She was in New Orleans, her very first EFOC, looking to help her best friend celebrate her bachelorette party. It was the same year that Girls Trip came out.
“We were just trying to live our best girl trip life,” she recalls.
Christopher Coy was in town to have some fun. He’d moved to Atlanta from DC a month before the Festival. Fresh out of a long-term relationship, his only plans were to people watch with his friends and to continue to “sow my royal oats.”
“I was down there with everybody that goes out to ESSENCE,” he says. “So we were there to hang out, see pretty Black women.”
He saw the prettiest woman of all, Kathleen, when Christopher and his friends decided to stop by the Dragon Den after a night of bar-hopping.
“I’m walking past the bar and I look back and I’m like, ‘Oh, she’s pretty. I should go talk to her.’ And I had been drinking tequila, so I had some liquid courage,” he recalls. “I went up to her and she had just ordered a shot at the bar and I knocked it over. And I was like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. Can I buy you a new one?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, as long as you buy my best friend one.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, absolutely. And what are you guys here celebrating?’ So, it was a great segue in. And by the way, I knocked her shot over on purpose.”
What could have been a nuisance — a man knocking over your drink to get your attention — ended up working for her.
“I was attracted to him,” she says. “We started talking at the bar, and then it was like, wow. So, I was like, ‘Oh, let’s go outside and talk.’ I was interested beyond just getting a shot from him.”
Christopher would stay close to Kathleen and her friends for the rest of the night, the two meeting up again the next evening at Harrah’s, sharing a kiss on the dance floor. She, like him, had recently ended a long-term relationship, so both parties believed they were just enjoying one another’s company while in New Orleans. However, the energy between them was too strong to come to an end in a few days.
“Something about him just really drew him to me, the conversations we had,” she says. “And he just seemed so fun and adventurous.”
The only problem was that after Festival ended and he returned to Atlanta to get back to work as a sports agent, she to California to get back to her work as a private chef and her catering company, for five months, Kathleen worked on a cruise ship. They didn’t let the long distance hold them back though. In fact, it was during their time apart that they became an important fixture in each other’s lives, with constant conversations on WhatsApp and FaceTime, him helping her handle things she couldn’t while away.
“Realistically, early in relationships you potentially get physical too fast, but essentially with us, we had a lot of just pure communication,” he says. “That was fun.”
“The times we were talking on the phone, it was kind of like high school puppy love almost,” she adds. “Like, ‘Oh my God, I miss you.’ How do we miss each other? We just met. It was really crazy.”
Off the ship, the two met up briefly in New York City while she had some time off from filming Chopped. They tested whether or not the chemistry they originally had in NOLA, that grew through long-distance correspondences, would be there again in person. It was.
From there, the two withstood both parties’ consistent travels for work and fell in love, eventually moving in together, relocating to NYC. More than two years after they first locked eyes at Dragon Den, he asked for her hand in marriage on New Year’s Eve of 2020. She said yes.
“Since the day that we met, we just made sense together, in terms of the way we move in the world, the way we think about things,” she says. “Even our jobs, we’re both entrepreneurs, so it takes a certain kind of person to understand that a little bit. But to be able to have someone that allowed me to thrive in that way and even wanted me to do more, or wasn’t scared of me maybe not making enough money that month because the potential for the next month is better. He always just made me feel very secure and like he was going to take care of me.”
They agreed to do life together right before said life completely changed for them — and the rest of the world. Amid COVID, their plans for a 300-person wedding fell through. In addition to that, the couple found out they were expecting their first child together. Instead of holding out and waiting for an end to COVID, and inspired by the fact that they were bringing life into the world, they decided to marry two months after finding out about the pregnancy. Kathleen planned a ceremony and celebration in her parents’ backyard in Moreno Valley, Calif. They bought many of the decor items they would need off of Amazon, splurging only on their attire for the day.
“He got a custom suit, and I got a dress that I was not going to get, because I was like, ‘Oh, it’s so simple in the backyard.’ He’s like, “No, you should look your nicest and feel your greatest.’ I’m really glad that he pushed me to do that, because I was definitely about to get a $200 internet dress.”
Their big day took place in November 2020, the microwedding of 20 people (and many others on Zoom) feeling as elegant as any big wedding they could have put together.
“You would think we spent a ton of money,” Christopher recalls. “I didn’t always see her vision, but it worked out perfectly.”
And it became all the more memorable because they used the event to announce that they were expecting.
Almost two years later, the couple has a daughter, named Nola, named for where they met. For her first birthday in May, they threw a Mardi Gras bash because of their beginnings, with a second line band, king cake and more.
Nola, like her jetsetting parents, has traveled to nine states already, and the couple hope to take her to New Orleans for ESSENCE Festival when she’s older.
“New Orleans and Essence obviously holds a very special place in our hearts,” Kathleen says.
“I go down there probably four times a year. So, Nola will definitely know that culture very well and know that city in and out,” Christopher adds. “She’s definitely very much so ingrained in where her parents met. And we have to tell her this amazing love story every year. It will be like, ‘Oh my God, dad, I know this story so well.’”
As the couple prepare to celebrate two years married this fall, see photos from their chic microwedding below!
Planning & Design: Me & @kamodah
Venue: O’Brien-Price residence Officiant: @pushingopportunity
Bride’s Attire: @essence_of_australia; Tailor: Elizabeth Tailoring in Moreno Valley
Bride’s Shoes: @aquazzura
Groom’s Attire: @grayscaleic
Groom’s Shoes: @louboutinworld