Erica Ann Fugger and Viswanaath Gowri Sanker like to joke that they owe their relationship to a friend who played Cupid.
After matching on Tinder in 2014, Mr. Gowri Sanker, 31, who goes by Vish, realized he and Ms. Fugger, 29, shared a mutual friend, Shreyas Khandate. He asked Mr. Khandate about Ms. Fugger, but the couple never ended up chatting on the app.
Almost two years later, Mr. Khandate decided it was time for Ms. Fugger and Mr. Gowri Sanker to meet. Ms. Fugger was planning to attend the All Nations celebration at the International House, a nonprofit residence and program center for scholars and young professionals in Manhattan, where she was an alumni. Mr. Khandate, who was a resident, invited Mr. Gowri Sanker as his guest and introduced him to Ms. Fugger. They quickly bonded over their shared love of adventure and vegetarian food.
They dated casually for a few months, and in the fall of 2016 Mr. Gowri Sanker traveled to India, where he grew up, to visit family. Ms. Fugger’s birthday happened to be during Mr. Gowri Sanker’s trip, and she was surprised to receive a dozen red roses from him.
“I later realized it was a very rash decision, because he had fallen ill with typhoid during that time,” Ms. Fugger said. “He was holed up in bed and sending me roses across the ocean.”
When Mr. Gowri Sanker returned, their relationship deepened, and by early 2017 they had started to date more seriously.
In mid-2017, Mr. Gowri Sanker, who was trying to transition from a student visa to a work visa, learned that it was unlikely he would be able to stay in the United States, and started to make plans to move to London. Around the same time, Ms. Fugger was offered a job at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and moved to Tolchester, Md.
“The relationship was so new, and we didn’t know if there was any way that we could stay together with long distance,” said Ms. Fugger, who is a doctoral student in American studies at Rutgers University-Newark. They decided to meet in Central Park to talk about their future, but it only took 10 minutes for them to agree that long distance was worth it.
“We were both certain that we found something special, and felt very committed to making it work across the distance,” Ms. Fugger said.
“It was very apparent for me at that point,” said Mr. Gowri Sanker, who is a senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Manhattan. Trying to sort out his visa had been mentally and emotionally draining, and he realized how grateful he was to have Ms. Fugger by his side. “The companionship and the support that I had from Erica was really special to me, and I could feel that it was making a difference to my life at that point.”
In the spring of 2019, Mr. Gowri Sanker’s company brought him back to the United States and helped him secure a visa. He moved to Jersey City, N.J., and Ms. Fugger joined him in late summer.
In the fall of 2019, the couple took a trip to India to visit Mr. Gowri Sanker’s family and attend Mr. Khandate’s wedding. Mr. Gowri Sanker wanted to surprise Ms. Fugger on the trip by asking her to marry him, but his plan didn’t stay a secret for long. On their first night in Chennai, Mr. Gowri Sanker’s mother took Ms. Fugger aside to ask, hypothetically, what she would say if Mr. Gowri Sanker were to ask her to marry him.
“I always joke that Vish’s mom is actually the one who proposed to me,” Ms. Fugger said.
The couple planned to marry March 20 at New York City Hall, followed by celebrations in India in November and in the United States the next summer, but changed their plans because of the coronavirus. They were married Aug. 21 at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The bride’s brother, Scott Fugger, a Universal Life minister, officiated.