What a delight it was to have been granted this assignment—to conduct a telephone interview with an amazingly gorgeous and intelligent couple, to learn how they met, and to hear them reveal their little kept secrets about each other as they began their journey of love. It was absolutely lovely!
It literally could have almost been any love story: Woman meets Man; Man falls in love with Woman. This fairytale romance started more than six months ago at a bigtime high roller weekend party during the National Basketball League’s Legends weekend and Black Jack Tour at one of the nation’s largest international casinos.
Handsome and debonair Larry Holmes, Jr. was receiving pertinent information about his new high-level position as Director of Player Development, New Markets from a colleague when he had an odd notion to look up towards the elevator. Out of the corner of his eye, Holmes noticed slightly standing behind someone was one of the most gorgeous women he had ever seen. Like a goddess, Nea McLin descended the escalator and Holmes quickly realized that this beautiful vision of loveliness was perhaps the woman of his dreams.
In hindsight, this fairytale romance probably began with that quick two-way glance and the subsequent seating of Nea and her entourage in his coveted VIP section. Holmes chuckles as he recalls how he had to take a few moments to get himself together so that he would appear to be a lot cooler than he was feeling at that moment. As he guided these VIP patrons to their seats, he had a brief opportunity to chat with Nea. And he quickly learned that she was a fashion model from Finland. Just before taking his leave from Nea, they exchanged numbers.
We all giggled as Nea tells of the private conversation she had with her friend. “I told my friend that he looked nice.” Upon hearing this news, you can almost “hear” Larry smile. So with this revelation, it is quite apparent that Nea had already focused her attention on this sophisticated young man who was seemingly in charge.
During the interview, I found the couple not only to be funny, but they were already in sync with each other. After their first encounter that night, Holmes leaves work and goes home for the evening and decides to Google Nea. However, he realized he didn’t have her last name. Apparently, that didn’t matter because she was listed in the search results with a minimum of information – Nea – blonde – model and her photo quickly appeared. Meanwhile, Nea goes home and Googles Holmes and finds out all the right things about this very special man.
Though the two didn’t start dating immediately, it was clear why they were smitten in an instant. Nea say, “We just saw each other and that was it. Love at first sight.”
In time, the two began to learn more about one another and their views on marriage, faith, children, priorities, goals and financial stability. Asking questions on these matters helped them not only to learn about each other but it provided a vision for what their lives could be together.
This notoriously private couple is clearly attracted to each other, and they enjoy each other’s company and they do their utmost to create special private moments together. The pair enjoys pleasant drives on the weekends and long walks in the mountains. As their rendezvous and conversations progressed it became apparent that Nea would, in fact, one day become Larry’s wife.
But first an important trip needed to be scheduled: It was imperative that Nea meet his family—his mother and father and siblings and timing was everything. After about the third date, Holmes decided that the time was right for Nea and his parents to meet. When asked why so quickly, Holmes says, “This was something very special,” and he wanted Nea to experience him with his family, in their family home, and to see the man that he is because of them.
Larry Holmes, Jr. felt it important that she see his family, their love and commitment to one another and “what type of family man I am and how our lives would be together.” Family is clearly the foundation for Holmes, and Nea was pleased and eager to learn more about this incredibly loving family and the man they nurtured.
After several months of commuting between Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York Holmes decided the time had come to make a move to cement their relationship; so one day when the couple was discussing marriage, Nea said, “this isn’t even real you don’t even have a ring.” At which point, Larry took off the vintage Rolex his father gave him and asked Nea to “hold on to it” until he got her a ring. Needless to say, Nea kept the watch until further notice.
So, off Larry went to find the appropriate ring—which he did. But Holmes did not immediately present the ring to Nea. For some time, he kept the ring in his pocket until he felt the time was right. Well, lo and behold, that day arrived when they were out looking at houses in New Jersey and later dreamingly watching a romantic sunset. It was the perfect setting. Larry got down on one knee, while Nea continued to watch the setting sun. Poor Larry had to feign coughing to get her attention … when he does ask her to marry him, Nea pauses and says, “Of course I will marry you.”
When Larry asked Nea to be his wife, she was divorced with a son and he was single. While they lived in two different places they tried the weekend commute, and finally the couple decided to put their wedding plans in motion. Eventually, they decided to move in together and the days of their separation came to an end.
When asked how the relationship works since they haven’t known one another for long, “It’s been give-and-take,” Larry said of their success. “She has feelings, and I know when I say something that hurts her feelings, it hurts me as well.”
Larry and Nea are quite focused on the success of their relationship and their diverse background, Nea is from Finland and Larry was born in Pennsylvania. While they may look at situations differently, they continue to invest time to learn how to best communicate with one another in their relationship to make it grow and flourish.
