On a hike during a vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Heather Brooke Rinehart was one month pregnant and needed to stop for a snack at a beach. As she rested, she noticed that someone had written “Will You Marry Me?” in the sand.
“I was like, this is awkward,” she said “We’re going to witness it and I’ll have to say, ‘It’s OK, I don’t mind not being engaged.’” It was September 2016, and Ms. Rinehart was on the trip with her boyfriend of four and a half years, Tom Patrick Sinnott.
When they first began dating, both had been adamant that marriage was not in the cards. Mr. Sinnott had witnessed many messy divorces among family and friends, and Ms. Rinehart had been married once before, a relationship that ended after her ex-husband used her identity to embezzle money at his workplace. “Getting married was almost the scariest thing I could do,” said Ms. Rinehart, who goes by Brooke.
But months before, they had decided to have a child, and now, their son was on the way. Starting a family and the resulting closeness ameliorated their fears about marriage, and led to them independently changing their perspectives. “I thought, am I punishing myself by saying I’m not going to get married again and drawing that line in the sand?” Ms. Rinehart said. “If it’s someone I love and we’re building this special life together, I’m allowed to do this.”
For Mr. Sinnott, the realization was clear. “I knew I’d be with her forever and I wanted to show her that,” he said.
On the beach, he tried to draw Ms. Rinehart’s attention to the message he had covertly written in the sand. But she, believing it was for someone else, adamantly ignored it. “I was stepping over and pretending not to see it,” she said.
Finally, Mr. Sinnott asked her to look. “I said, ‘I guess someone is asking someone to marry them,’” Ms. Rinehart said. When she turned around, Mr. Sinnott was on his knees with a pink sapphire ring in his hand.
Ms. Rinehart worried that he was asking out of panicked propriety. After all, they had learned only a week earlier that she was pregnant. “I started an elaborate questioning, ‘Are you just doing this because I’m pregnant? When did you buy the ring?’,” she said.
Mr. Sinnott patiently answered her questions — no and six months ago — but people were gathering. “He said, ‘You know everyone’s looking at us, and you haven’t said yes’,” Ms. Rinehart said.
“I was like, ‘Of course the answer is yes, I thought that was a given,’” she said.
To celebrate, they went to the Regis Princeville Resort, now closed, and sat outside calling family and friends. “I think a lot of people were waiting for us to get engaged and were really happy about it,” Mr. Sinnott said. After all, the two of them had been dating for nearly five years, and had known each other since high school. Their first kiss had been two decades earlier.
Mr. Sinnott, 43, a director of sales at SmartPay, a bill-paying service, and Ms. Rinehart, 42, the vice president for public relations at Ann Magnin, a public relations and marketing company, live in Denver, but both grew up in Stroudsburg, Pa.
“I had a gigantic crush on him,” Ms. Rinehart said. “He was a lifeguard at a local pool, so I would get my mom to drop me off there, but being a typical teen girl, I wouldn’t speak to him or approach him.”
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Eventually, when they were 15, they kissed at a pool party. After that, though they saw each other at different social events, nothing else happened.
Ms. Rinehart went to Boston University, and after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2002, she moved to New York City. Mr. Sinnott received an associate degree in business administration from Keystone College in La Plume, Pa. He moved to Boston and worked as a bartender. He and Ms. Rinehart did not cross paths.
When she was 27, Ms. Rinehart married John Bzdil III. A little over a year later, the F.B.I. came to their house at 6 a.m. and arrested them. Mr. Bzdil had used Ms. Rinehart’s name to commit fraud without her knowledge; charges against her were dropped after 90 days. (In 2009, he received a 15-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a wire fraud charge.)
But her life had turned upside down. At 28, Ms. Rinehart sold her house, filed for divorce, and moved back in with her parents, Jo and William Rinehart, in Stroudsburg.
“I was so low and dark and it was hard for me to leave the house and I couldn’t even function as a human,” Ms. Rinehart said. One of the few activities she managed was going to group aerobic classes at the gym where her mother worked out. There, she became close with her mother’s friends. Sharon Defino, Mr. Sinnott’s mother, was one of them.
After two years in Stroudsburg, Ms. Rinehart moved to Denver in 2011, choosing the city at random for a fresh start. Some time after she moved, her mother called to tell her that one of Ms. Defino’s sons had died. “I sent a note in the mail immediately,” Ms. Rinehart said. “If I learned anything from my heartbreak, it’s to speak up.”
Mr. Sinnott had recently returned to Stroudsburg from Boston and saw the note and the return address. “The card was very moving,” he said. Touched, he requested Ms. Rinehart as a friend on Facebook.
