Lose the race, but win the other
Although Truett Clay Manning corresponded with Bimal Jayprakash Patel on the dating app Bumble, Mr Manning did not lift a finger to do so. Her friend Marette Gillen was the one who scanned Mr Patel’s profile, on behalf of Mr Manning, in November 2018.
Despite their presence on the app, neither man was as invested in online dating.
Mr. Manning had only downloaded Bumble at the urging of Ms. Gillen, who would sift through its many profiles for him. Mr Patel, who was then running to represent Texas’ 18th congressional district as a Democrat, had nearly deleted the app because he had reservations about his presence during the campaign.
But once they paired up, the two started chatting and soon decided to meet for a first date. In December, they met at True Food Kitchen, a restaurant in Houston, their shared hometown. It went so well that they quickly scheduled a second date, which started with dinner at The Grove, followed by skating at Discovery Green in Houston, then dessert at Grotto Downtown.
Mr Manning said he realized he had found that special someone after seeing Mr Patel dipping a piece of the cheesecake they shared in his cafe on their second date .
“He was so comfortable, it was like he was saying, ‘If you have a problem with that, that’s on you,'” Mr Manning said.
Mr Patel appreciated that Mr Manning was equally confident. “One thing that drew me to Truett was his authenticity and sincerity,” he said.
From there, both say it didn’t take long for their relationship to get serious. For the next year and a half, there was a lot of driving back and forth, as they lived about 30 minutes apart in different parts of Houston. Mr Manning eventually volunteered for Mr Patel’s campaign, knocking on doors before Mr Patel’s run for Congress ended when he lost the March 2020 primary election.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Mr. Patel, 37, earned a Doctor of Optometry magna cum laude from the University of Houston College of Optometry. He owns Focus Refined Eye Care in Houston, where he works as an optometrist. Mr. Manning, 33, is a graduate of the University of Houston-Clear Lake and is a territory manager for Crown Aesthetics, which sells microneedling devices.
By the end of 2019, the two had started discussing living together. The following year, about a month into the pandemic, Mr Manning moved into Mr Patel’s townhouse in April 2020. He was still settling in when they discovered a leak from the roof terrace in the master bedroom. The repair took six months.
“A lot of things tested us that year,” Mr Patel said. “But seeing how we got through those six months made me think that when the job was done, I would propose.” He did so on December 4, 2020, the couple’s two-year anniversary.
As they discussed planning a wedding, Mr Patel, who is Indian, favored the style of big, action-packed affair that is common in his culture. Fans of the Netflix series “The Crown” have both said that their ideal place is a castle.
Working with Waterlily Weddings, an organizer in Dublin, Mr Patel and Mr Manning, of Irish descent, found their dream venue: Kilkea Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest castles, in the Castledermot village. Now a hotel and golf resort, the property dates back to 1180.
On July 4, they were married at the castle in front of 100 guests, most of whom were vaccinated. Romy McAuley, solemn registered with Ireland’s Health Service Executive, officiated and Ms Gillen, Mr Manning’s friend who started his Bumble match with Mr Patel, served as Mr Manning’s maid of honor .
Prior to the ceremony, two Indian folk dance groups performed to Irish music as well as bhangra. The two grooms rode on horseback; Mr. Manning wore a plaid tuxedo jacket and Mr. Patel an emerald green sherwani. As part of the ceremony, they exchanged flower garlands and performed a Celtic fasting ritual in which their hands were tied with a ribbon.
At a subsequent reception, Mr Patel, who had changed into a tuxedo, surprised Mr Manning by singing part of ‘Latch’, the song they had walked down the aisle to, with the father of Mr. Manning on guitar.
“Today is a day I never imagined I would experience,” Mr. Manning said in his vows. “Growing up, I thought the fairy tale life wasn’t in the cards for me. Today is the fairy tale we deserve.