Julia Kate Tiller and Eric Daniel Graves didn’t meet at her older brother’s graduation in 2019, although they both attended (Mr. Graves is Ms. Tiller’s brother’s friend). They didn’t fall in love at church in the summer of 2021, although that’s where they met.
The two became fast friends thanks to social media. “He used Facebook Messenger to slide into my DMs,” Ms. Tiller said. Around that same time, Ms. Tiller had moved to Austin in June, just after graduating college, and began fostering cats. Her first was Atlas, a two-year-old ringworm-infected cat.
In early October 2021, Ms. Tiller and Mr. Graves would go out with groups of friends. But that changed at the end of the month. On Halloween night, a week after a pumpkin carving party at Mr. Graves home, he and Ms. Tiller walked around watching the trick-or-treaters, just the two of them, making it “one of our first times hanging out alone,” Ms. Tiller said.
“We both started talking about deeper ideas, like our goals in life and what we want to accomplish,” Ms. Tiller said. “We found we had very similar outlooks and values.”
In November, the two began taking walks together and grabbing coffee during the day as they both worked from home. “We were just getting to know each other one-on-one,” Ms. Tiller said. “We didn’t really have a first date.”
By Nov. 18, the two were a couple. “Eric invited me over to watch James Bond’s ‘Casino Royale’ since I had never seen it,” Ms. Tiller said. “Afterward, he told me he liked me and wanted to date. I said I’d like that.”
On April 7, 2023, Mr. Graves moved into Ms. Tiller’s apartment when his lease expired, and the following month, when her lease ended, the two got an apartment together in North Austin, where they still live.
Through it all, there have been many foster cats. “All of our fosters have feline leukemia virus, so a single-cat home is best for them,” Mr. Graves said. “We get to foster the sad cats.”
Six weeks or so before the two began dating, Atlas was adopted by another household. Ms. Tiller then took in Edgar Allen Potato.
It was this feline named after a famous macabre writer and poet that ultimately brought them closer together. When the orange cat needed a cone around his head following surgery, Ms. Tiller called on Mr. Graves. “I learned early on we made a great team,” she said.
Even though Mr. Graves has long been a self-proclaimed dog person, “I appreciated that he was so down to help me,” Ms. Tiller said. Edgar Allen Potato was adopted by another family a few weeks into their relationship. But they weren’t without a foster cat for long.
Mr. Graves said, “Julia and I saw Meowzel Tov, a three-year-old Creamsicle-colored cat, on the foster list and couldn’t pass him up.”
And, after fostering six cats, they finally made the seventh one their own — a brown tabby they named Hazel. But even with the adoption, the two continue to foster other cats.
Ms. Tiller, 24, is a data analyst for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She holds a bachelor’s with honors in physics from Texas A&M University. She grew up in Highland Village, Texas, and was a ballet dancer for 18 years. “I decided ballet was a passion for me but not a career,” she said.
Mr. Graves, 28, is a software engineer at Neosem Technology, where he designs software for memory test equipment. He holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas.
After getting engaged on July 2, 2023, the couple were married on Jan. 6 by Reverend Elizabeth Boone McLean, a Presbyterian pastor, at First Presbyterian Church in Austin. During their first look, “He gave me a small rock from the church courtyard,” Ms. Tiller said. “This is what penguins do when they ask to couple up for life.”
They sat for much of the ceremony as Mr. Graves has been dealing with chronic dizziness for approximately one year. “I’m medically fine. But I get dizzy standing,” he said. “So, the pastor grabbed chairs. It felt very intimate to us.” Mr. Graves made light of his condition in his vows. “Julia, you take my breath away,” he said. “You make my legs weak.”