How do people really meet their partners? 12 happy couples tell us what worked

You can find love even while dressed as a strawberry

Illustration by the brilliant Ben Cameron

We’re endlessly fascinated by how people meet their partners. The most obscure, unlikely and chance scenarios can lead to a lifetime of love. So we asked 12 of the happiest couples we know to tell us their stories: where they encountered each other, what they thought, and how they ended up smitten.

From the guy who got married in a Darth Vader costume to the one who registered on twenty-eight dating sites, here’s how 12 real couples came to be.

1. Amy and Garry – “I called him a lizard head”

Image by Joanna Nicole Photography

Amy says:

I was 15, he was 21. I played saxophone in a community wind band with my parents and he was a teacher at the music college we were part of. He was the lead trumpet player, I was lead saxophonist.

We utterly loathed each other. I thought he was the most arrogant man I’d ever met and vividly remembering describing him as a lizard head to my parents on multiple occasions. I tried to speak to him occasionally, and he would totally shut me down with monosyllabic replies. I also thought he was sleeping with the the clarinet player, who I hated. On his part, he thought I was a spoiled little princess.

On my 19th birthday (April 2009), my band was playing a Good Friday concert in a tiny town. It was a very odd service, with the pastor mocking the leader of the local Salvation Army for not having a degree, pulling out a life-size wooden crucifix and nailing a copy of the Sun and handheld electronics to it, and finishing off by throwing Easter Eggs at the congregation. After this, a pair of teenage boys read out a “letter from God” made up of psalms from the Bible. Whilst I was packing up my saxophone, one of them gave me a copy of this letter and I decided to give it to someone else.

As it turned out, Garry had broken up with his girlfriend the night before. He was incredibly hungover and drunk, and looked pale and sweaty. I gave him the letter with the quip “It looks like you could use this more than me” and later in the day he posted on Facebook that he’d been given “A letter from God by a very pretty girl with a saxophone”. I was exactly the vain little twit he thought I was, so “liked” it and later that night he messaged me. I was killing time on a disappointing gap year before uni and thought he’d be something to occupy my time, and he thought I’d help him get over his breakup.

What actually happened is that we messaged nearly constantly for eight days, then went on a date, and have been basically inseparable since. We got married in April this year, six years to the day after that first date.

2. Chrissie and Erin – “I found a woman with an MBE on PlentyOfFish”

Chrissie says:

I met Erin on PlentyOfFish, the free online dating service which doubles as a minefield for the weird and occasionally wonderful singles of the world. It’s pretty difficult meeting LGBT individuals in real life, let alone potential like-minded souls online, so I wasn’t too optimistic. After a few terrible first dates, I was ready to delete my account, until I received a message from Erin. I loved her profile – no selfies, just interesting snaps from travels and light-hearted shots with friends. There was also one particular photo of her in military uniform, which I can *ahem* categorically state did not pique my interest whatsoever. We chatted for a few days and then agreed to meet up the following week.

I got lost en route, despite the fact that I suggested the bar, and arrived tragically late. Erin was sitting in the entrance waiting for me, but I like to suggest that she was hiding behind the topiary. I actually strolled straight past her at first, and then embarked upon that awkward backtrack when I caught sight of her. It was all fine, though. After two vodka cranberries (total lightweight) I was talking ten to the dozen – AT her, I realised after the date, but because she’s lovely and well-adjusted, she recognised that I was super stressed and didn’t mind a bit.

After a similarly awkward second date, Erin gave up hope of shaking me off. I jest. That winter, we went ice-skating, Christmas market-ing and sang along to musicals in the theatre. This year we’ve survived weekend breaks away, family get-togethers and our first holiday abroad. She’s just won an MBE, yet she still found time to convert a bedside table into an emergency chocolate cabinet for me. She’s the best.

3. Joey and Daisy – “She was my therapist”

Image: iStock/Christopher Futcher

We’re keeping this one anonymous to protect Daisy – names have been changed.

I started seeing Daisy for therapy to deal with depression and trying to quit drinking. The very moment I saw her, when she came into the waiting room and called for me, I thought, “Oh no…”

She’s stunning. To me, she is just gorgeous. She was, like me, in her mid 30s, and obviously brilliant. I was in trouble.

