Bethany Skinner and Michael Burke

Quiet lass snags armored knight

Bethany and Michael
  • Bethany and Michael

Date Met: Long, long ago

Date Engaged: December 24, 2003

Wedding Date: November 13, 2004

How far back in time would you travel to find your one true love? Bethany Skinner, 25, and Michael Burke, 26, went as far as the Middle Ages. Members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Ms. Skinner and Mr. Burke truly found each other during a Renaissance weekend at Potrero Park.

Sure, there had been some earlier meetings. “We met through mutual friends,” Ms. Skinner reveals during an afternoon coffee at an East County Starbucks. Outside, an early Santa Ana blows hot down Lake Jennings Road. Inside, Ms. Skinner and Mr. Burke glow with their own warmth. “They were Michael’s friends from high school whom I had met through theater.” Ms. Skinner works as house manager and concessions manager at the East County Center for the Performing Arts.

“We were all in a Monday-night dinner club,” Mr. Burke takes up the thread. “We would go out every Monday and try new restaurants.”

“I really wasn’t attracted to him at first,” Ms. Skinner says. “He was always the funny guy, and I was always the quiet one.”

In May 2002, the funny guy and the quiet lass spent a weekend at Potrero Park with about 2000 other Renaissance fans. Wearing costumes. Full armor for Mr. Burke; a medieval dress for Ms. Skinner. The couple reenacted war. “The men fight, and the women take care of them,” Ms. Skinner explains. “We bring them water and tend to them.”

That Saturday night, everyone else in their party went to sleep early. Ms. Skinner and Mr. Burke stayed up talking by the fire. “It was the first time we’d ever been alone and talked one- on-one,” Ms. Skinner says. They stayed up half the night covering the usual topics for people falling in love: life, philosophy, relationships.

“The whole rest of the weekend, all our friends were asking, ‘What’s going on?’” Ms. Skinner says. “I didn’t think anything was going on.”

“We were the last to know,” Mr. Burke says and smiles.

The next week, Ms. Skinner and Mr. Burke saw each other again at a pool party. They still hadn’t officially gone on a date. After the next Monday-night dinner, Mr. Burke asked Ms. Skinner, “Want to go get a shake?”

At the Denny’s at Fletcher Parkway and Navajo, Mr. Burke introduced Ms. Skinner to his favorite shake, the grasshopper, which would also become her favorite. The two discovered that they drove the same kind of car (1991 Toyota Corolla), had the same birthday, and had been born at the same hospital (Mercy). They also both liked french fries with ranch dressing.

A month later, Mr. Burke told Ms. Skinner he loved her. She held out for another two months.

On Christmas Eve 2003, the couple went to dinner downtown at Dakota Grill. Afterward, Ms. Skinner suggested they go across the bay to Coronado. “We went and sat on a park bench where we’d gone on our third date,” Mr. Burke remembers. “It was cold, so Bethany had on my jacket. I got down on one knee and reached into the pocket of the jacket she was wearing and pulled out the ring box.”

“He said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I said, ‘Yes.’”

“I’d had the ring for months,” Mr. Burke explains. “Through hinting, I’d found out what she wanted and had the ring completely reset.” Mr. Burke’s eye for detail comes in handy in his work doing quality assurance for the Sutherland Group, a company that out- sources tech support and customer service to a wide array of San Diego businesses.

Ms. Skinner shows off the custom solitaire.

Mr. Burke and Ms. Skinner will be married November 13 of this year at St. Therese in Allied Gardens. While the nuptials themselves will be “totally traditional,” the couple plans some Renaissance touches for the reception at Mission Trails Golf Course. “The bridesmaids’ dresses are medieval,” Mr. Burke says. “We’ll have drummers and a bard and a feast dinner.”

“And a castle cake,” Ms. Skinner adds. “It’s a cake that looks like a castle.” Ms. Skinner pauses. “It’s funny,” she says. “When I was a kid, I always dreamed of living in a castle. Michael’s house has a façade that looks like a castle.” Looks like the quiet lass actually got her knight in shining armor.

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