This lovely couple starts nearly every morning with breakfast together. They believe it is important to start the day with positive pleasantries, which makes for a positive day laced with the basis of their commitment to build a positive, loving life together. Nearly everything they do, they do together, says Nea.
But what is creating a solid and an enduring relationship are the dozens of smaller moments that they steal which all add up to a relationship that feels earned, sincere and realistic.
When asked about their upcoming wedding plans the couple says they have several other priorities at this time. They are enjoying these moments of learning about one another and will focus on their special day when it is time.
After our delightful interview my curiosity got the best of me. I started researching the wedding traditions of Finland in comparison to traditional American weddings.
Apparently, in Finnish wedding culture, there seems to be a confluence of German, Russian and Swedish traditions. Specifically, the Russian and Karelian traditions, such as wailing songs, ceremonial hair braiding and village community weddings were popular in the Finnish-speaking countryside.
According to the legends and folklore, around the 1950s American wedding fashion and customs started to infiltrate some of the world’s customs. And, what was fascinating was that the Finnish culture loves long engagements—three to four years is sometimes considered average. This is reminiscent of some of the marriage traditions from long ago where families didn’t necessarily “arrange” a marriage, but it was an interesting way to determine whether the two families and the couple were like-minded, and socially equal families. This tradition was sealed with a handshake, an engagement ring and the exchange of gifts between the couple and their families.
In honoring old Finnish wedding ceremony traditions, some Finnish brides make a grand entrance into their venue by walking alongside their husband and then standing in front of their guests; while others choose to be given away by their father or an older male relative.
Another traditional custom was for both bride and groom to sit on special seats of honor at their reception. As guests pay their respects, they would deposit cash gifts into a shawl-covered sieve, held by the bride.
Instead of throwing the bouquet to the next potential bride-to-be as the passing on of the bridal crown, they sometimes adhere to the Estonian game of passing on the groom’s hat. The single women blindfold the bride and then dance around her. The bride then has to grab a woman and successfully pass over her bridal crown, as a fun way to find the next bride!
Or, what might be delightful is that they could incorporate musical chairs and children’s party games as part of the fun, with special celebratory prizes such as champagne.
Another popular custom in Finland that is similar to Estonian and Russian traditions is the bride-stealing game. The bride is whisked away by the groomsmen and held ransom until the groom completes a special task in order to get her back. Although both bride and groom are likely to be aware that the game could be played, they won’t know any of the details because, of course, all the fun is in catching everyone unaware! Modern variations also include stealing the in-laws!
Over the years, as Finland’s social-economic differences once common to ancient Finland diminished, so had the need for economically motivated marriage matches. This has resulted with new western traditions and styles being adopted.
Either way, be it of Finnish or American tradition, this adorable Power Couple will probably set a new trend that will rock the wedding world. We do wish them a life filled with love and laughter!
Marsha Jews is the Editor-At-Large(USA) for World Bride Magazine and the founder of Marsha Jews & Company a full service marketing, business development, Wedding/Events/ Conference planning & management; and communications company. Marsha Jews is the Founder/CEO of WKIMRadioNetwork.com.
and the former Founder/Curator of the Herbert Bearman Art Gallery & Director of Events & Weddings at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum.
Marsha was Project Director on two community technology development grants: Harlem Renaissance 2K1 and NY-OneNet at the Institute of Learning Technologies and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia University, New York.
As President/COO/Associate Publisher at Career Communications Group Marsha managed Black Engineer/Hispanic and Information Technology Magazines; the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference and was Co-Founder of the Women of Color Technology Awards Conference; Black Family and LaFamilia Technology Awareness Week(s).
The former Executive Director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation of Maryland; presenting Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Ailey II and AileyCamp and Director of Advertising for the 125-year-old Afro-American Newspaper, Inc.
Marsha was Vice President of Operations for the Marine Corps League Exhibit Company, and was the first black woman to produce the Modern Day Marine Force in Readiness Military Exposition and Awards Gala a program of the United States Marine Corps, Capitol Marines and the Marine Corps League, while simultaneously the Director of Advertising for the Amphibious Warfare Review Magazine.
Marsha is active in the community; former board member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and was the first Black Trustee to chair their Annual Gala; Commissioner- Maryland Public Television Commission; Founding board member of the Maryland Association for Nonprofit Organizations; former trustee for the College of Notre Dame and the Maryland Institute College of Art; Trustee at the Enoch Pratt Library, and has won numerous awards; Co‐Author in Incredible Business and is an avid volunteer and speaker.