Must Love Dogs, and Skiing

After several well-meaning nudges from her mother, Mollie Ann Finkel signed up for Tawkify, a matchmaking service, in January 2021. She was tired of the dating apps.

Ms. Finkel, 44, selected the three-date package and left it up to her matchmaker to come up with someone who first and foremost loved dogs and skiing.

Her third — and final — match was Rajesh Lachman Aidasani, who goes by Raj.

“I love dogs, and I ski, but skiing wasn’t even on my top 50 list,” said Mr. Aidasani, 48, who found her priorities “a little weird,” but was assured by his matchmaker that they would hit it off.

On a warm Sunday evening in April he met Ms. Finkel — his fifth Tawkify match in a 12-date package — for drinks that turned into dinner, at Elmo, a restaurant and bar in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

“He was really handsome,” said Ms. Finkel, who lived in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and drove in after visiting her parents in Lloyd Harbor, on Long Island. Mr. Aidasani took the subway from his place in Long Island City, Queens.

They talked for hours that evening and realized, on a somber note, they had both been in the same crowd by the library in Uris Hall at Columbia the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, watching the news unfold on TV monitors.

Ms. Finkel, who graduated from Hofstra University, was at the time in a premedical program at Columbia, from which she later received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing. She is now a nurse practitioner in women’s health and oncology and the clinical program director of gynecologic oncology in the Mount Sinai Health System’s hospitals in New York City.

Mr. Aidasani, who graduated from N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, received an M.B.A. from Columbia. He now works in New York as a senior director at the CRE Finance Council, the trade association for the commercial real estate finance industry.

“We had this great hug, and he kissed me on the forehead,” she said, after he walked her to her car at the end of their first date.

Ten days later, they met at Cecconi’s Dumbo, an Italian restaurant, and had their first kiss after they walked over to her apartment. The bonus was his dog appeal. He and Big Sugar, Ms. Finkel’s 85-pound yellow Labrador retriever, got along instantly.

The same could not be said about Tink, his 15-pound Chihuahua mix rescue, who on their third date bristled and yelped at Big Sugar after they arrived in Lloyd Harbor, where Ms. Finkel was dog sitting for Einstein, her parents’ more sedate black Lab.

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

“It was kind of a bummer,” Ms. Finkel said, “but it wasn’t going to stop us.” Undaunted, they began seeing each other several times a week. (Mr. Aidasani received a refund for his unused matches.)

Around Memorial Day, they spent five days at her family house in Nantucket, Mass., which her grandfather designed in the 1980s.

“She’s an amazingly solid human being,” Mr. Aidasani said, and in August, they spent a few days with his son Rain, now 13, and his ex-wife at the Jersey Shore.

That fall they began apartment hunting — she had never lived with anyone before. And with an eye toward marriage and saving money, he soon suggested they buy a place. A couple of days after Christmas their offer was accepted on a condominium in a renovated Dumbo warehouse.

At the end of January 2022, he joined her on a family trip to St. Barts. After her parents left the island for home, he proposed as he and Ms. Finkel walked along the marina in Gustavia with the same ring she fell in love with a couple of days earlier at a local shop.

On Oct. 8, Micah Finkel, the bride’s brother who was ordained by American Marriage Ministries for the occasion, officiated at a ceremony with 125 guests, by the old Maple tree in her parents’ backyard in Lloyd Harbor. Rain, the groom’s son, read “A Birthday,” a poem by Christina Rossetti under the flower-strewn huppah built by the bride’s brother and his wife.

A band playing Gypsy music then led surprised guests — by foot and in golf carts — to the nearby Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill (circa 1795) as the waxing moon rose over Mill Cove. (Invitations suggested they wear flat-soled shoes.)

“It was magical,” said Ms. Finkel, as they celebrated in a temporary solar-lit dinner space amid the millstone, original beams and gears. Her mother a classically trained opera singer and cabaret performer, sang Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro.” As high tide moved in, around 10 p.m., everyone returned to the house for the after-party.

While the groom clearly proved his love for dogs — neither Tink nor Big Sugar were at the wedding — his love of skiing still remains to be seen.

“We have never skied together,” said Ms. Finkel, with a laugh. “That’s the great lingering question.”

They hope to plan a ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., sometime this winter.

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