A chance meeting for a good cause blossomed into the romance of a lifetime for this Kansas City couple
Story by Katy Schamberger | Photos by Mollie Wetta
There’s no denying the power of love at first sight, yet there’s something equally romantic about a love that blossoms from friendship. For Katy Sullivan and Roy Anderson, a romantic connection wasn’t a top priority—in fact, it was just the opposite, given the circumstances of their introduction.
You see, when the two first met, Sullivan recently had been enlisted to participate in this magazine’s signature annual event: KC’s Sexiest Singles. And, Sullivan admits, “I was really enjoying the title. I thought, ‘I’m not dating this guy. No way!’”
The commitment Sullivan had taken on wasn’t just about the title. The participating singles spend several months soliciting local businesses to contribute goods or services (including anything and everything from five-star dining experiences to European getaways) to build amazing “date” packages. The campaign culminates with an auction of the singles’ packages, with the proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.
The campaign kicked off with an orientation event designed to welcome the year’s participants into the campaign, after which Sullivan made plans to meet some of the singles and other friends for drinks at a bar in the West Bottoms. And that’s where it all started. Sullivan was introduced to Anderson, who was there at the invitation of a mutual friend who also was participating in the event.
By the end of the evening, Anderson had agreed to become one of the Sexiest Singles himself and had also clicked with Sullivan.
“It was just the best night,” Sullivan says. “We got to know each other through the friendship. We were kind of anti-dating—just friends hanging out—and it forced us to see each other in another light without having to go straight to a relationship.”
Over the months that followed, Sullivan and Anderson spent a lot of time together as a result of their Sexiest Singles commitments. They also got together outside of those scheduled events, collaborating to help each other build their event packages.
Because they didn’t advertise their burgeoning relationship, Sullivan says the duo took advantage of an opportunity to build a solid foundation of friendship.
“When we would go out to all of the different Sexiest Singles events, we couldn’t be together, so we really got a chance to see a different side of one another,” she says. “I was looking at him as a really good friend instead of a boyfriend. We got to be best friends first, and I think for me, it became a more emotional connection versus just a quick, ‘Oh, he’s cute.’”
Of course, there’s no hiding a true love connection—something Sullivan soon discovered, thanks to another especially intuitive participant.
“We had all gotten together for a happy hour at The Drop, and one of the other girls pulled me aside and asked, ‘What’s going on?’” Sullivan says. “I told her—it felt so good to get it out. And then people could just see it. That was one of the first nights I really remember thinking, ‘Wow. I think I’m done.’”
An Imperfect Proposal
The relationship became official after Sexiest Singles concluded that December, and the two spent the holidays with each other’s families. After that, they never looked back.
Once the couple reached the two-year milestone, Anderson knew it was time to take the next step. But Sullivan unintentionally foiled his every shot at a perfect proposal.
“I kept interrupting his plans because I had other plans,” she says. “He had a couple of failed attempts.”
And true to character, the actual proposal didn’t go off without a hitch or two.
“We were preparing for a trip to Wichita. He had taken me to lunch earlier in the day, but he didn’t feel like the time was right then,” she says. “Later, we were loading up the car and I noticed a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge that wasn’t there before, but I didn’t think much of it.”
Once the car was packed (with Katy inside), Roy came out to ask her to help with something inside. Sullivan’s response? “You’ve got it! Come on, we’ve got to go!”
Shaking his head, Roy confessed to an elaborate set-up inside the couple’s condominium.
“He said, ‘I was trying to have a really lovely proposal,’” Sullivan recounts. “I said, ‘Wait! This is it? Now?’ I started laughing—I was so confused!”
Despite the slightly bumpy execution, Anderson managed to pop the question. And Sullivan, of course, accepted, propelling the interior designer to take on a new kind of project: planning their wedding.
Happily Ever After
The New Year is typically heralded as a time to make a fresh start—and what better way to celebrate new beginnings than with a wedding? On Jan. 3, Roy and Katy tied the knot at the church Sullivan attended while growing up in Wichita. The ceremony was followed by a reception at the city’s Exploration Place science museum. It may sound like an unexpected venue, but it appealed to Sullivan’s aesthetic. She knew it would be the perfect backdrop.
“The architecture of the building is pretty, but it photographs beautifully,” Sullivan says.
In one of the most striking photos from their big day, Sullivan and Anderson embrace in front of the elaborately tiled wall of the Flight and Design Center, a moment the pair had planned with their photographer weeks earlier based on a tearsheet Sullivan, ever the designer, had included in her wedding file.
One of the most memorable moments of the ceremony was perfectly orchestrated by the couple as a surprise for their families. As a string quartet played “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother,” Sullivan and Anderson presented individual roses to both of their mothers and to Sullivan’s grandmother.
“We got to honor the three women who have been so important in our lives, and I could tell it meant a lot to them,” Katy says. “My grandmother had never held us so tight. It was a really great moment.”
For all their planning, neither Sullivan nor Anderson could have been prepared for the emotions elicited by their exchange of vows. As they said, “I do,” the true extent and depth of the feelings that started unexpectedly as a mere spark overwhelmed the newlyweds.
“It felt like no one else was in the room,” Sullivan says. “We talked about it afterwards—we just got lost in each other.”