At a Surprise Party, a Surprising Romantic Overture

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Noah Fitzpatrick Reimers was two months away from his graduation at Harvard University when he met Ashley Marie LaLonde, who was nearing the end of her junior year there, in March 2019.

That they had never encountered each other before then was odd. A month earlier, Ms. LaLonde made history at the university when she became one of the first women, and the first ever Black woman, to star in Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals show, after 171 years running.

At the time, Mr. Reimers, a running back on the Harvard football team, also lived within a couple of blocks of Ms. LaLonde, whose roommate was dating Mr. Reimers’s teammate.

When Ms. LaLonde threw a surprise birthday party for her roommate at a bar near campus, she extended an invite to Mr. Reimers at his teammate’s suggestion. It was there that the two finally came face to face.

Mr. Reimers, 24, kept one eye on Ms. LaLonde, also 24, the entire evening. When the party ended, he made what he described as a “bold move” toward the host, asking Ms. LaLonde after a short chat if she would go out with him on a date.

A few days later, they hit it off at a tiny Mexican restaurant near campus.

“She was someone who was really easy to open up to,” Mr. Reimers said. Similarly, Ms. LaLonde noticed that Mr. Reimers was “a very good listener.”

From then, Mr. Reimers said, the relationship “deepened emotionally very quickly” as the couple, according to Ms. LaLonde, “passed through many different seasons of life together.”

After he graduated, they transitioned from being at college together to dating long-distance while Mr. Reimers backpacked around the world. In September 2019, Mr. Reimers moved to Manhattan and, at Ms. LaLonde’s suggestion, began attending services at the nondenominational Church of the City New York, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, which she had attended a few times that summer.

The next year, following her graduation, Ms. LaLonde also moved to Manhattan, where she was born and raised.

In March 2021, Mr. Reimers, originally from Virginia, told his parents that Ms. LaLonde was someone he wanted to marry. “I didn’t necessarily expect to get married this young,” he said, “but I also didn’t think I wouldn’t or was ever opposed to it.”

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

The next month, while the couple was visiting Ms. LaLonde’s parents at their home in Manhattan, Mr. Reimers asked for her hand in marriage.

Mr. Reimers was by this point a business development and operations lead for Andluca Technologies, a climate tech start-up in New York.

Ms. LaLonde, who at Harvard was awarded the Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Prize for excellence in musical theater by the university’s Office of the Arts, was continuing to work as an actress.

In the fall of 2021, she performed as Alice in readings of “Alice’s Wonderland: A New Musical,” which were staged by Amas Musical Theatre at Amas Studio in Manhattan. Ms. LaLonde currently stars in “Punk Rock Girl!,” a musical at the Argyle Theater in Babylon, N.Y.

But before she racked up these roles, Ms. LaLonde and Mr. Reimers became engaged. Wanting to propose near Gramercy Park, he told her that he had made a dinner reservation nearby, at Gramercy Tavern, on May 21, 2021.

As she thought they were walking to the restaurant, he dropped to one knee outside the park, and as soon as Ms. LaLonde said “yes,” a friend of the couple came out of a hiding place to capture the moment on video.

They were married on Feb. 5 at Guastavino’s in Manhattan. Ashley Anderson, a pastor of the Church of the City New York, officiated before 220 vaccinated guests.

“She is just as wonderful a person as she is an actress,” the groom said of the bride. “On stage and off, she’s just an amazing presence.”

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