Cary Gitter texted his friend Sylvia Khoury out of the blue in September 2017 to ask about her friend Meghan VanArsdalen.
“Hey, whatever happened to your friend Meghan,” he asked, one Saturday evening while at a West Village bar in Manhattan.
Ms. Khoury, a noted playwright, had in fact tried to casually set them up during a couple of theater outings the previous year, but either Ms. VanArsdalen, 31, an actor, or Mr. Gitter, 34, a playwright, had been in other relationships. But, not anymore.
That evening the timing could not be better — Ms. VanArsdalen was standing right next to her during the intermission of a play at BAM in Brooklyn.
“‘I’m actually with Meghan right now,’” he recalled her saying, and once Ms. VanArsdalen gave the nod right away, she texted him her number.
The next morning Mr. Gitter, who lived in Astoria, Queens, texted Ms. VanArsdalen, and they met that evening at DTUP, a coffee shop by day and bar by night on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
He often worked on plays there during breaks from his day job, then as the senior editorial manager in marketing at the 92nd Street Y. He is now based in Ann Arbor, Mich., as a playwright and freelance copywriter for digital and marketing clients.
In February 2020, “The Sabbath Girl,” his romantic comedy, appeared Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters and in December it will be performed at Theater Ariel in Philadelphia. He graduated with honors from N.Y.U. Tisch School of the Arts and received a master’s in English and American literature from N.Y.U.
“I was back in New York six weeks to do a play,” said Ms. VanArdsdalen, who had moved to Ann Arbor from Manhattan in 2016, and was in rehearsals for “A Word of Love,” with the Poet Acts for the New York Theater Festival.
In 2019, she played Sydney in “Welcome to Paradise,” a comedy, with the Purple Rose Theater Company in Chelsea, Mich., and grew up on a nearby equestrian center in Jackson, Mich.
She is also a dog walker at Snaggle Foot in Ann Arbor, and teaches a theater class through Theater Nova at two local public schools. She graduated summa cum laude from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich., and received a master of fine arts in acting from the New School.
“I had known him as very reserved,” she said, and was surprised when he hugged her hello.
[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]
As they sat on a couch chatting the next four hours, episodes from the “Twilight Zone” played silently on a facing wall and he found out she lived in Ann Arbor.
“I was feeling a connection,” he said.
So was she. “I was so smitten by him,” Ms. VanArsdalen said. “We had our passion for theater, for creating art.”
They were the last to leave, and kissed good night outside.
Two days later, when they met at Lincoln Center before heading to a restaurant in Astoria, he gave her a copy of “John,” a drama by Annie Baker, one of his favorite playwrights.
“We essentially spent a whirlwind two weeks together,” he said, during which he saw her play twice, and described their state of mind as “magical romanceland.”
After she returned to Ann Arbor, they took turns flying out to see each other every other week. In the spring of 2018, he moved in with her and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Roo, and earlier this year they got another Cavalier, Puck.
He proposed in November 2018 after the Christmas tree lighting in Ypsilanti, Mich, and then they had cider nearby.
“We had a really busy 2019,” he said. “I had a show in New York, Meghan had a show in Michigan,” but when Covid hit they had some downtime, and planned their wedding.
On Sept. 11, Ms. Khoury, who became a Universal Life minister for the occasion, officiated before 100 guests at the Gem Theater in Detroit, an event venue.
“It meant a lot to be on a stage again,” he said. “I scripted the introduction, the closing and transitions, with actual stage directions.”
“Cary and Meghan kiss. Applause, cheers,” was a natural.