14 Couples Share How They Actually Met, Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

A series of he said/she said stories, including a fix-up by a famous designer and a mom masquerading as her daughter on JDate

True love, New York style.
Illustration by David Ostow

Amirah Kassem and Ross Harrow, owners of Instagram-famous bakery Flour Shop

The Soho-based couple met when Amirah needed wifi and Ross had just moved in.

Amirah: We met over the internet. Actually, we met because we were next door neighbors. On the first day Ross moved in across the hall from me, my internet was down and I needed wifi. I knocked on Ross' door for some internet, expecting a different person.

Ross: I moved into a new building to live by myself for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a knock on my door about an hour after I moved in. I didn’t know anyone, so when I opened the door I wanted to be a great neighbor. I offered her my wifi, but once she was done I couldn’t remember her name and didn’t know where she lived. Luckily, the very next day I was invited to a BBQ by a mutual friend that Amirah was hosting.

Amirah: Our favorite date spot is our apartment. We love cooking together and hosting dinner parties. Ross is an amazing sous chef.

Courtesy Amirah Kassem

Emily and Scott Sanford, introduced by Rebecca Minkoff

Emily was doing publicity for the designer when they met very briefly at a NYFW after party.

Emily: Scott was the first to arrive at the after party. I was exhausted from the show prep we'd been doing for weeks and the show that day. I had been up 12 hours or so already. I was tasked with working the front door check in and it was freezing outside. I remember thinking about how good looking he was and wished that I could be inside the party instead working the guest list. I still didn't realize he was the Scott [that] Rebecca wanted to set me up with.

Scott: After being formally introduced over e-mail, I got Emily’s number and phoned her during the week to ask her out. I could tell that she wasn’t expecting a phone call from me when we spoke. On our first date, I remember wanting to hold her hand as we walked around even though she might think it was too soon. I reached out for hers, she clutched mine back, and I knew then that I was already falling for her. When we parted ways for the night, I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to see her again.

Emily: The day started with brunch at a cozy spot and then continued for eight more hours.

Courtesy Emily Sanford

Freelance journalist Lauren Duca and digital advertising manager Kristopher Fleming

The Brooklyn-based couple met on OkCupid, with a first date at a Russian vodka bar involved.

Lauren: He's the one person who can make me feel completely comfortable, and it really was that way right from the start.

Kris: We had talked before meeting so it was nice to already have a sense of familiarity, but the connection from meeting in person was something else. I knew I wanted to keep seeing her, even when she told me she was going to Scotland for five months to study abroad!

Lauren: We met at a Russian vodka bar in Hell's Kitchen for no obvious reason, drank all of the vodka, and then made out on the street like depraved teens for a solid 30 minutes.

Kris: I was a complete novice to city dating and found what I thought would be a fun bar, centered around Russian vodka. We were practically the only people in there, which worked out well, since we were talking uninterrupted for close to two hours. Multiple martinis may or may not have helped with nerves.

Lauren: We had discussed getting engaged in advance, and even picked out the ring together. We were planning to go through the pageantry of it all during a trip to Italy, so I told him he could surprise me with when he asked (but that he had better do it before we went to Naples, or make damn sure he didn't get pick-pocketed). We went for a walk after plopping everything in our hotel in Sorrento, and he asked me if I would spend my life with him as the sunset in a garden on the cliffs. That sounds unbearably romantic, but everything was balanced out by the fact that I was wearing leggings.

Kris: I'm definitely of the mindset that marriage is a decision between two people, so we talked a lot about when the timing would be right. We planned the ring and a trip to Italy to set the atmosphere, but I still got to pick the right time. Our first day roaming around we found a park overlooking the ocean during a sunset, and you don't pass up opportunities like that!

Courtesy Lauren Duca
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Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband-and-wife duo from indie pop band Tennis

The musicians met in a philosophy class. A giraffe doodle was involved.

Alaina: Patrick and I met in analytic philosophy class my senior year. He chose the seat next to mine, explaining that he recognized me from the restaurant where I worked and had waited on him once. I thought it was sweet that he remembered me. Our course schedule was serendipitously similar so we were able to spend a lot of time together, doing coursework or getting coffee. A friendship formed right away. We wrote papers together and he made me mixtapes. He drew a comic of a giraffe exploring outer space during one of our classes. Now it's tattooed on my forearm.

Patrick: For years we resisted getting married. Dating is a verb, it's active; marriage is a noun, a state of being. We worried that marriage would stop us from actively maintaining our relationship. Our marriage proposal consisted of this rather unromantic conversation. After we were married, Alaina proceeded to write me dozens of love songs, so something is working.

