Erin Iwanicki answered an advertisement for a job with Bradley Images and met with owner Brad Zisow in November 2012.
Brad was impressed by her drive, dedication and attention to detail. After an hour, the conversation turned chatty, and Brad invited Erin for a drink the next day.
“He was cute,” said Erin, 29. “But I really didn’t know what ‘grabbing a drink’ meant.”
They met at the Red Star in Fells Point. They learned they lived near each other and ran in the same circles. Brad told Erin he couldn’t hire her.
For each of the next four days, they enjoyed a date. By May 18, they had declared themselves official. When Brad returned from a shoot in Philadelphia, Erin blurted out that she loved him. Brad responded in kind. Both were shocked that they had progressed so quickly into a serious relationship. It just “seemed right.”
They also discussed religion. It was important to Brad that his children be Jewish. Erin, from upstate New York, was raised Catholic.
“My grandparents were in the Holocaust, and I wanted to carry on the family name,” said Brad, 39.
They discussed their children going to the mikvah.Brad then set out to plan a proposal. Being an “over-the-top” kind of guy, he contemplated somewhere elaborate such as Times Square, a Baltimore Ravens game or on an airplane.
Instead, he did the exact opposite.
At her favorite restaurant, her dessert appeared with the engagement ring resting on top. When Brad knelt down, everyone stopped.
At their engagement party in Baltimore, with Gail Piazza and Jim Iwanicki and Marcie and David Zisow meeting for the first time, Erin told Brad that she planned to convert to Judaism.
“Family is really important [and I knew] it would bring us closer together,” Erin said. “It would be easier for our kids growing up, and not so confusing. We need to be one united family.”
Erin started the process and when she went to the mikvah marking her conversion, Marcie presented her with a Kiddish cup and Shabbos candles.
Brad and Erin were married in an Orthodox ceremony on Nov. 1, 2014 before 150 guests at the Grand Historic Venue. Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt officiated. Although nicknamed “Bradzilla” during the planning process, Brad was not desensitized at his own wedding.
“I was crying … all of a sudden I turned around and it hit me like a ton of bricks. You can’t put it into words how different it is when it is your own wedding.”
They posed for pictures for seven hours prior to the ceremony and in total have 8,800 photos.
It took Erin five hours to review them the first time. It may take them longer to put their album together than it did to fall in love.
“We both dated other people before, but this time nothing else mattered,” Brad said. “She is the most beautiful girl in the world, and she is the one who made me not want to date anyone else. She is perfect for me.”