Cooney and Southworth

Katie Cooney and Joel Southworth (handout art from couple, Baltimore Sun / April 12, 2012)

Wedding Day: June 16, 2012

Her story: Katie Cooney, 32, grew up in Ellicott City. Her father, Robert Cooney, is a retired banking executive who now works in ticket and fan services at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Her mother, Constance Cooney, is a retired corporate controller. Katie is a contracting officer at the Social Security Administration.

His story: Joel Southworth, 32, grew up in Ellicott City. His mother, Jaci Goldhammer, is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker residential brokerage. His stepfather, Lee Goldhammer, Jr., is president of CitiRoof. Joel is sous chef at Lee Lynn's in Ellicott City.

Their story: Katie and Joel were classmates from the 4th grade at St. John's Elementary School through Patapsco Middle School and all the way to Mt. Hebron High School, from which they both graduated in 1997. They knew each other, although they weren't close friends. Not that a young Katie had wanted it that way.

"I do remember in middle school I had the biggest crush on Joel. But nothing ever came of it," she says. She recently found a photo taken of her and some of her classmates in 5th grade on which she had written -- and misspelled -- the word "gorgeous," with an arrow pointing at Joel's head.

Fast forward five years later.

"After graduating at Drexel University in 2002, I moved home to live with Mom and Dad and start working my new job [as a contracting specialist] at SSA," says Katie. " One night, I was out with friends for a few drinks. I walked into the Phoenix Emporium and ran into an old familiar face, Joel [then a pizza shop manager]. He looked right at me and said, 'I know you. Your name is Sarah.' I said, 'Nope. Sure isn't, but nice try,' and kept on walking to the bar. Upset that he got my name wrong, he came over to chat and we really hit it off. We started hanging out and shooting pool and within a month, [we] were in complete love with one another."

They dated the next eight years before moving in together in 2010.

The proposal, December 25, 2010: Joel was going to propose by putting the ring in a bag and attaching it to the collar of their rescue dog, Duckie. Two days before, he decided maybe that wasn't the best idea.

On Christmas Day, Katie woke up and starting watching Toy Story 2, which was a gift from her parents.

"Joel came down and said, 'Okay, present time -- me first,'" remembers Katie. "He gave me a bag and it was filled with Yankee candles. The next gift was a big black velvet champagne box. Inside were two champagne flutes. And I'm thinking, these are really pretty but we don't drink champagne. He was on the floor, pretending to playing with Duckie. He said, 'I figured we would need those.' He pulled out the box with the ring and [on his knee] said, 'Will you marry me?' "

And what was her immediate response?

"Do you really want to argue with me for the rest of your life?"

After his positive reply, they celebrated with the flutes filled with some champagne he had told her he had gotten for New Year's.

The ring: Joel worked with a friend who was a jeweler to combine elements from several different samples into one engagement right. "It's a circle-cut diamond in the middle with smaller ones on each side," he says. "It's simple."

The invitations: While Joel was happy with Katie doing most of the planning, she deferred to his preference for the non-fussy.

"It took us a really long time to find invitations," Joel says.

"It seemed like a every night she was showing me invitation [samples] and I was saying no. I wanted them to be a little bit more modern."

They went with a zippy, graphic invite that she found online at Minted.