Just a sum­mer ro­mance? By De­cem­ber they were mar­ried.

Mariel Miller and Dallin Hatch

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY ELLEN MCCARTHY mc­carthye@wash­post.com

Mariel Miller had been train­ing most of her life for the kind of op­por­tu­nity that came last March. Af­ter years of con­ser­va­tory lessons and 12-hour prac­tice sched­ules, the clas­si­cally trained dancer was of­fered the chance to tour with a pro­fes­sional com­pany.

Un­for­tu­nately, the pre­vi­ous day she’d com­mit­ted to teach­ing a sum­mer work­shop in Utah that con­flicted with the tour sched­ule. It was an obli­ga­tion she couldn’t forgo.

“I was very, very bummed,” re­calls Miller, a Sil­ver Spring na­tive. The 20year-old packed her bags and drove west to Provo, where her brother and best friend were en­rolled as stu­dents at Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity.

Things fell apart quickly af­ter she ar­rived. A part-time job that had been in the works failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize, and a month of job-hunt­ing pro­duced only re­jec­tions. Then the woman who had hired her for the dance work­shop told Miller she wouldn’t be paid un­til the course was com­plete in Au­gust.

“I was a mess. I went to my best friend’s apart­ment and was like, ‘I have no idea what I’m do­ing here. I just want to go back to D.C.,’ ” she says.

But byMay she’d found a room to rent and a job wait­ing ta­bles. At a Sun­day morn­ing Mor­mon ser­vice, an in­vi­ta­tion went out for con­gre­gants to come to the front of the meet­ing house and say what­ever was on their minds. By then Miller’s out­look had changed. “I don’t know what I’m do­ing here,” she told the crowd. “But I know I’m out here for a rea­son.”

Sit­ting in the au­di­ence, Dallin Hatch was struck. “I was like, ‘Ohmy gosh, who is this?’ ” he says. “I thought she was beau­ti­ful. I just wanted to meet her.”

The 24-year-old pub­lic re­la­tions ma­jor ap­proached Miller af­ter the ser­vice to say that he ad­mired her courage. She thanked him but quickly rushed off to work, fear­ful of jeop­ar­diz­ing what lit­tle in­come she had.

Hatch went home and looked up­Miller’s Face­book page, only to see that her pro­file said she was in a re­la­tion­ship. Of course she has a boyfriend, he thought.

Through­out the sum­mer, Hatch led a Sun­day school class for the con­gre­ga­tion, made up mostly of BYU stu­dents. Week af­ter week, Miller would wait (usu­ally along­side sev­eral other young women) to dis­cuss the teach­ings with him af­ter the ser­vice.

“She was al­ways mak­ing the most awe­somecom­ments, but I was like, ‘Why is this girl talk­ing to me if she’s dat­ing some­one?’ ” he says.

Miller had ac­tu­ally been sin­gle for months; her out­dated Face­book sta­tus re­ferred to an ex.

In mid-Au­gust, Hatch re­solved to ask Miller out af­ter church. He’d never seen her with a guy and fig­ured that “ the worst she could say is no.”

She quickly said yes. Miller loved lis­ten­ing to Hatch’s talks each Sun­day and had been hop­ing for a chance to see more of him. Hatch hur­riedly ar­ranged a group date at an evening camp­fire in a nearby canyon for the next Fri­day.

In the in­ter­ven­ing week, Miller trav­eled to Cal­i­for­nia. She and Hatch texted in­ces­santly, some­times un­til 2 or 3 a.m., shar­ing so much that she wor­ried there would be noth­ing to talk about in per­son. But once they took their seats by the bon­fire that Fri­day, it was as if no one else ex­isted.

“ The more we talked, the more we re­al­ized we had in com­mon,” she says. Both wanted to set­tle in a big city on one of the coasts, and both came from mu­si­cal fam­i­lies that val­ued a strong work ethic.

