8 Years Later, Sterling Couple Says ‘I Do’

Couple: Bill and Christine Saltenberger



“In some, the guardrails were right on the edge of a cliff and I pictured Christine being so excited she’d throw her arms in the air and the ring would fly into the ocean,” Bill said.

Both Christine and Bill admit to being “picky.”

They stopped at another overlook, but a couple in their 70s was chasing birds and squirrels around the parking lot, cameras in hand. The next overlook was empty and had a big rock to sit on and a great view of the Pacific. This was the place. But as Christine was about to sit next to Bill, a “huge” black spider ruined the moment with Christine retreating to the car. Five hours out of San Francisco, they were in the Hearst Castle (too crowded) and that evening they ate in a cozy restaurant where the waiter dropped Bill’s credit card into a seam in the floor. Much later they were in their room and Bill, still on sinus medicine, immediately went to sleep, his engagement ring safely pinned to his pocket.

The next morning, Christine wasn’t feeling well. They headed for Santa Barbara. Ten miles down the road the scenic drive stopped and a freeway began. “I couldn’t believe it,” Bill said, “I thought I’d made a wrong turn.” Christine Sarnecky smiles before the wedding ceremony. She and Bill Saltenberger were married May 12 at Raspberry Plain in Leesburg.

In Santa Barbara, they parked the car near a beach. “I was nervous because we parked behind a car that a man was living in … I’m so paranoid about leaving luggage in the car … so Bill moved the car to the parking lot behind the Four Seasons Hotel,” Christine said. Said Bill: “Chris is concerned that we’re parked in the Four Seasons lot and we’re not guests so we head back to the car.” On the way back to the car Bill asked Christine if she’d sit on a concrete wall for a moment. But the wall was too high, and Christine’s skirt was too short. Not the right place.

08_t180Bill was determined to “get this done” before they met friends for lunch in Santa Barbara and surely before they arrived in Los Angeles to meet his parents that evening for dinner. In the car he begins telling her how much he loves her. “She sees through it pretty quickly, gets nervous, starts stuttering, tosses her arms around, sticks out her left hand and says ‘Is this really happening,’ and I’m like ‘will you marry me?'” After hugs, tears and laughter, Christine says, “Of all the places we’ve been over the past two days, you pick a tennis court parking lot … I can’t believe you.” Bill says he gave her an abbreviated version of his good intentions.

Seeing What’s in Front of You

By many comparisons, their relationship — eight years in the making — hasn’t been ordinary since Day One.

Husband and wife kiss after the ceremony. Christine moved from Richmond to Northern Virginia in 1998, the same year Bill arrived from Chicago. Both landed jobs at MCI. Both worked as financial analysts and met in a training class. At that time MCI was in Arlington.

It’s now in Ashburn, and today it’s Verizon-MCI. They were friends at work, discussed their personal and social lives and were urged by mutual friends to be a couple, but they never dated. “He tried,” Christine teased.

One example.

“I asked her if she wanted to go to the D.C. Improv, maybe grab dinner at this new restaurant,” Bill said. Typical answers. She was busy, had a hair appointment, “No, I don’t like comedy,” or “I don’t eat.” After some discussion they agree that their first “date-date” was to Bill’s company Christmas party after he’d begun working at Nextel. It was the first time their friends knew they were dating. That date-date happened eight years after they met. “I know, I know,” Christine said, “you don’t always see what’s right in front of you.”

The following February, Bill was sitting in Christine’s apartment discussing the fact that both of their apartment leases were coming due at nearly the same time. “I remember sitting on her couch with a glass of wine and I suggested we consider buying a place together.” He recalls hearing “whoooo” and “are you kidding me,” or, he says, it could have been “hell no.” Christine came out of the kitchen asking if Bill was serious. “Yeah.” Three months later (Oh, the poor Realtor, says Christine) they bought a townhouse in Sterling.

Last May 12, they were married at historic Raspberry Plain in Leesburg. Christine mused about changing her name from Sarnecky to Saltenberger. “It’s even longer than mine but at least I’ll have the same initials and can keep my monogrammed towels.”

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