Paul Ryan Dorsey noticed Ariel Holy Gordon in August 2015 as soon as she walked into the University of Michigan Alumni Club bar in Washington and then they stood next to each other glancing up now and then to watch the first football game of the season.
“It was loud, standing room only,” said Ms. Gordon, who was new in town and had graduated from Michigan in 2014. Mr. Dorsey, who graduated in 2010, bought her a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
When she mentioned she worked for the Libre Institute, a conservative think tank, it came across to Mr. Dorsey with all the noise as the Labor Institute. He worked for Representative Dan Lipinski, a Democrat from Illinois, at the time.
“I think we were diametrically opposed to a lot,” she said, and 10 minutes into the conversation Mr. Dorsey realized she was a “pretty libertarian conservative.’’
Mr. Dorsey, 31, is now a regulatory attorney for the National Automobile Dealers Association in Tysons, Va., where he works on tax, trade and auto safety policy at the federal level. He received a law degree magna cum laude from the University of Illinois
Ms. Gordon, 28, is a legislative assistant for United States Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican. She focuses on trade, education and labor. In May, she received a master’s degree in public policy at Georgetown.
Mr. Dorsey, who had arrived in Washington nine months before Ms. Gordon, said her political leanings weren’t a “deal breaker.’’ And, he added: “I quickly realized despite our politics we had a lot in common. We had similar jobs even on different sides.”
At the end of the evening he took her number and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek, and on Labor Day, a few days later, they walked around the National Gallery on their first date.
In less than a month they were seriously dating, and on occasion he even socialized with Ms. Gordon and her friends during Friday evening happy hour at the Capitol Hill Club, a Republican hangout.
“There are a lot of elephants in the room,” she said with a laugh regarding both the décor and crowd.
“I just really like him as a person,” she added. “He’s really kind and thoughtful,” and in December she invited him to Big Sky, Mont., where her parents have a small place. “I kind of knew. This guy’s different.”
He proposed on Martha’s Vineyard at sunset on Menemsha beach in July 2018 on the first day of a six-day vacation with her family, a favorite place since childhood.
The couple often spoke about getting a Samoyed puppy, and later that summer when they broached the subject again Ms. Gordon drew up a contract of sorts over drinks at Off the Record bar in Washington.
“I need this in writing,’’ Ms. Gordon said. “I grabbed a pen from my bag,’’ and then Mr. Dorsey signed a cocktail napkin agreeing to start working on getting a puppy three months after they got married.
They had planned to marry April 4 at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort in Paradise Valley, Ariz., with about 200 guests, but after the coronavirus hit, they decided to celebrate there next spring.
On June 27, they were legally married atop Andesite Mountain in Big Sky. Bradford Lartigue, affiliated with Big Sky Resort Ministries, officiated.
“We used the chairlift as the walk down the aisle,” said Ms. Gordon, who wore a wedding gown at the ceremony attended by their parents — his from Ann Arbor, Mich., and hers from Paradise Valley.
On their way down the mountain on the lift the couple held up a sign: “Just Married.”