A Tinder Moment, a Gift From OkCupid and a Bumble Officiant
Posted July 6, 2018 7:43 p.m. EDT
Before their wedding in November at a seaside resort outside Ogunquit, Maine, Farah and Michael Walsh were finalizing their guest list. Of the 200 people on their A-list of invitees, one name stood out: OkCupid.
The couple met on the online dating platform four years ago. They went on their first date at a bar near Grand Central Terminal after exchanging messages about their mutual love of snowboarding, their families and their jobs. Farah Walsh is director of sales for Bliss, a spa and skin care company, while Michael Walsh is a foreman for Metro-North Railroad.
Now that they were engaged, they wanted their matchmaker at the wedding. “If I had met Mike through a friend or colleague or acquaintance, I would have invited them to my wedding,” Farah Walsh said. “So why not invite the people behind the scenes of OkCupid who made it all happen?”
They addressed a random invitation to the team with a note saying they had met through the site and couldn’t thank them enough for making the connection. Although no one from OkCupid attended their wedding, they were shocked to not only get a response card back but a baking dish from Crate & Barrel listed on their registry. “I work in a headquarters, I know how busy it can get,” Farah Walsh said. “So for them to take the time to send well-wishes, that is lovely.”
The couple are hardly alone. Across the country, those who connected through online dating apps are including the tech companies responsible for their meeting in their weddings. Some like the Walshes address invitations to company offices. Tinder estimates it gets 50 notes a week; Bumble said it receives them daily.
Others ask the startups to make their offices available for proposals (it is the closest place resembling where the couple met); to sponsor parts of the wedding (imagine a Tinder-branded photo booth); even to officiate ceremonies. “I’ve been asked to marry people so many times, I got ordained to do it,” said Alex Williamson, head of brand for Bumble. “I don’t really find it so weird. It’s exciting to be part of a brand that people are proud of. They met the love of their life on it.”
In November, Williamson traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, to marry Olivia Canlas, 36, and Lee Alexander, 37, 141 days after they met on Bumble. Wanting to share their story with family and friends, they reached out to the company. “Initially we thought it would be awesome if Bumble had some presence like branded cookies or Champagne glasses,” said Canlas. “Obviously it escalated. Our guests loved it.”
Similarly, when Daniel Rubin, a 31-year-old criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, was proposing to Nikki Rubin, 26, who is studying to be a speech pathologist, he knew Tinder had to be part of the equation. “We were always known in our friendship circle as the longest lasting relationship to meet on Tinder, and we wanted to embrace that,” Daniel Rubin said. “We wouldn’t have even met if it wasn’t for the app.”
So he asked the company if he could pop the question in their West Hollywood, California, headquarters. He told Nikki Rubin he had to look at office space for a friend. The doors opened, and she saw a huge sign with their Tinder profile pictures and the heart sign signifying a match. “This was the last thing I could have expected,” she said. “It was super original, creative, and cool. It’s so much part of our identity.”
For this couple, their friends and family understood how much they value their online dating provider. “When we tell them our engagement story, people always respond with, ‘Oh man, I need to get on Tinder,'” Daniel Rubin said.
Farah Walsh, however, remembers her finance’s grandparents being very confused about why a random person from a corporation was getting a prime spot on the guest list. “They just didn’t understand it,” she said. “They thought it was meant for family and friends, and why would we invite strangers? It took a lot of convincing on our end. We had to explain that we just feel very, very connected to them, and we have so much gratitude.”
Dating platforms are trying to navigate this demand from users.
“We do not take the invitations lightly,” said Rosette Pambakian, head of brand marketing and communications for Tinder. “We send Champagne, we send personalized gifts. The stories are moving, so we selectively do what we can.”
Bumble has two staff members whose duties include responding to engaged couples who reach out. The company may send wine flutes, flowers, or gifts from registries. It also has a budget to give select users extravagant wedding-related experiences. Bumble recently planned and paid for a proposal in Brooklyn that involved bringing the woman into a winter-themed warehouse and pelting her with fake snowballs from behind trees planted for the event.
OkCupid sends framed copies of the first messages pairs exchanged over the platform “If we know they talked about wine or connected because they both volunteer for the ACLU, we will also buy them a case they love or donate to the charity in their name,” said Melissa Hobley, the brand’s chief marketing officer.
“There is a little bit of a small business move in all of this,” Hobley said. “What better proof that a dating app can help you find your person than a beautiful story of exactly that? And people talk. They say, ‘Look what I got today from OkCupid.'” As their clientele matures, these enterprises are also looking ahead to the next step: babies. If couples reach out to Bumble with news of a pregnancy, they will send presents including baby beanies, onesies, blankets, and socks, all with Bumble’s hive logo. Tinder already has a name for the next generation: Tinder Tots.
The Walshes are expecting their first child. “We were talking about it, and we will probably invite OkCupid to the baby shower, and we will absolutely send pictures and another thank you note and to let them know we are pregnant,” she said. “We might even end up making the baby shower have a cupid theme.”