Ashley Beard was in the second semester of her first year of law school at Howard University in Washington when she accepted a wager from Claudy Bince, who was a second-year law student there.
“The bet was that I could not wake up consecutively every day for a week, at some ungodly hour, to go into the law library to study,” she said. “I lost the bet.”
At stake in their wager was a night out on the town, as Mr. Bince, now 34, felt strongly that Ms. Beard, now 33, shouldn’t live in D.C. without making an effort to experience the city. The two, who both eventually graduated with law degrees from Howard, she cum laude and he magna cum laude, had by this point become friendly. They had honest conversations, learned that they were both of Caribbean descent, and also that they were from adjoining Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Ms. Beard said she told her friends, “Claudy’s like my cousin.”
So she didn’t think twice about going out with Mr. Bince until one of her friends asked her what she was going to wear.
“I didn’t realize it was a date,” she said.
When the reality hit her, she said, “I started freaking out. I went through all the clothes in my closet. I was an hour late to meet him, because I was freaking out about what to wear.”
The two went to a bar that night that served up drinks, snacks and games like Jenga and Scrabble. Mr. Bince beat her at every one of them. “No mercy,” she said. (The couple realized later that their date was exactly one year after they’d first met, when he led her group on a tour of Howard’s campus on an admitted-students weekend.)
They shared their first kiss that night. “We ended up spending the rest of the night talking, and before we knew it, it was light out,” said Mr. Bince, who is now a corporate law associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, a law firm in Manhattan. He graduated from Stony Brook University. “We had stayed up talking until the sun came up.”
Ms. Beard, who is now the director of academic success at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan, and had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, found herself increasingly taken with Mr. Bince after that first outing.
“Claudy is probably the most humble, thoughtful person I know,” she said. “He’s just bright. He challenges me. He’s ridiculously supportive.”
The relationship between the two developed as they spent time together and studied together and made their way through law school. “We were already sort of friends, so the rest of it just flowed naturally,” Ms. Beard said.
By the summer, Mr. Bince said, he recognized that the relationship was serious. “She’s one of the most beautiful persons I’ve ever met — physically gorgeous, but, just, her mind and her spirit,” he said. “She always puts others first.”
The two were married July 11 at their apartment in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens section of Brooklyn, with the Rev. Roxanne Birchfield, a minister of the Evangelical Church Alliance, officiating. Their original wedding plans included 150 guests at an events space in Long Island City, Queens, but after the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, they scaled down to 10 guests.
Ms. Beard, who will take her husband’s name, said that the vow to wake up early to study wasn’t the only one she broke on her perhaps unintentional path to romance: She had begun law school intending not to date at all.
“Law school is intense and I wasn’t trying to have anything distract me — I was serious about my books,” she said. “But I knew Claudy was special. So I’d given up on that.”