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Ashleigh Dopp and her pals were in their hotel pool in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, staring out to sea when something else caught their eye.
“We watched these guys at the pool bar,” Ms. Dopp said, “so we headed over to the bar.”
Among the men was Kelly MacDonald, whose group had checked into the Riu Santa Fe hotel days before Ms Dopp and her four girlfriends arrived in November 2016.
Someone in Mr. MacDonald’s party of seven wore a baseball cap with the word Toronto on it, prompting Ms. Dopp and her friends to break the ice by asking if he and his contingent were from Canada. (They did it.)
Ms. Dopp, 38, immediately stood out from Mr. MacDonald, 31. “There was almost a halo around her,” he said. But at first he was too shy to engage in conversation. “I couldn’t think of anything to say to him.”
Luckily, Ms. Dopp, a native of Buffalo, NY, was comfortable taking the lead. She asked Mr. MacDonald the question she asks any potential suitor: “What’s your favorite football team?” »
When Mr. MacDonald, a former high school hockey goaltender, said he didn’t have one, Ms. Dopp was relieved. “Oh well,” she remembers telling him. “It’s the Bills, then.”
Ms Dopp added: “I immediately told the girls I had dibs on him.”
For the next four days, the two did not leave each other. At one point, Mr MacDonald bought a Buffalo Bills sombrero from a vendor on the beach to impress Mrs Dopp, who was in disbelief at the feelings she was developing for a man she had known for less than a week.
“It was meant to be a little adventure,” she said. “Instead, there was an instant connection.”
But when their vacation ended, reality set in. Ms. Dopp was returning to Buffalo, where she was between jobs at the time, and Mr. MacDonald to Calgary, Alberta, where he lived and worked as a firefighter with the Rocky See county fire department.
As they exchanged tearful goodbyes in Mexico, “I didn’t know if I was ever going to see her again,” said MacDonald, who presented her with a Canadian dollar coin called a loony.
The coins had become a symbol of good luck in his country since the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, when a Canadian worker placed one under the ice of the Olympic rink before the games, and Canadian teams women’s and men’s hockey teams went on to win gold medals.
When he gave the loonie to Ms. Dopp, “I was hoping for the same chance for the gold medal,” said Mr. MacDonald.
After returning to their respective countries, the two men spoke on the phone every day. In January 2017, Ms. Dopp visited Mr. MacDonald and she made several more trips to Canada over the following months. While there, he took her for a hike in Banff National Park, took her to the honky-tonk restaurant Ranchman’s, which was featured in the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ and has since closed, and introduced Mrs. Dopp to his parents.
On each visit, Ms. Dopp also received a new dollar from Mr. MacDonald.
In April, he met his parents while visiting Buffalo. The previous month, Ms. Dopp got a job with the audio video company Exertis. Then named Stampede, it had offices all over the world, including Toronto. After training in her Buffalo office, she inquired about the possibility of working remotely in Canada, which the company accepted.
In November 2017, a year after they met in Cabo San Lucas, she had moved to Calgary. The following April, she moved into Mr. MacDonald’s house.
“The ducks were so lined up throughout everything,” Ms Dopp said. Even when they were distant, the relationship never felt like work, Mr MacDonald said. “It was so easy with us. We agree on everything, never argue and it’s never boring with her.
At the end of December 2019, the couple traveled to New York to celebrate the New Year with friends. On the morning of December 28, they were ice skating at Rockefeller Center when Mr. MacDonald surprised Ms. Dopp by proposing on the rink. As the people around them started cheering and taking photos, their friends, whom he had given advance notice, showed up to join in the celebration.
“All those lucky dollars I gave him paid off,” Mr. MacDonald said of Ms. Dopp accepting his proposal.
The following September, Ms. Dopp and Mr. MacDonald moved from his hometown to his. Ms Dopp described the process behind the decision as ‘a slow progression’, adding that, over the years they dated, ‘Kelly visited a band and came to like Buffalo’.
Mr MacDonald, who had never lived outside of Calgary, said at first ‘my parents were worried about health insurance and a job’ for him in the US. But they ultimately approved of the decision, he added, because “they knew how much we loved each other”. And the couple did not completely uproot themselves from Calgary: they kept their apartment in town as a place to stay during their visits.
Mr. MacDonald, who recently received a green card, plans to take the exam that prospective firefighters must pass to get a job with the Buffalo Fire Department. Ms. Dopp now works remotely as a business development representative for the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis.
Their wedding, originally planned for 2021, was postponed to 2022 due to the pandemic. But from the start, Ms Dopp said the two knew they wanted to celebrate “where it all started” in Mexico.
On January 21, they were married at the City Clerk’s Office in Tonawanda, New York, and on January 28, they had their second wedding at the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort in Cabo San Lucas. .
In Mexico, Matthew Baudo, a friend of the couple, hosted a ceremony on the beach in front of 65 guests, mostly vaccinated. They were Ms. Dopp’s mother and Mr. MacDonald’s mother; their fathers were not present due to travel and Covid concerns.
Ahead of the ceremony, one of Ms Dopp’s bridesmaids presented the bride with a bracelet from Mr MacDonald, along with a note that read: ‘The first time we said goodbye it made us broke my heart and told you, ‘One day we would walk the streets of gold. I don’t really know what I mean by that, but I knew it would be anywhere we walked together.
Mr. Baudo, who arrived at the beach in a dress with a Canadian flag on one sleeve and an American flag on the other, said in his remarks: “I don’t think anyone here is surprised that two people who love passionately traveling and having fun managed to find someone from another country while visiting a country neither of them was a citizen of.
Afterwards, a reception was held at the resort’s Sky Pool Aquabar & Grill restaurant. Guests arrived to find shots of tequila sunrises in Himalayan salt glasses and, during an hour of cocktails, enjoyed burgers served in wrappers that read MacDonalds.
“It was truly our party in heaven,” Ms Dopp said.
Reflecting on their relationship, the bride said: “Who would have thought that a firefighter and hockey goaltender from Alberta and a beer rep and die-hard Buffalo Bills fan would ever make this work with all the chances and the distance between us?”
When January 21, 2022
Or The Tonawanda, NY City Clerk’s Office
Inside and outside Ms. Dopp and Mr. MacDonald have kept their legal union low-key. Both arrived at the city clerk’s office in sweatshirts and jeans. “It was signing the form, ‘I do, I do,'” Ms Dopp said. “We didn’t want to make a thing out of it.”
Fortune teller When Mr MacDonald bought the Buffalo Bills sombrero after their first meeting, he asked the friends she was traveling with to sign it. One, Natalie Frost, wrote, “Go Bills and see you at the wedding.” At their celebration in Cabo San Lucas, they purchased a second Bills sombrero and asked Ms. Frost, who served as bridesmaid, to sign it again. “How did you see the future?” Ms. Dopp remembers asking her.