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Jennifer & Ryan Take Time To Talk

Reading like a novel, Jen Wirtz and Ryan Schonhoff’s romance started, “It was a cold and wintry night …,” on Jan. 28, 2012.

“I was ready to call it a night,” said the manager of event and exhibitor services at Saint Charles Convention Center. Then, Ryan “swooped in” to dance. Easy conversation followed. He found her “attractive, fun, confident” and she liked his initiative as newly falling snow outside threatened to cut the evening short.

Jen made it clear. Any relationship would consist of real conversation rather than text messages for her.

So what did they do next?

He texted her to set a time to talk by phone and negotiate a date at a Korean restaurant that became a favorite. She lived in St. Ann while he was rehabbing his house in Glen Carbon, Ill., and worked at Ameren in downtown St. Louis.

Ryan said, “We talked a lot.” The conversation was fruitful. “Once we took the time to know each other, we were inseparable,” Jen said.

Although they shared similar values, their youthful upbringing varied greatly. Ryan came from a traditional family while Jen spent Monday to Friday with grandparents and went “home” on weekends. They planned their first trip to the Florida Keys for late April. An eventual decision to live together, Ryan said, was to see if they could find balance. Jen added that they “wanted to make certain we would know each other” before committing for a lifetime.

Results were positive. “Sharing made us stronger,” he said, “and made our commitment better.”

Becoming engaged was an early idea in their relationship. Ryan planned the occasion for – when else? – a wintry evening after the two-year anniversary of their first dance facing Main Street in St. Charles. So how was the weather? Icy. Stormy. With the ring in his pocket, they took wine home rather than challenge the weather further.

He asked her to wait in the car to be certain the scene was set.

“There is a huge hallway where I put this trail of rose petals,” Ryan said. “That’s when I said, ‘Hey, come on in.’ I forgot to get down on one knee and she called me on it, but everything went well.”

It was a celebration meant just for two. “That night we just soaked it all in,” Jen said.