By Kaitlin Menza
When they matched on Bumble in May 2019, Luke and Alanna were too focused on each other’s photos to notice or care that they lived in separate states. “He had all these bright, colorful photos of him traveling, and I love to travel,” she says. Immediately, she wanted to chat about the locations she saw in his pictures. Meanwhile, Luke was drawn straight to Alanna’s “really big” smile, and the fact that “she just looked like a very fun person,” he says.
Their text conversation flowed easily, from places they wanted to see to both growing up around horses. At the time, Alanna was finishing up college in Charlotte, N.C., and Luke was a pilot based in Kentucky. Luke happened to fly through Alanna’s city regularly, which is when they were within matching radius on Bumble. She enjoyed chatting to Luke, but didn’t think too much about whether the pair could really date—or even meet up. “It was fun, but what were the odds we’d ever hang out?” Alanna says. “I couldn’t wrap my head around how this would ever work.” For his part, Luke really did try to set a date. “A couple of times I asked her if she wanted to grab a bite while I was on my layover,” Luke says. “Finally, I got desperate, like, ‘Hey, I can buy you coffee and pay for short-term parking?’” Busy with graduation and planning a post-college life, Alanna felt alright about letting their conversation fade out. “We kept trying to hang out, and it just never aligned,” she shrugs now.
But the pair still followed each other on social media. “There would be times where she was out, looking like she was having fun—always with that big smile,” Luke remembers. Alanna, on the other hand, felt a little bit of a pang when she’d observe from afar how compatible they seemed; she loved following along with where Luke’s pilot schedule had taken him, or seeing how much time he spent with his family. “Even though I’d never met Luke in person, seeing him on social media made me feel like I knew him so well,” she says. They kept watching over the years, and into the pandemic, as each settled down into a serious relationship with someone else.
In early 2022, Luke’s relationship ended, and he noticed that Alanna had been posting from Mexico for a strangely long time. “There weren’t really any pictures with her boyfriend. I didn’t want to go in and step on that, but I was genuinely curious why she was there,” he says. The truth was, two years into the pandemic, Alanna had decided to take advantage of her remote job for a national bank—and get over her own breakup—by working amid some sand and sun. When Luke messaged her, she responded immediately, and they fell right back into easy conversation.
The thrill of reconnecting so naturally after three years—and finding themselves single at the same time—encouraged them to finally meet in person. In March 2022, when Alanna was back from Mexico, they decided to meet in Charlotte. “She picked me up from the airport as early as 8 or 9 in the morning, and she dropped me off around 10 at night,” Luke says. “She was even more gorgeous in person and gave me the biggest hug.” With only 14 or so hours to be together, “We crammed what felt like a year’s worth of dating into one day,” says Alanna of the schedule, which included breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a stroll in the park, and hanging at a coffee shop. Luke snuck a text to his friends at one point: “I’m on a date in Charlotte and I think this may be my future wife,” he wrote. “Mark it down.”
Alanna had fired off a similar text to her best friend that day, feeling totally “head over heels,” and pretty sure she’d found someone special. But after the date was over, panic set in: she’d just ended a long-term relationship and had been thoroughly enjoying her professional and romantic freedom. She felt even more compelled than usual to travel, eager to book more trips despite several already on her calendar. “I thought, I need to travel right now, because I’m about to be tied down to this guy,” she says. While she was away, the pair spoke on the phone every day.
When she returned, she and Luke planned their next in-person meetup—and since they were both living with their parents states apart, it had to be a pretty serious one. After their second date, Luke came to Alanna’s house in North Carolina and stayed with her parents for three days. Then, Alanna went to his house in Kentucky and stayed with his parents. On one of those dates, Luke suggested he add Alanna to his travel benefits, meaning she could fly for free on standby on his airline. Her reaction was to burst into tears. “Basically, you’re adding someone as pretty much your spouse, and you can’t change it for a year,” Alanna explains. It was a huge gesture, especially because they weren’t officially in a committed relationship. “I was crying because I was a little bit scared inside,” she says. Luke tried to calm her down by swearing there was no pressure—he just wanted to give their undeniable connection a solid shot, finally. Now, a year later, he cracks, “I was just trying to get her to Kentucky more easily!”
Starting in April 2022, the couple embarked on a year of “crazy, full-blown travel,” as Alanna joined Luke’s work trips to Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and more, doing her own job remotely the whole time. ”We would have these little mini vacations all around the U.S.,” she says. We would end up in a random city for days on end, and have crazy amounts of fun there.”
Over the course of these adventures, Luke’s steadfast belief in their relationship—and the realization that they shared similar senses of humor, love languages, values, and aspirations in life—convinced Alanna to finally relax into the love she’d found.
They moved on to international trips in the fall, to Turkey and South Korea, then spent three weeks across Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and the island of Zanzibar. And even though they’d only been together six months, it was in Uganda in September 2022 that Luke proposed. “I would always criticize anybody who got engaged to somebody that quickly, and here I was doing it!” he says. “But I just knew she was the right one.” He’d spoken with his family and Alanna’s, who were all hugely supportive, which made the decision even easier.
He carried the ring across East Africa, waiting for the perfect moment, which he found on an afternoon stroll through a village near their hotel. “He was just speaking freely, off the cuff, professing his love for me and I was just ugly crying,” Alanna remembers. When a handful of locals realized what was going on, they celebrated with the couple, throwing flowers and seeds. “I could not believe it—it was just so surreal,” says Alanna. “It was perfect.”
The couple tied the knot in fall 2023, getting married in the morning and leaving for their honeymoon in southeast Asia that same afternoon. Said Alanna: “The world is at our fingertips.”