When Domenico Montanaro finally met Courtney Katharina Norris in August 2018 after a lengthy online correspondence, he was immediately drawn to her positive energy. “You could drop her anywhere and you know she’s going to be the person who brings up the mood,” he said. “I thought, That’s someone I want to be around.”
But he wasn’t always so sure.
Mr. Montanaro, 44, is the senior political editor and correspondent at NPR. He first encountered Ms. Norris in December 2017 while hosting an NPR-themed news quiz tournament on Twitter. Ms. Norris, the deputy senior producer of national affairs for “PBS NewsHour,” competed with over 300 people by submitting brackets to guess the most important political story of the year. The winner was decided by Twitter polls.
Ms. Norris, 30, was among the finalists when Mr. Montanaro started following her on Twitter. When she lost, he did not expect to hear from her again. “But I kept sort of flirting with Domenico,” said Ms. Norris, who then lived in Washington. “I would listen to him on the radio and think, God, he’s so smart.” Mr. Montanaro, who lived in Silver Spring, Md., initially found her direct messages unsettling.
“I thought, this is not appropriate,” he said of Ms. Norris’s first few messages. “There’s this beautiful younger woman who also works in public media — I’m not going to get in trouble with this.” So he treaded carefully: “I wrote her back as if all my responses were going to appear on the front page of a newspaper.”
Eventually, Mr. Montanaro said, she wore him down. By the summer of 2018, they were regularly texting. In August, he asked her out on a date: “I said, ‘Hey, if you don’t think it’s weird, would you want to grab a drink sometime?’” While the sparks flew at Tiger Fork, a Chinese bistro in Washington, they came at the height of the #MeToo movement, the couple said. It had also been only a year since Mr. Montanaro, a father of two, had separated from his first wife, and his divorce would not be final until 2019. So they “kept it casual for a couple of months,” he said.
By the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, though, they were both convinced that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
Ms. Norris grew up in Dallas, while Mr. Montanaro was raised in Queens. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2015. He received a bachelor’s in English from the University of Delaware in 2001. Both of them earned master’s degrees in journalism from Columbia, Ms. Norris in 2016 and Mr. Montanaro in 2007.
After 18 months of dating, Ms. Norris met Mr. Montanaro’s children, Jack, now 13, and Kate, now 10. In the spring of 2020, the four quarantined together in Mr. Montanaro’s 1,000-square-foot apartment. Ms. Norris was reluctant to return to her own place out of caution for her roommate, who had severe asthma. “So I ended up moving in with Domenico, with two kids out of school and both of us reporters interviewing people all the time on Skype and Zoom,” she said. “It worked somehow.”
Mr. Montanaro’s devotion to both his children and Ms. Norris smoothed a rushed transition that could have easily gone sideways, Ms. Norris said. “Being with someone with kids was new to me,” she continued. “But Domenico was so good at making sure all his kids’ needs were met, and all my needs were met. I’m not even being mushy — I don’t know how he does it.”
In June 2021, the couple and the two children — who live part time with their mother — moved to a new house in Silver Spring. Less than a year later, on May 22, 2022, Mr. Montanaro proposed with a pear-shaped diamond ring during a vacation in Aruba. “She threw her hands over her face, genuinely shocked,” he said. After Ms. Norris said yes, he led her to a prearranged dinner on the beach, where a second surprise awaited her: Both of their families had flown to the island to celebrate.
On Sept. 9, Mr. Montanaro and Ms. Norris were married at the Addison Grove, a ranch and wedding venue in Austin, Texas. Eric Love, a family friend who was already ordained by the Universal Life Church, wore a cowboy hat while officiating in front of 175 guests. Mr. Montanaro’s NPR colleagues Mara Liasson and Don Gonyea and several of Ms. Norris’s “NewsHour” co-workers were in attendance.
The day’s headline, however, was not news for any guest. “I love Courtney,” Mr. Montanaro said. “The love is in every laugh and every smile.”