Although Allison Leigh Strickman’s first impression of Paul Clinton Harris Jr. memorable, it was for reasons Mr Harris might have preferred to forget.
The two met in September 2016 at LW’s Livery Stable, a pub in Charlottesville, Virginia, where each had come with different groups of friends. Mr Harris, 31, who goes by PJ, said he was attracted to Ms Strickman, 27, at first sight.
By the time she and her friends showed up, he and his friends had “made quite a dent in the bar’s beer supply,” she said. Their groups started to mingle and it wasn’t long before the two struck up a conversation with some light flirting. But any chemistry was short-lived.
Ms Strickman said she left the pub “less than impressed with PJ and his raucous friends, who behaved loud and boyish.”
“If I’d known I was going to meet Allison that day, I’d have had a few fewer beers,” said Mr. Harris.
Months later, in January 2017, he and Mrs. Strickman, who both lived in Charlottesville, came across a match on the dating app Bumble. By this time, they had run into each other in town a few times since they’d met at the pub. After connecting on Bumble, they exchanged several text messages and made plans to have dinner together later that month.
On that date, Mr. Harris redeemed himself.
“We connected without the antics and bravado that Allison initially saw in me at Livery Stable,” he said. Their conversation went so well that “after four courses and four hours the restaurant closed and they had to kick us out,” added Mr Harris.
A second date came a week later, at a Red Robin; both described themselves as “unapologetic chain restaurant fans.” By March 2017, they had officially become a couple and by that summer they were in love.
They met each other’s family early in their relationship. Ms. Strickman, who is Jewish, often brought Mr. Harris, who was raised Catholic, to her parents’ home in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for Hanukkah and Passover.
She was due to join Mr. Harris, whose parents are divorced, over Easter and Christmas at his mother’s home in Brandywine, Maryland, and at his father’s home in Richmond, Virginia. From July 1998 to July 2001, Mr. Harris’s father, Paul Clinton Harris Sr., was a member of Virginia’s House of Representatives; he held the same seat as Thomas Jefferson, whose slaves in Monticello, Mr. Jefferson in Charlottesville, also ancestors of Mr. were Harris.
In June 2018, the couple moved to Washington, where they now live in a row house near the Capitol.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in speech pathology from the University of Virginia, Ms. Strickman serves as the vice-residential director of Lamont Homes, an adult healthcare provider, in Washington. She also conducts swallow tests at BridgePoint Hospital in Washington.
A graduate of the University of Virginia, where he also received a law degree, Mr. Harris is a mergers and acquisitions associate with the Charlottesville office of the law firm McGuireWoods†
They became engaged in September 2020, while cruising the Potomac River on a private boat called “Miss Guided,” which Mr. Harris had chartered. Shortly after they boarded, as the sun was setting, he dropped to one knee and proposed to him.
“What had been a year marked by darkness and doubt for much of the world,” he said, became “the happiest of my life when she said yes.”
On May 29, they married in front of 190 vaccinated guests at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards in North Garden, Virginia. Rabbi Randi Nagel of the Temple House of Israel in Staunton, Virginia, conducted the Jewish ceremony, which included traditions including signing a ketubah, or marriage contract, and breaking a ceremonial glass. Later, at a reception, the newlyweds danced the Hora and were both lifted into chairs.
The bride had one word to describe the day: “perfect”.
“Before your wedding day, everyone prepares you for how to react if something goes wrong,” said Ms. Strickman. “But no one is preparing you for how you’ll feel when everything goes right.”