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7 T.O. couples look back on their first date, proposal & more for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s a look at the romantic behind-the-scenes of some of Toronto’s power couples, from prom first dates to onstage kisses.

Roger Mooking and wife Leslie’s wedding

Roger: We were married in Castara Tobago in the finest elopement in history.  We looked out on the ocean on the edge of a mountaintop while hovering over a fishing village below. It was a very hot day, and as soon as the ceremony was over, we changed into shorts and T-shirts. We spent the week on that mountaintop and ventured around Tobago in our rental car visiting many of my old childhood stomping grounds. After Tobago, we met my entire family in Trinidad for a week-long family reunion. Every night was a reunion/wedding party. Perfection! When we went to visit our parents in Edmonton months later, they conspired and threw us a surprise party to celebrate the wedding again. Everyone was a part of our wedding in a very unusual way, and the festivities went on for a year. Roger Mooking is a celebrity chef and host of Man Fire Food on Food Network Canada

Dan Jeannotte and Heidi Hawkins’ romance on the stage

Dan: Heidi and I were both cast in a Shakespeare play, As You Like It — one of his comedies where complete strangers fall in love in the space of a few lines of dialogue. There was instantly something between us. But we couldn’t admit it because we were actually both in relationships at the time. Our characters get married at the end of the play, and we shared a kiss onstage. Somehow that kiss seemed to get longer during every performance. Years later, the director who cast us in that show was the officiant at our wedding. Dan Jeannotte is an actor known for his role in Good Witch

Marilyn Denis and Jim Helman’s first date


Marilyn: Our first date took place in spring of 1975, where we attended our high school junior prom in Pittsburgh. We went together as good friends. Nothing happened. We were two good, 16-year-old friends at a dance party. We had a great time dancing, catching up with friends, and since we were friends, there was no drama. At the time, Jim was living in Nashville, and he flew back to Pittsburgh for the prom. Marilyn Denis is the co-host of Marlyn Denis and Jamar on CHUM 104.5 and was the host of The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV

Pooja Handa and Paul Pathak’s accidental set-up

Pooja: We met the old-fashioned way … at a bar! We were both attending a birthday party at the Spoke Club. I was arriving and Paul was leaving. We passed one another as I came out of the elevator. I was with a boisterous friend of mine who yelled out a comment about us being a good match just as the door was closing to the elevator Paul was now in. I yelled out, “That wasn’t embarrassing,” expecting to never see him again. Turns out, Paul returned to the party in search of me. As fate would have it, we had a mutual friend there who introduced me to her husband who happened to be friends with, and was standing beside, Paul as apparently Paul had enlisted him to help look for me. Paul and I smiled at one another, knowing what went down hours earlier, shook hands and parted ways. The next day my girlfriend called me and asked if it was OK to give my phone number to Paul who had asked for it. I said yes. Minutes after I hung up, the phone rang. It was him! He didn’t waste any time and actually called instead of texting. We chatted and laughed and had a great conversation. Pooja Handa is a news anchor for CP24

Andrew Phung’s proposal to wife Tamara

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Andrew and Tamara were married on June 1, 2013

Andrew: I was so nervous to do it. I had thought of like 10 different plans to propose. Some involved a cappella groups, one involved a Hawksley Workman concert. But I wanted to do it with friends and during something we both love — games night! We play this game called Celebrity where you have to guess the name on the piece of paper. I kept describing her, over and over. And then finally I said it was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’m crying just thinking about it! Andrew Phung is an actor known for his role in CBC’s Kim’s Convenience

Bryan and Sarah Baeumler’s not-so-scenic proposal


Sarah: The proposal is a bit of a funny story, actually. Bryan and I were visiting his family out east in Nova Scotia. He had planned to propose while we were on this beautiful scenic hike beside the ocean. The views and scenery are usually breathtaking. However, on this particular day it was so foggy you could hardly see 20 feet in front of you. We ended up heading home and, on our way back, got a flat tire! Needless to say, it wasn’t the romantic journey Bryan was expecting, so he waited until later that night to pop the question. Sarah Baeumler is an HGTV Canada host

Catherine Reitman and Philip Sternberg’s meet-cute

Catherine: I was picking up a paycheque for my friend after an audition when I first saw Philip. I was dressed ridiculously, in short shorts, with two braids, for a role that I absolutely was wrong for and didn’t get. Philip handed me the cheque and there was clear electricity between us. We didn’t exchange numbers. We just smiled and knew that something was happening. Three months later, we ran into each other at an event. Philip told me there was no way I was walking out of his life again. Catherine Reitman was the star of CBC’s Workin’ Moms