Zohar Hannah Fuller spent about a year inviting Maryse Shaina Pearce to events before Ms. Pearce finally attended one.
“Some people might stop trying after the first few times, but I was very persistent,” said Ms. Fuller, who was then working for a theater company.
The two first met in November 2011 at a mutual friend’s party in Boston, where both were living at the time. Though they felt a connection after bonding over shared interests in theater and social justice, Ms. Pearce was dating someone. They exchanged information and kept in touch as friends, but did not meet again until January 2013, when Ms. Pearce accepted Ms. Fuller’s invitation to a workshop production of “River See” by the playwright Sharon Bridgforth.
Several months later, they ran into each other at Queeraoke, a weekly event at Midway Cafe in Boston. Ms. Pearce was by then single, and before the night had ended, the two had sung “Build Me Up Buttercup” together. When the bartender announced the last call, Ms. Pearce asked Ms. Fuller what she wanted.
“I was like, ‘You,’” Ms. Fuller said. They soon started dating.
When Ms. Fuller not long after introduced Ms. Pearce to her family, who live in the Boston area, Ms. Fuller’s sister commented on how easily the couple got along. “She was like, ‘There doesn’t seem to be any drama. You just seem so calm about it,’” Ms. Fuller recalled.
Within months, Ms. Pearce knew she wanted to marry Ms. Fuller. But Ms. Fuller was more hesitant. She said she knew “for a long time” that Ms. Pearce was the one for her, “but had my holdups and nerves about making that leap.”
In 2016, they moved in together in Cambridge, Mass. Two years later, they moved to Brooklyn, to be closer to Ms. Pearce’s family in Queens and so Ms. Fuller could pursue a career in theater.
Ms. Fuller, 35, graduated from Brandeis University, where she created her own major, theater for social change. Now working as a freelance theater director and teacher, she has an M.F.A. in directing from Boston University and is completing a master’s degree in social work at Hunter College. Ms. Pearce, 34, who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, has a master’s degree in public policy and an M.B.A. in nonprofit management from Brandeis. She is a program manager at Stonewall Community Foundation.
In the summer of 2020, after months of living and working together in their one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment during the pandemic, they decided they were ready to become engaged.
“I had heard a lot of stories of people separating from the stress of the pandemic and being alone with a partner,” Ms. Fuller said. “But I felt like we were just getting closer.”
That December, while they were visiting Beacon, N.Y., Ms. Fuller got down on one knee and proposed at a gazebo on a trail that overlooks the Hudson River. As she was proposing, two of their friends were busy preparing a surprise for Ms. Pearce back at the couple’s rental property. She returned to find a bouquet of flowers, a portrait of her and Ms. Fuller and a box of doughnuts from a local shop.
Ms. Pearce’s favorite song, “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke, was also playing, as was a prerecorded video of Carmen Maria Machado, her favorite author, wishing the couple well. And standing outside a window were their two friends holding signs, one with a rainbow heart and one with the word “Fearce,” a combination of their last names.
“It was all of my favorite things in one place,” Ms. Pearce said.
On Aug. 14, they were wed at the Herb Lyceum at Gilson’s, a venue in Groton, Mass., before 124 guests. The ceremony was led by two of their friends: Cambrie Nelson, who officiated after receiving a one-day marriage designation from the state of Massachusetts and Shira Kline, a spiritual leader at Lab/Shul, a Jewish community in Manhattan.
Ms. Pearce, who has Jamaican and Guyanese roots, and Ms. Fuller, whose family is Jewish, Israeli, Polish and German, wove their backgrounds into the wedding. The ceremony featured a fusion of two rituals: the Jewish tradition of the seven blessings and the tasting of the four elements, which originates from the Yoruba people of West Africa and has been adapted by the African diaspora. At the reception, the menu featured dishes including Guyanese codfish fritters and black cake, a Caribbean dessert.
“It was very uniquely us and very loudly us,” Ms. Pearce said. “Black as hell, Jewish as hell, queer as hell.”