Two buddies and a sea monster introduced Caitlin Kiernan and Kenny Kaplan collectively. These weren’t your common buddies, nor sea monster. The creature got here courtesy of a 1970s kids’s TV present about two boys and their briny buddy. The buddies had been somewhat extra present.
The couple’s story begins in 2014, two years after Ms. Kiernan, 50, was recognized with breast most cancers. Five surgical procedures and 6 months of chemotherapy later, her relationship of 9 years had fallen aside and he or she was bereft.
“I can’t begin to tell you what a horrible time this was,” stated Ms. Kiernan, a author who lives in New York. “Yes, breast cancer is a health crisis, but it also created a major identity crisis for me. After losing my breasts, half of my hair, my smooth skin and my relationship, I no longer recognized myself or my life. It was soul crushing.”
Even although she wasn’t curious about courting, she knew that she needed to no less than take the trainings wheels off. So when her shut pal, Juliette Levy, prompt she exit together with her brother-in-law’s finest pal, a just lately divorced music supervisor named Kenny Kaplan, she agreed.
“Caitlin is a one-of-a-kind human being,” stated Ms. Levy, a publicist in New York. “She’s a unicorn and has this amazing spirit and energy. It was more like, here’s someone I just love so much, and Dave had this incredible relationship with Kenny. I didn’t know Kenny that well, but we took a chance on us loving these two people and saying, what’s the worst that can happen?”
The brother-in-law in query, David Masor, had recognized Mr. Kaplan for years and felt that, if nothing else, no less than Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Kiernan would move an pleasant night collectively. “Kenny is a very thoughtful person, very introspective,” stated Mr. Masor, 47, who’s a founding father of the actual property agency Home Applause in Montclair, N.J. “He’s got a spiritual side to him and he would do anything for a friend or family member.”
“He’s always supportive and there in a nonjudgmental way,” he continued. “He can seem standoffish at first, but it doesn’t take long to be able to peel back that layer to find he’s fun, confident and can talk about any subject.”
Their first date was at a wine bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. As they skimmed matters, they found a shared appreciation for “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.”
“I connected with that show, because growing up I always felt like a weirdo in my family,” she stated. “So when Kenny knew something about something of my childhood, it was a huge sign.”
Not solely did Mr. Kaplan, 46, know the present, he had the toy characters in his workplace. “I liked the aesthetics,” he stated. “I liked everything about it.”
He favored the whole lot about her, too. She was very put collectively and classy, whereas he usually appeared like he simply popped out of a 1990s mosh pit. “I am pretty laid back so I liked that she had that kind of assertiveness that people from here have, but as we dug in and started chatting there was a playful side to her, she’s very open,” he stated.
Mr. Kaplan can be Jewish, and though Ms. Kiernan grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Middletown and Stone Ridge, N.Y., she had been linked to Judaism and had critically thought-about changing lengthy earlier than she met him. He additionally had two kids, Carly, now 14, and Jonah, 11, which appealed to her, since giving beginning was one of many casualties of her most cancers. Chemotherapy pushed her into early menopause.
After the night time, he walked her to her automotive, gave her a fast peck on the cheek and requested for a second date. She stated sure.
“She was electric,” he stated. “She just lit up the room.”
But there was a hitch, as there so usually is.
During this time, she was nonetheless finishing her most cancers therapies. Between Ms. Kiernan’s and Mr. Kaplan’s first and second dates, she had traveled to Virginia for the ultimate section of her therapy: nipple tattoos. She wrote an article concerning the tattoo parlor, chronicled by a movie crew, that was printed on the Well weblog of The Times. The story went viral, and he or she panicked.
“I’d been so interconnected with women going through reconstruction and oftentimes their spouses and partners weren’t supportive,” she stated. “They look down on a reconstructed breast. It hadn’t been talked about before. I was like, ‘He’s not going to want to date me anymore.’ It could be really embarrassing; you’re showing your boobs to the world.”
Mr. Kaplan had seen the story and video. But he was the other of embarrassed. Instead, he advised her how sturdy and courageous she was. “She’s doing important things for other people, and I’m all about that,” he stated. “She took her experience and gave people hope, as opposed to ‘woe is me.’ I liked the fight.”
They went on a sequence of lively dates: a portray and wine class; a sushi and sake-making class; and a non-public, stand-up paddling board class on the Jersey Shore. They grew nearer and nearer. Mr. Kaplan inspired her to make use of her expertise as a survivor and a magnificence producer at Amazon to jot down a guide to assist different most cancers sufferers. That guide, “Pretty Sick: The Beauty Guide for Women With Cancer,” was printed in 2017.
He proposed on a visit to Boulder, Colo., that very same yr, on an early morning hike to look at the dawn.
“We are both independent and respectful of each other’s needs,” he stated. “We both are down for adventure and love to travel, but she is the first person to push me to do what I want. If it’s something I am interested in and she’s not, she won’t suggest an alternative. She will say, ‘Go do it! You should!’ and same goes for her.”
They deliberate a March 2020 wedding ceremony in Napa, Calif., however Covid-19 squashed that concept. They waited out the pandemic in Freehold, N.J., Mr. Kaplan’s hometown, together with his mom and two kids.
They had been married, lastly, on March 20, 2021 on the Mark Hotel in Manhattan earlier than a small group together with Ms. Levy, Mr. Masor and their spouses. Rabbi Judith B. Edelstein, with whom Ms. Kiernan had studied for 5 years earlier than her conversion final yr, led the ceremony.
“The thing about our relationship is that neither one of us intended for it to be a relationship,” Ms. Kiernan stated. “We just wanted to have fun and laugh. But what we got out of it was so much more. We fell in love, not only with each other but with life again.”
On This Day
When March 20, 2021
Where The Mark Hotel, New York City
Star Lensman Mark Weiss, a celebrated photographer whose topics have included the Rolling Stones, Kiss and Madonna, captured the couple’s wedding ceremony day. He and Mr. Kaplan are buddies and he volunteered his providers.
The Wedding Attire Ms. Kiernan designed her costume with Madeline Gardner of Morilee. “With all the wedding dresses out there, I could not find one that flattered my body,” the bride stated. “I was very conscious of how my reconstructed breasts and chemopause-induced curves looked.” After an eight-month search, Juliette Levy, the pal who launched her to Mr. Kaplan, put her in contact with Ms. Gardner. The groom wore a cobalt blue Ravazzolo swimsuit.