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Their Relationship Took Off During the Pandemic After Breaking the Six-Feet Rule

Natalie Nicole Warther and Ryan Paul Dols worked at the same creative agency for years before partnering on projects. Little did they know that a professional connection would lead to a romantic one.

Both worked at 72andSunny, a global advertising agency that partners up staff writers and designers on client projects. She was a senior writer and he was a senior designer. And, in 2019, they both needed new partners at the agency, where they still work. In 2021, Mr. Dols was promoted to creative director.

One July evening, the two chatted at a work party. “I swear on my life he said, ‘We should be partners,’” Ms. Warther said. “He swears on his life I said, ‘We should be partners.’” Either way, they decided to give it a shot.

The work synergy was there from the start. And as the Covid-19 lockdown began in March 2020, and everyone was suddenly working from home, Ms. Warther said the two eventually “started turning the corner from being close friends and work partners to chatting on the phone for hours every night and sending flirty texts back and forth.”

In April, they initiated sushi date nights. “Every Saturday we’d both order takeout from the same sushi spot in L.A., queue up a movie in our respective apartments, and text while we ate and watched ‘together,’” Ms. Warther said.

And on May 2, 2020, they finally decided to take their virtual bond to the real world.

Still, Mr. Dols said, “we didn’t know if either of us wanted to go there and cross the line to something more romantic.”

On their first in-person sushi Saturday, the two sat six feet apart throughout the evening in his home. Ms. Warther texted her close friend afterward that she was sure she had blown it since Mr. Dols never “made a move.”

“The next Saturday, we did it again,” Mr. Dols said.

This time was different.

“He was grilling a good steak,” Ms. Warther said. “The table was set. I have some eating restrictions and he made sure everything to eat was set for me.”

That night, Mr. Dols said, “we broke the six-feet rule.”

They didn’t waste any time after that. “As soon as the door was open, we both ran through it,” Ms. Warther said. “We were ‘official’ three weeks after our first kiss.”

The couple got an apartment together in Westchester, Calif., six months later, in November 2020, and bought a house in December 2021 in Los Angeles, where they now live.

Ms. Warther, who will turn 30 on Sunday, has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Northeastern and an M.F.A. in writing from Bennington College. Mr. Dols, 36, has a bachelor’s degree in political science and advertising from the University of Oregon.

On Sept. 18, 2021, Mr. Dols proposed at a cabin he rented for the occasion. “I surprised her with a weekend in Idyllwild,” he said, referring to a small mountain town a few hours outside Los Angeles.

Ms. Warther said, “At 6 a.m. he snuck downstairs, made a fire, put a record on, made mimosas and then had our dog, Banksy, wake me up with a ring around her collar.”

“We both cried immediately, and we laugh now that I yelled, ‘You have to ask me!’” she continued. He did, and she said yes.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

The couple were wed in front of 98 guests May 13 at Bodega Los Alamos, a wine bar in Los Alamos, Calif., by Anne Carmack, who was ordained by American Marriage Ministries.

After setting their wedding date, which was close to the anniversary of their first kiss, they realized it was also during Mother’s Day weekend — making it especially meaningful for Ms. Warther, who was only 19 days old when her mother died.

“My whole life, I’ve hoped there would be a sign from my mom that she was somehow with me on my wedding day,” Ms. Warther said. “This seemed like a pretty good sign.”

Partnership has been at the core of the couple’s relationship from the start, she said. To reflect that, the couple wrote and then read their vows together, taking turns line by line. “We wanted our vows to feel like a representation of how we’ve always worked as creative partners,” Ms. Warther said. “Both of us on the same team in service of the best creative outcome.”

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Mohammad SHiblu

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