As she was getting ready to meet Harsh Shah at Hoi Polloi Brewing, a taproom and lounge in Berkeley, California, on a November evening in 2019, Laura Min McDonald recalled wondering, “Do I know how to go on a date? ?”
Ms. McDonald, 35, got in touch with Mr. Shah through the dating app Hinge shortly after her previous relationship ended, and it had been 10 years since her last first date.
But when she arrived, she found herself immediately at ease with Mr. Shah, and the two bonded through a shared love of food and the outdoors.
“Our communication seemed so natural, which I didn’t necessarily expect,” said Ms. McDonald. “I had a lot more fun than I thought I would have.”
Mr Shah, 35, described the date in the same way. “Things just flowed,” he said, “and everything just felt very natural.” He particularly liked how she gestured with her hands when she got excited about something. “I remember at one point I thought for 20 minutes, how did we get to this topic?”
A week later, Mr. Shah received Mrs. McDonald for a home-cooked pizza and kale salad dinner. About a week later, the two, who both lived in Oakland, California, saw Mr. Shah’s close friend James Liu improvise at the Stage Werx Theater in San Francisco. In January 2020, they took a trip to Sea Ranch, California, where they felt their relationship deepen.
“Then it felt like they started accelerating for us,” said Mr. shah.
The following March, when the pandemic started, they thought it would only last a few weeks. The two initially decided to settle into their own homes, in part because they knew that Ms. McDonald’s work as a clinical nurse at a Stanford Health Care clinic in Emeryville, California, could expose her to the virus.
But within a week of making that decision, the couple realized they didn’t want to be separated for any longer, and Mrs. McDonald moved into Mr. Shah’s apartment.
“It only took five days to not see each other,” said Mr Shah, who works remotely as a consultant at Socotra, an Austin-based company that makes software for insurance companies.
Despite the inherent stress of working as a nurse at the time, coming home to Mr Shah and “being able to see him every night and start building our lives together,” said Ms. McDonald, “was such a positive part of the early days of the pandemic for me. I felt really happy.”
When not at work, the couple spent the next few months cooking, making ice cream and visiting Mrs. McDonald’s parents, who lived nearby, remotely. By May 2020, they could both see a marriage on the horizon.
Knowing how important food had been in their relationship, Mr. Shah to plan for a proposal incorporating it. He came up with the idea of making corzetti, a minty paste typically stamped with a design. After taking a few woodworking classes, he secretly started carving his own pasta stamp.
In February 2021, the couple made another trip to Sea Ranch and on the second night of their trip, Mr. Shah told Ms. McDonald that he was going to dinner. She was thrilled when he handed her a plate of fresh corzetti with pesto—then realized that each piece of pasta had the words “Laura, will you marry me?”
It was the work of “a wonderful person,” said Ms. McDonald. “He’s really been such a steady and strong presence in my life as long as I’ve been with him.”
The couple, who now resides in Albany, California, married March 12 at the Brazilian Room, a location on the Tilden Regional Park property in Berkeley, California, in front of about 110 vaccinated guests. mr. Liu, a pastor of Universal Life Church, performed.
After the wedding, the groom said of the bride, “I’m excited to continue cooking with her for the rest of my life.”