Can’t Smile Without You



Jill & Jason Smulson
First Date: American Visionary Arts Museum, Jan. 8, 2011
Wedding Date: Oct. 19, 2013
Venue: The Inn at the Colonnade
Residence: Elkridge, Md.
Favorite Activity: Cooking and hiking with their beagle, Beau

Jill Markowitz was surprised at how well her first date with Jason Smulson went.

After meeting at a “Jewy Christmas Eve party” in 2010 and connecting on Facebook the next day, the pair chatted for a few weeks before agreeing to a date for Jan. 8, 2011.

“He wasn’t [the kind of person] I typically dated, but I agreed to the date because we had good conversation the night we met,” said Jill, 32.

Jason proved innovative and fun. Instead of taking her to dinner and a movie, he planned a night at the American Visionary Arts Museum for their first date, which was followed by subsequent outings to a glass-blowing demonstration and ice skating.

The museum exhibition that night was “What Makes Us Smile?” and it celebrated human joy with the history and science behind the gift of laughter. Ever since, Jill and Jason have not stopped smiling.

“He really won me over pretty quickly,” said Jill, a software developer for the Social Security Administration. “My friends said they never saw me smile so much, and every time I talked about him, my face lit up.”

Jason felt so comfortable around Jill that he could be himself without the need to impress her, and he felt free to crack jokes and make her laugh. He also got to know her friends. The “vibes” were good, and he could tell she was “a good person.”

Within six months, they had professed their love. They spent more and more time together and discussed marriage.

“I made sure she knew everything was progressing toward that in the traditional way,” said Jason, 35, who is a real estate marketer for Alex Cooper Auctioneers.

On a Sunday morning this past February, Jill found a poem on the front door of her home in Elkridge, describing a puzzle she needed to solve. The first clue sent her to Jason’s cousin’s house. Then to Woodberry Kitchen and Canton, where Jason first met Jill’s friends.

The last clue led her to the American Visionary Arts Museum, where Jason waited for her in the tunnel at the top of the steps of the wildflower garden’s treehouse. Jill found him. He knelt down, held out a ring and asked her to marry him.

On Oct. 19 at the Inn at the Colonnade in Baltimore, 118 friends and family members were all smiles as Judy Smulson walked her son down the aisle and Teri Markowitz accompanied her daughter to the chuppah. Rabbi Rhoda Silverman officiated the traditional yet modern ceremony.

“I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else,” said Jill. “He makes me smile in a way no one else does.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email

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