Local Couples Share Their Sweet and Hilarious Meet-Cutes and First Dates

Like all great love stories, they’re filled with awkward moments, mutual friends, mystery flower deliveries, and funny coincidences.


Romance is in the air this week, so I thought that it would only be fitting to get in the Valentine’s spirit by diving into a few local love stories—sweet, cute and funny anecdotes from faces and couples you may recognize.



Parker Moosman Ali Mcmahon couple sitting on chair couple standing in front of tree

Photos: Parker Moosman, Tahiti Huetter



Turns Out, Olive You

Parker Moosman and Ali McMahon, owners of the fabulous Oliver Men’s Shop and Olive Boutique in Kailua

Together 17 years, married for 10

How They Met: “
Ali and I met in 2005 while we were both living in Seattle—we both lived just off of Olive Street on Capitol Hill. A mutual friend of ours “just knew” that we had to meet and although both of us were against the idea of being set up, she was relentless. She even tricked us into being at the same events. One of those nights was at a Friendsgiving party. We finally did talk outside in a stairwell and found that we really enjoyed each other’s company. I remember how easy she was to talk to. When we finally did get married, we made that friend officiate our wedding! And here we are, almost 17 years later!”

Their First Date(s): “
We had a few first dates, one being at a creperie-bar down the street from where we lived and one at a French coffee shop-bakery that was actually on Olive Street. Both dates lasted for HOURS because we couldn’t stop talking. We had a lot of similar interests, shared favorite restaurants and bars, and found out that we had multiple friends in common. It was crazy that we had both lived in the same neighborhood for years, going to the same places, sometimes hanging out with same people, and had never met!”



Podmore restaurant interior tables booth couple

Photo: Olivier Koning


Cheesy Does It

Katherine Nomura and chef Anthony Rush, owners of Podmore in downtown Honolulu

How They Met:
“Given where we met and what we do, food and beverage has always been integral in Anthony’s and my relationship. He and I met in 2007 when we worked at the same restaurant in New York. The team was so big and our schedules so different, I didn’t see him too frequently when I first started. He had so many nicknames (007, Pimm’s, Ant, etc.) that I didn’t know his real name for the longest time. I simply referred to him as my work crush! One evening, we were both working an event in the private dining room and he asked if I wanted to buy him a beer after work. Sure enough, when I went to the regular dive bar across the street that night, he was there, beer-less and waiting for me to buy him a round. That was the night I finally found out his real name.”

Their First Date:
“One of Anthony’s sous chef responsibilities at the restaurant was to order the cheese. Once he found out about my love for all things cheese, he pulled some strings with one of New York’s biggest purveyors and organized a tour of the cheese caves at Murray’s for us. That was our first date (private cheese cave tour = the way to any turophile’s heart).”



Jordan Higa Noa Emberson couple standing on bridge couple sitting in grass with dog

Photos: Jordan Higa, Nani Welch Keli‘iho‘omalu



Love By Design


Who: Jordan Higa, senior designer at iQ 360, freelance illustrator and owner of the Hontas Higa stationery line and Noa Emberson, illustrator and creative director-owner of Onward

Together 7.5 years, engaged for 1, dog parents for 8 months

How They Met:


Jordan: “Our mutual friend tried to set us up when I was getting ready to move back to Hawai‘i from New York in 2015. Noa had moved back to Hawai‘i from L.A. one year prior but due to a bad track record with blind first dates, he was wary. A few months after I moved home and was starting to get sick of third-wheeling with my sister and her boyfriend, we met organically at Manifest.”


Noa: “When we first learned about each other, we naturally looked at each other’s Instagram accounts.”


Jordan: “Noa seemed like a driven designer with a distinct style and a very nice house, which turned out to be exactly who he was.”


Noa: “And I thought that Jordan might be a cold high-fashion New Yorker, but when I met her in person, she was a sunny Volkswagen-driving island girl.”

Their First Date:


Jordan: “We texted non-stop for a week after we met, eager to learn about each other’s past, travels, families, careers, goals, art and music taste until we went on our first date at Morning Glass (where Noa’s art was conveniently on display).”


Noa: “That evening, we met up again for date part two at a concert at Downbeat Lounge and before Jordan knew it, she was living in that very nice house!”


Jordan: “I felt good about Noa when we texted for the entire week leading up to our first date. The conversation was so fun and easy and we quickly realized we had a similar sense of humor, spoke the same language and shared a lot of values.”


Noa: “She laughed at most of the things I laughed at and the connection felt solidified when I met her family. I also loved that we could talk about design very easily and appreciate each other’s very different styles.”



