When Alyssa decided on a whim to go on a last minute date whilst over in London for work, she never expected meet her husband.
Forget the usual Beefeater teddies, one US software saleswoman’s last minute souvenir from London was a husband-to-be, after fixing a date “on a whim” by swiping an app during a work trip – 5,500 miles from home.
A singleton for nearly two years, romance was the last thing on 29-year-old Alyssa Tantillo’s mind when she flew into the capital from her then home in Los Angeles, California, in March 2017 to meet clients.
Thinking it might be fun to enjoy a couple of dates in the Big Smoke, she went on to the dating app Bumble and, on her second to last day, was matched with paediatrician Tom Maggs, 31 – arranging to meet him that evening and taking a friend along for her “no expectations” date.
Amazingly, the couple were instantly smitten, with Alyssa saying ‘I love you’ on their second date and, after 18 months of long-distance romance, they have now tied the knot.
She said: “If you’d told me as I walked to the date that evening that I’d have ended up marrying the man I was about to meet, I’d have thought you were crazy.
“I had no expectations, then when Tom showed up, not only was he way better looking than his photos, but everything he said about life, work, and travel, showed he was made for me.”
She added: “I was speechless – and that never happens to me.
“It’s been such a whirlwind, but anybody that knows Tom and me, and sees us together, knows how special what we have is.”
Before the trip that changed her life, Alyssa had been busy working in software sales in Los Angeles, where she had joined several dating apps in a bid to meet Mr Right, but had never felt that special chemistry with any of her beaus.
She explained: “Out in LA, everyone is on every app, but there’s very much this view of, ‘If you’re not first choice, you’re last.’
“It felt like people were always looking for a better option, so they’d be flaky, act distracted on dates, or sometimes even not show up.
“Don’t get me wrong, I had some nice dates too and met great guys – but they were all just first dates. Nothing felt like it’d be my last.”
That was until her 11 day work trip to London – 5,500 miles from home – in March 2017, where she and her colleague, who is also a pal, decided to go on a few dates in their spare time.
Firing up the app Bumble, which has three modes – Date, for relationships, which is the one she chose, Bizz for professional networking and BFF to find friendship – she started looking through.
“Our thinking was, ‘Why not?’ We were only there for 11 days,” she said. “At first, there was nobody I was really clicking with on Bumble, then on the second to last day, I matched with Tom.”
She added: “We arranged to meet that night at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, in the east of the city. I even brought my colleague along, which he didn’t actually know was happening. But he was great and put up with the two of us interviewing him very well.”
Completely blown away by Tom, Alyssa was delighted when, at the end of the night, he agreed to see her again the next day – her last before she was due to fly home.
The next night, the trio met again, and this time Tom brought a friend, too – another Tom, who, coincidentally, ended up being best man at their wedding.
“The four of us had such an amazing time and I got to know my Tom more,” recalled Alyssa. “As we parted ways, he said he could tell there was something between us, and we agreed to keep speaking once I was back in LA.
“He said to let him know if I was ever back over in London and, by chance, I’d already booked a trip to travel around Europe that July and August.
“Right then and there, he invited me to stay with him at the end of it, and I accepted. It felt right.”
After unexpectedly falling hard for Tom, Alyssa found it difficult to leave him behind, as she took off for the US.
But they continued to speak, initially once a week, but before long, that had moved up to nightly phone calls, which could be tricky, given the eight-hour time difference.
“All I wanted to do was talk to Tom – I was really falling for him,” said Alyssa. “The true lightbulb moment came when I realised I’d rather take a 10 hour flight to London to see him again than a 10 minute cab ride to date a man in my area.”
In August 2017, Alyssa and Tom met in person once again, when she went to stay with him in London for 10 days at the end of a European trip – meeting his family and friends and telling him she loved him for the first time.
The moment she landed back in Los Angeles, she booked another flight to London for the following month, September, so she could be there to celebrate Tom’s 29 birthday.
“I knew then that it was love,” she said. “I didn’t want him to spend another birthday without me.”
And this remarkably romantic act persuaded Tom that Alyssa was no holiday fling – instead he saw her as his future wife and, on their third meeting for his birthday, he told her he loved her too.
Alyssa said: “He hadn’t said it back right away when I’d said it, as he wanted to be sure, but after I saw him for his birthday he said he knew it was love, and that he was going to marry me.”
A long-distance romance ensued, with the couple using every scrap of holiday entitlement to see each other.
Luckily, Alyssa had agreed with her work to take monthly trips to London, while Tom spent two weeks in LA every three months.
And while living thousands of miles apart was tough, Alyssa now believes that it strengthened their bond.
She explained: “Tom is such a good communicator and I had so much trust in him – more than I had ever had in previous relationships.”
She continued: “We agreed that, although it’d be difficult, we’d put in the hours and the effort to make it work. It didn’t matter if that meant one of us staying up late or waking up early so we could talk – our relationship was our priority.
“Because we weren’t physically together for a lot of it, all we could do was talk, so we got to know one another slower.
“The lust was almost an afterthought – though obviously overwhelming when we did see each other in person. But Tom really is my best friend and we know absolutely everything about each other.”
By May 2018, Tom and Alyssa were ready to take things to the next level and live together.
After talking things through, they agreed that, because he could not practise medicine in the US and she was not especially attached to living in LA, it would make sense for her to relocate.
Knowing she was the one and realising it would make it easier for her to obtain a visa, Tom spoke to Alyssa’s grandfather, the family patriarch, during a visit to California, and confessed that he wanted to ask her to marry him.
“I’d never seen myself as somebody who would get married,” she said. “But when Tom told me that he had spoken to my grandfather, it was a surprisingly comfortable conversation.
“In fact, I’d been so convinced I wouldn’t ever get married that I repeatedly asked my dad, who has been saving for my wedding for years, if I could just have the money to use for something else. Thankfully he said no and held out.”
In August 2018, Tom officially proposed to Alyssa on Parliament Hill, a lookout point on Hampstead Heath which boasts stunning views of the city.
She continued: “Though we’d agreed we were going to get married, I had no idea the official proposal was coming then.
“It was just a random Sunday and we went for a stroll on Hampstead Heath. Given that it was a heatwave, Parliament Hill was packed with about 100 people having picnics.
“Bless poor Tom, I don’t think he expected having to ask in front of so many strangers. But, he said all this lovely stuff about me then got on one knee. His best friend then appeared with this bottle of champagne, and everybody watching clapped. It was amazing.”
Alyssa then officially moved to London in January 2019, before the pair had a small ceremony in front of 30 of their loved ones at Islington Town Hall in north London, followed by a huge party in a pub with 120 guests.
Now legally married, she is able to continue living and working in the UK and lives with Tom in Canonbury, north London. So that everybody that could not come to the April ceremony has a chance to celebrate, they are also throwing a big wedding party on the Italian island of Sicily next summer.
Settling into married life, which she said is blissful, Alyssa, who now works for a different software company based in London, continues to marvel at how a chance swipe on Bumble and a first date, which her friend came on too, ended up bagging her a husband.
She concluded: “Married life is so much fun. Tom’s family and friends are wonderful. They have adopted me into the British side of the family. Our families both get on brilliantly too, which is lovely. Our dads especially have such a bromance – Tom’s dad is basically the British version of mine.
“It feels crazy to look back on the past two years, but now, I am such an advocate for going out on a limb and putting yourself out there.
“To those that feel fed up or like they’re giving up on love, I’d say just go for it. Go on 100 dates if you have to – one will work out and lead you to the love of your life.”
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