Douglas Crawford was amused by the Florida girl's puka shell necklaces and Hollister T-shirts. Lexi McBride was the typical high-schooler from the Sunshine State, bronzed and flip-flopped.
Where he lived, in High Point, N.C., a city known as the headquarters of the furniture industry, the boys wore bow ties and the girls dressed plainly.
"I couldn't understand a boy in a bow tie," recalls Lexi, now 23.
Lexi's parents are Alex Sink, former banker and chief financial officer of the state of Florida, and Bill McBride, a lawyer, both of them former Democratic candidates for governor of Florida. Every summer they shipped her from their home in Thonotosassa to a sailing camp for girls called Sea Farer in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In the summer of 2007, Lexi was promoted to camp counselor. Douglas, now 22, was also a counselor, in Sea Gull, the sailing camp for boys.
Every year, Lexi says, "I usually hung out with all the same friends. I didn't think of meeting a new guy."
But halfway through that summer, Douglas jumped in the car with Lexi and her friends for a beach trip. The mocking of the puka shell necklace commenced.
A week later, the girls in Sea Farer piled on makeup and the boys in Sea Gull straightened their bow ties for a big Saturday night dance. It wasn't super glam, held on a basketball court surrounded by a chain link fence. But the Susie Sea Farers and the Johnny Sea Gulls didn't care — it was a chance for all of them to flirt.
Lexi called her mom after hanging with Douglas all night: "I think I met my Johnny Sea Gull!"
At the close of summer, Douglas and Lexi sat at the end of the camp's pier — a striking place where the ocean subtly sprayed as they talked. They didn't know what to do with their summer crushes. Douglas was going to North Carolina State University; she was going to Wake Forest College, also in North Carolina. Conveniently, the two colleges were only a couple of hours apart. So they decided to stay together and exchange weekends.
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Four years later, they revisited that pier. It was a starry, cloudless July night. Douglas was wearing the same checkered button-down shirt he wore on their first date. He gave Lexi a small honeyed speech, and then proposed.
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It was a very country wedding with collard greens, ham, biscuits, lots of wildflowers and drinks in Mason jars. Before the couple heads to the University of Florida in the fall, Lexi to the College of Medicine and Douglas to get his master's degree in architecture, the ceremony and reception took place at the Hollyview Farm in Mount Airy, N.C., which has been in Lexi's family since the 1840s. Her grandfather still lives there, and her mother grew up there.
The couple said their vows on June 2 on the front porch of the house with about 350 people in attendance. Lexi wore a snow white ball gown with a wide, sequined empire-waist belt and blue suede flats for her "something blue."
Douglas? He wore a light cream-colored suit . . . with a green bow tie.
Sabrina Rocco can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8862.