I excused myself to use the bathroom before we began the first session so I could give myself a pep talk. I told myself, “You’re here to improve your life. Do not try to impress her, don’t leave things out to make yourself appear better, don’t flirt with your therapist!”

But I was in over my head and it felt like the most painfully one-sided, unrequited love ever.

Finally, I had to tell her. She was wonderful. She helped me deal with the feelings, and even helped me analyse them to make sure it wasn’t just transference.

Eventually, she told me that she’d been seeking guidance about her own feelings, which were just as strong as mine. I was FLOORED. She said she had to terminate our work and referred me to another therapist, but if in a year I still felt the same, I could call her. Being a consummate professional, she made sure never to promise anything, only to say that if we continued working together, no romantic relationship could ever happen. The only possibility was to terminate and let a year unfold.

12 months later, nothing had changed – and we’ve now been an item for three happy years. Our friends say our story is like a movie, and since we’re planning to move to LA together, maybe you’ll see us on the big screen one day.

4. Stephanie and Will – “I was dressed as a strawberry”

Stephanie says:

Will and I met at a Halloween party in Glasgow. Halloween fell on a weekday that year and we had a uni assignment due at the end of the week, so none of my mates came to my party. Needless to say, it was fairly lame – but I’d always wanted to dress up as a strawberry, so I took my chance. I made my own costume, and while I admit it’s a rather abstract strawberry, I liked it.

Since our party had a grand turnout of 5, one of my mates said we could go to one he was invited to instead. We packed all our booze and followed, and since the other party was in full swing, no one noticed us gatecrashing. That’s when I spotted Will in the kitchen – I’d seen his band earlier that year and thought he was cute, so I took my chance to talk to him. He’d run out of alcohol and I just happened to have a backpack full of Becks.

One quick snog later and he came back to my flat – for two days. We ate pizza, watched films and got to know each other. It’s fair to say my uni assignment that week wasn’t my best work!

We haven’t been back to a Halloween party since then because we normally go away for our anniversary. However, last year we had a big party at my house so I convinced him that we should go and dress up – as a pair this time.

9 years after we met, I’ve moved back to Scotland and we’re living together in bonnie Bathgate, waiting to see where life takes us next.

5. Nicky and Dave – “He trolled me on Twitter”

Nicky says:

Dave and I weren’t really love at first sight. We met on Twitter, where he’d reply to all my jokes and comments with sarcastic, pedantic and rude retorts. In hindsight, I think this was how he flirts. But I thought he was a bit of a dick. When I started to write for MSN and tweet out my articles he’d reply either arguing with my point or pointing out spelling mistakes – incorrectly, I might add. In the end I told him I was blind and I had to type using a speech recognition program. When we eventually met up (as friends) a few months later I had to admit that was a lie.

When we first met in real life, I realised I’d forgotten to tell him that I was blonde, not a redhead as I was in my Twitter avatar. I’d also cut my own fringe the day before and – well, looked like I’d cut my own fringe the day before. He complained about the price of pie and baked beans down South (he’s from Yorkshire) but we stayed mates.

We finally got together about six months later when I had a pie and mash party for my birthday. He drunkenly fondled my knee under the table and I ended up snogging him in the toilet (it was at my house so no idea why we went in there…). He had to go to and watch the Olympics the next day with the hangover of his life. But three years later, I think it was worth it.

6. Willard and Liz – “She told me she wasn’t a stalker”

Willard says:

A couple of years back, I did a dating blog, entitled ’28 Dates Later.’ The zombie-themed title was drawn from my first online date, where the lady I’d met bit my finger through to the bone over dessert.

I decided I’d do 28 dates from 28 different dating sites. In the wacky six-month journey, I met all kinds of lovely, strange people, but as I neared the end of the blog, around date 24, I still hadn’t met “the one”.

Then, a message popped into my OKCupid inbox – it was from a girl confessing that she’d decided to track me down on all these mad dating sites (I had profiles on everything from psychic to farming dating sites) to see if my stories were true.

