After a Missed Connection, a Union of Mythic Proportions


He, too, moved to Washington in 2019. Like Ms. Gamble, he was more attuned to his work than his dating apps when they matched the first time. That hadn’t changed much for either when she reached out to him on Bumble.

What had changed was her dating profile, including her pictures. Neither recognized the other from the date that had been scotched when Ms. Gamble texted Mr. Copeland with her phone number days after they matched the second time. “His name was already in my phone,” she said. Hers was already in his, too. But both pretended not to remember what happened in 2019 when, on Feb. 13, 2021, they met via FaceTime — by then, the world was in the grips of the pandemic — for a first date.

Mr. Copeland had consulted his former co-clerks for advice about whether to bring it up. “I told them, ‘Joelle is back. Should I tell her about our history?’” They counseled him to stay mum. For a month, as they progressed from chatting on FaceTime to meeting in person to feeling that, professional lives aside, they wanted to spend a lot more time together, the Hinge episode went unacknowledged.

Ms. Gamble finally brought it up. “I screwed up, I realized,” she said. Mr. Copeland no longer cared. Six months in, they were a committed couple. In May 2022, they moved to an apartment in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington together. Well before he surprised her with a proposal on the Georgetown waterfront on March 5, 2023, they knew they wanted to marry each other.

Their March 16 wedding, at the George Peabody Library in Baltimore, was attended by 100 guests and officiated by the Rev. William Mies, a Catholic priest affiliated with the International Council of Community Churches. The library atmosphere, both said, was less an evocation of their lives as public service people than a full-tilt swerve into their appreciation for fantasy. Music from the soundtracks to “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” played in the 19th-century building, known as “the cathedral of books.” An excerpt from a Tolkien poem also punctuated the ceremony. “It fit our vibe perfectly,” Ms. Gamble said.


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