When Mina Im was introduced by a mutual friend to Shaheen Butt at a St. Louis bar on Thanksgiving Eve in 2008, she had an immediate flashback. “My cousin had a crush on him” in middle school, she said, “and would always talk about him.”
Ms. Im recalled being immediately drawn to Mr. Butt and saw their meeting as serendipitous. Just a year earlier, in 2007, she had lost a college boyfriend in a car accident, and felt that perhaps he was looking out for her by sending Mr. Butt her way.
“I thought he was the most handsome guy I’d ever laid eyes on,” she said of Mr. Butt, adding that she also found him to be “a kind human being.”
Mr. Butt was taken with Ms. Im, too. “I was drawn to her ability to put herself out there in the world,” he said.
Now 36, Ms. Im was born in South Korea and grew up in St. Louis. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Missouri and is the senior marketing manager at an asset management firm in Chicago. Ms. Im is also the personality behind the Instagram account Chicagofoodgirl, which has more than 65,000 followers and spotlights restaurants across Chicago and Atlanta, where she and Mr. Butt currently live.
Also 36 and from St. Louis, Mr. Butt graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He is a partner and director of operations at Certain Logistics, a company in San Diego that imports custom furniture for boutique hotels.
After meeting him at the bar, Ms. Im asked their mutual friend for Mr. Butt’s phone number and texted him the next day, suggesting they have lunch. “We had a two-hour lunch, maybe three,” she said. “We just vibed.”
Their next date, at the St. Louis Auto Show, sealed the deal for her. “We passed this little kid selling chocolate bars for his basketball team,” Ms. Im said. “I remember Shaheen running back a few blocks; he bought the entire box.”
His generosity “blew me away,” she added. “I just thought, ‘This person has values and character I strive for.’ ”
After graduating from college, each had encouraged the other to focus on their career. In 2012, Ms. Im was offered a marketing job at a technology company in Chicago, nearly 300 miles from St. Louis, where she and Mr. Butt were both living and he was working at a business development firm.
Despite the fact that she would have to relocate, Ms. Im said, “Shaheen had a great job, and I didn’t want him to leave something that he loved.” Just as staying in St. Louis would benefit him, Mr. Butt knew moving to Chicago would benefit her. “I encouraged Mina to take the job in Chicago because I thought it was a good opportunity for her to grow and become her own person.”
She accepted the position, and they dated long-distance for two years before he joined her in Chicago in 2014. Years later, when Mr. Butt began to crisscross the country for his current job in 2020, Ms. Im went with him from Chicago to San Diego and eventually Atlanta.
By then, though, they were engaged. Mr. Butt proposed in October 2019 while they were on a weekend getaway at the American Club resort in Kohler, Wis. Though she had suspected a proposal might be forthcoming, by 11:30 p.m. that Saturday her hopes had waned. Then, just before midnight, Mr. Butt got down on one knee in the hotel’s secluded library.
“I always knew I wanted to marry her, from very early on, but life gets in the way when you’re chasing careers,” he said.
The couple returned to the American Club for their wedding on May 7. The Rev. Christian Choi, the associate pastor for parish life at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Ill., officiated before 80 guests who had been vaccinated or tested negative for Covid. Among them was the bride’s cousin who had a middle-school crush on Mr. Butt.
“We went through a lot of career changes, a lot of moves, a lot of long distance, trying to both achieve our dreams and goals from prior lives,” the groom said. “Now we’re trying to build on new goals together.”