Daffnei O’Bryan remembers the very first time she laid eyes on Nathan Reidel.
It was May 5, 2004. She was visiting friends who were lunching at Bullfeathers. He was dining next door at the Taylay Thai when he noticed those same friends. O’Bryan and Reidel came together in a flash, an introduction by mutual friends and a moment that didn’t have to mean anything.
O’Bryan, 29, the scheduler for Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.), thought little of it. She was done with the D.C. dating scene after being set up repeatedly with men she didn’t connect with. She eyed the two women Reidel was with, noticed how beautiful they were and assumed that one was his girlfriend. Her alternative assumption was that he was a player.
What O’Bryan didn’t know was that after they met, Reidel turned back to his colleagues — one his assistant, the other an intern — and said, “Wow, I need to talk to her.”
Reidel, 28, is vice president of political affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), whose offices are located near Bullfeathers. He says he usually followed an internal set of dating rules, waiting at least four days to call a woman he met. He asked his friends for O’Bryan’s number and called the next day.
O’Bryan recalled, “He said, ‘Do you want to go out next week?’ I said, ‘Why next week? Are you going out of town?’”
So Reidel broke the rules he typically played by, and the pair had their first date a few nights later at the Carlyle Grand in Shirlington. Drinks turned into dinner, which then turned into O’Bryan taking Reidel to a party she had already planned to attend.
“Ahh, I was smitten,” Reidel says, remembering the date.
Six months later, the couple were already discussing marriage. “I think I knew within about two months,” Reidel says. And O’Bryan? “I kind of knew in the back of my mind, but I didn’t want to think about it. One of my friends asked me if he was the one, and then I knew. I said, ‘Yeah, I think he is, but I didn’t want to jinx it.’”
Outwardly the pair was a good match. Both are Republicans, and both are hooked on football. Inwardly, they gradually came to learn, they were also a good fit.
“You bagged a young guy,” he says, teasing her during a recent late-morning interview at Cos�. He quickly redeems himself, “Everyone says I’m marrying up.”
With a giddy glow, O’Bryan and Reidel can’t seem to stop smiling or holding hands. In June, just slightly more than a year after they met, Reidel proposed to O’Bryan on a mountain hike in Paris, Va., before taking her to dinner at L’Auberge Provencal in White Post, Va., where they stayed in a villa in the famous French Inn. The couple are planning a March wedding in Washington, D.C.
O’Bryan came to D.C. in August 2003 from her hometown of Scottsbluff, Neb., to work for Osborne. Reidel grew up in Grass Valley, Calif., and came to Washington in 1998 to intern for Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.). In 1999, he went to work for the National Republican Congressional Committee, after which he landed a job with IIABA.
O’Bryan says she was down on dating when she met Reidel. “It just wasn’t fun,” she says, recalling previous dates. “It just felt like it was your r�sum� [and guys asking], ‘What do you do?’ I didn’t think the people were real.
“I just thought, I’m here [in Washington] as long as I’m supposed to be. I was actually content being single. I was so new to D.C.”
Reidel, meanwhile, also single, was “kind of oblivious” to the dating scene. He dated, mind you, but it was a different woman every two or three weeks, none of whom sparked his fancy. “I was kind of getting to the point where I was tired of going out,” he says.
To this day, Reidel carries in his wallet the paper with O’Bryan’s phone number on it that he got from his friends at Bullfeathers that fateful day last year. He even got it laminated.