She’d realised two things – 1.) that I was indeed on all these sites, and 2.) as she’d used the same username each time, I was bound to notice I’d been viewed dozens of times by the same person, and would assume I’d developed a crazed stalker. She’d dropped me a line to say she wasn’t a stalker (despite appearances) and wondered if I’d like to go on a date, rather than say, call the police.

By this time, I’d had my manhood almost snapped off by a woman from a fetish site, been to a evangelical missionary speed dating event and had a drink with a woman who told me earnestly she’d kill and eat my pet, so a mere stalker held few terrors.

Anyway, we met for a drink on the South bank in summer 2013 – she turned out to be the cleverest, wittiest woman I’d ever met and I was instantly smitten.

At Christmas this year, I asked her to marry me, with a pair of wedding rings I’d forged myself. I’m now trying to convince her to let me write a wedding blog…

Ed: OKCupid seems a good bet, given that it appears in the next story too:

7. James and Angel – “He didn’t have any spelling mistakes in his profile”

Angel says:

James and I met on OKCupid about a week or so after I joined. I was immediately attracted to him and I really liked his photos. He didn’t have the same, clichĂ©d photos as every other guy on the site – they made him seem down to earth and approachable and had a quiet cool about them that didn’t feel forced. His profile had the same vibe: it wasn’t try-hard, or full of grammatical or spelling errors (immediate deal-breaker) – it was a bit sarcastic and didn’t take itself too seriously, and I liked that a lot.

We had a really high match percentage so I sent him a message saying “the little robots say we’re a match, so I thought I’d say hi” and we were off and running. I always looked forward to his messages, but the first thing that really made him stand out to me was that he took up my burger challenge. On my profile, I’d listed that I was a super foodie, and was hunting down the best burger in London. He told me he was going to find it for me, and chose a mystery burger venue for our first date.

I was worried it was going to be Meat Liquor again, but when I asked where we were going and he said “Patty & Bun” I jumped up and down a little because I had wanted to go there for a while and was really excited about it. He’s told me since that that was the point that he really started liking me a lot, because I was all excited and enthusiastic about his choice.

The burgers were really good, but he only took about 2 bites of his. When I asked him why, he tried to play it off like he was full from the chips and starter (that he’d also only picked at), but I found out later that the truth was that he was too nervous to eat!

We went to a bar afterwards, and when he went in to get us another round of drinks, I saw him texting someone. A few months later, he showed me the text. It was to his best friend and said, “I’m gonna marry this girl. She’s amazing.” Which is funny, because I sent my mum the very same message about him!

We said “I love you” within about a week and a half, and were talking about spending our lives together after two. But we both really just knew that first night. We knew. I would never have believed it in a million years if you’d told me beforehand, and if it was someone else I’d say they were nuts, but I knew that he was the one from day one. Eight months later I had a ring on my finger, and we just had the most perfect wedding ever this month [Ed: Can confirm, I was there!]. He’s an amazing partner and all-around awesome human being, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him. So anyone who says that OKCupid or online dating is superficial and doesn’t work, really couldn’t be more wrong.

8. Louise and Bryn – “I improved his code”

Louise says:

Bryn and I met whilst working as software engineers for an agency based at the end of the runway at Brussels airport. I don’t know if it was the all-pervading sense of our own mortality brought about by the constant near misses by aircraft, or the fact Bryn was leaving in six weeks’ time that led me to tell him that I thought of him as more than just a colleague, but I did.

During our time working together we had bonded over a shared love of all things Unix, a strong desire to write a laughably simple script to replace our weird colleague, and had spent many a happy hour discussing the differences between for and while loops. Oh how impressed he was when he changed his beloved for loop to my preferred while and it solved an issue he was having. I think it was the moment he realised I was the woman for him.

On our fourth date, we went for a romantic restaurant in Antwerp. We lived in different towns, so Bryn followed me in his car so he could return to his bachelor pad in Brussels after dinner.

