Riana Pfefferkorn once considered marriage “a pit that’s easy to fall into and hard to crawl back out of.”
“Why pay a lot for a wedding, and more for the divorce, for something that might end in tears?” said Ms. Pfefferkorn, 38, a native of the Bay Area. “Better to stay single and have an out.”
But in 2017 she connected with Aaron Kimball on a dating app after realizing they had known each other casually during graduate school at the University of Washington. Ms. Pfefferkorn, now an associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, graduated with a law degree after receiving an undergraduate degree in English from Whitman College.
Mr. Kimball, 36, originally from Yardley, Pa., graduated from Cornell and received a master’s degree from the University of Washington, both in computer science. He is now the chief technology officer at Zymergen, a biotechnology firm in Emeryville, Calif.
On their first date, at an outdoor park, they discussed the trajectories of their career paths as well as matters of the heart. (Both had been in serious, but not quite right, relationships.) Talk was easy and fun. Even serious topics were punctuated with quirky humor. Before parting, Mr. Kimball took Ms. Pfefferkorn’s hand, a gesture that moved her greatly.
Months in, Mr. Kimball adopted an elderly, lumpy beagle, naming it Potato. That commitment melted what little remained of Ms. Pfefferkorn’s anti-marriage resolve. “No one was more surprised than me,” she said.
Weeks later, Ms. Pfefferkorn, with a pounding heart, proposed. For Mr. Kimball, who describes himself as “a card-carrying Eagle Scout who dreads making mistakes,” it was a tad soon.
But in August 2019 at Burning Man, in a rare moment of aloneness at the crowded arts festival, Mr. Kimball, wearing a tiger-striped onesie, counter-proposed with a candy ring pop. A surprised Ms. Pfefferkorn delightedly wore the confectionary place holder.
On June 12, they married midway on the Lyon Street steps in San Francisco, just steps from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s residence. Under a dappled sky with the bay spreading out below and the sun-kissed rolling hills of Marin beyond, they exchanged vows and rings. Kiyan Ahmadizadeh, a friend of the couple and a Universal Life minister, officiated.
The service was livestreamed to the couple’s family and friends, while a steady stream of maskless runners puffed up and down the steep stairways to either side of them. In her vows, Ms. Pfefferkorn looped to the couple’s sweet beginning. “I promise that whenever you reach for my hand, I’ll give it, just as we did at the end of our very first date,” she said. “And when words fail me, I’ll still be there for you, and my hand will still be in yours.”
At the close of the ceremony, Mr. Kimball performed the Jewish tradition of stomping on glass, only with a twist. When his parents married, they had been too broke to waste a good wine glass, so they used a spent light bulb in their ceremony — and so they did, too.