With a Nudge From Mom, a First Date Led to a Lifetime Commitment

When Courtney Elizabeth Dec attended her younger brother’s high school graduation party in the summer of 2016, she wasn’t the only one who noticed her older brother’s friend, Brett Alexander Lanham. Her mom did, too.

“She politely told me to start dating her daughter,” said Mr. Lanham, 31, who had been friends with Ms. Dec’s brother, David, since 2012, when the two worked together at a restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y.

Before the party, held at Town Place Park in Clarence, N.Y., Ms. Dec, 26, a student at Syracuse University at the time, had only seen photos of Mr. Lanham on social media. “I always kind of joked with David‌‌, for really no reason‌‌, about how hot his friend Brett was,” she said. ‌ “I was like, ‘I’m going to date Brett.’”

Her mother, Jacki Dec, apparently thought it was a good idea, too, so she approached Mr. Lanham among the crowd of 180 guests.

Shortly after, Mr. Lanham asked her out via social media. “He messaged me on Facebook after the party — while we were all at my parents’ house,” Ms. Dec said. “He was in the basement and I was in the kitchen.”

On Aug. 6, 2016, the two had their first date at Canalside, a recreational area in downtown Buffalo, where they walked around and went kayaking. “We knew that if we dated, it would have to be serious because we could not mess up their friendship,” Ms. Dec said, referring to the relationship between her brother and Mr. Lanham.

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Dating his best friend’s sister, Mr. Lanham said, did not change their friendship. “I had not only his blessing, but his mom and dad’s blessing,” he said. “There’s always been a mutual respect and understanding, so David and I get along just as well as we did before that.”

Another potential relationship obstacle, however, was distance. Soon after they started dating that summer, Ms. Dec returned to college. “You would think it was the wrong timing,” she said. But Mr. Lanham “visited me in Syracuse almost every weekend. I graduated a half year early, and came home. It worked out for the best.”

In October 2019, the couple adopted Gigi, a mini labradoodle, and in March 2020 they began living together in Clarence, N.Y., the Buffalo suburb where Ms. Dec grew up. She has a law degree from the University at Buffalo‌ in addition to a bachelor’s degree in public health from Syracuse, and now works as general counsel for Bundle, a Clarence-based provider of legal documents that was founded by her father.

Mr. Lanham, who is from Williamsville, N.Y., is a project manager for Brawdy Construction, a commercial construction company founded in Buffalo. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

On Aug. 28, 2020, Mr. Lanham proposed to Ms. Dec at Canalside, the same location as their first date. “He said we were going to get ice cream with his family,” Ms. Dec said. “We showed up and there was not a soul in sight on the entire boardwalk. It was suspicious. I don’t even know if the ice cream shop was open.”

On Sept. 24, they were married before 220 guests at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo. The Rev. Bryan Zielenieski, a Roman Catholic priest from St. Mary’s Church in Swormville, N.Y., led the ceremony. The reception was held at the Admiral Room, an events space at the Marin building in Buffalo.

Ms. Dec’s brother David, who served as one the two best men, toasted the couple.

He said, “A guy couldn’t ask for a better friend, and now brother, than you, Brett.”

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