(Mark said this is the first picture of them together. Doesn't Leslie look like she is glowing?)
Their second date was at Alfredo's and they went bowling. Mark showed her pictures of his three kids. Their first real spark was lingering high-fives between turns. Leslie actually beat Mark two games to one, fair and square. They then started talking nightly. They really got to know each other over the phone.
Their third date was to the Museum Cafe in downtown OKC. They then walked over to the Civic Center to see Annie. They were all dressed up and Mark thought Leslie looked hot. It was crowded in the lobby of the Civic Center, and Mark grabbed Leslie's hand to keep her close. They both noticed a real connection right away. After the musical, Mark planned on kissing Leslie. They walked out to the car, Mark went around to open Leslie's door. Instead, he lingered on the door handle and leaned in to kiss her. Leslie told him that was a defining moment for her.
They started dating regularly after that and Leslie made Mark say "I love you" first. They had a great date over her birthday weekend. Mark got her earrings.
While on their fifth date, another guy called her, while they were in the car on the way to a baseball game. Leslie actually answered. She was kind of still dating him, she just hadn't broken it off with him quite yet. Good thing Mark didn't know THAT at the time!
Each week built up in anticipation because they only saw each other on Fridays. But as their relationship grew, it also became increasingly difficult to leave each other on Friday nights because they knew it would be an entire week before they saw each other again.
They first had a conversation in Leslie's apartment about how important Alameda (Mark's church) was in his life. It had been a part of his life since 1994 and was extremely important for his children as well. A few weeks later, at Panera Bread, they had a question/answer session for a few hours about all kinds of issues that may come up in their relationship. They saw that they had so much common ground. It was very comforting for Mark that Leslie was being so mature about these things so early in a relationship. Leslie then met Mark's kids at the end of May. Mark said a very promising sign was when Leslie and Marli walked hand in hand down a long hallway at Incredible Pizza, right after meeting.
Mark proposed to Leslie on October 18 not long after the OU/Texas game. He had teased her that he was going to get Big Tex to propose to her at the state fair. They had gone on this road trip with Mark's friends, Mike & Adrianne and Jamie & Susan. Mark had realized he was going to propose a few months before this. (He had designed her engagement ring, so it took a while to get it ready.)The day Mark bought the ring, he took Leslie on a special day trip and proposed. On the way back, they stopped at Pops on Route 66. It is still a very special place for them.
Mark and Leslie were married on June 6, 2009. They had a beautiful ceremony where they also recognized Melinda and her family with a candle of her own. Melinda was Mark's wife who had passed away 2 years earlier.