Graham Bachman and Meghan Smith have family in the same part of suburban Philadelphia and their circles of friends overlap. Yet, like many inexplicable touches on great love stories, they needed a new city and a group dating app to make their first meeting happen.
Even then, the couple barely avoided a missed connection. They also had to survive Graham’s misguided hard-to-get routine before they saw each other a second time.
“You’ve got to let them sweat it out.,” Graham said. “Gotta play the game a little bit.”
Graham works in financial services, and Meghan in real estate development. Their careers both took them to New York City where they met in 2012 using an app called Grouper that was designed to set up group dates. Graham tagged along at the request of his roommates, Meghan for her cousins.
Meghan nearly backed out of the encounter because she was due to catch a cross-country flight to San Francisco the next morning. Fate intervened as Meghan “begrudgingly” kept her word despite a 4 a.m. wake-up call. Graham said he noticed her immediately.
“As soon as they walked in, the target was acquired,” Graham said.
Meghan was a little skeptical when Graham waited a week to contact her again, but she gave him a chance anyway. They soon became inseparable.
The couple has found common ground on just about every issue since, and they get married in October knowing their priorities are fully aligned.
Family is at the heart of everything they do.
That includes Graham’s proposal, their choice of wedding locations at Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., and their massive bridal party. Twenty-five of their family members and friends will stand at the alter with them.
“We were both thinking, ‘All right, I come from a large family. Do I do just cousins, just best friends or do I do both?’” Meghan recalls. “At the end of the day, I wanted both, so I just said, ‘Screw it. I want everyone important to me.’”
The couple’s reception will be held at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md., where Meghan’s parents are longtime members.
Graham’s proposal was done last August with Meghan’s family in mind on the beach at sunset in Avalon, N.J., where her family has history.
By design, it was a celebration for everyone.
“I kind of had it all planned out,” Graham said. “We had a large contingency of her family and my family due to come down as well, making sure they’d all be around. I had her uncle hiding amongst the beachgoers with a professional style camera. We were able to capture a lot of pictures in the surf.”
The execution of Graham’s proposal plan wasn’t as crisp as he might have expected. It required a 5 p.m. dinner in an empty restaurant — a “blue-hair special,” as Graham recalls — followed by an “out of character” request to take a walk on the beach.
Getting down on one knee was just the beginning.
“My heart was in my throat,” Graham said. “I was yammering around. I knew the camera was baring down on me. I had the ring box in my hand. It was happening. I just didn’t know the words.”
Something came out that made Meghan say ‘Yes,’ and the rest became history.
That moment was years in the making after Graham passed his first huge “test” with Meghan’s family. One nerve-wracking family reunion weekend was the first clue that Graham might be the one for Meghan.
“For me, [that moment] was probably when I put him through meeting my family for the first time with back-to-back family reunions,” Meghan said. “My mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side. One was 80 people. The other one was 100-plus. After doing that and seeing how well he got along with my family, it was so easy.”
It wasn’t quite as easy on Graham’s end.
“Out of all the cousins and siblings, I was the first one of the outside members on her mom’s side to come to this family reunion,” he said.
“Her uncle put me on the spot as he was saying grace in front of the family. He asked me what family meant to me. That was an intense moment. Again, I was sort of short of breath, getting put on the spot.”
Graham delivered a satisfactory response to clear a major hurdle on the way to their own happily ever after story.
Graham and Meghan will punctuate their family-driven relationship, of course, by tying the knot in October. The couple estimates 250-plus people will attend and make the trip to Columbia for a rocking reception.
“We anticipate it being quite a party,” Graham said. “Not many people are shy that are in attendance.”
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