A New York-Style Elopement Supporting an Important Cause

During one of New York’s rainiest weekends, Ladies Pavilion, an ornate cast-iron gazebo in Central Park off West 77th Street, kept Rohit Subramanya Kalkur and Stephanie Janina Korbely sheltered at the time of their wedding ceremony on April 30.

They struggled a bit to slip rings onto each other’s fingers because of the humidity from the storm. But the splattering of the rain actually served as a pleasant soundtrack for the ceremony. The city’s skyscrapers, shrouded in mist, made for a romantic backdrop. The Central Park Lake, and a beautiful pink tree that popped out among the greenery, only added to the picture.

That’s why the couple did not mind skipping over the puddles down the path to the pavilion. It was a distinctly New York City wedding ceremony for a New York City love story.

That morning, Mr. Kalkur made himself and Ms. Korbely cups of hot chai with freshly grated ginger, a pinch of turmeric and cardamom. Mr. Kalkur’s morning chai — “the best,” according to Ms. Korbely — has been a daily ritual for the couple since they started dating.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, they matched on the dating app Hinge in July 2020 and had their first date a few weeks later over a video call. The next week, they met in Prospect Park for a “socially distance walk and talk,” Mr. Kalkur, 34, said. They had takeout drinks from the bar Washington Commons and watched the sun set and the fireflies fluttering in the night sky. “It felt very magical,” Ms. Korbely, 36, said.

“With New York dating, you never really know how serious it is and where things are going to go,” she said. But she had a good feeling about Mr. Kalkur, and so did he about her.

“We quickly became a pandemic pod,” she said. They spent a lot of time in his apartment working remotely, cooking together and watching movies.

In May 2021, they moved in together to a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Brooklyn in the same building he had been living in. (He had previously been in a studio.) Mr. Kalkur is from Colorado Springs, and Ms. Korbely is from Bavaria, Germany.

For the proposal, Mr. Kalkur put together a 28-page scrapbook filled with photos from their travel adventures, road trips and fun times with friends. He added her photo from Hinge that he had swiped right on, a collection of dishes they cooked together during the pandemic and love notes that she had left him whenever she went away on trips. He even collected Post-it Notes she had left around their apartment as little reminders, including one she had put on their rice cooker that says: “Add oil!” (“He always forgets to do it,” she said.)

He also wrote messages throughout the book. One said: “Little did I know that on the day I swiped on your profile, my life would change forever.”

He presented the scrapbook to her on Christmas morning in 2022.

“Stephanie always used to joke around that she didn’t want a corny holiday proposal,” Mr. Kalkur said. “I’m like, ‘Well, you’re going to get one.’”

On the last page, there was a plastic bag with a ring inside, “a suspicious bulge” that she had been ignoring the whole time, she said.

He took the ring out and went down on one knee in his set of their matching Christmas pajamas. “I was crying the whole time already,” Ms. Korbely said. (Mr. Kalkur recalled that she had responded with an “of course,” but she doesn’t remember.)

Mr. Kalkur works as a software engineer at the financial technology company Robinhood and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Ms. Korbely is a program manager at Stripe, also a financial technology company, who graduated from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication science. Both work from New York offices.

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

Their wedding ceremony was part of an event called Elopements for Couples Who Care, hosted by Have Lover, Will Travel, a wedding officiating company, and the nonprofit Vow for Girls, which is focused on ending child marriages globally. According to the group, “every three seconds, a girl is forced into marriage against her will.”

Couples chose from one of two donation tiers for their elopements. Mr. Kalkur and Ms. Korbely selected the tier 2 package, which cost $611 and “pays for small business start-up costs and vocational training for one girl,” a representative for Vow for Girls wrote in an email. The package included a ceremony, five photographs and the signing and filing of the license. Liz Normant, the founder of Have Lover, Will Travel, officiated in front of ten guests. She is ordained through the Universal Life Church.

Ms. Korbely found out about the elopement event on Instagram about a week before it happened. The couple wanted the legal marriage officiated ahead of a Hindu wedding ceremony with family in Munich on July 1.

“It’s just really special if we can give this day a bigger meaning, a meaning that’s bigger than us,” Ms. Korbely said.

It was also special for them to have the ceremony in New York, the home of their love story. They bonded over their love for the “resiliency of New York City,” Mr. Kalkur said, having had lots of takeout drinks and bicycle rides together during the pandemic.

“We couldn’t tell our story without New York.”

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