As a gay couple, Suneel Khanna and Carl Wolter are accustomed to questioning boundaries when it comes to love. But before they got married in Toronto on June 14, the geographical kind were new to them.
Mr. Khanna (left), 45, and Mr. Wolter, 65, met on the dating app Growlr in April 2018. Mr. Wolter, a social worker, lived in Palm Springs, Calif. Mr. Khanna had recently left his job in public relations in Toronto for a yearlong sabbatical.
Part of that sabbatical found him in Palm Springs, at an Airbnb. He and Mr. Wolter had their first date there. “I was captivated,” Mr. Wolter said. A romance with what both thought would be a four-week expiration date began; Mr. Khanna was due back in Canada. But when he left, they couldn’t let go. “You name the platform — video chatting, texting — we were on it,” Mr. Khana said.
A little more than a year later, after a return trip to Palm Springs by Mr. Khanna and a vacation together in Mexico, Mr. Wolter packed his cat for an open-ended visit to Toronto. “He was coming to spend more time with me,” Mr. Khanna said. “We weren’t really sure how it would go.” But both the cat and Mr. Wolter adapted quickly, and in June 2019, they moved in.
“It had become like, when we weren’t together we were counting down the sleeps until we could be together again,” Mr. Khanna said. “We fit into each other’s lives in a very uncomplicated, undramatic way.”
At a friend’s 2019 New Year’s Eve party, Mr. Khanna proposed. “Suneel made it incredibly romantic,” Mr. Wolter said. He did so by enlisting seven friends to read aloud a chapter each of a relationship history he had written. “Carl said yes 10 seconds before midnight,” Mr. Khanna said. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
When Covid emerged, Mr. Khanna and Mr. Wolter were in the midst of planning a Toronto wedding for 80 that was to include guests from India, where Mr. Khanna still has family, as well as Switzerland and Palm Springs. By the end of March, they canceled. Mr. Wolter, an American, started feeling vulnerable. The border to the United States had closed, which meant he couldn’t legally come back if he went home to see his ailing father in Iowa. And in order for him to work in Canada, he needed to be married to a Canadian. The couple pleaded for an emergency marriage license. Toronto’s City Hall granted one.
On June 14, Mr. Khanna and Mr. Wolter were married in a Hindu-Anglican ceremony at the Royal York, a Toronto hotel. Mr. Wolter read First Corinthians. Mr. Khanna’s father, Jyoti Khanna, sang a Hindu peace prayer. Both grooms wore traditional Indian wedding costumes, glittering turbans included, sewn in India for the original ceremony. Instead of the five guests they had planned for, 10 attended; two days before the wedding, Canada loosened its restrictions to allow that many.
Mr. Khanna’s mother, Chander Khanna, and father are in their 80s and had been afraid to leave their Toronto home because of the virus. But the hotel gave them the red-carpet treatment: “They parked a car out front and took the elevator straight up to the ballroom,” Mr. Khanna said. “They didn’t even have to press a button.”
For the grooms, the intimate ceremony felt like a triumph on a couple of levels. “There was an irony to having gotten to this point in our lives, after having fought for gay marriage, that our wedding would be during a time of shutdowns and closures,” Mr. Khanna said. “But we did it, and it was joyous. And glamorous.”