As the calendar flipped to 2021, Mr. Pinzone became ready to propose, but was nervous about it. He was 40 and, despite a healthy dating history, had never had a serious relationship. Ms. Bowen had been in several. When it came to love, he said, “I didn’t have anything to write home about. So with the proposal, I was thinking, don’t blow this, Joe.”
In March, he bought a ring. In April, led by Ms. Bowen’s love for Broadway, he started making phone calls to theaters to ask if he could rent their marquees. He wanted analog but most, he discovered, are digital. The IFC Center in Greenwich Village shows movies, not plays, but it fit the bill.
On April 18, before they were to meet friends for brunch at the nearby Market Table restaurant, he proposed just as the message on the marquee registered in Ms. Bowen’s eyes.
“Melanie, you are my star, my hero and love. Will you marry me?” it read.
Ms. Bowen, who clamped her hand over her masked mouth in surprise, produced a muffled, but very happy, “yes.”
On Dec. 18, they were married in Rochester at the Inn on Broadway, a hotel and event space, by their friend Shane Saldivar, who was ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion. Ms. Bowen said she hoped their 107 vaccinated guests went home feeling less down about the state of the pandemic-addled world.
“Covid is terrible,” she said. “But it definitely played a part in us slowing down enough to appreciate each moment.”