“When this request came around, I went back to my 15-year-old self,” Ms. Rinehart said. She accepted. “And then, nothing.”
In Stroudsburg, Mr. Sinnott was seeing Ms. Rinehart everywhere: Her father had been using her as a model in billboard advertisements and TV commercials for one of his car dealerships, Gray Chevrolet, for years. Her face was all over town. “There was no avoiding her,” Mr. Sinnott said.
In February 2012, Mr. Sinnott decided to invite Ms. Rinehart to an annual St. Patrick’s Day get-together with his close friends in Breckenridge, an hour-and-a-half-drive from Denver. Ms. Rinehart already had plans, so she turned him down. But she continued thinking about Mr. Sinnott, so when she came to New York City for work later that month, she suggested they meet for a drink in Stroudsburg at the Sarah Street Grill.
“I got there early, and I’m standing by the bar, thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’” she said. “I’m post divorce, I live in Denver, this is silly. Then he walked in the room, and I knew why I was there. He looked the same as when I was 15.”
Mr. Sinnott was nervous walking in, but when he saw Ms. Rinehart, he said, “I had that little intake of breath, that moment.” They went rock-climbing that weekend, and shared their second kiss ever “on the greasy kitchen ramp outside my parents’ bar,” Mr. Sinnott said. Ms. Defino and her husband, Richard Defino, have owned Pocono Pub in Stroudsburg for more than three decades.
After that evening, the two began talking on the phone every day. Mr. Sinnott suggested they place a bet: They would play seven rounds of Words With Friends, and if he won more times than she did, Ms. Rinehart would come to Breckenridge for the reunion. He won.
Ms. Rinehart canceled her plans for St. Patrick’s Day; she was supposed to host a party with a close friend, Laura Bird. “I met this guy, and I really, really like him,” she told her. “I want to see where this goes. If we end up getting married, you can make the speech at our wedding.”
Eleven years later, Ms. Rinehart held to her promise. After a long engagement of nearly seven years — because of the birth of the couple’s son, Finn Rinehart Sinnott, in 2017; a search for a house; and the pandemic — Ms. Rinehart and Mr. Sinnott were wed June 16 at Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery in Denver in front of 200 guests. Kevin Kennedy, a close friend of the couple who is ordained by the Universal Life Church, officiated.
“He got the crowd involved a bit,” Mr. Sinnott said of Mr. Kennedy, whose nickname is “Rev Kev” because he has officiated other weddings in the friend circle before. Mr. Kennedy asked guests to greet each other and shake hands at the beginning of the ceremony. Later, he read a card that Ms. Rinehart had left on Mr. Sinnott’s night stand that morning, that said, “I cannot wait to be your wife.”
“He read it, and then he said, ‘Anybody object? I didn’t think so,’” Mr. Sinnott said.
Ms. Bird made a rhyming poem using details from Ms. Rinehart’s and Mr. Sinnott ’s relationship. “She was fact-checking things with me for months,” Ms. Rinehart said.
Though neither the bride nor the groom had a wedding party, Mr. Sinnott invited around two dozen friends to get dressed with him and to share a catered breakfast the morning of the wedding. Of course, Finn joined in.
“He felt the weight of the occasion,” Mr. Sinnott said. “He was getting dressed, buttoning the suit carefully, and he even let me comb his hair.”
Mr. Sinnott and Ms. Rinehart wrote their own vows. “The most important one for me was, I promise this is forever,” Ms. Rinehart said. “With Tom growing up seeing broken marriages and thinking it’s something that won’t stick, I wanted him to know publicly that for me, this is forever.”
On This Day
When June 16, 2023
Where Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery and Restaurant, Denver
Field Day On Saturday, the day after the wedding, around 150 guests met at Chaffee Park in Denver to play corn hole, beer pong, spike ball and other games. “We had an ice cream truck and a food truck there, too,” Ms. Rinehart said.
Music Mixer Mr. Sinnott, who is passionate about music, made playlists for all of the wedding day events, including the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the after-party at Zeppelin Station, a nearby food hall and bar. A DJ played his songs. “As much as I agonized over the vows, he agonized over the playlist,” Ms. Rinehart said.
First Peek The first look was at Catbird Hotel, where Ms. Rinehart got dressed with the help of her parents and sister, Samantha Carver. Mr. Sinnott and their 6-year-old son, Finn, waited for her in the lobby. “Finn knew it was a big deal without knowing exactly why. He was peeking around the corner in anticipation,” Mr. Sinnott said. “I felt the same.”
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