Engaged: Christina Schoppert & Andrew Devereux

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Wedding Date: June 23, 2012

Her story: Christina Schoppert, 30, grew up in Homeland and now lives in Hampden. She is a lawyer with Community Law Center, Inc., which represents organizations working on neighborhood revitalization efforts. Her father, Gary Schoppert, is a retired general dentist. Her mother, Joan Schoppert, is a recently retired assistant professor of English at Notre Dame of Maryland University, although she is still teaching there part-time.

His story: Andrew Devereux, 38, grew up in Charlottesville, Va., and now lives in Los Angeles, where he is finishing a post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA. He begins a job there this fall, teaching Mediterranean history at Loyola Marymount University. His father, Daniel Devereux, is a professor of philosophy at University of Virginia. His mother, Helena Devereux, is a recently retired adult educator of English as a Second Language. His stepmother, Danielle Devereux, is a retired real estate agent and freelance French/English interpreter.

Their story: They first met at the 2009 birthday party of a mutual friend, Craig Hollander, at Hampden's 13.5% Wine Bar.

"I noticed her as soon as I walked into the bar, but wasn't sure she was part of Craig's birthday," says Andrew. "I was hoping she was there for Craig's birthday party and then — within 30 seconds — he introduced us. We talked immediately for at least 45 minutes or so.

"We did talk for a long time," says Christina. "But, both of us were dating other people at the time. So, we didn't see each other after that for an entire year."

That is, until the same birthday party — at the same place — a year later.

"We talked again, and I was so impressed because Andrew remembered all these details of things we discussed the year before," says Christina. "So we had another great conversation. But, we were both still dating other people.

"As we were leaving, I gave him a hug and said, 'I hope it's not another year until we see each other again.' A few weeks after that, I had broken up with my boyfriend and I was out with Craig. I didn't know if Andrew was dating anyone, but I said, 'Why don't you see if that guy Andrew Devereux would like to go out on a date with me?' "

Although she says she was speaking wistfully, and somewhat in the abstract, she was surprised when Craig immediately texted Andrew.

"I was thrilled," says Andrew..

He emailed her first thing the next day and set up a date.

"So, we were going to go out Saturday, Feb 12, [Valentine's Day weekend]," says Andrew. "I didn't know if she was thinking this was a Valentine's date or not...A first date being Valentine's Day puts a lot of pressure on."

So, he thought maybe starting out going to a museum wouldn't be as date-like.

"It would be more like a chance to hang out and just talk — more the vibe of a coffee date," he says.

They'd go to dinner from there, and it wouldn't be so Valentine-y.

However, Christina was unaware of the Valentine's aspect, and suggested that just doing dinner was fine. The evening turned out to be even better than fine. They went to One-Eyed Mike for drinks, dinner at Mezze, and then up to 13.5% — where they'd first met.

"While we there, I started telling him about this house I was looking into buying in Hampden," says Christina. "So, he wanted to drive by to see it,"

"When we drove by the house I thought this is very personal, and that she wanted to show it to me meant a lot," says Andrew.

"We started seeing each other right away, he says. "We went out again 3 nights later, and the following Friday. We had three dates within the first week."

"Three months later, we ended up buying the house together," she says.

"In the course of the first conversation, we really hit it off intellectually, emotionally and culturally," says Andrew. "I felt like we had a lot of similar interests and we could talk a lot of the same stuff. And some of it was unusual off-the-beaten-path sort of stuff. She was interested in talking about her job and urban issues. But she can also talk about French literature. I was just struck how wide her range of interests was — how smart she was and how passionate she was about everything...I loved her values. On our first date, we started talking about our families. What her family means to her is so important and that was so apparent to me that really struck a chord with me."

That opinion hasn't changed.

"She is a really original and unique thinker," he says. "She has a world view that is different from anyone else I know."

"I've never been so much on the same page about everything with anyone as I am with him," says Christina. "We just kept discovering that. He's also a very independent thinker. He's brilliant, but he's also very down-to-earth. He can enjoy a conversation with anybody, from any walk of life."

