A Candlelit Proposal for a Couple Used to the Spotlight

This past March, as Ben Chase and Rachel Schur watched a string quartet perform Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in a candlelit church in Manhattan’s East Village, Mr. Chase leaned over and whispered something into Ms. Schur’s ear.

There was a swell in the music, and a glint as Mr. Chase pressed a ring into Ms. Schur’s hand. “You’re so wonderful,” he said. “Will you marry me?”

Had this been a scene in a movie, the couple might have had the benefit of being the only people in the frame. But this was a real scene, in a real city.

“We’re sitting next to this woman who was by herself,” Ms. Schur recalled. “She had that vibe of, ‘I’m a single New York woman and I’m going to do something nice for myself tonight — I’m going to take myself out and go watch a nice concert.’”

As Mr. Chase whispered his proposal, Ms. Schur noticed their fellow audience member react to their lovey-dovey moment: “I look to my right to see the woman at the same time throw her hands up to the heavens, like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’”

“A part of me was like, ‘Oh man, I’ve been there,’” Ms. Schur added. “I’ve definitely gone out to dinner with some girl getting engaged and I’m by myself eating a pizza and root beer. There was a part of me that was like, ‘Oh, this is the circle of life.’”

It’s natural that Ms. Schur and Mr. Chase would have drawn attention. Each is used to being on the other side of an audience. Ms. Schur, 33, is an actress who had been performing on Broadway in “Chicago” before the coronavirus pandemic forced theaters to close. Mr. Chase, 32, is an actor with onstage and screen credits, including roles in the recent Joan Didion adaptation “The Last Thing He Wanted” on Netflix and the upcoming Hulu series “Monsterland.”

The couple met in January 2018, but they’d been aware of each other for years.

“I grew up on 96th street across from her cousins,” Mr. Chase said. One day, an aunt of Ms. Schur suggested that Mr. Chase ask Ms. Schur out. It took him a while, but he eventually emailed her. They arranged to meet at a cafe in Midtown.

“When I got there he already had his coffee and he was reading sides for an audition,” Ms. Schur said. Mr. Chase asked her to dinner within 30 minutes

For a time, the two actors commuted to each other. Ms. Schur lived in Midtown, Mr. Chase lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “I remember humping this horrible, 10-pound day bag through Midtown at 10:30 at night on a Sunday and I had an audition the next day,” Mr. Chase said. “And I was just totally happy.”

They moved in together about four months after meeting. “There was no fear around it,” Ms. Schur said. “It was like, ‘yeah, this makes sense.’”

That quick confidence came in handy again this year, when the coronavirus pandemic forced them to scrap their original wedding plans. The couple planned to have a 70-person wedding at the end of the year at a seaside venue in Florida. They canceled that last month, deciding on a small ceremony instead. Mr. Chase and Ms. Schur were married at Bottino, a restaurant in Chelsea. The ceremony, which took place on Sept. 8, was officiated by Sarah Montana, a friend of the couple’s who became a Universal Life minister for the occasion.

The couple’s parents were unable to attend — Mr. Chase and Ms. Schur hope to have a larger reception next year — but they watched over Zoom, in a video grid filled with other virtual attendees.

“There’s something so amazing about gallery view,” Mr. Chase said. “I’ve heard that from people who attended on Zoom — there’s something really special about seeing the other humans doing their best in their little box.”

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