A Restaurant Recommendation Closed the Distance

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Julie Peak and Dr. Samuel Haywood have never lived in the same city.

Ms. Peak, a principal of the consulting firm SullivanCotter, currently works and lives in St. Louis with her two young sons from a previous marriage, John and Oliver. Dr. Haywood, a urologic oncologist at Cleveland Clinic, lives and works in Cleveland.

The couple met as students at Washington University in St. Louis, where Dr. Haywood, 36, graduated in 2007 and Ms. Peak, 35, in 2008. They went separate ways after college and briefly reconnected in 2010 in Chicago. Dr. Haywood was attending Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Ms. Peak was working in Chicago.

It wasn’t for another nine years, however, that they began to consistently talk again. In the summer of 2019, Ms. Peak reached out to Dr. Haywood on Instagram to recommend a restaurant in New York City, where he was doing his fellowship. “I was running in Central Park, I got to the top of Harlem Hill and I looked at my phone and I got this message, and I was like, ‘OK, wasn’t expecting that,’” Dr. Haywood said.

From there, their relationship grew. “We really just found ourselves drawn to each other,” Dr. Haywood said.

Ms. Peak was then living in St. Louis, and Dr. Haywood in Cleveland. Despite the distance, the pair managed to find time to make memories together, especially with Ms. Peak’s two sons. “I think he understood really early on that, if he was going to be there, he was going to be in their life,” she said. “And I wanted us to be a team and a partnership. So seeing him really step into that role and just be there for John and Ollie from the start is something I will forever treasure.”

For Dr. Haywood, the boys are a welcome addition to his family. “I am not just picking up a wife, I’m picking up two other members of the team,” he said. “And from the moment that I met those two guys, I knew that this was a role I wanted to be a part of, I wanted to be in. It’s just a really cool addition to my life and something that I wouldn’t give up at all.”

“Ollie, my youngest, is a tough nut to crack, and he now just adores Sam — they both do,” Ms. Peak added.

After delays because of Covid travel restrictions, Dr. Haywood proposed during a riverside picnic at Chagrin Falls, Ohio, last summer when Ms. Peak and her sons were visiting.

Ms. Peak and Dr. Haywood were married in an outdoor and socially distant ceremony on April 17 at the Old Barn Inn in St. Albans, Mo., surrounded by around 100 of their family and friends. “We really just wanted to be able to do it safely and include our closest family and friends,” Ms. Peak said.

The Rev. Melanie Smith, a Presbyterian minister, officiated. She and Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh led the ceremony, which had both Jewish and Christian elements. Ms. Peak was escorted down the aisle by her two sons. Oliver even shocked the couple and asked for the microphone at the reception, concluding with “OK! Now you can dance!”

The couple plan to move to Cleveland and are looking forward to finally living in the same city and celebrating their new family.

“Being married has been something I’ve looked forward to my entire life,” Dr. Haywood said, “and this is just everything I’ve ever wanted — to have a partner that supports me, is with me and understands me and is willing to put up with me.”

“I can’t wait to have the exciting days, the mundane days, and the quarantine days that we hopefully never have to do again,” Ms. Peak added. “But I just can’t wait for all of that and to share that with Sam.”

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