In the Suburbs: A holiday fairy tale right here in Fairfield

Last Saturday, Dec. 19, our Fairfield University Bookstore team took part in one of the most wonderful holiday stories we could have ever imagined.

A young couple, Thomas Knowles and Mary-Megan Marshall stopped into the store right after their wedding on the Norwalk Green to visit and thank us for being the venue where they had their first date. But that was only part of this beautiful fairy tale.

Thomas and Mary-Megan attended and graduated from Fairfield University in 2012 having never known or met each other. Granted, that is certainly not unusual at a major university. But post-graduation, as each was searching for true and lasting love, their journey took them to the website Tinder, where they met for the first time.

According to Thomas, “We began talking online, using our alma mater as a jumping off point. And from there, we arranged to meet at the bookstore for our first date. But after a short time, I backed off a little because I prefer face-to-face conversation. Unfortunately I did not mention this to Mary-Megan, but she figured out why I stopped exchanging messages and thankfully showed up for our first date.

“Mary-Megan ordered a chai, and I had a caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso. We each paid for our respective drinks. On that date, we talked nonstop for about three hours about our interests, careers and goals. Mary-Megan learned on that date that Martha’s Vineyard is an island! (I grew up on the Vineyard.) At the end of our date we shared our first kiss, and from there the rest is history.”

Mary-Megan shared that she currently works for Family Re-Entry in Bridgeport, where she grew up. Her dad is a faculty member at Fairfield Prep. She and Thomas, who is a data analyst in New York City, initially cultivated their fairytale relationship over the next three years in Norwalk, moving in together in August 2017, and eventually decided in August of 2018 to move to Brooklyn where they lived until November 2019.

But during their brief residence near Manhattan, Mary-Megan decided it was time to make their relationship permanent and she took the initiative on Memorial Day 2019. That day, while the pair was walking along the High Line on New York’s West Side Mary-Megan stopped, got down on one knee, turned the tables on a very surprised Thomas and proposed. Of course, Thomas was shocked but thrilled and immediately said yes.

Soon after, they decided on a large wedding in 2020 and were busy planning when the pandemic hit. They moved back to Norwalk in November 2019.

Their original wedding date was Oct. 10, 2020. But the couple said they didn’t want to wait a year until things were better. So after some change of plans, they enlisted a childhood friend of Mary-Megan’s, who she knew from Holy Family in Fairfield, and they were married on the Norwalk Green this past Saturday afternoon with a friend from the Unitarian Church in Westport attending.

Mary-Megan wore a dress that she bought at a thrift store in Manhattan, while Thomas wore a red sweater over a dress shirt with a pair of jeans. They decided to hold their large reception sometime in 2021 when things, hopefully, will be much better health wise.

When they stopped at our bookstore that afternoon to celebrate (and to buy a Fairfield University picture frame for their wedding photos), Mary-Megan happily announced that they were on their way to their great wedding dinner at Bridgeport’s Merritt Canteen, the same place where they spent their first Valentine’s Day.

“I grew up eating Merritt Canteen food,” she said. “For years, my parents took us to Merritt Canteen, not just to eat but to choose their Christmas tree.

“For our dinner, I will be having a bacon cheeseburger with onions, cheddar cheese and fries. And I will put tartar sauce on the fries like I always do.”

Thomas said his choice would be chicken tenders and curly fries.

Following dinner, Mary-Megan and her new husband Thomas Knowles, planned to return to their apartment in Norwalk like it was a typical pandemic Saturday night.

But stay tuned. This beautiful fairy tale, born out of a blind date at the Fairfield University Bookstore on Dec. 19, 2015, has already ensured that this couple is destined to live happily ever after.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.