With Their First Kiss, ‘Life Turned to Technicolor’

In October 2016, Ashley Lynn Louise attended a town-hall meeting given by Ladies Get Paid, an educational and networking organization devoted to the professional advancement of women. She was so moved by the event that after it ended she ran up to Claire Sarah Wasserman, its moderator, and told her, “I really want to help.”

“I exuberantly said ‘yes,’” recalled Ms. Wasserman, 35, a former marketing director who had started Ladies Get Paid a couple of months earlier and had been running it single-handedly.

Aside from finding Ms. Wasserman to be an “inspirational speaker,” Ms. Louise, who had recently broken up with her girlfriend, said she also thought, “I would love to date a girl like Claire one day,” and recounted saying as much to a friend sitting next to her during the meeting.

Ms. Louise, 33, who graduated from Cornell, was then working in business development at the video streaming platform Vimeo. She gravitated to Ladies Get Paid to help her sort out work issues like pay equity, and soon began meeting Ms. Wasserman, who graduated from Boston University, at coffee shops to chart ideas for the group.

At that point, Ms. Wasserman was living part-time in Maine with her husband, and part-time in an apartment she rented in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Ms. Louise also lived in the borough, in a studio in the Fort Greene neighborhood.

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With Ms. Louise’s help as a volunteer, Ms. Wasserman staged a tour of 19 cities across the country to host Ladies Get Paid events. When Ms. Wasserman began traveling after it kicked off in March 2017, Ms. Louise continued assisting in running the organization from home.

That April, she joined Ms. Wasserman on a trip to San Francisco. The purpose of the trip was mainly to meet with tech companies for sponsorship, but they also squeezed in a Ladies Get Paid meet-up one day, and afterward they headed to a sports bar by Oracle Park.

At the bar, “I started talking about other girls I was potentially dating,” Ms. Louise recalled. Ms. Wasserman stopped her short: “‘Sorry to interrupt, but can I kiss you?’” she asked.

Two weeks earlier, Ms. Wasserman and her husband had discussed trying out an open relationship. In her words, Ms. Wasserman had begun to notice “inklings of inklings” of feelings toward Ms. Louise over the previous months, and said that she told her husband, “I want to explore my sexuality more.”

As to Ms. Wasserman’s question about a kiss, Ms. Louise’s reply: “Sure go ahead.” In that moment, Ms. Wasserman said, “life turned to Technicolor.”

Ms. Louise, though, proceeded with “cautious optimism.”

“No. 1 rule for a lesbian,” Ms. Louise said, “Never fall for a straight girl.”

About a month later, after Ms. Wasserman returned from a trip to Florida with her husband, she met up with Ms. Louise at Lazy Point, a Montauk-themed bar in Lower Manhattan.

“I’m going to get a divorce,” she told her. “I want to be with you. I want to marry you.”

In May 2017, Ms. Wasserman moved into Ms. Louise’s tiny Fort Greene studio. By September 2017, Ms. Louise was ready to quit her day job at Vimeo and devote herself to Ladies Get Paid full-time; she is now its chief executive and has been named a co-founder by Ms. Wasserman.

The next year, the couple moved to a bigger place in Park Slope, Brooklyn. A year after that, they adopted a Scottish fold cat named Phoebe and, in December 2019, Ms. Wasserman’s divorce became finalized. Then, in June 2020, they relocated to Los Angeles.

Ms. Wasserman proposed in Maui, Hawaii, the following April, on a cliff next to a waterfall, a scene she described as a gay version of “The Bachelor” TV show finale.

On Jan. 15, they wed at the O’Donnell House at the Willows Inn in Palm Springs, Calif., before 75 vaccinated guests. Alessandra Biaggi, a Democratic New York State Senator and friend of the couple, who was ordained by the Universal Life Church, officiated at the ceremony, which ended with the couple each stepping on their own glass, inspired by the Jewish tradition.

“We’re partner-partners now,” said Ms. Wasserman.