Alexis Joondeph-Breidbart let Ryan Linden know before their first date that if he wanted to win her over, he should come armed with better-than-average conversational skills.
“The first thing she said to me when we met on Hinge was, ‘You can do better than that,’” Mr. Linden said. That was in response to a February 2015 message he sent her. “It said, basically, ‘Hey,’ so I followed up with something more personal,” he said. He told her his first kiss was when he was 8. She decided she could work with that.
Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart, 29, and Mr. Linden, 31, both were making sense of their lives and Manhattan’s dating scene from separate apartments in Murray Hill in 2015. He had moved to the city from his parents’ home in Plainview, N.Y., in 2011 after earning an accounting degree at SUNY Buffalo and starting a job as an associate at the accounting firm KPMG. She grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y., and was working in marketing at Avery Boardman, a Manhattan upholstery company, after graduating in 2015 with a psychology degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Her taunt on the dating app Hinge about expecting more than small talk served her well when they met in person after a week of messaging. At Abitino’s, a pizza place, they talked about similarities in their backgrounds. Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart’s mother, Dr. Wendy Joondeph, and Mr. Linden’s father, Dr. Scott Linden, both are psychologists. His response to a question she asked about his pilgrimage to the Firefly Music Festival left a lasting impression, too.
“I asked him if going to Firefly made him a hipster, and he took a serious pause,” she said. “He said, ‘I think I’m more of a nerd.’ I found his introspection at that moment really sweet and endearing.”
On their second date two weeks later, Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart showed Mr. Linden her newly acquired piano. Mr. Linden, who played guitar in the rock band the Liaisons at the time, taught her to play “Let It Be.” She sent a video of herself practicing; he was enchanted. By the end of that summer, they were seeing each other several times a week. “I felt like, OK, I am really fond of her,” he said. “I want to lock this down.”
This was even before he fell in love with her parents, Dr. Joondeph and Dr. Scott Breidbart, the chief medical officer of Affinity Health Plan. Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart, who earned a master’s degree in social work at N.Y.U. in 2020 and is now a public health adviser with NYC Health + Hospitals and a psychotherapist at Resilience Lab, is close with her family. “All through our first years of dating she was always finding excuses to go spend time with them and their cats in Chappaqua,” Mr. Linden said. Eventually, he understood why.
“It’s not just that they’re nice,” he said. “They’re great.” Plus, he felt he fit in with them. For example, Dr. Breidbart bakes as a hobby. “I learned to bake from him,” Mr. Linden said. “I also love to eat his baked goods.” By 2018, the year Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart moved into Mr. Linden’s Gramercy Park apartment, the two couples were regularly traveling and playing chess together. When Mr. Linden proposed on Nov. 14, 2019, Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart’s parents were over the moon. Before she said yes, “I had trouble even talking,” she said. At their apartment, “there were roses everywhere and he had made some attempt at mood lighting and put on our favorite song, ‘Setting Sail’ from the ‘Modern Love’ TV show.”
The following spring, they left Manhattan for Chappaqua to ride out the pandemic. The three weeks they planned to stay with Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart’s parents turned into 13 months. “Friends started asking me, ‘How is it living with the future in-laws?’” said Mr. Linden, now head of solutions delivery at Mural, a company that makes digital collaboration software. “I can honestly say it was awesome.”
On June 26, Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart and Mr. Linden were married at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., by their friend Ethan Sommer, who became a Universal Life Church minister for this event. All 150 guests were vaccinated. “We got really lucky with the timing of the vaccine rollout,” Ms. Joondeph-Breidbart said. Their compatibility with each other’s families, including Dr. Linden and Mr. Linden’s mother, Gail Linden, feels lucky, too. “You know that whole in-law joke thing?” Mr. Linden said. “That’s lost on us.”