The proposal, Oct. 8, 2011: "We had a crazy September last year because Andrew was defending his dissertation and then moving out to California where he had a post-doc fellowship this year at UCLA," says Christina. "In September, we drove across the country together to move him out to California. The day before we did, Andrew told me we had to return something to my parents' house. And so I thought he was going to run this quick errand. But, he put on nice clothes, nice shoes and he shaved. So, I knew he was going to talk to my parents about proposing to me. But I didn't say anything because I didn't want to ruin his surprise. In our drive across the country, I thought he would propose. But he didn't. So that threw me off a little bit."

"I did think about doing it on the drive out to California," says Andrew. "But I didn't want to do it without a ring. So, the first thing I did when I got out to LA was to look for an apartment and go ring shopping. I was looking for a ring that matched her personality and who she was. I found an artisanal jeweler, Julio Benez, of Artisan L.A. Jewelry. It's a funky small place in Los Feliz. And this guy just does great work. He brought out a box of stones. And he and I sort of designed it together."

Christina was coming out to visit the next weekend, so Andrew told the jeweler he wanted to propose to her then. Benez informed him there was no way the ring would be ready. But, he offered a placeholder ring, which can temporarily hold the stone in a setting.

"I went out to visit him," says Christina. "He had just gotten an apartment and he told me we were going to go to Ikea to get furniture, but we were going to stop in this park for a picnic on the way. So, we got to this beautiful park in Palos Verdes and went to a place on the edge of cliff overlooking the ocean.

"He pointed out Catalina Island across the water," she says. "Then, he very simply got down on one knee and said, 'Will you marry me?' and held out a ring. And I said, 'Of course.' He didn't say anything else. And I said, is that it? Because he's usually extremely loquacious. I expected him to have some big speech planned. But, he said that was it — he had asked his question and got his answer. The funny thing is his brother—- who's usually very quiet — had just proposed to his girlfriend and had a big speech. So, they had kind of switched positions.

Something else that surprised Christina was how much the ring mattered — more than she thought it would.

"Andrew said, 'I know you don't really care about the ring, so I knew you wouldn't care if it wasn't ready,'" she says. "But, I was actually in California enroute to Argentina to visit a friend there. And I realized I didn't want to get off the plane in Argentina and not have a ring to show my friend that I was engaged. The next day we went into this little cheap jewelry store and we bought a ring for $20 with a huge fake diamond on it and that's what I wore to Argentina."

The ring: "A couple of weeks later, [Andrew] came to visit me in Baltimore and brought me the real ring and it's beautiful," Christina says. " It's a Ceylon sapphire, [because Andrew] knew that I had concerns about blood diamonds. It does have little diamonds on the edges, which he verified were not blood diamonds."

The wedding: The ceremony will be at the Friends Stony Run Meeting House, which Christina grew up going to with her family. There are no attendants.

"It's going to be a Quaker ceremony and Quakers traditionally don't have bridal parties," Christina explains.

While there's no church officiant, they will have someone there who is a legal officiant — a family friend, Dorothea Thorne.

Christina says they will share their vows with each other. Then, they will sit down.

"And as our guests feel — in the Quaker words — 'moved by the spirit,' they can stand and speak spontaneously or share a message that they have written or a [do a] reading of something somebody else has written," she says. "The idea is that there's no set program. But our family and friends will create an organic program."

"I thought it was important that we write our own vows," Andrew says. "I'd never been to a Quaker meeting until this year. But, I like the way they operate. And I like the way friends and families can stand up and spontaneously voice their support and happiness. They can talk about us or about marriage."

The reception is going to be at Clifton Park, with the cocktail hour on the porch of the Clifton Mansion.

"We think the spot is going to be beautiful," says Christina. "It's also meaningful to us — to me in particular — because I do a lot of work with community open spaces in Baltimore. So, it's significant to us that we're spotlighting this mansion that was, at one point, the center of one of Baltimore's biggest parks...The Mansion has so much character. And the lawn will be good for kids."

Dinner and dancing will be in a tent on the lawn.

"The theme is probably simplicity," says Christina. "We didn't want to have a huge extravaganza. So, we're just trying to keep it simple and as a reflection of us and our family and friends."

She says the couple wanted to use things they already have, when possible.

"We want to use things that are meaningful to us," she says. "So, we're using some vintage tablecloths — a mix of white, colors and patterns — that we have from my grandmother...Neither of my mother's parents is living so it's nice to have some tributes to them."

