When Danielle Cooper first met her future wife in 2003, she had a boyfriend and zero idea she was queer. Through a fast friendship born from a genuine connection, these two women embarked in a game of cat and mouse that would last 14 years before the stars aligned for their romance to fully bloom.
I caught up with Cooper to talk about her beautiful queer covid wedding, the epic proposal and what it was like growing into her queer identity — and her happy beginning that started during a pandemic.
This couple found a way to get married in a beautiful, safe way
The plan was to get married in 2020. The original plan included getting legally married in New York before a destination wedding reception in Barbados that would include Cooper’s family heading down to the Caribbean for their first time to meet her fiancee’s family who lives out there.
“Due to covid, everything shut down,” says Cooper, who noted that the pair understood that they’d have to legally marry in the states before heading down either way since they wouldn’t be able to do it in the island country with or without the pandemic in full swing.
So, the pair had to pivot. With speculation that same-sex marriage rights could get rolled back with a certain current President in power south of the border, the couple committed to moving forward with the wedding. They felt like they had to make it happen. “We want to make sure we’re a union and we’re safe,” explains Cooper. “And we have the same rights as everybody else. We decided to still get legally married.”
10/10/2020 was still on. Cooper and her fiancee, a prisoner’s defense lawyer, sought out the judge her fiancee used to clerk for to help realize this dream. Because of covid, the judge had left her New York home and was staying in Martha’s Vineyard. The couple prepared for the trip.
“Martha’s Vineyard is the Black Hamptons of the United States,” explains Cooper, who noted that Massauchusettes was one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage. “We married in one of the most inclusive states in the country.”
It was small, it was intimate, it was beautiful. The pair exchanged their “I dos”.
Let’s talk about the perfect proposal that led to the wedding
Cooper asked the big question in January 2018 in London, England. “I wanted to give her a new memory and a new connection to what she considers her hometown,” says Cooper, who pulled her fiancee’s best friend into the adorable plan. The trio spent a day exploring the city before they found themselves on Tower Bridge.
“She had just happened to be walking in front of me,” Cooper says, describing the moments leading to the proposal — with cotton candy clouds and a beautiful sunset hanging in the sky. “Once we got to the middle, I just got down on one knee.”
I’m not crying, you are. And of course, the answer was yes.
Get ready for a love story that will give you all the feelings
So, if you’re like me, you’re wondering if anything has changed since 10/10/2020. “Nothing has changed,” says Cooper. “We had this foundation in this relationship for a long, long time. I don’t think a ring or a piece of paper could change that.”
The pair had known each other for 17 years before they tied the knot. They met in 2003, U-Hauled it freshmen year — but the sapphic romance wouldn’t ramp up until later.
“I had a boyfriend,” Cooper shares. “She used to try different ways to gain my affection. We became close really quickly.”
The connection was instant. But finding their footing romantically took time. Social acceptance around the LGBTQ+ community was in a darker place back then, Cooper was young and not out.
“I didn’t know I was on the spectrum or that I liked women,” says Cooper, who transferred schools as she was big into the basketball thing. “I came out after transferring — absence makes the heart grow fonder. It opens you up to things.”
After college, the two played a game of cat and mouse for a while. “It was just never the right timing for us to be in each other’s lives — we can’t just be friends,” says Cooper. “We can be friends at a distance, with the feelings we both had.”
Though Cooper knew she wanted to be with the woman she spent all freshman year with when she was 20, the two didn’t couple up or reconnect until 2017. Out and comfortable with her queer identity now, Cooper asked her future wife out to the Tribeca Film Festival to watch The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. The feelings came back.
A few months after that, the two started dating. “After a month of dating, I was like, yeah, I’m going to marry her.” Spoiler alert: She would end up doing exactly that.
The Taurus and Leo/Virgo cusp are now married and living in their brownstone in New York City.
Related: How the zodiac signs fall in love.