After Several Years of Dating, Jumping the Broom ‘Felt Right’

After being together for four and a half years, Eva Jamila McKend and Dennis Roane Bates Jr. knew that marriage was the next step.

“Does anyone really know when it’s time to get married?” said Ms. McKend, 34, a national politics reporter at CNN. She added that for them, “it just felt right.”

Mr. Bates had a good feeling about Ms. McKend when they matched on the dating app Bumble in January 2019. Mr. Bates’s profile mentioned that he wished he had more time to read the newspaper, something Ms. McKend immediately noticed. She asked him about his favorite section to read.

After a few days of texting, Mr. Bates, 36, a tax accountant who was raised in Herndon, Va., asked her out. “She seemed very intelligent and very knowledgeable about the world, and that excited me a lot,” he said.

They hit it off on their first date at Kirwan’s on the Wharf, an Irish bar in Washington, D.C., followed by a fish dinner on the pier at Captain White’s Seafood City. On Valentine’s Day, Mr. Bates took her to dinner at Filomena’s, an Italian restaurant in the city.

“I was so impressed by this,” Ms. McKend said. “I thought, ‘This guy is so sweet and he must really like me.’”

Through her teens, Ms. McKend felt that her romantic options were “limited,” she said, and she didn’t start dating seriously until her late 20s.I grew up in predominantly white settings in New York City, and there weren’t a lot of folks of color,” she said. “I wasn’t really viewed as attractive in those spaces or ‘dateable.’”

“There were all sorts of messages in society” that told darker-skinned Black women they were “not beautiful or worthy,” Ms. McKend added. As representation of Black women in the media improved, and as states adopted measures like the Crown Act, things began to change. “I think darker women are really seen as beautiful and attractive in a way that they weren’t when I was little,” she said.

With Mr. Bates, Ms. McKend said she had found the partner she deserved. “He respects me and is my equal and believes in me,” she said.

In the spring of 2019, she accompanied Mr. Bates — an avid horror movie fan — and his mother to see the film “Us,” directed by Jordan Peele. In April, he met her father’s side of the family, who is from Guyana, at a birthday party at her brother’s home in Queens.

When the couple first met, Mr. Bates was working on changing careers. Previously, he had been a tax manager at the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, and he left in 2021 to start his own real estate development firm in Washington. Mr. Bates, who earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce at the University of Virginia, is also a part-time accountant at the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, Inc., an education nonprofit.

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

They were aligned on the “big things,” Mr. Bates said, including wanting children and encouraging each other’s professional goals. When he shared his desire to branch out into real estate and leave his full-time job, Ms. McKend supported him. He gave Ms. McKend advice on navigating the housing market so she could buy a condo in Washington in January 2021; that month, he moved in with her.

Ms. McKend has a bachelor’s in English from Swarthmore College and a master’s in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University. In 2018, she moved to Washington from Burlington, Vt., where she covered Congress for Spectrum News, a cable news network. Her sharp questions, notably for Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, on issues like reparations and Donald Trump’s impeachment trial helped her land her current position at CNN in 2021.

In July 2022, Mr. Bates proposed along Lake Champlain during a trip to Burlington. He disguised his plan as an impromptu lunch by the lake, changing Ms. McKend’s itinerary for their day — which aroused her suspicion. She said yes and her close friends came out to celebrate with them, turning the lunch into a surprise engagement party.

The couple married on Aug. 6 at Morningside Inn, an event space in Frederick, Md., amid a backdrop of rolling green hills, reminiscent of Ms. McKend’s time in Vermont. The festivities began at Jerk N’ Jive Caribbean Kitchen in Frederick, where guests enjoyed jerk salmon and callaloo. The couple jumped the broom as part of the ceremony to “honor our ancestors and African American heritage,” Mr. Bates said. The wedding was officiated by Rashad Raymond Moore, a friend of the bride and a pastor at the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

It rained heavily, but nothing could put a damper on their wedding day. Without waiting for the pastor’s cue, Mr. Bates kissed his bride after she recited her vows, in which she promised to watch at least one Washington Commanders football game each year “in full and without complaint.”

His excitement mirrored the feelings he had when they first met. “I could see myself marrying her very early on,” Mr. Bates said. “From the first date, actually.”

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