When I pulled over near the restaurant, I reapplied some lipgloss and tried to recall how to gracefully exit a car, very aware of the fact that Bryn had just parked behind me. As I swung open my door, I felt myself violently pulled from the car by the hair, my body unwillingly following, knees scraping along the pavement. As I flailed and writhed, my hair trapped in the car door window, my face pressed against it, lipgloss smearing the glass, I screeched for help. Bryn leapt from his own car to come to my aid thinking I was having some sort of seizure. As he approached he could see the full horror of my situation: When winding up my window I’d unwittingly trapped my long flowing locks and by opening the door had dragged myself from the car by my hair. After a frantic minute or two of rifling through my sanitary-wear packed handbag, Bryn located my keys, switched the car back on and wound down my window, freeing me. Once I was released and back on my feet, the crowd that had gathered around quickly dissipated.

I knew that Bryn loved me too when he didn’t ignore me the next day, but kindly asked me how I was and offered me fresh plasters for my scraped knees. I knew at that moment he was a keeper.

A year later, we married at Chelsea Town Hall around the corner from where we first lived together. We’ve now been together for 7 years and married for over 5, and we’re happier than ever.

9. Grace and Stephen – “I couchsurfed my way to my wife”

Stephen says:
I used to be an avid couchsurfer, and had people from all over come and stay with me when they were travelling. One time, I had a couple of American girls who were studying in Spain stay for a night, and ended up keeping in contact. They suggested I fly out to visit at some point, and since we’d all got on so well I got over my preconceptions of the US and did.
Grace was working at a diner where one of the girls I knew also worked. We both were in relationships so didn’t get together then, but kept in contact. I ended up going back and forth a lot, and when she came over to visit me in Scotland after a while, we went to France and I proposed in Paris. We battled the whole distance thing for far too long, not to mention the UK immigration process… but eventually she moved to Glasgow and I married her in January.

10. Terence and Liz – “She forwarded me a hoax email”

Terence says:

I’d first seen her in the student union while we were both studying at UEA.  Then, on a Friday the 13th no less, she sent me an email and my heart flipped. Then I saw the subject – “Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw: Fw:Paralympics.” It was one of those awful hoax emails asking you to forward it on to a dozen friends!

I responded with the most condescending email imaginable. It was a patronising piece of guff which tried to make me look clever – and failed miserably. Trying to pull things back, I sent several desperate messages inviting her to various social functions – but she spurned all of them.

Then, I came up with a master plan. Our Drama Society production of “Royal Hunt of the Sun” was short a couple of actors. Would she consider lending her considerable talents to our show? She would, and in her reply, she casually let it slip that she’d broken up with her boyfriend…. OMG!

After the cast party, the emails decrease dramatically – because we were utterly inseparable. We got married in 2008 – dressed as Darth Vader and a Jedi.

A mutual love of Star Wars seems a surprisingly effective way to find your soulmate – see the next story!

11. Nanci and Brian – “He commented on my fanfiction”

Brian and I met via the Jedi Council forums in late 2010. I’d just started writing fanfiction and he commented on one of my stories. In turn I read some of his, and then we followed each other on Twitter. Mostly we chatted about Star Wars (we both love the X-wing series of books and anything involving Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade) and other geek culture stuff.

Over the next year we got to be pretty good friends, and met in person for the first time at Dragon Con 2011. We hit it off right away, but were still just friends at that point. After much cajoling on Brian’s part, we started a podcast and blog in early 2012. Talking every week on Skype made us grow even closer, and we finally started dating during Star Wars Celebration in 2012. We got engaged in 2013, he moved a few months later, and we got married on May 25, 2014.

12. Niamh and Keith – “We saw each other in the street”

Niamh says:

Keith and I met at a very small international school in India when we were 12 and knew each other for a very short period of time before I moved to Scotland.
We didn’t meet again until university in Brisbane, Australia when we randomly saw each other in the street on a night out. It turns out we’d ended up at exactly the same university – across the world from where we met – but somehow hadn’t crossed paths until then.
We dated throughout university until he graduated and moved back to the UK (he’s British). We were still very young so we ended things, but after a year apart on different continents we still missed each other, so I made the move to London.
Five amazing years later and we’re getting married next summer.
Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 285 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.