Just a summer romance? By December they were married.
Mariel Miller and Dallin Hatch
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Miller had actually been single for months; her outdated Facebook status referred to an ex.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.”
ON THE BIG DAY: MarielMiller and DallinHatch at their reception at the GlenviewMansion in Rockville. They were married four months after their first date.