By November 2010, Nancy Nicolaides was losing hope. At 38, she had a full life: a great career in event planning, four sisters, one brother and 18 nieces and nephews she adored.
But she wanted romance, and the kind of loving commitment she’d seen in her parents. So she spent her lunch break at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Chinatown. She lighted a candle and knelt to pray that God would help her find The One. The next day, she did it again.
Later that week she logged onto eHarmony, a dating site her priest suggested. A picture of a nice-looking, never-married man appeared.
That man, Scott Knight, had begun to think of dating like a Chinese finger trap: The harder he struggled with it, the less success he had. Instead he threw himself into activities he enjoyed, training for triathlons and helping out with youth groups at his church.
They e-mailed throughout the Thanksgiving holiday and decided to meet for a drink in McLean, halfway between her place in the District and his in Great Falls. “He just sounded like such a nice guy,” she says. “Salt of the earth.”
At first, Nicolaides, who is animated and chatty, was thrown by Knight’s measured manner of speech. “I couldn’t understand it at first,” she says. “And then I was suddenly like, ‘No, he’s thinking — he’s thinking before he speaks. I wish I could do that.’ ”
They stayed for hours, laughing and talking about their close-knit families. “It just felt comfortable,” Knight says. “It felt like I didn’t have to prove anything to her.”
Her impression from their e-mail exchanges was only reinforced in person. “It was that chivalry that I witnessed through my parents — that beautiful, traditional, lovely courtship,” she says.
As he walked her to her car, he asked if he could see her again. Two days later they went to dinner. The next morning Nicolaides adopted her first dog and drove her new pet to Knight’s house, where they planned to meet before helping out with a toy donation at his church.
As they drove a rental truck out of his driveway, it stalled on Georgetown Pike, blocking traffic in both directions. A teenage driver ran into the truck. Nicolaides was impressed with Knight’s calm, and he was grateful for her good humor. Eventually the truck restarted and the toys were delivered on time. “I think that was one of those times where you’re like, ‘Wow, I see how you react to things,’ ” she says. “And it was brilliant, I think, how we pulled together.”
From that day on, it seemed that she, Knight and the little dog, Savannah, were a family. Within weeks she asked him to meet her mother, now a widow, and invited him to her company Christmas party. “I’ve never had anything be so easy,” she says. “In the past, everything’s always been like pushing a square peg through a round hole.”
Knight spent Christmas in Texas; when he returned, he told Nicolaides he loved her. “I don’t think it took me two seconds to say it back,” she says.
What they found with each other was a haven of comfort. “It’s wonderful to be with someone who talks to you kindly and doesn’t belittle you or anything,” she says. “I love it. It makes me flourish.”
When Knight trained for an Ironman Triathlon that spring, it took up much of his time; instead of complaining, she became his biggest cheerleader. “She’s just so supportive and positive,” he says.
And when Nicolaides, an event planner, was bemoaning a solo trip to Europe to scout locations in Amsterdam, he booked a plane ticket to go along. “I’ve never had so much love,” she says. “I never knew that someone so kind and wonderful existed.”
After six months of dating, Knight asked Nicolaides’s mother for her blessing to propose. And while Nicolaides sat on an Adirondack chair at Virginia’s Twin Oaks Tavern Winery, Knight got down on one knee. The next day both their families gathered to celebrate.
On Jan. 28, the two were married at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Chevy Chase; they toasted with a reception at Columbia Country Club. Nicolaides beamed as she walked down the aisle in her mother’s wedding dress, with a fitted bodice, a full skirt and a lace-trimmed veil. Her three older sisters had worn the dress before her.
Nicolaides wasn’t initially interested in a formal wedding (“I was more into the ‘I want to be your wife’ part,” she says), but tradition took over and soon there was a florist and a band and a cake made of Twinkies, SnoBalls and Hostess cupcakes.
“I just feel like God has been listening all this time,” Nicolaides reflected before the wedding.
“I love him,” she said, looking at Knight. “I think I’m gonna keep him forever.”
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