Their First Adventures Began on a Slow Bus

Ms. Marshall lived in a house nearby and couldn’t help but notice him. “I was drawn by how people were drawn to him,” she said. “Everyone wanted to be around Tom. He had this amazing attitude, happy-go-lucky.” He was gregarious to the extreme, yet “he carried himself with a special sort of humble confidence,” she said.

Mr. Kelland mainly helped La Esperanza with building projects, but he occasionally worked as an assistant in the classroom and always managed to make the children laugh. “One time, I was telling the kids to sit down,” he recalled. “I thought the word for sit down was ‘suerte.’” Suerte, he soon discovered, actually means “luck.”


The bride and groom met in 2014 in Granada, Nicaragua while volunteering with the children’s nonprofit La Esperanza Granada. Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times

“I was just yelling ‘Luck!’ at them and pointing at their chairs,” he said. “These were 5- and 6-year-old kids. The teacher must have thought, ‘They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel with the volunteers.’”

Although he was usually busy doing something hilarious or dangerous, he definitely noticed Ms. Marshall. She was a dark-haired beauty, he said, “with a relentless mind that’s always working.” The other volunteers turned to her for advice about everything, including the best cure for food poisoning and the safest place to camp while surfing on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast.

“Mariana is very friendly, very confident,” said Matt Conrady, a fellow volunteer who has remained a friend. “She always looks like she knows what’s going on. She’s somebody you can’t mess with.”

Mr. Kelland, Ms. Marshall and a few others became particularly close, calling themselves the Familia. The Familia traveled on weekends, usually by “chicken bus” — old, converted school buses that serve as public transportation, for people as well as animals.


Their relationship grew while traveling with friends on the local buses. “We could talk about anything, and it was never dull,” said the groom of his bride. Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times

The buses traveled slowly, which gave Ms. Marshall and Mr. Kelland time to get to know each other. “We could talk about anything, and it was never dull,” he said.

The one subject they were afraid to discuss was the fact that they were falling in love. Eventually, she texted him late one night — the date was Oct. 23 — saying that she had something important to tell him. Although she is shy, she said, she is even more impatient. It was way past midnight but he texted back, saying he would be right over.

She waited on the steps outside her house. “I had this image that he would ride up on his motorcycle and kiss me,” she said.

Instead he rode up on a rickety little bike he had borrowed. (He didn’t want to wake anyone by riding his motorcycle.) “The trip over there was something special,” he said. “I was riding a small push bike on the streets of Granada at about 2 a.m. to talk to the girl I can’t stop thinking about. I wasn’t nervous. It was actually quite calming.”


Guests, surrounded by snow and mountains, danced at the reception. The couple realized they were falling for each other early in their relationship, but it was Ms. Marshall who made the first move. Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times

They sat on the steps for awhile, shoulder to shoulder, before she simply asked him if he’d like to be her boyfriend. “I was ecstatic,” he said.

As a couple, they continued exploring Nicaragua together and discovered they are very different travelers. She consults maps, guidebooks and the internet whenever possible, while he ignores all that and actually enjoys getting lost. “He helps me live more in the moment and put down the book for a second,” she said.

Friends at home began realizing they were no longer solo travelers. “I kept in touch with her while she was in Nicaragua through Facebook,” said Emily Mohney, who worked with Ms. Marshall at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. “She told me, ‘Oh, by the way, I met this awesome, incredible guy. I have an adventure partner now.’ I think that’s when I thought it could be serious, when she started calling him an ‘adventure partner.’”

In January 2015, Ms. Marshall moved to New York City to begin graduate school at Teachers College at Columbia University. Mr. Kelland followed her and secretly moved into her dorm room. He prepared dinner every night, often a pot of curry and a box of wine. “It was a small space, but we were happy,” she said.


The bridal party assists Ms. Marshall with bustling her gown before the reception. Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times

He eventually returned home, working as a chemical engineer, this time at CSL Limited, a biotechnology company in Melbourne, Australia. “The lack of his presence was a physical sensation,” Ms. Marshall said. “I literally felt like someone was sitting on my chest.”

To stay more closely connected, they instituted rituals such as drinking a bottle of champagne together — via Skype — on the 23rd of every month, to celebrate the fact that they officially started dating on Oct. 23, 2014. Because of the time difference, Mr. Kelland often imbibed before dawn. “There were plenty of 23rds where Tom Skyped me from bed with a bottle of champagne and got dutifully drunk with me first thing in the morning in the name of love,” she wrote in an email.

In July 2016, a month after earning a master’s degree in elementary education, she moved to Melbourne and is now an elementary schoolteacher there. On Christmas Eve that year, he proposed while they were walking on some seaside cliffs in his hometown, as waves crashed below and he played their favorite road trip tune on his iPhone, “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac.

Ms. Marshall’s bachelorette party was the opposite of a wild weekend in Vegas. “I went to Bali by myself and got my diving certification,” she said. “It was a terrifying adventure that left me with a feeling of accomplishment. That seemed like a good way to celebrate my wedding.”


Friends noticed a change in the relationship when the bride went from being a solo traveler to having a travel companion. “I think that’s when I thought it could be serious,” said a friend of the bride. “When she started calling him an ‘adventure partner.’” Credit Morgan Rachel Levy for The New York Times

On Jan. 5, “Songbird” played through speakers as the bride entered the Broad Axe Barn at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, a rustic lodge surrounded by mountains in Tabernash, Colo. Ms. Marshall, who has done a lot of skiing, hiking and river rafting in the vicinity, calls Colorado “the area of the world where I really came to know myself.”

The wedding began just as sunset was beginning, and a yellowy-pink glow eventually transformed the scene outside, as if an Instagram filter had been applied.

The ceremony was led by Hamish Kelland, the bridegroom’s father, and Myriam Marshall, the bride’s mother. (In Colorado, couples can choose anyone to legally officiate at their wedding since no type of authorization is required.) The groom’s mother, Ronene Kelland, and the bride’s father, Tim Marshall, watched nearby.

“Hey, kids,” the bride’s mother began. “The vows you are about to take will reward you as much as they will test you.”

She then added: “Marriage is like catching the chicken bus. You jump on it and you hope for the best. You don’t know exactly where it’s going, but you sure hope it takes you more or less where you want to go. Sometimes, the trip will have you crying with terror. Sometimes, the ride will have you squealing with thrills. But in both cases, you hang on tight.”

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