Alaina: I'd never been to New York until we played our first show there in 2011. We opened for Ducktails at the Cake Shop and I felt very overwhelmed by the grandiosity of New York in real life. It was surreal to play songs we had written for each other to a crowd of strangers.

Courtesy Tennis

Dancer and modelFIT instructorJavi Perez-Borbolla and Victor Perez-Borbolla

The newly married couple met at the lunch table of an all-boys Catholic school in Miami.

Javi: We met in high school. We sat at the same lunch table, had a lot of mutual friends. I thought he was a bit dorky, but everyone loved him. We were still both in the closet, but I remember our first date because it was Election Day in 2008. We went to dinner at a small sushi restaurant by our school because I was performing that night in a school theater production. We were so scared someone would realize we were on a date, so I think we were both very nervous. Once we got back to the school parking lot, I knew it was now or never. So I leaned in for a kiss and we parted ways. It was the greatest night ever.

Victor: At first, I thought he was the distant straight guy who didn't want to be friends with the new kid. I quickly learned that I couldn't have been more wrong (about everything).

Javi: We rented out a house in the Pines of Fire Island for the week with some friends and everyone knew I was going to propose, except for Vic. With help from two of my best friends, we set up brown paper bags filled with tea lights, spread them around the edge of the rooftop of our house, played our favorite song from high school on a loop ("Two Weeks in Hawaii" by Hellogoodbye), and waited for the sunset. Of course, Vic started to speculate, so I had to rush the proposal before he figured it out. So, the sun was still out, the tea lights in the brown paper bags looked like lunchtime at a preschool, we were still in our bathing suits and I stumbled my words because I was so nervous. He had to keep calming me down throughout my little speech. I had a ring ready, I got down on one knee and our friends rushed up the stairs with champagne when they heard him say yes! It was a beautiful mess.

Victor: It was funny, in the cutest way ever. I didn't know it was my proposal, but I knew something was up. Javi grew anxious and decided to do it sooner than later, but perhaps 30 minutes too soon. When Javi and I got to the roof deck, the sun was still out and the tea lights just looked like empty brown paper bags. Poor thing was so nervous. Our friends watched from below as Javi shook throughout his rehearsed speech. I reassured him that my answer was going to be yes.

Courtesy Javi Perez

Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte, Founding Partners of Maman

They met at a club in Montreal after Benjamin pretended to be in town from France to film a movie with his friends.

Elisa: After spending a night (and morning, lets be serious) Googling all I knew about him, I gave up hoping he would call. He did, and was forced to admit that it was all a big joke and he could no longer go on with the story. It turns out we had mutual friends in common, and had three blind dates planned over the past year and none of them worked out! He was the tall, gorgeous, lawyer who for the past year my friends were dying to hook me up with.

Ben: It might sound cheesy, but it felt natural and right.

Courtesy Elisa Marshall
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AJ Lordet and Jerome Lordet, Power Team at Pierre Michel Salon

They connected when Jerome was the only straight man at a gay club.

AJ: I worked at Frederic Fekkai and Jerome worked at another hair salon around the corner, Pierre Michel Salon. We would often wind up at the same parties. One night after knowing each other for around two years we both wound up single, straight, and alone at the gay club with all our friends. So I figured I'd go for the straight guy. Our first date was at a cool Thai restaurant in the East Village. I thought at the time Thai food was very exotic and I was so proud of myself for my almost expert use of chopsticks (I was a 23 year old girl from the suburbs). Who knew two years later he would take me to Thailand and propose at the Mandarin Hotel there?

Courtesy AJ Lordet

Damien Del Rio, Loosie's Kitchen Co-Founder and Naima Karabadji, Director of Marketing at Chanel

They met when Naima road tripped through the states and needed a place to crash.

Naima: He had a loft with three bedrooms on the fourth floor with no elevator.

Damien: Two months later, I rented an apartment in Paris while harvesting grapes for champagne on a friend's vineyard in Reims. Over the weekend, I invited her for a drink.

Naima: Second date, he lost his keys. He crashed at my place. Never left. Two months later, he asked me to come live with him in New York.

Damien: My kidneys failed and I ended up in the hospital for two months. She was by my bedside everyday. Having to return to New York for medical treatment, I asked her to join me for the holidays. Six months later we got married.

Courtesy Damienl Del Rio

Broadway actor Doug Kreeger and TV creative Chris Bowyer

The Silver Lake-based couple with a 9 year year age gap met thanks to Facebook with a Chris Hansen moment.

