TAMPA — "What do I have to do to marry you?" T. Hampton Dohrman asked earnestly as he jotted down bullet points on a sticky note.
The 31-year-old leader of Hampton Arts Management wanted to make sure that all of Erin Tracy's conditions were met before he formally proposed spending their lives together.
"I was really clueless about the process," he said. "I wanted to know if I should ask her dad first and what she really wanted."
So he asked. On May 3, Hampton and Erin successfully wed at the Tampa Theatre in front of 60 guests. What began as business for both became the adventure of their lifetimes.
"We're both kind of 'go' people," said Erin, 30, director of dance theater company Spec Performance. "I'm glad I have someone to go with me."
This fated union began in 2012 at Tre Amici Coffee in Ybor City during a meeting to discuss the microgrant awarded to Spec Performance by Hampton Arts Management.
"I was living in between Tampa and New York City at the time," Erin said. "When I heard we got the grant, I started joking with everyone that it was because he wanted to be my boyfriend."
At their first meeting, the quips seemed prophetic. Hampton was definitely interested but not enough to break his professional stride.
"She's beautiful and talented and funny and like no one else I know," Hampton admitted. Even a barista at the shop noticed Erin's aura as she discussed work with Hampton.
"The guy at the coffee shop was hitting on me," she said. "Hampton sent me an email as soon as I left asking me out for dinner."
For a first date, Hampton chose Mise en Place. Interestingly, their date at the Tampa restaurant was the same day as an anime convention, and they were able to people-watch the cosplayers before and after their date.
"We fit right in because we were all dressed up," Erin said. "I'd lived here for a while but I had never been to Mise en Place."
After dinner, both parties decided to hit "go." Hampton casually took Erin to Ikea to ask her what she wanted to have in his house. She suggested the staples: a mirror to pluck her eyebrows in and storage space. Three weeks into dating, he asked her to move into his home in Ybor City, which she had already affectionately dubbed "the Chicken House."
"My parents were excited," Hampton said. "This was so outside of my normal pattern, they knew it had to be something real."
Hampton still had a roommate when Erin came to stay but the arrangement was brief, and soon the couple was living on their own, each of them feeling a way around this new and different person.
"The first month was actually a really good time, getting to know each other and how we operated," Erin said. "We are really similar in some ways and really, really different in others, and it was an amazing time. We got to figure out where those places were."
Hampton was so serious about marrying Erin that he didn't even let a winter storm delay his proposal. Erin was in Asheville, N.C., getting yoga teacher training when a storm rolled through Florida, canceling flights. Hampton had planned to surprise her in Asheville because they had vacationed there together before, but the weather was a hitch in the plan.
"I had to drive to Asheville from Tennessee," he said.
Erin was having brunch with a friend when Hampton called to check in with her about her travel plans. "He offered to come get me," she said. "And I thought he must have drove really fast from Florida because he was standing outside when we left brunch."
He presented her with a ring and they later viewed the Biltmore Estate by candlelight, a lovers' tradition.
"Hampton has these big brown eyes with long eyelashes, and when he looks at me, he gets so soft in a way that they don't get for anyone else," Erin said. "That's really how I knew he just wanted me."
Five months later, the big day arrived, and it was joyously low maintenance for the seasoned event planners.
"We wanted it to be a stress-free day," Hampton said. "We could have had the big performances and entertainment, but we didn't want it to feel like work."
So after the small ceremony at the Tampa Theatre, officiated by Studio@620's Bob Devin Jones, the Dohrmans took their guests back to where they had their first date for a relaxed brunch reception.
Each table had its own cake instead of a centerpiece, engendering sweet memories of the day for everyone.
Five days later, they departed on Hampton's dream vacation, a 110-day trek to China, Bali, India, Egypt, Jordan and France, ending in Paris.
Erin is using the trip's locations to complete her dance performance film.
"She is just strikingly beautiful. . . . She's the only person that makes everything seem easy," Hampton said. "All the different parts of me match with the different parts of her."