On Their First Date, Plunging into a Relationship

For their first date, Stephanie Schulter and Halle Anne Bauer jumped into the Atlantic together in 17-degree weather.

It was Jan. 1, 2018, and they were participating in the New Year’s Day plunge hosted by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. Ms. Schulter, a native of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, had been attending the event for years and invited Ms. Bauer to come along.

“I wanted to impress her,” Ms. Bauer, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, said. “I wanted to look like I was down for this.”

The date, it turned out, came just hours after their first kiss, which happened the night before at a New Year’s Eve party they had attended together as friends. “I knew when we made those New Year’s plans that I really wanted to kiss her that night” Ms. Bauer, 34, said. Ms. Schulter, 36, shared that desire.

By then, the two had known each other for six months. They first met at a bocce game in July 2017, shortly after Ms. Bauer moved from her hometown to New York City. Looking to meet people, she reached out to friends of friends living locally. One of them, who was also a friend of Ms. Schulter, invited her to the game.

Taken by Ms. Bauer at first sight, Ms. Schulter suggested they play on the same team. But “what I didn’t realize, or I didn’t remember at the time, was that in bocce you’re across the court from your teammates,” Ms. Schulter said. After a game spent shooting glances at each other from opposite sides of the court, they chatted more and hit it off.

Within their first month of dating, the two went to Austin, Texas, where they realized how well they work together after their canoe flipped over in Lady Bird Lake.

Ms. Schulter “immediately came over to me,” Ms. Bauer said, “picked me up by my shirt to make sure I was above water and paddled us both to shore.” Any panic they felt melted away when people in another canoe asked if they were OK. “We burst into laughter,” Ms. Bauer said. “It was just this amazing moment where that could have been a real disaster, but we had fun with it.”

Said Ms. Schulter, “I remember returning from that trip to Austin and being like, I think I’m in love with this person.”

About a year after they started dating, in December 2018, the couple moved into their current apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Ms. Bauer brought her cat, Wally, and they later adopted another cat, Karen.

A graduate of Hofstra University, Ms. Schulter works as a multimedia producer at Barclays Bank. Ms. Bauer, who graduated from Northwestern University and has a master’s degree in history from Case Western Reserve University, teaches history at the Dwight School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Though they had lived with each other for more than a year by the time the pandemic arrived in March 2020, spending the next several months mostly holed up in their apartment only made them more certain about a future together. That year, they began to plan a mutual proposal that would involve exchanging rings at the 2021 Polar Bear plunge in Coney Island.

“We wanted it to be equal,” Ms. Bauer said of the proposal. “We did not want anyone to get down on one knee. We didn’t like the symbolism of that.”

When the official plunge was canceled because of Covid, Ms. Bauer and Ms. Schulter decided to do it on their own. After each proposed to the other, the two jumped into the water together as fiancées.

On June 17, they married at the Ladies Pavilion in Central Park. Their friend Amelia Irwin, who was ordained by American Marriage Ministries for the occasion, officiated at the ceremony before 20 guests. Later, the newlyweds celebrated their union at a dinner at Uva, an Italian wine bar on the Upper East Side, with 25 guests.

The couple, who are taking the surname Amore Bauer, which incorporates Ms. Schulter’s great-grandmother’s maiden name, organized their wedding in six months. They had initially planned to marry in Sicily this July, but had to cancel that event after Ms. Schulter’s mother underwent surgery in February.

Their original location, though, was not entirely absent from their wedding in New York: For their dinner, the brides found the perfect mille-feuille cake in Little Italy.