The day after their first date in February 2021, Damian Courtney Dizárd surprised Conswella Gilmore with a silver ring from David Yurman.
“Like the younger generation says, I wanted to shoot my shot,” Mr. Dizárd, 51, said. He then invited her to Miami for his birthday trip the month after, and Ms. Gilmore, 50, agreed to go.
They had been talking on the phone at all hours of the day for four months. “We built up a friendship, and then I felt comfortable enough” to make a move, said Mr. Dizárd, who goes by Chip.
They first met on Instagram in November 2020, when Mr. Dizárd went on Instagram Live and spoke about the importance of dreaming big. Ms. Gilmore had been following Mr. Dizárd, a wedding and event photographer, and his words resonated with her. She messaged him and they talked on the app for weeks. Then they moved their conversation over to phone. “We were talking about everything,” she said.
They had their first date at Woodmont Grill in Bethesda, Md., where he asked questions about her impression of him, such as “How did you feel when you first saw me?” He playfully took her phone and recorded her responses. (These days, they look at those photos and videos and reminisce on the good times from that night.)
The next day, they met at the David Yurman store in Washington and decided to browse around. Ms. Gilmore had her eye on a silver ring, but then her mother called and she stepped out of the store to pick up the phone. When she walked back in, Mr. Dizárd said, “I bought you the ring.”
Astonished, Ms. Gilmore explained to him that he had misunderstood and that she had meant to buy the ring for herself. But it was already boxed up — and then he mentioned the Miami trip to her.
When she agreed to go, he bought her flight ticket. On his birthday, March 23, 2021, she treated him to dinner at Red South Beach, a steakhouse.
That June, Ms. Gilmore was preparing to make her annual visit to the grave of her late husband, who died in 2014 and to whom she was married for 15 years. Mr. Dizárd offered to go with her. He drove her there and stayed by his car while she went to the burial site.
“He was just there for me, for support,” Ms. Gilmore said. “It meant a whole lot.” Every year since, he has remembered that date in June and has taken her there.
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In February 2023, on Super Bowl Sunday, Mr. Dizárd proposed at a friend’s house. Ms. Gilmore had been expecting a typical football night, but when she stepped inside the house, she heard her favorite song, “Forever” by Robert Glasper, playing and her entire family cheering. He grabbed her arm and said: “Babe, it’s happening. It’s your proposal.”
Ms. Gilmore graduated from Bowie State University in Bowie, Md., with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She is a human resources program manager for the federal government. Mr. Dizárd graduated from Coppin State University in Baltimore with a bachelor’s degree in English. His previous marriage ended in divorce.
On Jan. 14, the couple were married at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in front of 100 guests. The Rev. Phillip Jones officiated, and his wife, Minister Daphne Jones, also led the ceremony.
Instead of a first look, the couple had a “first touch.” While Ms. Gilmore was in her hotel suite getting ready to put on her gown by Esé Azénabor, Mr. Dizárd stood outside in the hallway — they could not see each other. They reached out and grasped each other’s arms, and he said, “Are you ready?” Ms. Gilmore, bubbling with emotion, cried some of her makeup away and had to touch it up.
Ms. Gilmore had eight honorary bridesmaids, all of whom she met through an organization that she founded in November 2015 called Premature Widow, which helps widows process their grief.
“They’ve been just so inspired by us because it shows hope and that there is love after loss,” Ms. Gilmore said. “I feel honored to have them watch the journey.”
Instead of a flower girl, a ballerina tossed florals as she twirled her way down the aisle during the ceremony. In the reception that followed, a saxophonist played ’90s R&B, and guests sang along to songs like “Can We Talk” by Tevin Campbell and “Love” by Musiq Soulchild.
The two are natives of the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area — known as the DMV— and now live in Laurel, Md. As fans of Go-Go music, they decided to be introduced at their reception to “Da Butt,” a classic ’80s Go-Go song by the band E.U. The lead singer and bassist, Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliott, performed the song live on the dance floor.
“I wanted to make sure Connie had the wedding of her dreams,” Mr. Dizárd said. “She deserved it.”