For many happy couples, the office often serves as the intersection of career paths and wedding aisles, and happily-ever-afters.
Such was the setting for Milton native Blake Swayne (our cover bride) and Richard Thomas Fisk, III, (RT) who are busy planning an October wedding.
They first met in 2015 when Blake, a 2014 graduate of Georgia Southern University, took a position in sales for a hotel in Jacksonville, Fla. There she met RT, a key executive at the hotel and someone she would work closely with on a daily basis as part of the small management team.
“He was the assistant general manager, and I was the new cute sales coordinator — we worked five feet away from each other five days a week,” Swayne laughed.
Love at first sight? Not exactly, but close.
“I wouldn’t say ‘at first sight,’ but it didn’t take long for me to realize how kind, thoughtful and generous RT was to everyone around him,” Swayne said. “He caught my eye not long after I started working there.”
For RT, the interest was a bit more immediate, sparked by Blake’s personality and a laugh that left a mark from the beginning.
“Blake definitely caught me off guard the first time we met,” said Fisk, who never imagined a love connection at work would lead to marriage. “I can’t say that I knew [immediately] she was the one for me, but I knew there was something special about this girl.”
The two soon began to date, with the first test of the relationship coming just a few months later with a job opportunity for Fisk several states away. That prompted Blake to seriously evaluate the relationship and realize he was the man she wanted to be with, and possibly marry.
“[I knew] when he told me he was offered a job in Virginia and moving away,” said Blake of the moment the thought of permanence entered her mind. “I knew I would be looking for a man like RT for the rest of my life, and I would be stupid to let him go.”
She made the decision to move to Virginia with RT, knowing the opportunity put him closer to his home and family. For RT, her decision made the move even better.
“Telling Blake about this great job opportunity was tough and complicated because it meant I would be moving,” said RT, who grew up in Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech.
“When Blake told me she was moving up to Virginia to be with me, I knew that she was committed to us. She took a huge leap of faith on me, and that meant a lot to me.”
The relationship strengthened from that point, and RT made the decision to propose to Blake around the Christmas holidays, surrounded by her family and the people she loved.
“I really wanted Blake to be surprised,” said RT “Every December she takes a trip to New York with some of her family, so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity.”
He called her father, Greg Swayne, and stepfather, Kurt Pacey, to ask for their blessing, found the perfect ring, and carefully prepared what he wanted to say to her when he proposed.
The plans nearly were upended when the bag carrying the ring did not arrive on their flight to New York City – but was located soon after.
Working with her family, RT found the perfect proposal site, a raised area of sidewalk on the corner of 6th Avenue and W 55th Street, next to a fountain and in front of a lighted Christmas tree.
Walking with Blake to dinner, RT took her to “their spot” on the premise of getting a photo, then dropped to his knees and pulled out the ring.
“Her tears made my hands shake even more, but luckily I didn’t drop the ring before putting it on her finger, and that’s where it’s been ever since,” RT said.
For Blake, who never suspected the trip to New York would end with a ring, the element of surprise was real.
“It was perfect and everything I thought a proposal would be,” she said.
For mom, Suzanne Pacey, it was the perfect ending to their courtship and the perfect beginning to their new life. “I’m so glad they found each other...they are a perfect match,” said Suzanne, who lives in Milton. “RT is the person I would have picked for her...he loves her so much.”
Blake and RT recently purchased a home in Staunton, Va., where they share space with their new puppy and keep busy with home projects on the weekends.
Blake works as the group sales manager at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, and RT is employed as the assistant general manager of White’s Travel Center.
They are planning their Oct. 21 wedding at Winridge Manor in Lynchburg and are already looking to the future...and possible expansion plans.
“We have our hands full right now, but eventually, children are definitely on the table. I know our parents are chomping at the bit to have some grandkids running around, so that is definitely something in the five-year plan,” Blake laughed. ■
Jennifer Wood, Erica Tarnacki, Jamie Roney, and Melissa Pinkston all share the common bond of having a child with Cystic Fibrosis. Their work with Shamrockin’ for a Cure aims to find the cure. Read more on page 20.