On their first date, diving into a relationship

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For their first date, Stephanie Schulter and Halle Anne Bauer jumped together into the Atlantic at 17 degrees.

It was January 1, 2018 and they were taking part in the New Year’s dive organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. Ms. Schulter, a native of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, had been attending the event for years and invited Ms. Bauer to come.

“I wanted to impress him,” said Ms. Bauer, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “I wanted to look like I was down for it.”

The date, it turned out, came just hours after their first kiss, which happened the night before at a New Years party they had attended together as friends. “I knew when we made those New Year’s plans that I really wanted to kiss her that night,” Ms Bauer, 34, said. Ms. Schulter, 36, shared that desire.

By then, the two had known each other for six months. They first met at a bocce game in July 2017, shortly after Ms Bauer moved from her hometown to New York. Seeking to meet people, she contacted friends of friends living there. One of them, who was also a friend of Mrs. Schulter, invited her to the game.

Taken by Ms. Bauer at first sight, Ms. Schulter suggested they play on the same team. But “what I didn’t realize, or didn’t remember at the time, is that in pétanque, you are in front of your teammates,” Ms Schulter said. After a game spent glancing at each other from opposite sides of the pitch, they chatted more and hit it off.

During their first month of dating, the two traveled to Austin, Texas, where they realized how well they worked together after their canoe overturned in Lady Bird Lake.

Ms. Schulter “immediately came over to me,” Ms. Bauer said, “grabbed me by my shirt to make sure I was above water and paddled the two of us to shore. ” Any panic they felt dissipated when people in another dinghy asked if they were okay. “We burst out laughing,” Ms. Bauer said. “It was just this incredible moment where it could have been a real disaster, but we had fun with it.”

Ms Schulter said: “I remember coming back from that trip to Austin and thinking to myself, I think I’m in love with this person.”

About a year after they started dating, in December 2018, the couple moved into their current apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Ms. Bauer brought her cat, Wally, and they later adopted another cat, Karen.

A graduate of Hofstra University, Ms. Schulter works as a multimedia producer at Barclays Bank. Ms. Bauer, a graduate of Northwestern University and a master’s degree in history from Case Western Reserve University, teaches history at the Dwight School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Although they had lived together for more than a year by the time the pandemic hit in March 2020, spending the following months mostly cooped up in their apartment only made them more sure of a future together. That year, they began planning a mutual proposal that would involve exchanging rings during the 2021 Polar Bear Plunge at Coney Island.

“We wanted it to be equal,” Ms Bauer said of the proposal. “We didn’t want anyone to get on their knees. We didn’t like the symbolism of that.

When the official dive was canceled due to Covid, Ms Bauer and Ms Schulter decided to do it on their own. After proposing to each other, the two took the plunge together as brides.

On June 17, they were married at the Ladies Pavilion in Central Park. Their friend Amelia Irwin, who was ordained by American Marriage Ministries for the occasion, officiated the ceremony in front of 20 guests. Later, the newlyweds celebrated their union at a dinner party at Uva, an Italian wine bar on the Upper East Side, with 25 guests.

The couple, who take the surname Amore Bauer, which incorporates Ms Schulter’s great-grandmother’s maiden name, planned their wedding in six months. They had originally planned to marry in Sicily in July, but had to cancel the event after Ms Schulter’s mother underwent surgery in February.

Their home location, however, wasn’t entirely absent from their New York wedding: For their dinner, the brides found the perfect mille-feuille cake in Little Italy.

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