By Kaitlin Menza
When they met, Deanne and Josh were living in Las Vegas and holding down quintessential Sin City jobs: She was a dealer in a casino, and he was working as a professional poker player. But it was the very nature of the city that made it so hard to date, online or otherwise. It’s a place that’s “transient,” says Deanne. “People just come and go and they’re looking for hookups. It’s hard in this town to use online dating.” Josh agrees. “I was somewhat active on dating apps before we met, but I never found anything that was lasting,” he says. “It was always little flings or a couple dates here and there.”
They matched on Bumble in January 2016 over a strong mutual attraction—so strong, in fact, that neither could believe the other really existed. “When I saw her pictures, I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Josh recalls. “The first thing that caught my attention was that he was 6’5”,” says Deanne, who’s quite tall herself. “I was looking at his pictures like, ‘Oh wow. He’s really good-looking. Is this real?’”
But then, their first date was such a series of disasters that both considered that maybe their Bumble profiles and conversations on the app were indeed too good to be true. For starters, Deanne, who was already running late, was then pulled over while speeding to their meet-up point. “I got a ticket,” she says, “so then I was really, really late to the date.” Josh assumed she wasn’t planning to show, or that it was an excuse, but he stayed put, and Deanne was delighted with the person she met. “He still got up and greeted me and was super happy I was there,” she says. “He didn’t make me feel bad about it at all.” She found him cute and charismatic, and was charmed by his surprisingly strong Southern accent (Josh is from South Carolina originally, while Deanne grew up in New Jersey).
Then it was Josh’s turn to commit a faux pas. “She doesn’t let me live this down,” he laughs. “We ordered our food, and he got his before me and just ate the entire thing,” Deanne says. “I didn’t have any food at all! I was just sitting there.’” Josh was so nervous, he didn’t realize he’d done anything wrong, but it ultimately didn’t matter. The conversation had flowed so easily that both agreed to a second date right then and there.
Their connection felt less like a lightning bolt and more like an instant comfort that built and built. “We were just constantly together after that, always with each other,” Deanne says. On the fourth of July, they both said “I love you” for the first time, and Josh recognized the recurring thought he’d have while hanging out with her: “This is the girl I’d like to marry someday.”
The couple moved in together in 2017, when they’d been dating just over a year. “Not a day went by that we weren’t laughing and joking and loving our lives together,” Deanne says. When Vegas shut down in the pandemic, they grew even closer, throwing parties with friends over video calls and holding picnics in the park. In October 2020, on a trip to Mexico purportedly for Deanne’s birthday, Josh proposed with a ring he’d picked out with her friends. They took a boat out to a beach in Cabo San Lucas called Lover’s Beach, and when they arrived, “Will you marry me, Deanne?” was written out in the sand.
Given COVID-19 restrictions and the fact that their family and friends are spread across the country, they decided to elope “in true Las Vegas fashion,” Deanne jokes. Their venue wasn’t exactly a drive-in chapel, though. They were married in 2021 on a small animal rescue farm lined with palm trees in the northern part of the city, while horses, chickens, and goats roamed nearby. After the ceremony, they drove back to the city for dinner. “Everything was smooth,” says Josh. “There was zero stress involved.”
Next up, the couple plans to move to Florida to be closer to the water. Plus, “There are no backyards here,” Deanne says. “We want a backyard for our dogs, and to be closer to our families.” They don’t need Las Vegas anymore—they’ve both already won big.
Main photo credit: The Combs Creative