools were half an hour apart, and they saw each other only at the occasional football game.

It wasn’t until Herring’s sophomore year at Harvard, when they were a full 16-hour drive apart, that the two began dating. Herring says he struck up a conversation with Webb over AOL Instant Messenger and took her on a bowling date during their Thanksgiving break. By Christmas, their relationship became official. Herring says he proposed to Webb at the camp where they first met—“the spot where we had our first kiss,” he explains. She agreed, and the couple plans to marry this summer in Tennessee.

Jeffery Heck ’03 & Hannah E. Kenser ’04

July 3, 2004

Jeffery Heck ’03 and Hannah E. Kenser ’04 met on a cruise sponsored by the campus group Christian Impact when he was a sophomore and she a first-year. By November of that year, they were a couple. This past spring break, Heck took Kenser to a friend’s wedding in his hometown of Cincinnati. After congratulating his buddy, Heck says he decided to cook up a celebration of his own. He brought Kenser a menu one morning, offering to treat her to breakfast in bed. “I think she ordered French Toast,” he says. But when Heck lifted the lid off the silver platter, he revealed a sparkling engagement ring. Hannah accepted the delectable proposal, and the two will marry next summer.

M. Patrick O’Donnell ’03 & Cheri Forry

August 2003

M. Patrick O’Donnell ’03 was looking over pictures that a friend snapped during a conference for Athletes in Action, a national Christian youth group, when one field hockey player caught his eye. “I thought she was attractive,” he says, “so I got her e-mail address.” After two months, O’Donnell and the field hockey player, Cheri Forry, arranged to meet each other in person on the fourth of July. “I knew we had a lot in common, but we needed to meet to see if a relationship would work,” O’Donnell says. The two hit it off and continued their e-mail correspondence. Forry, who graduated from Bloomsburg College in eastern Pennsylvania, soon began to supplement their conversations with visits to Harvard. O’Donnell says that by last summer, after two years of dating, he felt ready to pop the question. He contacted Forry’s mother and planned a surprise proposal at her church. During a morning service, a rose was placed on the altar at the beginning of the ceremony to signify a joyous event, but Forry, who thought O’Donnell would wait until after graduation to get engaged, thought nothing of the symbol. She was shocked to hear the preacher offer his congratulations on a congregation member’s engagement and see O’Donnell stroll down the aisle, clad in a tuxedo. “She was crying when she saw me,” he says. “She couldn’t believe it.” But O’Donnell had known that she would be emotional and stood ready to dry her tears with a handkerchief he had embroidered with her initials. He proposed through a microphone for all to hear. Shedding tears of joy, Forry accepted. And the whole drama was caught on tape, sure to be replayed at the wedding this summer.

Eugenia V. Levenson ’03 & Jamison Stoltz

August 10, 2003

Eugenia V. Levenson ’03 started dating Jamison Stoltz in her Oak Park, Ill. high school and has remained with him ever since, even though he attended college at New York University and studied abroad for a time while she was in Cambridge. “The fact that we’ve been able to do long distance is surprising to a lot of people, including ourselves,” she says. She says Stoltz’s proposal didn’t quite come as a surprise, as the two had discussed marriage before. One cold night over winter break, Stoltz convinced Levenson to come out with him, even though she was very tired. The couple was on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building in Chicago when Stoltz began fumbling in his pockets and pulled out a ring. But it wasn’t an engagement ring, just a special token he had given to her early in their relationship. It wasn’t until they were driving home and missed their exit that Levenson began to realize there was still another ring coming. Stoltz took her to the Chicago Planetarium, which overlooks Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. “It was beautiful, shimmering, very romantic, but cold,” she says. In a moment that she describes as “nervous,” Stoltz got down on his knees, took off Levenson’s glove and slid an actual engagement ring onto her finger. The two will wed in a civil ceremony this September.