'He Proposed On Our First Date!’

After a chance encounter on a New York street, Brittany Hennessy, 32, went from single to engaged in 24 hours. Now, after eight years (and a son) with her husband, she shares her incredible story…

02 Dec 2018

We’d joined the same New York law school in 2009, both aged 23, but because I hated it, I never paid attention to the classes or the students – including Alexander. I quit in February 2010 and got a job as a restaurant hostess. One night in July, I was covering a shift for someone who had called in sick, but my boss let me leave early. I took a different route home and as I walked past the New York Stock Exchange, I recognised a cute guy heading towards me.

‘Hey… it’s Alexander… from Cardozo law school,’ he said. ‘Yes, I know!’ I lied. ‘No, you don’t!’ he laughed – and that broke the ice. We started catching up whilst walking together, and before I knew it, two hours had gone by. That’s normal for me, though: I’ll talk for hours to anyone who’ll listen.

We grabbed a slice of pizza and continued chatting about everything from life in New York to whether we wanted kids one day. After six hours, we called it a night and swapped numbers. I was convinced I’d never hear from him: I’d opened up way too much, telling him I’d never had a monogamous relationship and had planned to be single forever. But I’d also talked about the type of setting I’d like for my future engagement ring!

‘It wasn’t a date,’ I told myself in the cab, and brushed it off as one of those great, random stories that happen in the city.

The next evening, I was supposed to be reviewing a restaurant with a friend, but she had to cancel. On a whim, I messaged Alexander to see if he wanted to join me. He did. At the restaurant, we ordered the same food and drinks and found we had the same taste in music. Then he leaned in and kissed me – and I knew we were on a date.

Several Margaritas later, he suddenly became very serious and said: ‘I know what I want, and I think we should get married.’ The world seemed to stop. But I knew he wasn’t joking – and I knew what I felt, too.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘WHAT THE…?’ But some couples date for over a year and don’t come close to talking about what we’d covered in 24 hours. We were on the same page about family, money, religion, work; I knew I was attracted to him. There were no red flags. Sure, I wasn’t looking for a husband – I was only 24 – but after dating horrible guys, I’d told myself that the next one had to have substance. And sitting there on the best date I’d ever had, I genuinely believed that it wouldn’t get better than Alexander. I just thought: ‘If I don’t marry this person, I’m not getting married.’

Did it cross my mind to take it a step back and move in with him instead? No, because I figured engagements are usually a one - to two-year period, so we’d have time to work everything out. I had a hunch that I was going to spend the rest of my life with this man, so why not jump to the end game?

Telling friends was fun. ‘What do you mean, you’re engaged? You don’t even have
a boyfriend!’ my best friend replied when I texted her. But then she said it was a very ‘me’ thing to do. Turns out, both Alexander and I were known for taking big risks.

I moved into his apartment the next day and continued to fall for him: the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled, the way he walked like he was off to end world conflict, the way he’d randomly ask deep questions, like: ‘What’s the meaning of leadership?’

I hit it off with Alexander’s parents straight away, but mine were more shocked about our engagement. It actually took me a while to tell them, because I’m known in my family as being ‘dramatic’ and I was convinced they wouldn’t believe me, so I had to work up the courage. ‘You barely know him!’ my mum said, which is partly why we ended up waiting two years to marry. They slowly came around, though.

We started planning straight away, and within a few weeks we’d sent Save The Dates. It was a bit weird, because I didn’t have a ring for just over a year, but that was because Alexander wanted to get it just right.

In November 2011, he gave me a Dream-Cut ring by Hearts On Fire (remembering what I liked from that first night) and I cried with happiness. I found my Tadashi Shoji dress on eBay for $125 [£90], Alexander wore HUGO by Hugo Boss and we had a brunch wedding with 65 guests at India House, two blocks from where we met, on 25th August 2012.

Of course, the line in every speech was: ‘We thought they were crazy, but look at them now!’ Yet Alex and I never had any doubts. In fact, the morning after he’d run into me on the street, he’d told a friend he’d found the girl he was going to marry. It’s a cliché, but when you know, you know. Three years later, in 2015, and in the week of our wedding anniversary, our son (also called Alexander) was born. I’ll always be grateful that I went a different way home that night eight years ago – and got the chance to meet the man of my dreams.