In January 2001, Randy McIntosh and Sarah Walker were paired up in a game of pool at Emerson Biggins in Lawrence, where Randy was a manager. Sarah, a Kansas University student, needed a partner, and her friends coaxed her into "flirting with him."
After a night of playing pool, conversation and dancing, they decided to meet the next day at the Lawrence dog park.
Sarah brought along her miniature schnauzer named Chewy, short for Chewbacca, and Randy brought his Siberian husky named Nanook. The dogs got along well, and Sarah and Randy began a relationship that would lead to a lifelong partnership.
After dating for four and a half years, Randy proposed marriage in front of family and friends in a private room at Paisano's Ristorante.
Sarah thought everyone was there to celebrate her mom's birthday, but she was suspicious because Randy had asked her to buy a special outfit for the occasion.
"I called my best friend and told her that I thought he was going to propose," Sarah said. "She was like, 'Are you sure?'"
Then her friend called Randy and warned him.
When Sarah saw his parents, Judy and Randy Sr. of El Dorado, she became even more suspicious. Randy said he waited until after everyone was served drinks and appetizers before proposing.
"I knew she thought it might happen, so I wanted to hold out for as long as possible," he said. "So, maybe she would think it wasn't going to happen."
But once it did, happy tears were shed, Sarah said, and everyone applauded.
Loss of loved one
Sarah, a 1998 Free State High School graduate, is pursuing a degree in nursing at Johnson County Community College and works at Kansas University Medical Center. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mom, Colleen Walker, who earned a nursing degree from JCCC in 2002. Colleen pursued the degree so she could take better care of her son, Ryan, who had suffered from respiratory and heart problems since birth. She also wanted to be more informed about his condition.
Sarah said she was very close to her younger brother, who died Dec. 1, 2003, at age 17.
"You see a different side of health care when you're on the opposite end," Sarah said. "You see what you can do for other people being in a position where you know what that feels like."
Randy, who is a 1994 graduate of El Dorado High School and a 1999 graduate of Kansas State University, said he knew Ryan for two years.
"He helped make Sarah the person that she is," Randy said. "He was an extremely happy kid, and nothing really got him down. He would make the best of every situation."
And Randy was very much in their thoughts during their June 3, 2006, wedding day.
Fishing trip and vows
First, they exchanged personal wedding vows in a morning ceremony at St. John the Evangelist Church in front of immediate family. Both wore casual attire and "cried like babies," Sarah said.
Then they spent "a relaxing afternoon" fishing at Lone Star Lake. Sarah said Randy loves to fish and was hoping to spend a little time fishing on their special day. Sarah said she didn't want to witness a repeat of the 1995 movie "Grumpier Old Men," where the main characters - played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau - showed up late to a wedding because they were in search of "the big one." So, Sarah suggested that they go fishing together, which pleasantly surprised Randy. They took the dogs and caught a couple of bass.
Then during an evening outdoor ceremony, they wore traditional wedding attire and had a renewal of vows in front of 300 guests. There were three big tents set up at the Lawrence home of Kathy Decker, who is Sarah's great-aunt.
The evening included food, dancing and a display of family photos. They also had a memorial table for their late grandparents and Ryan.
Sarah and Randy admired Ryan's musical abilities. He was a drummer in the marching band, jazz ensemble and concert band at Free State. As a special tribute, members of the Free State jazz band provided music at the reception.
"We made an effort to make it the combining of two families and to remember that they taught us what marriage is like and to be thankful for what you have and to appreciate those who can't be with you," Sarah said. "They were a big part of making our wedding day special."