The Surprise Proposal That She (Kind of) Knew Was Coming

It wasn’t long after James Yihua Xi and Suzanna S. Sone arrived at the Washington dive bar he had suggested for their first date in February 2019 when Mr. Xi realized the location was all wrong.

“She was amazing, so I felt like she deserved a much nicer bar than the one I took her to,” he said.

Soon they had relocated to a speakeasy of sorts that has caviar on its small-plates menu, where Mr. Xi spent the next five hours chatting with Ms. Sone, who had matched with him days earlier through the League.

“He was actually my first date on a dating app,” she said.

At 2 a.m., he walked her back to her place in Washington’s Chinatown, where each then lived, and they shared a first kiss at Ms. Sone’s front door. Before the night ended, they had agreed to go out again the following day.

On their second date, the pair, both children of immigrants — her parents came to this country from South Korea, his from China — fell into another deep conversation.

“We talked about our childhood experiences, how our parents had sacrificed so much so that we could be successful and that work is not the be-all and end-all,” she said. “At the core, we want the same basic things in life.”

Though the two found that their upbringings and outlooks on life overlap, they discovered that their personalities are less aligned.

“He’s consistent, very levelheaded, patient, kind, very hardworking and all of these characteristics that I lack but really admire,” Ms. Sone, 29, said.

“She has such a magnetic personality — she’s so bright and happy and fun and really cute,” Mr. Xi, 32, said. “I’d never met anyone else like her.”

Two days later came a third date, after which both knew they had found someone special.

A graduate of the University of Southern California, Ms. Sone received both a law degree and a master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown. She is now an associate in the Washington office of Clifford Chance, a British law firm. Mr. Xi, who graduated from Cornell and received a law degree from Stanford, is a litigation associate in the Washington office of the Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

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The couple became engaged in October 2020, in Hawaii, her home state. They had arrived months earlier; she was working remotely and Mr. Xi was between jobs following a yearlong term as a law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

“I was going fishing every day, just having a grand old time,” said Mr. Xi, who grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati.

They by then had discussed a proposal. But knowing that Ms. Sone craved an element of surprise, Mr. Xi had been outwardly noncommittal as he concocted an elaborate plan.

“She wanted two things,” he said. “She wanted it be a surprise,” but also “she wanted to look good for pictures: Cute outfit, all her makeup done, and surprise her at the same time.”

On the day of their engagement, Mr. Xi had a bracelet delivered to Ms. Sone in the morning, along with a note that said he planned to propose that day and that he had arranged hair and nail appointments for her and some friends, along with lunch at one of her favorite restaurants and a limo ride to a hotel.

At the hotel, Ms. Sone was shown a video he had made, which featured well wishes from as many as 50 of her friends. To put it together, Mr. Xi had downloaded contacts from her cellphone late one night, while she was asleep.

Afterward, the limo transported Ms. Sone to the Lanikūhonua Cultural Institute in Kapolei, Hawaii, where Mr. Xi was waiting to propose. She was blindfolded, he said, until she was about a foot from him.

“It was awesome,” Ms. Sone said.

They were married June 23 by Justice Kavanaugh in his Supreme Court chambers. On July 3, the couple had a larger wedding celebration with roughly 100 guests at the Castell de Sant Marçal, a castle turned events space just outside Barcelona, where their friend Trevor Ezell led them in a nondenominational ceremony.

The newlyweds, who now live together in Washington’s Logan Circle neighborhood, are taking the surname Sone Xi.

“We really complement each other and we’re very, very different people,” the bride said. “What’s magical about our relationship is that we’ve made it work.”