Finding Joy

A Rockville bride overcame family tragedy and made the best of her special day

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THE COUPLE: Jennie Crouch (maiden name Carman), 35, and Rob Crouch, 36, grew up in Gaithersburg. Jennie is an interior designer at SR/A Interior Design in Bethesda. Rob recently received his MBA from American University. They live in Rockville.

HOW THEY MET: Jennie and Rob met at Forest Oak Middle School in Gaithersburg. “We’d sit next to each other in class, but didn’t hang out on the weekends,” Jennie says. They remained acquaintances as they went on to Gaithersburg High School and, coincidentally, Elon University in North Carolina. Rob claims that they dated for two weeks in high school, but Jennie says it never happened. “I don’t remember this,” Jennie says. “No one else remembers.”

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THE REUNION: In 2011, Jennie and Rob attended their 10-year high school reunion at BlackFinn (now closed) in downtown Bethesda. “My group of girlfriends and his group of guy friends were talking,” Jennie says. “They kept buying us drinks.” The two groups of friends decided to have an after-party, but there was a mix-up on where they’d meet. “After the official party, I wanted everyone to come over to my apartment and continue to hang out,” Jennie says. “But only Rob came.” Jennie had recently moved into her downtown Bethesda apartment, and there were boxes everywhere. “I thought, ‘This isn’t a party,’ ” Rob says. They headed to the real after-party in Montgomery Village and spent most of the time talking to each other. It was the first time they had in-depth conversations. At the end of the night, Rob asked Jennie for her number.

THEIR FIRST DATE: Jennie and Rob met for happy hour a week later at Ri Ra Irish Pub (now closed) in downtown Bethesda. They stayed until the pub closed at 1 a.m. “I don’t really like talking to people one-on-one—there are always awkward pauses,” Rob says. “But when I talked to [Jennie], we were just conversing for four or five hours nonstop.”

THE PROPOSAL: After dating for five years, including living together for nearly two, the couple bought a house together in Rockville in the spring of 2016. The day they closed, they went to the house to celebrate with champagne. Jennie gave Rob a “new house gift”—a spaghetti strainer. “I was like, ‘Oh, I got you a gift, too,’ ” Rob says. He had hidden the ring in a drawer in the kitchen. “She probably wanted me to propose three years prior,” Rob says. He caught Jennie by surprise. “When he finally did it, it was such a sweet moment,” Jennie says. “I didn’t expect it. I was so focused on the new house.”


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A DIFFICULT TIME: Four months into their engagement, Jennie’s father, John Henry Carman III, had an aortic aneurysm and had to have emergency heart surgery. He survived, but spent the next two months in and out of the ICU. He died in April 2017. “That whole spring was very difficult,” Jennie says. “It should have been a time when we were wedding planning and enjoying ourselves, but obviously life had other plans in store.” Just six months later, Jennie’s paternal grandmother, who was 102, passed away. “It’s part of our wedding story,” Jennie says. “I’m always going to look back and remember that my dad wasn’t there. And my grandmother wasn’t there.” The couple considered changing their wedding plans but ultimately decided to move forward. Jennie’s father had visited venues with the couple and had known their prospective date. “That’s why we stayed with it,” Jennie says.

THE WEDDING: The couple wed on Oct. 14, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, Maryland. They had 90 guests.

THE THEME: “Being an interior designer and former event planner, I certainly had a lot of ideas about setting the scene,” Jennie says. She added pops of purple, her favorite color, to decorations throughout the day, including funky purple rugs at the reception. Her gown had two shades of purple tulle that showed when she lifted her skirt to dance. Her bouquet was accented with lavender dahlias. She even painted her toenails purple. “I would describe the theme as bohemian secret garden,” Jennie says.


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THE CEREMONY: The couple had an intimate morning ceremony with family and close friends on a pier at the hotel. “That wasn’t our original plan,” Jennie says. After the loss of her father, they decided to separate the ceremony from the rest of the day. “We thought the ceremony would be the toughest part emotionally to not have him there for.” Jennie thought about who would walk her down the aisle and decided to walk down alone. “No one was going to stand in for my dad. So it felt right to walk down by myself,” she says. She wrapped her bouquet in one of her dad’s handkerchiefs. An Episcopal priest who officiated at Jennie’s sister’s wedding married Jennie and Rob. He gave a sermon about Jennie’s father. “I cried a lot during the ceremony. My mom cried a lot during the ceremony,” Jennie says. The couple and their guests went to brunch and had time to regroup before the evening festivities.


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THE RECEPTION: After a cocktail hour at the pier, the reception followed in an outdoor covered pavilion with a fireplace. They had games set up for guests to play during the reception, including giant Jenga, tic-tac-toe and Connect 4. They also had a cigar bar. “Rob’s a big cigar guy, and that was his only requirement,” Jennie says. Rob gave a speech at the reception in place of Jennie’s father. A DJ played the couple’s favorite music—hits from the ’90s. Rob’s friends lifted him up in the air during a Blink-182 song. “Jennie was like, ‘Oh, my God. Don’t touch the chandelier!’ ” Rob says.

THE HONEYMOON: The couple went on a weeklong honeymoon to the Sandals Regency La Toc in St. Lucia.

NEW BEGINNINGS: Jennie and Rob are expecting their first child, a boy, in late July.

VENDORS: Cake, Julie Bakes; catering, Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay; ceremony music, Blue Serenade; day-of coordination, Hannah Belle Events; flowers, Monteray Farms; gown, Stella York from Couture by Posh Bridal; hair, Laura Mainhart; invitations, Bella Figura; lawn games, Finishing Touch Rentals; makeup, Serendipity Salon and Spa; photography, Melissa Grimes-Guy Photography; reception music, Darling Wedding Productions.