Doug: The year was 2008. I was scrolling through Facebook and happened upon a fundraising video for a friend's show. The video featured interviews with the cast and creative team and Chris was the Assistant Director. I was immediately drawn to him, even with his minimal screen time. It may be cliché but I Facebook-stalked him and started a conversation. I can be very charming, especially when I have the chance to edit. For the first few years we lived in different cities, so we kept in touch and traveled to see each other as often as possible. We finally made the relationship official when Chris moved to LA in 2014.

Chris: I was stalked by Doug on Facebook after he watched an interview of me a mutual friend posted. I was young and impressionable and he wouldn’t stop messaging me, so I debated about getting Chris Hansen and To Catch a Predator involved, but love won.

Doug: Chris drove from Philly to Washington D.C. to see me in a show, risking his life for 150 miles in his junker car. Navigating a '94 Saturn on the highway is not an easy task, and I appreciated his commitment to the visit. After my show, we went to the National Mall, laid in the grass at the base of the Washington Monument and took pictures of the massive amounts of duck poop along the reflecting pool. You know, the basics of any first date.

Chris: I arrived a few hours before curtain, but we didn’t get to have our first face-to-face conversation until after the show, which was probably strategic on Doug’s end because by that point I was intoxicated by his talent (on top of being actually intoxicated). We spent the next three days together and have been in each other’s lives since (on and off through a long distance relationship, a break up, friendship and a rekindling in 2014, when we reconnected in Los Angeles and moved in together.)

Courtesy Chris Bowyer
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Music publicist Lily Golightly and David Ostrow

The couple met when her mother posed as her on JDate.

Lily: My mother wasn't too keen on the types of people I was dating so she took it upon herself to find me a perfect match! I know it sounds like a Diane Keaton movie (wasn't it one?) but she created a JDate profile for me and started chatting with guys and trying to find me a husband. She told me how she had found a cute artist type that I would like and gave him my email address. When he emailed me I immediately told him that he had been talking to my mother and that I wasn't looking for love, but I gave him my phone number anyway because I thought he was cute. Fast forward seven years later, and we're super married!

David: I got reverse Catfished. When I went from an online chat with a Jewish mother to a phone call with a spunky ex riot girl at the tail end of her punk rock years the tone changed quite abruptly. I ended up with the cute 25-year-old NYC girl-about-town in spite of the fact that it was her mother in Boca Raton who was running the screening service. It set the tone for what was to be a fun and dynamic courtship where Lily and I both dove headlong into each other's eccentricities (and sometimes, each other's neuroses).

Lily: We weren't super into each other at first because we're basically polar opposites. Our first real date started at a karaoke bar and then we saw The Sadies play at Mercury Lounge. It was on that date that we realized that we had a similar sense of humor. At one point in the date he drew an engagement ring on my finger and I remember thinking, boy am I in trouble now. We met in late January and moved in together slash/announced our engagement in June. It was absolute madness and when I posted about our engagement on my Facebook all of my friends thought it was a prank.

David: Lily went down to Florida and retrieved her great-grandmother's engagement ring. We took it with us to Union Square (the site of our first meet and greet) where we sat on a bench and I asked her to marry me. Unsurprised and unphased, Lily said yes.

Illustration by David Ostow

Sarah and Patrick Wayland, a Girl Scout troop leader and a self-proclaimed hedge found drop-out

The Connecticut-based couple met at work in 2000 with help from an inter-office chat system and a co-worker's prank.

Sarah: I sat in a desk right behind Patrick, but because of the massive computer screens surrounding him I couldn't easily see his face. A day or two after I started, someone came on to the inter-office chat under an unrecognizable name and sent a few strange messages. It was slightly creepy, but nothing over the top. I wasn't sure who to ask about it and Patrick was head of the desk so I thought if one of the people on the desk were hazing the new girl, he'd probably be able to give me a nod if it happened often. I initiated a chat with him to feel it out. He found out who it was and it stopped. And, no, it wasn't him! From there, we started chatting every once in a while and found out that we had a lot in common. I came to find that there were more than a few instances of us just missing each other by a year or so and that was intriguing. I took a few walks back and forth from the office kitchen that day and from the glances I got between the computer screens, I could tell he was cute and the crush just got bigger from there. Later on we teased a few family and friends that we actually met on the internet which was a little nerve-wracking for them. But that was in 2000. Today it wouldn’t have the same satisfying jolt!

Patrick: Our first date (I wasn't supposed to date her since she was a temp) was a trip to see The Exorcist remake. I invited the whole office to make it clear that it was not a date. She was late (as I later learned would always be the case), so I waited outside for her while the movie started. I was afraid she would blow it off but my heart skipped a beat when she finally came running through the doors into the theatre lobby. For our first official date I asked her out in a more honest capacity by suggesting we go to a tapas restaurant. She thought I said "topless" which quickly broke the ice. We went out for tapas and pool and I drove her to the local beach where we first kissed by moonlight.

