Chrystina Langan shuffled into her "going out" flip-flops — sparkly shoes she wore when she wanted to look conveniently nice. She put on a pretty top, fixed her hair, slathered on some lip gloss. She was ready for the night, ready for Rick Hanson to make a move.
Except he showed up at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse in a Guy Harvey fishing T, flip-flops ... and cargo shorts.
"I was less than impressed at the time, because I thought it was a setup," Chrystina, now 27, recalls.
Her friend Jamie and Jamie's husband, Bryan, got them together, and they were all going out that night. Little did she know, Bryan told Rick to take things slow.
Chrystina had just moved back to Florida from Japan, where her ex-husband had been stationed. She was newly divorced, but she didn't want that to stop her from falling in love again.
Later that first night, Bryan gave Rick the green light. And Chrystina was entranced by his personality and charm, despite his outfit of choice.
A few days later they met again at Push Ultra Lounge in St. Petersburg. This time, Rick looked sharp, "like a perfect gentleman." Chrystina was falling.
Soon after that night, they kissed at Rick's apartment, which catapulted them into a three-year romance they never saw coming.
Chrystina, now 27, left her teller job at Regions Bank to go to St. Petersburg College full time, where she's majoring in international business. She spent the first half of August 2011 studying abroad in Costa Rica.
That gave Rick, an accountant who is now 30, time to pick out a ring. He chose a solitaire diamond wrapped in a yellow gold band.
When Chrystina got home, Rick whisked her away to Rum Runners, a bar inside the Sirata Resort on St. Pete Beach, their preferred haunt.
"We can sit there, have a drink and an appetizer and watch the sun go down," Rick says.
Chrystina didn't think anything of this. They always go to Rum Runners, and Rick was wearing cargo shorts. (Surely nothing special was in store.)
"I'm pretty sure he was wearing the same cargo shorts he wore that other night," Chrystina says.
But as the sun went down, Rick dropped a knee into the sand and proposed.
Chrystina ordered her Essence of Australia gown at a CC's Boutique trunk show. It was in the lot by accident. The designer chose not to sell it, but the store ordered it anyway. Since Chrystina fell in love with the fit-and-flare lace gown, the designer let her have it. The best part? No other bride on Earth has ever worn that dress.
The couple married Oct. 13, 2012, at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa with nine bridesmaids and eight groomsmen by their sides. Rick wore a black suit and cream-colored tie. No cargo shorts — not this time.
Sabrina Rocco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8862.