By the time that Konstantinos Dean Dafis introduced himself to George Symmonds Forbes in November 2010, it seemed to Mr. Dafis like he was running into Mr. Forbes almost every weekend.
Mr. Dafis, who goes by Dean, first noticed Mr. Forbes because they traveled in similar friend circles. But they didn’t formally meet until Mr. Dafis made a point to say hello to Mr. Forbes after realizing that they were taking the same Saturday workout class in Manhattan.
“He was cordial, but a little bit shy,” Mr. Dafis, 52, said about his early interactions with Mr. Forbes.
After a few weeks of polite hellos, Mr. Dafis one Saturday included a question with his greeting: Would Mr. Forbes want to have lunch with him after class?
Mr. Forbes politely declined, saying that he had errands to run and it wasn’t a good day. Undeterred, Mr. Dafis insisted. He offered to accompany Mr. Forbes on his errands, including sitting and waiting for him while he got his hair cut.
“And so he followed me to the barber,” Mr. Forbes, 56, said with a laugh. Mr. Forbes’s barber, though, happened to be busy, so the two went out for lunch instead.
“Immediately I found George to be obviously handsome, but beyond the superficial stuff, I found him to be witty,” Mr. Dafis said. “There’s a way about him, the way he carries himself, the way he talks.”
They began to spend time together more regularly, and quickly found themselves falling for each other. Soon after they started dating, Mr. Forbes’s father, who was being treated for lung cancer, died. Though he and Mr. Dafis had only recently started seeing one another, “Dean was there for me, really supporting and taking care of me,” said Mr. Forbes, who grew up in Washington. “I think that tragedy really cemented our relationship.”
Not long after his father died, Mr. Forbes introduced Mr. Dafis to his family at a party, in January 2011. By that spring, Mr. Dafis had moved into Mr. Forbes’s apartment in Manhattan. Later that year, in September, Mr. Dafis, who grew up in Philadelphia and Athens, Greece, brought Mr. Forbes to a 400-person wedding, where he met Mr. Dafis’s family.
Mr. Forbes was the first boyfriend that Mr. Dafis had introduced to his family, and watching him interact with them, Mr. Dafis said, made him realize that he had found the person with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
In 2015, the couple moved from Manhattan to Maplewood, N.J., where Mr. Dafis got involved in local politics. He is now the mayor of Maplewood, as well as the director of the Office of Eviction Prevention in the Division of Housing and Community Resources at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, in Trenton, N.J. Mr. Forbes is the executive director of the Lucille Lortel Theater Foundation in Manhattan.
In March 2021, more than a decade after they met, Mr. Forbes began to secretly devise a proposal as the couple planned a summer trip to Hawaii, their first vacation since the pandemic began.
“Once we made that decision” to travel to Hawaii, Mr. Forbes said, “I made the decision that that was the place that I wanted to propose.” To ensure that the proposal would remain a surprise, he kept it a secret from even his closest friends.
That August, after dinner at Nick’s Fishmarket, a restaurant in Kihei on Maui, Mr. Forbes got on one knee and asked Mr. Dafis to marry him.
“I’m rarely speechless, and I was literally speechless,” Mr. Dafis said. “The whole world just stopped in that moment. It was very special.”
They wed June 4 on the front plaza of the Maplewood Municipal Building, before roughly 200 guests. Victor De Luca, the deputy mayor of Maplewood and a former mayor of the township, who was one of the first mayors in New Jersey to solemnize same-sex marriages, officiated at the ceremony, which he led with Garnet R. Hall, a friend of the couple and the vice chair of the Maplewood Democratic Committee.
Later that evening, the newlyweds and their guests celebrated at a Hawaii-themed party in the back yard of the couple’s home.
The grooms said they were not only excited to be married, but also happy to share their love with their community, especially during Pride month.
“We’re celebrating our love, our union, our families coming together officially, all that good stuff,” Mr. Dafis said. “We’re also celebrating our community’s struggle, and our resistance to being taken back, and remaining unequal.”