On their first date, Anne Stewart Huntington and Tyler Paul DePatis broke their own rules.
He had been advised not to have dinner on a first date because it could get too long and awkward, and she had always turned down rides home from first dates. But when the two met at a bar in Chicago in August 2021, after matching on the dating app Hinge, she was hungry, and he was curious.
They played an impromptu game of bar trivia, the hubbub of the game filling the beats between each story they told. They ate dinner at the bar, and when he offered to drive her home, she said yes. She had a good feeling about him.
Ms. Huntington, 33, was well-versed in the ways of online dating. “I loved first dates,” she said. “I just am naturally curious about people, and there’s kind of no other format where you sit down with a stranger and hear their life story in the same way.”
In February 2020, she challenged herself to go on 21 first dates in 30 days, creating a podcast to document the process called “Anne Hunting Love.” She ended the project early when the pandemic began — but it gave her a unique outlook on dating.
She decided to get back into the dating game in the summer of 2021, going on a first date every week. Mr. DePatis was different from other men she had met, some of whom were put off by the mention of her podcast. He was simply interested in hearing more.
The two set up a second date, but Ms. Huntington had never been in a serious relationship before, and was afraid of commitment. She frequently traveled in her late teens and 20s, spending time in Spain, India, China, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria for various work, study and volunteer opportunities.
Mr. DePatis, 33, had recently started dating again after the end of a long-term relationship, and was still getting his bearings. For example: He didn’t kiss her until the fifth date.
Their fourth date lasted 10 hours. They walked along the Chicago Riverwalk, barhopping and talking until the early morning hours. “I had ample opportunities to kiss her,” Mr. DePatis said.
She thought he would kiss her as he got into his Uber. Instead, he complimented her eyes. Later that night, she texted him, “Next time, just kiss me.” On their next date, he quieted his nerves and just “grabbed her face,” he said.
“Now he kisses me along all the stops that he didn’t kiss me, whenever we walk that walk,” she said.
Around February 2022, after about five months of dating, Ms. Huntington asked Mr. DePatis a big question. “I’m a researcher, I like to quantify things,” she said. “So I was like, ‘Percentage-wise, how sure are you that I’m the one?’” He wouldn’t answer.
Then, on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, they were driving to see friends in Indiana. Ms. Huntington had been drinking, and she started crying in the car. She was thinking about marriage and was overwhelmed to find that the idea didn’t seem so scary anymore.
Mr. DePatis told her what he had held back weeks before: He was “110 percent” sure that she was the one. Six months later, he proposed on their first anniversary.
Ms. Huntington, who grew up in River Forest, Ill., has a bachelor’s degree in history and Arabic from Notre Dame, a master’s degree in teaching from Emmanuel College in Boston and a master’s degree in education from Stanford. She is a research associate at Education Development Center in Chicago. Mr. DePatis, who is from Petersburg, Ill., is a project engineer for TERRA Engineering in Chicago and has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
They were married July 15 at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest, Ill., by the Rev. John Meany, a Roman Catholic priest, in front of 165 guests. A troupe of seven flower children walked down the aisle of the church, which went slightly, adorably haywire. (One toddler was entranced by the stained glass and kept exclaiming, “Beautiful!”) Afterward, they had a brunch reception at Oak Park Country Club in River Grove, Ill., where guests built Lego versions of themselves in lieu of a traditional guest book.
Instead of a wedding cake, there were lemon squares and an ice cream sundae bar. The couple’s first dance was to the orchestral version of “MMMBop” by Hanson, one of Ms. Huntington’s favorite songs.
In the evening, they had a pool party at the country club with their favorite Chicago foods: beef sandwiches, curly fries, pizza and Italian ices. Ms. Huntington wore a white swimsuit and Mr. DePatis wore a tuxedo T-shirt. They jumped off the diving board together.