Barney, a mutual friend, had been trying to fix up Sarah and James for years. But Sarah was resistant—she lived in California, while James resided in Atlanta. When their paths crossed serendipitously at a Michigan barbecue, the pair hit it off, despite an awkward start: Sarah was so flustered when she saw James approaching her that she rushed right past him. James persued her, and a subsequent dinner date sparked a romantic relationship.
Eighteen months later, James proposed on New Year's Eve at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. "As soon as we sat down for dinner, he told me how much I meant to him," Sarah remembers. "Before I knew it, he was down on one knee." The proposal didn't go quite as planned, says James, who originally intended to wait until midnight. "Having the ring in my pocket all day, the excitement was building and I couldn't wait any longer." His spontaneous change in plans worked: Sarah happily accepted.