Morgan Hoit and Dylan Pager, who met at work seven years ago, enlisted their roommates in organizing a game night. The hangout went so well that the two deleted their dating apps.
When Dylan Pager first met Morgan Landfair Hoit at work in November 2016, he thought she was cute. Ms. Hoit, a new graduate of Duke, had just started her job in the theater industry, and the assistant she was replacing brought her to the management office to meet her new colleagues. “It didn’t cross my mind to mix work and dating,” Mr. Pager said.
Ms. Hoit, 29, was an assistant to Jill Furman, one of the producers of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” at her production company. Mr. Pager, 31, worked for Baseline Theatrical, a theatrical management company, overseeing the house seats for “Hamilton.”
Over the next three years, they saw each other infrequently, mostly on Ms. Hoit’s runs to the management office to pick up her boss’s mail. Then Ms. Hoit announced in a group email that she was changing career paths for a job in book publishing. Mr. Pager wrote back to congratulate her and said they should meet for a drink.
“By then, I had begun to hear about NYC Book Girl,” he said of Ms. Hoit’s Instagram account dedicated to books. “I wanted to hear more about that and I wanted to say farewell.” Friendship, not romance, was the goal. “I liked Morgan, but I really didn’t have any other motives,” Mr. Pager said.
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After they met up, in August 2019, Ms. Hoit wished that was otherwise. They had drinks at Bean & Barley, an Irish pub that has since closed, near the apartment Ms. Hoit shared with two roommates in South Harlem. “We were really talking and connecting, and we realized we had all this stuff in common,” Ms. Hoit said. Topping the list was a love of games: She had a deck of the Monopoly Deal card game in her bag that they played for hours.
Later that night, back in her fifth-floor walk-up, she told her roommates, “Hmm, I think that was a date.” On the way back to his Upper West Side apartment, Mr. Pager was knocked sideways by a flood of unexpected feelings. He, too, confided in his two roommates.
“I told them I was caught off guard by the evening,” he said. “I’ve always been so cautious about crossing the line with friends, because I really value my friends.” But over the next couple of days, as the two started exchanging texts, “I was really in my head as to whether we were friends, or was this going to be more.”
Ms. Hoit grew up in Summit, N.J., and Mr. Pager in West Harrison, N.Y. Both describe themselves as theater kids. He majored in theater at Northwestern, graduating in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree, and she double majored in English and theater studies at Duke. Ms. Hoit is now the associate director of social media at Atria Books. Mr. Pager is a 2023 Tony nominee for executive producing the Broadway play “Fat Ham,” and he is the director of producing and creative development at No Guarantees, a production company.
When the two wanted an excuse to see each other again, they enlisted their roommates for help.
“On our date-not-date it became clear she loved playing games with her roommates and I with mine, so we talked about how it would be fun to do a roommate game night,” Mr. Pager said. “A natural follow-up text was, ‘We should definitely get that game night going.’”
At the end of August, the Harlem crew brought Azul, a strategy board game, with them to the Upper West Side. Mr. Pager and his roommates provided Codenames and Anomia, both card games. The hangout went well enough that by October, the duo deleted their dating apps.
The following year, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were too in love to quarantine apart. First, they stayed with Mr. Pager’s parents in Westchester County, N.Y., and then at Ms. Hoit’s parents’ house in Chatham, Mass.
On Aug. 21, 2022, Mr. Pager proposed after they had been living together on the Upper West Side for a little over a year. As he got down on one knee in Riverside Park, their four parents hid and watched from behind the trees. “It’s right behind our apartment, and it had become very special to us,” Mr. Pager said of the spot.
Ms. Hoit called her instant yes a “no-brainer,” one with “crying, lots of crying,” she said. “There’s no part of me that stayed up all night thinking about how crazy it is we’re getting married. There was no fear or anxiety about taking that step. We were ready.”
On Sept. 2, they proved it in front of 250 guests at 99 Scott Studio, an events space in Brooklyn. Garrett Baer, Mr. Pager’s best friend, who was previously ordained by the Universal Life Church, officiated a nonreligious ceremony, featuring a huppah and the breaking of glass to honor Mr. Pager’s Jewish background. Ms. Hoit’s game night roommates were in her bridal party of six; Mr. Pager’s were among his seven groomsmen.
At a post reception after-party, they all had a chance to play games, where — in addition to Monopoly Deal — the couple surprised their guests with playing cards featuring their photo on each deck.