When Jeffrey Love learned The Central Perk Coffee Shop would open in New York for one month during the fall of 2014, he asked girlfriend Lauren Bilenky to visit.
Lauren, a huge “Friends” fan, was ecstatic. The replica coffee shop marked the 20th anniversary of the sitcom’s first episode, and Lauren had to go. Today, 10 years after the show’s finale, she still watches each night and references famous lines.
Upon their arrival, a friendly Warner Bros. Studio staffer escorted them
inside. Cameras rolled, and Lauren went along. After all, Jeffrey had pulled strings through his position as strategic sourcing agent for Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Lauren sat on the famous orange couch, and instead of joining her, Jeffrey knelt down and proposed. Watching along were Lauren’s parents, Nikki and Ricky Bilenky, Jeffrey’s parents, Susan and Nathan Love, as well as other family members who had made the trip on a different bus and were ushered in through the shop’s back door. It was caught on camera by Warner Bros. and published online on BuzzFeed.
Their relationship grew over seven years, but they had met much earlier.
With Lauren’s grandmother serving as teacher, Lauren attended Baltimore Hebrew Preschool in 1992 along with a set of twins, Jeffrey and Joey Love. The three were inseparable, as Lauren’s grandmother reminded her through photos over the years.
On move-in day at Towson University in 2006, the Bilenkys refused to leave their daughter until she met a few people. She and her roommate approached next door, and they met Jeffrey and Joey. Lauren recognized their names and called her mom to bring pictures during the next visit.
The boys, however, had little recollection.
“I remembered her grandmother being the teacher,” said Jeffrey, 27. “But who remembers who they went to preschool with?”
They developed a friendship and traveled in the same crowd. From the beginning, Lauren grew fond of Jeffrey.
“We became inseparable and never lost touch again,” said Lauren, 27, now a pre-Kindergarten teacher in Baltimore County.
Jeffrey dated a few girls, but Lauren waited patiently. At one point, Jeffrey told Lauren that he “liked someone” and asked her to come meet her. When Lauren arrived, Jeffrey told her she was the one.
After about a month of awkwardness, Jeffrey asked Lauren to be his girlfriend over dinner on Dec. 7, 2007. They professed their love a year later after Jeffrey returned from dealing with a family issue. When Lauren asked what was wrong, he replied, “Nothing. I just love you.”
As she consoled him, she reiterated the sentiment.
After graduating and moving home, they spent more time together, hiking, biking, going to shows and movies.
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen officiated the Oct. 24, 2015 nuptials at Turf Valley Country Club. Jeffrey teared up during the staged first look as he saw his breathtaking bride.
As they ate their first meal together as a married couple, they took a moment to scan the room and mentally capture the scene of their 150 loved ones and friends, who will always be there for them.