While apart, daily texts were exchanged. Handwritten letters were sent. Gifts arrived monthly.
In late August 2019, Mr. Mulling returned. In October, he moved to New York to work as an incoming associate at the law firm Goodwin Proctor. The two were in different states, again, and the weekly commuting took a toll. Mr. Mullings managed to transfer to the firm’s Boston location. A week after he moved back to Providence, Covid-19 hit and their trip to Spain, where Mr. Mullings planned to propose, was canceled. Instead, the pair went to Newport, R.I., in July and took a private boat tour.
“Lloyd got down on one knee and started speaking in Spanish. I’m fluent; he’s self-taught so it was pretty impressive,” Mr. Simpanen said.
In August, Mr. Simpanen applied to change his last name to Ocean, a necessary step for one person to do before a marriage certificate is issued. (Mr. Mullings planned to change his name through marriage.)
On Sept. 26, Mr. Simpanen and Mr. Mullings exchanged vows at India Point Park in Providence, R.I., before 14 family members and friends. Mr. Simpanen’s mother, Judy Lynn Simpanen, led the ceremony.
“My Social Security card hadn’t arrived so it wasn’t legal,” Mr. Simpanen said.
Documentation of Mr. Simpanen’s new surname was needed from the Social Security Administration before the couple could receive a marriage license with his new last name. The license would then be used by Mr. Mullings to change his name to Ocean.
On Oct. 8, after the new card finally arrived, a legally binding ceremony took place at City Hall in Providence. It was also led by Ms. Simpanen, who was ordained for the occasion by the Universal Life Church.
“No matter what happens he will be by my side,” said Mr. Mullings, who is currently waiting for his name change verification. “If I could bottle that feeling that would be incredible.”