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 and Dwayne Shoppa (pictured here)
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.