After nearly a decade together, Zach (he/him) proposed to his boyfriend, Sean (he/him), with a springtime scavenger hunt that ended with a Broadway show and a surprise party in Central Park. The Brooklyn couple’s love story is a classic rivals-turned-lovers tale. They first met in high school as two of the top-ranked speech-and-debate competitors in Massachusetts.

For a while, Zach and Sean were acquaintances who only saw each other occasionally at competitions around the state, but they were both recruited to the same college speech program at George Mason University, where they quickly became friends. A few years into college, they each moved off-campus to a large apartment complex. Serendipitously, Sean and his roommates ended up in the apartment directly above Zach and his roommates. And the rest, as they say, is history.

We caught up with the couple to hear more about this spring engagement.

Tell us about the proposal!

Sean made it very clear early on in their relationship that Zach had to be the one to propose. After nine years of dating, Zach finally popped the question in a literally traffic-stopping way. After months of meticulous planning, Zach left one spring Saturday morning to “take out the trash” as Sean was washing dishes in the kitchen. Minutes later, Sean’s best friend Sammy appeared in our Brooklyn apartment, playing the song “Perfect Day” by Hoku and holding a secret clue in her hand. Sammy was, as expressly instructed, tight-lipped about what was happening and where they were going, only telling Sean to get showered and ready for the day, and then to read the clue for what came next.

Thus ensued a three-stop scavenger hunt throughout New York City, leading Sean to places that had become meaningful to us since our move to New York the year prior. The final clue of the scavenger hunt brought Sean to the Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, where we saw our first Broadway show together after we first started dating. We are both avid lifelong theater lovers, and Sean is a theater professional. Zach popped the question in the middle of 47th Street, as onlooking police officers stopped traffic briefly for the proposal to happen.

After Sean said yes, our close friends, who were sneakily positioned nearby to snap photos as our designated photographers, ran out to congratulate us, and then we all went to a nearby bar to toast the new engagement. Under the guise of “taking photos in Central Park,” we walked to the heart of Central Park, where a group of 50 of our family and friends were waiting with congratulatory signs and lots of prosecco to celebrate with a surprise park picnic. As we approached, the entire park erupted in cheers and tears.

What do you love most about each other?

We love the duality of how we can both feel so comfortable and at home with one another, while simultaneously pushing each other to grow and challenge ourselves in new ways, even after nearly a decade of being together.

What are you most looking forward to in your marriage?

We are looking forward to calling each other “husband.” For us, marriage also signifies the next step in our relationship, where we can start thinking about what we want our family to comprise of and the legacy we want our love to leave behind. The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

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Locations: The Barrymore Theatre; Central Park

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