It all started back in 2009 when Benner, 31, an LA-based performer was in a serial monogamy rut, having had a string of relationships that never lasted more than a year, due in part to her busy work schedule. At the time, she was dating an “attractive, well-built, bubbly” guy. “He was the way I would have imagined my dream guy,” she told The New York Times. They had been together for four months, and she “was all in—but he was into keeping his options open."
But a Christmas party that year changed all that. Benner was attending with her boyfriend when Dan Das Mann, 43, a sculptor from San Francisco, arrived.
The attraction was instantaneous. “I’d never felt electrified by the sight of a perfect stranger,” says Benner. Das Mann told the paper, “It was almost déjà vu, like I already knew her intimate secrets.”
Later at the party, the two ran into each other in an empty room and spontaneously hugged, then began talking. Benner realized that it wasn’t the first time she had met Das Mann—she had seen his work at the Burning Man arts festival in 2005 and had been mesmerized by his 40-foot steel sculpture of a mother passing fire to her child. At the time, she had approached Das Mann (then, he had long hair, a beard and was an “older hippie dude”) to compliment him on his work, but didn’t recognize him at the Christmas party because he was clean-shaven with short hair.
After Benner told a joke, Das Mann didn’t laugh—instead he asked, “Have I really found you? Are you the one?” but before Benner could reply, her boyfriend whisked her away.
The next day, Benner was confused. “I felt more connected to Dan than the person who I was meant to be in love with,” she said. Yet, Das Mann was older than the guys she normally dated, he was four inches shorter than she was, and his lifestyle was even more unconventional than hers.
Yet Das Mann was convinced he had found his wife. He called his mother right away. “I told her I’d found the one I am going to marry,” he said. “Only she had a boyfriend.”
The two began exchanging text messages and agreed to meet up but Benner refused to call it a date. They spent the day at a formal tea ceremony, went bowling, and saw a movie, while talking, laughing, and sharing what they called a deep familiarity.
“I felt pretty sure that if I pushed, Lindsay would bolt,” says Das Mann.
He finally made his move, kissing her on their third date. Says Benner, “In that kiss I saw a vision of my future: full of amazing people, adventures and creativity,” she said. However, still torn about their future, she said she was staying with her boyfriend for the time being, or she would forever have regrets.
For six weeks, Benner juggled both men. She and Das Mann exchanged more than 1,000 text messages, and overwhelmed, she asked him for space. While Das Mann respected her wishes, he sent her one more text message: A single comma. “The comma was to signify that in my opinion, we were just on pause,” he said.
Over Valentine’s Day weekend in 2010, Benner was scheduled to perform in Los Angeles and Das Mann was in town for a gig to teach a class on sculpture welding. But there was a twist: Benner’s boyfriend, also a producer of artistic performance, was Das Mann’s supervisor at the event, and knew that Das Mann had been talking to his girlfriend. That night, Benner broke up with her boyfriend and Das Mann proposed marriage.
On June 15th, after three years together, the couple married at the Ralston White Retreat in Mill Valley, California, in front of 130 friends and family. Naturally, the ceremony kicked off with a a juggler, then the entrance of eight hirsute groomsmen in gold and purple faux fur overalls made to look like tuxedos. “I hope the mother of the bride forgives me,” said Mr. Das Mann.
Men wielding torches cut figures into a steel door for the couple to enter and they vowed to “be insane, just the way you like it” and to always juggle and dance. Wedding guests had also received a unique wedding invitation: A river rock, laser-engraved with their addresses on the outside. The rock had been sliced and bound with wire, and inside, revealed the engraved details of the wedding. The rocks symbolized Das Mann and Benner's commitment to each other.
Unsurprisingly, the couple’s story has caused a wave of heartwarming support across the Internet. "This is definitely one of the best NYT wedding stories I've ever read," tweeted Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch. "His 'single comma' text is sumpthin else," Atlantic Wire contributor Jen Doll wrote. "Wow. Is this the best NYTimes Vows piece ever written" wrote Iris Yee and "I knew this was a burning man love match just by the wedding announcement headline," tweeted "Girls" writer Deb Schoeneman.
Congrats to the happy couple! We can't wait to see what they plan for their wedding anniversary.