John Reyno Kristen Reyno couple sitting on chair couple hugging in front of photo background

Photos: Kristen Hook Photography



Dancing Queen

Kristen Reyno, artist-photographer and designer-owner of Lola Pilar Hawai‘i and John Reyno, vintage furniture restorer and owner of Hawai‘i Modern

Together 14 years, married for 6

How They Met:

“It was two days before I was moving to California and a friend and I went to see the band Ookla the Mok at Boardriders. We were at the bar and had just ordered a drink and I saw two guys walk in, and of course, one of the guys is John. I’m like, oh my god, that guy’s so cute! The band was playing and we were dancing, getting closer and closer to the guys…”


John: “I remember walking in and there’s these two blondes and one of them is staring at me. We’re just kind of clueless, you know, just hanging out with a buddy of mine. And then in comes Kristen, like right in front of me, dancing away. I was a couple beers deep and I kind of tugged on her hair and said, hey, I really like your hair. Like who does that? Such an idiot! We ended up seeing her at another bar after that and we talked a little bit more. She asked me where I lived and when I told her what street, it turned out that her mom and dad were building a house on that exact same street.”


Kristen: “It was so weird, I had never felt like this ever—with anyone. I went over to girlfriend’s house later that night and I don’t know how I knew this, but I told my friend, I think I’m gonna marry that guy!”

Their First Date:


Kristen: “So, in California, I ended up being roommates with Mark, the friend that John walked in the door with that first night at Boardriders.”


John: “I came up to visit Mark and the three of us were supposed to go out to dinner and then to a bar.”


Kristen: “But Mark never showed up for dinner—he had set us up!”



Brigette Namata Bobby Cabino couple sitting at dining table couple on the beach

Photos: Brigette Namata, Ely Rose Photography



The Case of the Mystery Flowers

Brigette Namata, KHON-TV news anchor, and Bobby Cabino, federal employee

 Together 5 years, married last July

How They Met: 


Brigette: “It was our mutual friend Lance Rae’s birthday at The Modern. I was going to pass, but at the last minute I put on some heels and went. And there was a guy with Lance, who was wearing a suit with a Gucci belt that I zeroed in on immediately. Right, because who wears an outfit like that in Hawai‘i? We ended up talking for the rest of the night, bonding over our shared interests and outlooks on life. It turns out that I had seen him before because he was the dad in the Genki Sushi commercials and he had done one of those Sears advertisements in the newspaper…”


Bobby: “It was a Sears commercial!”


Brigette: “Also, he was 11 years older than me but he looked my age, so I made him pull out his driver’s license for proof. He also admitted that he never had to try with a girl before, so I was like, you’re gonna learn today!”


Bobby: “Well there were two other birthday parties that night, that’s why we were dressed up. Normally, I don’t go out in a suit and Gucci belt—she makes me sound all high maka maka—but that night I did. She was very beautiful. She walked into the room and she was all smiling, she has big eyes. I think, oh, this girl’s cute! I had no idea who she was. I’m from the Mainland too and I liked her East Coast vibe. And she was very driven—I loved that. She told me about her aspirations and the fact that she had wanted to be a news anchor since she was 10 years old. Who wants to be a news anchor at 10 years old?”

Their First Date(s): 


Bobby: “I was very interested in getting to know her better and she was playing hard to get. And I did try to woo her. I sent flowers to the newsroom three days in a row.”


Brigette: “He didn’t even write his name on it though! I didn’t know who to thank.”

“I did that on purpose! I left a little hint on the card saying, hopefully this makes up for the points I lost, because the night we met I had said, hopefully I can make up for the points I’d lost another day. The following week she allowed me to take her to dinner to Nobu. So, I tried to wine and dine her, which I set the expectations way too high from the beginning.”


Brigette: “Way too high!”


Bobby: “Months of this dragged on to where I was so confused. Was she into me, was she not?”


Brigette: “But then, one night he took me to dinner at Hoku’s at the Kāhala and I don’t know if it was the wine or the lighting, but I started looking at him differently. The conversation was so nice and at that point our rapport was just so easy. And I’ve always liked his demeanor. For me, every day is a deadline. I always have a lot on my plate that I have to take care of immediately. So, there are times when I’m frazzled or all over the place. And he’s always so calm and collected—that’s reassuring. From then on, we were inseparable. It was like zero to 60. I don’t think we’ve left each other’s sides since. And then, three years later, the Kāhala is where he proposed.”




SEE ALSO: Amazing Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas From Local Businesses and Designers