Cute piece in The Star. Note that the writer's name is almost "lonely":
- Wheels of love turn slow but true
Oct 03, 2009 04:30 AM
Special to the Star
When Barry Fraser met Karen Robock for the first time, it was for coffee on Valentine's Day, 2001 – and he had a contingency plan in place. Fraser's friends were strategically stationed at a martini bar across the street. If the conversation lagged, he planned to escape with the excuse that he had previously arranged to meet them.
"Fortunately, he ended up ditching his friends and hung out with me instead," Robock says.
The soon-to-be couple had been introduced by mutual friends through email.
Their first meeting – at Dreams of Beans, a coffee shop in downtown Peterborough – was meant to be more of an "un-date" owing to their mutual dislike of Valentine's Day. But the couple clicked over coffee and Robock recalls thinking, "Hmm, this could actually be something."
Subsequent meetings became increasingly date-like, eventually leading to dinners and concerts.
They'd grown up, unbeknownst to one another, in homes a mere four blocks apart and Robock had recently returned home from University of Guelph to save money for a semester abroad. When she packed up and left Peterborough to attend the University of London in the U.K. for six months, the relationship remained intact.
"I think we're pretty different, but it works because we balance each other out," she says. "For instance, I think about things a million times over before breakfast whereas he's more impulsive, but in a good way."
The couple soon found they had other things in common besides coffee. Fraser, who owned a bike and skateboard shop, introduced Robock to cycling. When they moved to Toronto together in 2002, they explored the city by bike.
"Barry bought me an original 1950s CCM bike, stripped it down, painted it baby blue and had my name stencilled on it," Robock says. "I still have it hanging up against the ceiling in our apartment."
Because they both went back to school and then devoted time to establishing their careers, wedding talk was relegated to the distant future. (Fraser now works for Bombardier and Robock is an editor at Glow magazine.)
But in the spring of 2008, the couple took a trip to France, with Fraser carrying a pink sapphire engagement ring he'd had made, waiting for the perfect moment to pop the question.
On a warm day in Versailles, Robock noticed he was taking an unusual number of photos of the gardens as they passed through them.
"I was getting a little annoyed," she says. "It was really hot that day and I couldn't understand why he was taking so many pictures."
Finally, Fraser set the camera up on a timer and sat down beside Robock on a bench. "He told me he just wanted to take a few more photos of us with the castle in the background."
The camera was primed to take a picture every 10 seconds – and thus captured the moments before the proposal, the proposal itself and the joyous aftermath.
"I kind of wondered whether he might ask me while we were away," Robock says. "But this was day four or five of our trip and I just figured he wasn't going to, after all. So I wasn't expecting it and was totally shocked." She laughs at the memory. "I just wish I'd known so I could have at least brushed my hair."
They planned to wait a year and set a date: May 30, 2009. Next, they needed a venue. "We wanted it to take place somewhere meaningful to both of us," Robock says.
When they'd first moved to Toronto, the couple landed in Cabbagetown and, on the weekends, rode their bikes to the city's historic Distillery District. At the time, it was little more than a construction site but Balzac's café, one of the first shops on site, was open.
"We would ride over mounds of dirt and upended bricks to get to the coffee shop," Robock says. "It became our date spot and we went at least once a month."
Even after moving to the west end of the city, they still rode out for their favourite brew and thus decided that the casually elegant café would be a fitting spot for their big day.
Robock's wedding march took her down the stairs of the former pump-house-turned-coffee-roastery to where Fraser waited on the main floor. In the introduction to the ceremony, they even referred to the role caffeine played in their relationship.
"We wrote that `Karen's a latte lady and Barry's an Americano man,'" Robock says. "It seems so cheesy now, but it was cute at the time – and it got a giggle from our guests."
A member of the wedding party was the couple's Boston terrier puppy, Ella, sporting a faux pearl necklace. "She was really good but got a little scared when the music got loud," Robock says.
In addition to having all their friends and family in attendance, as well as their pet, one of the highlights was the role that Mother Nature played.
Despite the day starting out sunny, Fraser and Robock exchanged vows over the din of a dramatic thunderstorm. But, when they stepped outside the coffee shop for their photo session, the newlyweds were greeted by a giant rainbow.
"It was such a nice moment," Robock says. "It really made it seem even more special."