An Engagement Party With a Twist

Seven years after meeting in person, Morgan Bell Kilpatrick and William Hans Vollers were surprised to find themselves matched on a dating app. But the guests they invited to their engagement party were even more surprised when they learned the party was actually a wedding.

In spring 2011, Ms. Kilpatrick and Mr. Vollers, both out with friends at Sfuzzi, an Italian restaurant in Dallas, were introduced by a mutual friend, Precious Armstead. “She was so shy and couldn’t look at me directly in the eyes,” Mr. Vollers said. “The shy smile got me.”

Years later, in July 2018, when Ms. Kilpatrick was living in Dallas and Mr. Vollers in Las Vegas, the two connected on Match. (He was planning to move back to Dallas, so he updated his settings accordingly.)

Shortly after, both reached out to Mr. Armstead within minutes of each other, to “get some intel,” Mr. Vollers said. Mr. Armstead, who gave his stamp of approval, has since died from pancreatic cancer.

After many phone and FaceTime calls, on Aug. 14, 2018, Mr. Vollers flew to Dallas for their first in-person date: dinner at HG Supply. “As soon as I saw him I became that 21-year-old girl again,” Ms. Kilpatrick said. “So shy that I couldn’t even look into his eyes without blushing.”

Mr. Vollers said, “The date went off without a hitch. Finally being with her in person and being able to hold her hand was the best. We ended the night at Bowen House, a dark, low key establishment. That’s where we got a little hands-y, and then the fireworks show started and never ended.”

The two dated long-distance for the first two years of their relationship. “Fortunately,” Ms. Kilpatrick said, “my job then gave me flexibility to visit him in Nevada for extended periods of time over the holidays and the summer.”

It was during those years that they realized it was love. “Before Morgan, at the end of my day, the last thing I wanted to do is talk to anyone. But with Morgan, the first thing I wanted to do was share my day and hear about hers,” Mr. Vollers said. “It hit me that I didn’t want to and couldn’t spend the rest of my life without her.”

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Mr. Vollers, 39, of Whittier, Calif., has a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona and is the vice president for sales at Vodaa Technologies, a green technology company that specializes in water and chemical reduction, based in Westlake Village, Calif. 

Ms. Kilpatrick, 32, a wellness counselor from Longview, Texas, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in school counseling from the University of Texas at Tyler.

The two now live in Henderson, Nev., just outside of Las Vegas. Ms. Kilpatrick moved to Mr. Vollers’s home there in May 2020.

On Dec. 11, 2021, the couple traveled to Park City, Utah, on a surprise birthday trip for Mr. Vollers. The first snow of the season was falling as they arrived. “The whole area was covered in pure white,” Ms. Kilpatrick said.

As they unloaded the truck, they discussed the evening’s plans. “Then I turned around and there he was, ring in hand,” Ms. Kilpatrick said, “asking if I wanted to celebrate our engagement that night.”

The couple decided to have a surprise wedding on Oct. 22 at the Hall Arts Hotel Dallas, inviting guests under the guise of an engagement party. “Engagement parties are fun. There’s no stress. None of the push and pull of planning,” Mr. Vollers said.

Thirty minutes into cocktails on the patio, Ms. Kilpatrick excused herself, citing trouble with her dress. Her mother, Marylu Bell Kilpatrick, who was in on the surprise, and the groom’s mother, Deborah Kay Davidson, who learned of the ruse on the elevator ride, joined her for a quick change into a wedding gown.

While she changed, Mr. Vollers gave a thank you speech that ended with, “We’re getting married tonight!” With 54 guests in attendance, Judge Harmony Letizia, a close friend of the couple and a justice of the peace in Las Vegas, officiated.

Ms. Kilpatrick said, “Everyone was screaming and clapping. All this adrenaline. It was a blur.”