5 Real-Life Love Stories

Happily married couples look back on how their relationships began. (See, warm, funny love stories don’t happen only in the movies.)

abigail-dwayne-shoppa
Photo by Gail Albert Halaban

Abigail and Dwayne Shoppa (pictured here)

Austin, Texas
Ages 29 and 33
Married nine months

Abigail: I never met men through my job (I’m a real estate investor). So instead I had the bad habit of reigniting old relationships, seeing if I could make them work the second time around. In May 2010, my three sisters, with whom I’m very close, and my brother-in-law Chris urged me to try someone new. When I demurred, they insisted on buying me a date at a local bachelor auction for charity. At first, I protested, but eventually I gave in. And once I looked through the online profiles of the men up for grabs, I admitted that a civil engineer named Dwayne looked pretty dreamy. Plus, his bio mentioned that he coached Little League baseball. I love kids.

Dwayne: I had never participated in a date auction before. I only agreed because it was for a good cause—the proceeds were going to breast cancer research.

Abigail: The auction was held at a live-music venue in downtown Austin. When Dwayne came onstage, five other women raised their paddles and started bidding on him, too. My eldest sister, Amanda, 34, can be a little competitive. (Plus, she had had a few drinks.) She was determined to win Dwayne for me at all costs. And she did—for $600.

Dwayne: The lights were so bright onstage, I couldn’t see who was bidding. After it was over, the organizers had me walk through the audience and hand Abby a rose. I thought, What is this beautiful girl doing buying a date?

Abigail: I explained that my sisters had forced me into this and that he didn’t really have to take me out, but Dwayne insisted.

Dwayne: Five days later, we ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We got the world’s fastest waiter, who had us in and out in 45 minutes—it was disappointing. Plus, Abby was very shy and reserved. I thought she was sweet, but in all honesty I didn’t see a second date in our future. Afterward we stopped by a gourmet-cupcake trailer and bumped into a few of Abby’s friends. She loosened up, and that’s when I saw the girl I would fall in love with.

Abigail: I liked that Dwayne was so laid-back. One of our earliest dates was at a baseball field. We just played catch.

Dwayne: A couple of months later, we went to the house of one of Abby’s sisters. When I saw how Abby’s nephew and niece, who were then four and two years old, gravitated to her, I thought: This might be the one.

Abigail: That’s the same time I knew I could marry Dwayne. He was genuinely interested and cared about what these little kids had to say to him. That kindness meant so much to me. Plus, I want children of my own one day.

Dwayne: I had an elaborate plan about how I was going to propose to Abby, but I couldn’t wait. I ended up blurting it out one night after dinner. We married last April, 11 months after we met.

Abigail: I love that helping out with a good cause brought Dwayne and me together. We continue to contribute to organizations that we believe in, like Easter Seals and the March of Dimes. I have to admit, supporting charities has really paid off for us.