Monday, July 15, 2024

Jacqueline Marie Patmore and Banks Thomas Clark barely touched their appetizers – deviled eggs, brussels sprouts, onion rings and jalapeño poppers – during their first date one rainy evening in October 2021 at Freebird Kitchen and Bar in White Plains, N.Y.

They were so enthralled with each other that even their waiter kept his distance. (A year later, when they returned for their first anniversary, they wrote him a thank-you note on the back of a menu.)

“Within the first five minutes, I felt the magic overtake me that would carry us through this whole relationship,” said Ms. Patmore, who goes by Jackie and is turning 34 on Saturday. “I knew I could love this man by Minute 15.”

Earlier that week, Ms. Patmore, now a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Columbia, from which she also received a master’s degree in the subject, had trekked up to White Plains for an annual dinner party for the school’s psychology department. That evening, she opened the dating app Hinge and saw that she had matched with Mr. Clark, who had just moved to White Plains from Durham, N.C., two weeks earlier.

They messaged each other, and “it was like speaking to a friend,” Mr. Clark, 35, said. He found it refreshing that she had mentioned, of all things, the D.S.M., or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, on her profile.

Ms. Patmore, who lived on the Upper West Side, soon agreed to return to White Plains to meet him. “I have no idea why – there are plenty of people in New York,” she said. But “there was this pull.”

They both tried to keep their cool: She blushed and pretended to look at her phone when she first saw him, and he looked away. “At baseline, he is so handsome,” Ms. Patmore said. He recalled thinking, “Oh my gosh, she is beautiful.”

Ms. Patmore soon learned that he respected strong, independent women like herself. “I’m Latin, and I’m a little atypical,” she said. “He could see me and support me.”

On that first date, they closed the bar down and left in the rain while holding hands. They shared a first kiss as they walked. At his place, they spoke into the wee hours. When he drove her home the next day, he slipped a note into her purse: “Jackie, I will never forget tonight. You have changed everything.”

The two of them are six feet tall, wear the same shoe size and have the same stride. They immediately referred to each other as “partners,” but it took friends and family a bit longer to catch up. “Both sets of parents saw us really hurt,” Ms. Patmore said, referring to past relationships. Her friends were “rightfully protective,” said Mr. Clark, whose previous marriage ended in divorce.

The couple would play board games with each other and get lost in conversation for hours. In February 2022, after they both caught the coronavirus, they quarantined in Mr. Clark’s apartment for over two weeks.

“It was fantastic,” Ms. Patmore said. By the beginning of March, she had moved in with him. They now live in Hudson Heights in Manhattan.

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

They would often doodle and create sketches together, usually over breakfast at a coffee shop. Until 2020, Mr. Clark had been a high school art teacher at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina. In March 2022, Ms. Patmore bought a giant sketch pad and they began chronicling their time together with poetry, notes and paintings.

That summer, the couple’s parents met in Newland, N.C., where their fathers went fly-fishing in Toe River and their mothers hit it off like old friends.

A few months later in November, an hour after picking up the engagement rings they had both designed in the same sketch pad, Mr. Clark spontaneously got down on one knee. Later that day, Ms. Patmore proposed by a bridge with a poem.

Ms. Patmore is a founder and the head of coaching at Arete Performance, a performance coaching firm for finance professionals. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Mr. Clark, who is now pursuing a Master of Social Work at N.Y.U., graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in art and philosophy of religion from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. He received a master’s degree and graduated magna cum laude in theological studies from Duke.

On Oct. 21, Victoria Clark, the groom’s paternal aunt, led the couple’s wedding ceremony at The Ruins at Sassafras Museum in New Lebanon, N.Y. Ms. Clark is a Tony Award-winning actress starring in the Broadway play “Kimberly Akimbo,” and was ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion.

During the ceremony, Ms. Clark sang the first verse of the hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing?” The couple joined in for the second verse, and then guests sang along in the third.

As a nod to the note Mr. Clark had written to Ms. Patmore after their first date, their rings feature two symbols: a delta sign for change, and an infinity sign for everything.

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