They went to lunch the next day; the fol­low­ing night, whenMiller was feel­ing sick, Hatch showed up with choco­lates and le­mon­ade. They stayed up talk­ing on her front porch un­til dawn. “We didn’t even know how much time had passed,” she says.

It passed the same way sev­eral more times that week. Miller was al­ter­nately elated and un­nerved. “I was like, this is hap­pen­ing way too fast. This is ob­vi­ously in­sane,” she says.

Hatch was also wor­ried about the pace at which their feel­ings were de­vel­op­ing. With­out a solid ba­sis of friend­ship, some­thing like this could be­have like a fire­work, he knew — fiz­zling al­most as fast as it ex­ploded.

But while out of town for her brother’s wed­ding, Miller found her­self think­ing con­stantly aboutHatch. “I felt the whole time that some­thing had been missing, and when I saw him again, it was back,” she says. “It was so in­tense.”

Nine days af­ter their first date, they talked about get­ting mar­ried. Miller’s par­ents had been en­gaged af­ter two weeks of dat­ing, so she was fa­mil­iar with ac­cel­er­ated ro­mances, though she never ex­pected one for her­self.

“But I kind of knew, and I think he did too, thatwe weren’t go­ing to find any­one bet­ter. This is it,” she says. “And to lose this would prob­a­bly be one of the great­est mis­takes we could ever make.”

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to her daugh­ter’s de­scrip­tion of Hatch, Miller’s mother teas­ingly asked, “So, when’s the wed­ding?” Miller de­murred, though her talks with Hatch about com­mit­ment were grow­ing se­ri­ous.

“ The hours we had spent to­gether . . . were enough for me to see that ev­ery­thing I wanted was there. And why push it off when you feel it’s right?” Hatch says. “I felt like God had done things to put her there, and I felt like it was sup­posed to hap­pen.”

The first week­end in Oc­to­ber, the two flew­toWash­ing­ton soHatch could meet Miller’s par­ents. By the time they left, he’d got­ten a bless­ing to ask for their daugh­ter’s hand in mar­riage.

His own par­ents needed “a lit­tle more re­as­sur­ance that I wasn’t just in­fat­u­ated,” but they came around as they saw the cou­ple in­ter­act and dis­cuss plans for a fu­ture.

In mid-Oc­to­ber, Hatch picked Miller up to go to the gym. Feel­ing in­se­cure about her­self and her ca­reer af­ter a bad day, a doubt­ful Miller asked, “Why do you want me?”

Hatch in­stantly shelved his plans for an elab­o­rate pro­posal and asked her then to be his wife. “I was like, ‘You know what? It’s time,’ ” he says. “It wasn’t this planned-out, or­nate dis­play. It was some­thing so spe­cial be­cause we al­ways spent time to­gether, just the two of us, just like that.”

The cou­ple planned to marry in April but soon re­al­ized thatHatch, still fin­ish­ing his de­gree, would be too busy with classes. They quickly pulled to­gether a De­cem­ber wed­ding in­stead.

“We thought about it a lot and de­cided what’s the point of an­other four months?” Hatch says.

Miller says she knows that by East Coast stan­dards, “it’s crazy” to get mar­ried so soon. But, she adds, “in Utah it’s not so crazy.”

On Dec. 21, Hatch and Miller were wed in a cer­e­mony at the Mor­mon Tem­ple in­Kens­ing­ton. That evening, the two were toasted by 160 guests at a re­cep­tion at the Glen­view Man­sion in Rockville, where sev­eral friends ser­e­naded the pair with a song from the movie “Grease.”

Be­fore the wed­ding the two ex­changed letters ex­press­ing their feel­ings for each other. “So that when­ever we have a time of doubt we’ll be able to re­flect on this pe­riod,” Miller says. “We know how much we value this.”

BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST

ON THE BIG DAY: MarielMiller and DallinHatch at their re­cep­tion at the Glen­viewMan­sion in Rockville. They were mar­ried four months af­ter their first date.

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