On Alexandria Angco’s 28th birthday in September 2022, she declared that she would not date anyone for a whole year. Dating wasn’t going so well for her, and she wanted to focus on herself instead.
Twelve days later, she met Christian Chai Chua in person for the first time. And five months later, they were engaged.
“I failed,” she said of her goal. But ultimately, that turned out to be a good thing.
The two first met on Zoom in August 2020 at an annual conference organized by Singles for Christ, a group for young Catholic adults.
Ms. Angco, who is from Toronto and goes by Ali, and Mr. Chua, who is from Vancouver, British Columbia, who goes by Ian, saw each other again at subsequent virtual events hosted by the group, though neither thought much of the other. In September 2022, the organization held an in-person conference in Vancouver, its first since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Ms. Angco, 29, flew in for the event.
At the conference, Mr. Chua, also 29, attended a personal development workshop for which Ms. Angco was the facilitator. “The workshop was done so well,” Mr. Chua said. “I was so impressed. I was just like, this girl’s funny and she’s smart.”
During a Sunday Mass on the last day of the conference, Mr. Chua sat next to her at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Burnaby, a town near Vancouver. “Wow, this girl is beautiful,” he recalled thinking.
He invited a group of friends from the conference to go stargazing nearby that evening. Throughout the night, Ms. Angco was trying to be a wing woman for a friend who had a crush on Mr. Chua. But she accidentally charmed him instead. Her jokes made him laugh so loud that his friends warned him to quiet down to avoid complaints from neighbors.
The next morning, he called her and asked her out on a date.
“For some reason, immediately I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go,’” she said.
She called her friend who had a crush on him, who encouraged her to go on the date and said there were no hard feelings.
That night, Mr. Chua packed a blanket, a bag of chips and hot chocolate in his car. He picked her up, and the two went stargazing in Porteau Cove Provincial Park. It was pitch-black, and they sat in the dark for three hours talking about their upbringings, their families and their dreams. “My brain was so engaged,” Ms. Angco said.
In an effort to get to know other people and better understand what they love about themselves, Mr. Chua likes to ask one question in particular: “Why are you worth knowing?”
“I was like, what a good question,” Ms. Angco thought. “I’ve never written about that in my journal.”
Her flight to Toronto was at 5 p.m. the next day, but they made time for a second date at the Vancouver Art Gallery. After reflecting on the question he had asked her the day before, she brought it up again. That excited Mr. Chua.
“It’s such a special question because knowing somebody knows their value and their worth — it just means the world to me,” he said. After she returned to Toronto, they stayed in touch and talked on FaceTime almost every day.
That November, before a Singles for Christ retreat in Holtwood, Pa., they made it official. During Sunday Mass, she whispered to him, “I’m ready to be your girlfriend.” And he whispered back coyly, “So, you want to be my girlfriend?”
Ms. Angco is a senior product designer at Shopify, an e-commerce company. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology. Mr. Chua is a concierge and bellman at Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center. He received a tourism diploma from the Canadian Tourism College.
In February 2023, Mr. Chua proposed to Ms. Angco in a gondola at Mount Habrich in Squamish, British Columbia. On Jan. 6, they were married at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver in front of 115 guests. The Rev. Pablo Santa Maria officiated.
The Filipino couple incorporated the coin, veil and cord tradition into their ceremony, during which they exchanged coins as a symbol of their commitment to each other and their community. A veil was draped over their shoulders, and a cord was wrapped around them to symbolize their union.
The reception, held at Brass Fish Tavern, featured a kissing bingo game. Ms. Angco had printed giant bingo cards filled with tasks that guests had to complete to get the couple to kiss.
“It was just laughter all around,” Ms. Angco said.