By Kaitlin Menza
Coming up with a great opening line on Bumble doesn’t always come naturally. You want something more imaginative than “hi,” and more inspiring than “tell me about yourself.” Emily, a freelance editor in northern Iowa, started the chat with her future husband with quite a memorable first move: “Hypothetically speaking, if you received 1,000 rubber ducks in the mail, what would you do with them?”
Today, she swears it wasn’t her go-to opening line, and that she only used it that one crucial time. She joined Bumble in the summer of 2021 hoping to get back out there as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions relaxed. A friend had some luck with the app, “so I decided, hey, why not give it a try?” she explains. When she spotted the profile of Kyle, a pharmacist, in August 2021, she admits that his many group photos with friends made it difficult to parse which one he was, but she was more focused on principles and personality, anyway. “I decided to swipe right based on the fact that we had similar enough spiritual and political beliefs,” she says. “I could work with that.”
Kyle was also drawn to Emily’s stated Christian beliefs as well as her then-job at a church, because at this stage of life, he was seeking “someone who wanted to go to church on Sundays, and who was ready to seriously date,” he says. But also, “Someone who was fun!” He liked how Emily seemed totally comfortable with herself; her profile photos showed her carefree and outdoors, rock-climbing.
But how to handle the rubber ducks question? Kyle knew he had to say something funny. He told Emily he’d probably duct-tape them to his parents’ driveway as a prank, which helped her determine that Kyle probably had a good relationship with his parents as well as a solid sense of humor. From there, the conversation flowed as the pair lobbed more light-hearted questions toward each other, like asking about each other’s worst dates; they exchanged around 200 texts, Kyle estimates, before meeting up a week later.
On their first date, Emily and Kyle found themselves journeying from location to location because they were having such a great time. They met for dinner at a Korean restaurant—Kyle brought a rubber duck instead of flowers, naturally—then they took a walk in a nearby park, where they decided on an impromptu round of frisbee golf. The game involves throwing frisbees toward a metal basket, and trying to get the frisbee into the basket in the fewest tosses possible. Kyle added another layer to it: “The loser had to share an embarrassing fact or an embarrassing story,” says Emily, “but I’m just so clumsy that nothing registers as embarrassing for me!” Kyle loved how unflappable she was, including when she accidentally threw a frisbee into the park’s creek and wanted to wade in to get it. They finally wrapped up the date by getting some ice cream.
The goofiness (and multiple locations) “just showed how comfortable we already were with each other,” Kyle recalls. Conversation came so easily that Emily worried aloud toward the end of the night that she’d been talking too much, prompting Kyle to “drop a killer line,” says Emily, telling her that he could listen to her talk for hours.
So it was no surprise that they saw each other again soon after. For their second date at his home, Kyle cooked chicken parmesan (to impress her) and she suggested they watch a sci-fi movie (to impress him). By their third date, when he wrapped his arm around her because she was cold, Kyle knew he was falling in love. Soon they were going on dates twice a week. “We just wanted to spend time together constantly,” he says. “I loved being around her and I could be my true self, and she was her true self, too. We matched so well. I was ready to propose after six months!”
They were getting serious, yes, but still having loads of fun. A few months into dating, they decided to go through with pranking Kyle’s parents by taping rubber ducks to their driveway, as they’d first discussed. Deeming the weather too cold for the outdoor task, they instead hid all 1,000 of them around their house, like Easter eggs. “He put a duck in every single one of his dad’s dress shirts in the pocket. I picked up the little trash bag liners in the bathrooms, stuffed one at the bottom, put the liner back on,” Emily laughs. They put ducks anywhere and everywhere. “They’re still finding ducks to this day, and it’s been a year!”
Rubber ducks had yet another important role to play in their relationship. One day, when Emily thought they had plans to meet up with friends for a mini-golf double date, Kyle asked her to put a blindfold on in the car instead. When she removed it, she found they were at her parents’ house, where a path was lined with ducks. The question “Emily, will you marry me?” was spelled out in more ducks hot-glued to a tarp. “I did surprise her that day, which made me pretty proud,” Kyle says.
The couple moved in together and wed in spring 2023—April 1, to be precise. Though other couples might be terrified at the pranks their family and friends could dream up for an April Fool’s Day wedding, Emily and Kyle embraced it. “I know, I know, we’re nuts!” Kyle laughs. “But it will be a date we’ll never forget, anniversary-wise.” On their big day, Emily surprised Kyle by wearing an inflatable duck suit for their “first look” (when the groom and bride see each other before the wedding), and Kyle’s mom pranked him by changing their mother-son dance song to “Rubber Duckie” from Sesame Street. The guests were “rolling with laughter,” says Emily.
Now, they’re excited for their future together and whatever it brings. One thing’s for sure, though: “There will be ducks,” Emily promises.
Main photo credit: Amelia Renee Photography