By Ashley Edwards Walker
Celeste and Corey both grew up in families that adhered to old school gender norms. “Both of our moms are 100% dependent on our dads due to their old-fashioned, traditional lifestyle mentality,” says Celeste. And from their first meeting, they were determined to do things their own way.
When they matched on Bumble in January 2018—Celeste’s first day living in Austin, Texas—it was obvious they had a lot in common. For one thing, they’d each included photos on their profiles showing off their athletic sides (jujitsu for him, gymnastics for her) and posing with cute dogs. And, it quickly became clear, they also shared an affinity for spontaneity. When Corey asked if Celeste wanted to meet up for after-work drinks near his downtown office that same day, she went along with it. “I was like, ‘Well, I’m already in the area with my dog. I’ve got nobody else to talk to.’ So I sent him my number and we hit it off from there.”
What started as happy hour turned into a multi-hour food and drink tour. Corey took Celeste to a handful of his favorite spots around the city. They ate queso, tossed back margaritas, and video chatted with one of Celeste’s friends. “It was a long date,” he says. “There were a lot of opportunities to see each other’s personalities.” Including, it turned out, their shared desire to have a more modern, equal relationship than either of their parents had—specifically, one with two breadwinners. “That’s something we talked about on our first date,” Celeste confirms, explaining that neither wanted an unequal power balance in their relationship. “He’s very much like, ‘I don’t want you to be [in this relationship] because you have to be here, because you’re stuck or can’t support yourself. I want you to be here because you want to be here.”
But despite hitting it off immediately, they didn’t jump into a relationship right away. Celeste was just getting to know Austin and building up her business as a hairstylist, and Corey wasn’t looking for a serious relationship either. So they continued dating, but casually, with both agreeing to see other people as well. “Being open to dating other people at the beginning of our relationship was a new concept for me,” says Celeste. “I have three sisters, and from how I grew up, you find your person, get married, have kids, and that’s just what you do.” So trying something different with Corey was “kind of nice.”
It wasn’t until a few months later, in May, when Corey invited Celeste to be his plus-one at a wedding in his hometown of Dallas that they decided to fully commit to each other. Witnessing public proclamations of love in beautiful settings often has that effect on couples. For Celeste and Corey, there was also the added layer of Corey introducing Celeste to his brother and sister-in-law. “We’ve shared many, many fun moments,” says Corey. “But after that wedding, it was a special time. I was like, ‘Now I’m in it.” Celeste agrees. When they got back to their rental house after the party, they had “that defining moment,” she says. “We were talking, and I was like, ‘Alright, we need to either figure out what we’re doing or call it quits here.’”
They didn’t waste time after that. In October 2018, they moved in together and began navigating their roles within their shared home. Growing up, both of their moms were responsible for the housekeeping. But in their home together, it’s Corey who does most of the cooking and the cleaning. They also continue to push each other professionally. When Celeste started thinking about switching careers to IT, Corey, who has been working in the industry for years, jumped at the chance to help her navigate his world. They spent their quarantine studying for professional certifications together and celebrated together when Celeste got her first tech job. “It’s really cool to see somebody you love so much grow and accomplish their goals,” says Corey.
Celeste, too, makes it a point to cheer Corey on. When he was finishing his bachelor’s degree, “she made sure I stayed on top of my work and finished it,” says Corey. And she’s mindful about making sure he has the time and space to study for his ongoing professional certifications. “It does feel like we’re a team,” says Celeste. “We’re equal.”
In September 2020, Corey proposed during a glamping trip with their four dogs. The wedding is scheduled for October 2022, and they’re both excited for living life as a married couple—by their own rules, of course. “He goes against every gender norm that I grew up around in a conservative and religious family in the southeast,” says Celeste. “I always knew I wanted to work, but I didn’t really expect for the person that I’d marry to be so supportive. He goes far out of his way to help me excel in my career and is always encouraging me to be my own person.” Corey is also thrilled with how their relationship has worked out. “I like an empowered strong woman,” he says. “I’m not afraid of that.”
Main photo credit: Alex Maxwell