Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, actor Jason Gotay of the new HBO Max reboot of "Gossip Girl" tells his story from New York City.
As J.M. Barrie once wrote, “all you need is faith, trust, and pixie dust." That is exactly how my love story began. Well, figuratively speaking, anyway. It was the first day of rehearsal for NBC’s “Peter Pan Live,” and I couldn’t wait to get started. I was playing one of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan’s ragtag gang of friends who run, jump, flip, and trouble-make their way through Neverland. The show was to star Allison Williams as Peter Pan and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook, and was directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Rob Ashford.
My friend, Sara, had told us that we were going to 'just love each other.' I didn’t realize until later just how on-the-nose she was about that.
As I entered the rehearsal studios and stepped into the elevator, I greeted a couple of friends who were also part of the Lost Boy band. As the elevator door began to close, one more boy jumped in just in time. I turned around and saw the most beautiful smile I’d ever seen, accompanied by bright blue eyes and a joy that lit up the room (well, elevator). This was Michael, the boy I was told to look out for, as we had a mutual friend who told us we would be working on Peter Pan together. I shook his hand and introduced myself, excited to get to know him. My friend, Sara, had told us that we were going to “just love each other.” I didn’t realize until later just how on-the-nose she was about that.
We jumped into rehearsals that morning, excited and a bit nervous to see how this would all play out. This was the second televised musical that NBC had ever produced, and did I mention it was live? No need to worry. Our cast was comprised of seasoned Broadway veterans, many of whom I had known from years of being in the industry. I’d been around the block, so to speak, with two Broadway credits and a slew of regional-theater gigs under my belt. So had everyone else in the cast, including multiple Tony Award winners—all except one. Michael had just graduated college, and this was his first professional gig in New York City.
As we started dance rehearsals with Rob Ashford, it became clear that the new kid was anything but. As the Lost Boys were learning their choreography, Michael always seemed a step ahead of everyone else (no pun intended). He was so quick on his feet and picked up the steps with such ease that any time Rob needed someone to demonstrate a move, he would call on Michael to show everyone how it was done. Michael made such a strong impression on a room full of giants that I couldn’t help but be drawn to him as well. It’s hard to ignore someone like Michael. He has a razor-sharp mind, strong work ethic, and he always brings such joy and light into the room.
The rest happened rather quickly, as Michael and I connected right away. I remember one day in particular when we were told we were going to have the next morning off from rehearsal after a change in the schedule. Michael and I spontaneously grabbed margaritas on our way home. What was supposed to be one drink turned into hours of sitting and laughing together, both of us feeling happy to be in each other’s presence and celebrating what an exciting time this was for both of us.
We continued hanging out alone for a couple of weeks until I told Michael one night that I had feelings for him, only I was scared to admit it. I was still recovering from a painful breakup the year before. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to open up my heart again. But, Michael was patient with me and didn’t put any pressure on us. I felt safe with him, and besides, being next to him made me so happy that nothing else seemed to matter. We made it official a couple of days before Thanksgiving, two weeks before the broadcast. To this day, performing with him has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
I cannot wait to marry the love of my life.
Six-and-a-half years later, we are planning the wedding of our dreams with our new friend and brilliant wedding planner, Jason Mitchell Kahn. Our celebration will be at the gorgeous Kester Homestead in Memphis, New York. We want a “sophisticated backyard wedding” that will be elegant and beautiful, but more importantly, a real party with s’mores around the bonfire and dancing under the stars. I cannot wait to marry the love of my life. No, I am not going to end this essay with something as cheesy as “we were lost boys and now we’re found” or anything like that. But, there was definitely something magical about our time in Neverland. Now, second star to the right and straight on till morning!