That applies to their wedding bands.

"The wedding ring uses some diamonds from my grandmother's wedding ring and one of those diamonds is also in Andrew's wedding band," Christina says.

The wedding favors also incorporate the couple's love of traveling.

"For place cards, instead of having people's names, we're going to have a little photo of them — with us whenever possible — in a little 2x3 frame," says Christina. " They'll pick up the picture of them and it will have the name of a city that has some importance to Andrew and me, which will tell them what table [they go to]. Like, there is a table called Madrid because Andrew spent a lot of time in Madrid." .

Friends of Christina's mother — Ann Hughes and Theresa Cannone — are doing the flowers.

"Ann's bringing in wildflowers from her garden," says Christina. "We love the colors my grandparents used in their wedding — coral and sea foam green. We're just having some wildflowers and coral roses in Mason jars on the tables."

That will probably be the same for her bouquet.

As far as her dress goes, Christina is keeping much about it secret.

"I will say it is from the 1930's and has been in my family," she says. "I'm having it altered by Jill Andrews Gowns...Jill is very conscious of keeping the integrity of the period of the gown, although she's removing the sleeves because it was initially used in November...It does have a train. Jill explained to me that at the time the dress was made, they didn't bustle the train. But there was this little loop you put around your wrist to lift the train when you wanted to dance."

Andrew is wearing a dark suit he already has.

Two caterers are involved in the buffet dinner. Pierpoint's Nancy Longo is doing hors d'ouevres, crab cakes and vegetarian entrees. Andy Nelson's Barbecue will offer pulled pork.

The wedding cake is not a priority. But dessert is covered.

" We're hoping to get it from Graul's," says Christina. " But, we're having sort of a Baltimore theme, with Berger cookies, Otterbein cookies and sno-balls."

Andrew said he had just two criteria for the reception.

"That we should have an open bar and live band," he says. "I think if you have an open bar and live band, [everyone] will have a good time. A live band brings a level of energy that a deejay can't bring."

So, the Motown band, The Mustangs, will be performing.

"But, it's more important to have her family and my family and her friends and my friends there — to have them all show their love and support for us as we start this stage in our lives," he says. "That's far more important than the floral arrangements and the venue. You get the right people together and that's the most important thing."

"We're so excited to have so many people we love in one place," adds Christina.

The honeymoon: Actually, there are three things about the wedding that are important to Andrew. In addition to that open bar and live band, having a great honeymoon tops his priorities.

"We should go someplace that was really going to be cool, unforgettable — once in a lifetime," he says.

Because Andrew got a job in Los Angeles, Christina — sadly — has to leave her job. Since his job doesn't begin until fall, they realized they had a nice chunk of time to travel. And that they are going to do.

First, the couple, and her parents, will head to Madrid for a week. Then, the couple leaves her mom and dad behind.

"We were originally thinking of going to Madagascar," says Christina. "We were both fascinated by it. We were in Barnes & Noble, looking at Madagascar travel books. We were in the M section and I saw the book on Mongolia. I remembered scenes from the movie, 'Babies,' of Mongolia; of these steppes and the big blue sky. And we started reading about it. It just sounds beautiful...We're going to Moscow and taking the trans-Siberian railroad to Mongolia. Then, we're going to do a trek from one yurt to another yurt, hosted by these different families. We love the idea about being out in these expansive steppes and it just sounds so romantic. We wanted to go somewhere that where we could spend a lot of time outside. [A place] that has a lot of natural beauty but is also culturally interesting." .

Andrew arranged the trip through the Mongolian-based eco-tourism company, Ger to Ger. Ger is a Mongolian yurt.

It's not like you go off and stay in some hermetically sealed compound," says Andrew. "You arrive, and you have two days of training where you learn Mongolian customs and some words and phrases of the Mongolian language...What we liked about this is that you actually interact with Mongolian people, you eat Mongolian food, and you learn Mongolian customs. Another thing that sealed the deal for us was the trans-Siberian railway to get here and we thought that sounded amazing."

The entire trip will take several weeks, after which the couple will live in Los Angeles. However, their hearts remain here.

"We're keeping the house in Baltimore," says Christina. "The plan is to return here."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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