Sarah: That evening my aunt was visiting which made me late. If I had a cell, I could have texted him, but for all I knew, he thought I ditched him and it could all end before it even began. I ran up the escalator at the entrance of the theatre and was about to sprint to the ticket booth. Later, I found out he had orchestrated the outing after I agreed to go. It was a good plan.

Patrick: During our first month dating, I was already looking at places in the city where I could have a social life and have fun (in the spare hours of my round-the-clock crazy hedge fund job). I found a condo in the West Village and she moved in with me just three months after our first date. I had an engagement ring made for her six months later and was waiting for the opportunity to propose.

Sarah: We had only been dating for a year when we walked through Central Park Zoo on a gorgeous summer day and happened to be by Tiffany’s. We walked in to look around and though he asked me a few light questions about ring setting preferences, it was fun but I didn’t take it too seriously. That evening we went to the wedding of a close friend at the Pierre Hotel. We were dressed to the nines and after an incredible evening of dancing and celebrating, we decided to sneak away to celebrate our one year anniversary with a carriage ride through the park. Afterwards, we walked to the Pulitzer Fountain. As we came to the side of the fountain, he turned me around to tell me how much he loved me and took my hands to his chest to warm them, as he did often. I began to respond when I felt something cold and metallic in my hands and then he asked 'Will you marry me?' I really wasn’t expecting him to propose and my first reaction was to laugh and say 'You better not be kidding.' I opened my hands to see he ring and realized he was certainly not. 16 years and three kids later, I’m so glad I did.

Courtesy Sarah Wayland

Sara Leveen and Ben Lowell, Owners of the Vietnamese restaurant Hanoi House

The Stephen Starr alums met a week after Ben moved to Miami to open Makoto in the Bal Harbour shops.

Sara: I went directly to the restaurant from the airport. When I arrived, the staff was reviewing the menu items they had tasted and I immediately noticed a young guy with a fauxhawk and a New York accent.

Ben: That night we were invited out to the same dinner by mutual friends, and her pursuit of the young, gun-for-hire from New York ensued.

Courtesy Sara Leveen
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Jamie and George Hess, founders of NYCFitFam

TV journalist Joan Lunden's daughter Jamie and music industry vet George were introduced by Tracy Young, who DJed Madonna's wedding.

Jamie: Tracy actually introduced the idea of a blind date, but then she got busy with work, so I tracked George down online and reached out. I’m not scared of making the first move, and I think he liked that.

George: Some light chit chat produced a long list of what we had in common. At that point I felt I needed to lay everything out on the table. 'Hi, I'm 20 years older than you, have three kids, and so on.' I thought to myself 'I am going to go to the restroom, if she is still here when I get back, this is going to work.' In June that same year we were engaged.

Jamie: George started attending Barry’s Boot Camp with me. Barry’s is my temple, so it was no surprise that when the time came to propose a mere four months later, he did so after class on a Barry’s treadmill. My mom and sisters were all there to witness the surprise, which took place at the culmination of our daily 7:10am class (I was a sweaty mess).

George: The trainer had the ring in his pocket throughout the entire class.

Jamie: Now, five years into our relationship, he still holds doors, carries my bags and drops me curbside when it rains so I never have to ruin my hair in a storm.

Courtesy Jamie Hess

Teen style blogger Alexa Curtis and Andrew Danielson

The couple met at their local grocery store when Alexa needed recipe advice.

Alexa: I needed advice on lemon chicken and he was the first one to come up and answer the question. I went back the next day and he was there again, and I wrote my number on a piece of paper and gave him my number. I have never been so scared of something in my entire life.

Andrew: The next day I was originally supposed to be off but ended up filling in for someone who was sick. I remember hoping that she would come in again. Sure enough, a couple hours into my shift she showed up again and this time bought a different friend to try the chicken. She told me she was telling everyone about this chicken and loved it so much she needed to have it again.

Alexa: For our first date went to an amazing pizza restaurant. I was really nervous and the first thing he said to me was, 'Thank God you're not one of those gluten-free girls,' when I ordered the sausage pizza. I forced myself to eat it, but I'm actually gluten-free and super into health, and he almost ruined our chance of going on a second date! I told him then next time I saw him that I was pretty much gluten-free, and if he wanted to see me again, he'd have to go to the gym with me.

Courtesy Alexa Curtis

In this series of he said/she said stories for Valentine’s Day, couples talk about their “meet-cutes” worthy of any rom-com. Scroll through for stories including an impromptu grocery store recipe exchanges, a fix-up by a famous designer, a mom masquerading as her daughter on JDate and two teens meeting at an all-boys Catholic school.

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