A little shark-bait subterfuge was necessary, Chris James judged, to get Anthony Gavranic into exactly the right spot for a sunrise proposal at Waimanalo Bay on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
It was April, and the two were having a post-vaccination vacation at a place they’d visited and loved just before the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the United States.
The day before, a whale carcass had drifted into the bay and had drawn sharks that the two men, and a lot of other spectators, had watched in wonder. (“It was really unbelievable, like we were on the Discovery Channel,” Mr. James said.) So that morning, he told Mr. Gavranic that he thought he could still see pieces of the whale, and while Mr. Gavranic was trying to see what Mr. James had supposedly seen (there was actually nothing there), Mr. James got into position.
“It worked out perfectly,” said Mr. James, 31. “I got down on one knee and proposed right as the sun was coming up.”
The two men met in April 2019 through the dating app Hinge, after Mr. James was amused by a notation in the profile of Mr. Gavranic, 32, that said he was a big fan of chicken nuggets.
“He was extremely handsome, had gorgeous blue eyes, we’re the same age and clearly he didn’t take himself too seriously,” said Mr. James, who is a digital and on-air reporter in New York for CNN. “I liked that this guy had a good sense of humor.”
“We really were sort of vibing from the get-go,” said Mr. Gavranic, who is an account director at Droga5, a New York advertising agency.
Their first date was on Easter Sunday, at South Street Seaport. “I remember walking across Water Street and seeing Anthony for the first time, and there was something about his aura that instantly put me at ease,” Mr. James said. “All of the neurons in my brain started firing and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait for this date.’”
The two men had a couple of drinks at a couple of different places that night, and at one point sat down for dinner, too.
“We were kind of playing footsies under the table, holding hands, and he leaned across the table and kissed me,” Mr. Gavranic said. “He was braver and did it before me, but I definitely wanted to.”
Over the next few months, Mr. Gavranic says that he didn’t make dating him easy. “If I were him, I would have said, ‘This is too hard,’” Mr. Gavranic said. “Ninety-five percent of it was where I was with work, and how much that consumes every minute of the day. I didn’t feel like I was able to give the relationship any kind of time.”
But Mr. James, who graduated from N.Y.U., wasn’t put off. “I knew pretty much right away that I was really, really into Anthony, but he was going through a lot of turmoil, so I was patient and tried to give him his space,” he said.
By July, the two were in love. Two years later, on July 17, at their apartment in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, the two were married before four guests. Erin Brady, a friend of the couple and a Universal Life minister, officiated.
Mr. Gavranic, who graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney, came to New York City from Australia six years ago with a friend, and the two promised each other that they would find jobs or else go back home.
“I came here for adventure and never left,” he said. “Because I eventually found the love of my life here.”