Lana Price was living in New York in 2015 and losing enthusiasm for dating when it struck her that she and her friends, who also reported lackluster attempts at romance, should try a new approach.
“We really talked a lot about how challenging it is to be a single person, and how dating can be fun but can also be demoralizing at times,” she said. “The origin was this idea that you get credit for dating, right, so you date as if it’s your duty.”
Thus was born the Duty Dating Challenge, which Ms. Price, now 41, and her group of friends approached with sober intention. There was a form that participants filled out for each date, answering questions like “How did you meet?” and “What went well on this date that you can be proud of?” Each date earned one point, and the goal was to accumulate as many points as possible within the eight-week challenge period.
“It became a mechanism,” Ms. Price said, “a way for us to support each other.”
In 2017, Ms. Price decided it was time to try living somewhere else. In addition to factors like job availability, proximity to family and cultural scene, she considered the ratio of single men to single women. She chose Austin, Texas, and soon moved there.
And it was as a continuing participant in the Duty Dating Challenge that she met Mel Wallace on the dating app Tinder, in 2018.
Mr. Wallace, now 40, said, “Her profile was interesting — ’I just want to do fun stuff’ — which was my profile, too.”
The two met at a beer garden, and, Mr. Wallace, said, “We talked and talked and talked. The highlight was, we also took Jager shots. When she was willing to take a Jager shot, I was like, she’s fun.”
Mr. Wallace, who collects sneakers and now has more than 100 pairs in his collection, wore Air Max 1 Atmos with animal prints for their first date. Ms. Price was impressed by what she read into his choice: “Our first date was special, and so he wore special shoes.”
The two shared a Lyft ride home. After she got out, Mr. Wallace said, “The Lyft driver was like, ‘Bro, she likes you.’ I was like, ‘Oh. That’s wonderful.’”
In her challenge log entry after their first date, she described him as “a cutie patootie” and “REALLY SMART.”
The two soon got together again, touring a recently opened Korean grocery. (Ms. Price grew up in Korea, and was surprised to learn that Mr. Wallace had never had Korean food). On their fourth date, they shared their first kiss on a nightclub dance floor.
“I’m in full-on heart-eyed emoji mode,” she wrote afterward in her challenge log.
The two quickly fell in love. Mr. Wallace remembers realizing this when the two were at a pool near his house. “She did this jump into the water, and in my head, it was the most wonderful thing I’d seen,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Oh man, I really love this girl.’”
In 2019, he received a job offer from New York, and the two moved together. He is a senior marketing manager at Tilting Point, a mobile game publisher. She is a business planning-services consultant for nonprofit groups.
On June 27, the couple married in the backyard of the Harlem brownstone where they live. Their landlord, Leah Poller, officiated, having joined the American Marriage Ministries.
In Ms. Price’s circle of friends, her return to New York was a triumph. “That was the big joke for Duty Dating,” she said. “That I had to leave New York to find someone. But then I brought him back.”
For the wedding, Mr. Wallace wore Nike SB Zoom Blazer “Kevin & Hell” Velcro low-top sneakers, as they perfectly matched his seersucker suit.