How we met: ‘She came into my bar and opened a tab. I wrote “my future wife” on it‘

Emine Saner

One Saturday night, Andrew saw Jenny walk down the steps to the bar in Vienna where he worked. The other bartenders recognised her as a regular, but it was the first time Andrew had seen her. He had left his job as a lawyer, and was picking up shifts in an Irish pub, the now defunct Billy’s Bones. “We all tried to serve her first,” remembers Andrew. He got there first. She ordered cider and opened a tab.

“She couldn’t see because there was a kind of lip under the bar and I wrote down ‘my future wife’ on the tab,” says Andrew. “All the other bartenders were like, dream on.”

Maybe he wrote it “just to wind the guys up”, he says, “but I don’t feel that I did. It was a feeling of, ‘Wow, even in these short few minutes together, this is someone I want to spend more time and, ultimately, the rest of my life with.’”

He had never felt like that before. Was it love at first sight? “Yes and no,” says Andrew. “I just had a feeling that this was an important person and something important was going to happen.”

Jenny recalls that Andrew was “very charming” and thanks to a Welsh link – she is half-Welsh, half-German and Andrew is originally from Wales – “there was a bit of a connection straight away”.

Did he spend the rest of the evening keeping an eye on her? He laughs. “Don’t make it sound so creepy. Yeah, of course. I think she had two or three ciders over the night. I kept looking over to see who she was with and looking at her drink to see if she needed another one.”

He didn’t ask for Jenny’s number at closing time. “You knew I was going to come back,” she says. But he did slip her bar tab into his pocket after cashing up. “Something made me not throw it in the bin,” he says. “I took it home and put it in a drawer.”

Soon afterwards, Jenny, who was a student, started work at the bar too. “We had shifts together and sometimes went out afterwards,” she says. “We used to hang out and go dancing or drinking with the other bartenders, or on our own. He used to walk me to the night bus.”

They both had partners at the time and weren’t looking for anything else but, Andrew says, “We couldn’t deny it in the end. There are sausage stands in the city where you can buy hotdogs. I think we fell in love eating sausages in the middle of Vienna.”

Jenny remembers becoming more aware of Andrew’s feelings as they walked together to the tram after leaving a nightclub. The sun was coming up and he implied he wanted more than friendship. “I felt nervous, in a nice way,” she says. “Butterflies.”

Andrew was about to go to Spain for a few weeks, but they stayed in touch by email. “We expressed a lot of what we felt,” he says. “We both had the time to think about it and formulate what we wanted to say.”

Back in Vienna, they went out on their first official date.

Two years later, the couple moved in together and, eight years after meeting, got engaged on holiday in Thailand. “We were sitting next to each other on the beach, looking at the stars, looking out at the sea,” Jenny recalls. “He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. I was like, what’s this? I opened it and it was that bar tab from eight years ago, and it said ‘my future wife’. I knew what was coming … but that was very emotional.”

They married in 2010 and now have two daughters. Is Andrew amazed that he wrote his marriage into existence? He laughs. “I just wish I could do the same with the lottery numbers – to be so sure about something and have it pay off.”

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