After the Nude Spa, They Knew Their Relationship Had Shifted

Simon Halliday used to scoff at the notion of a friendship evolving into a romance. But after meeting Michelle Bryant 10 years ago at a photo shoot in London, he was gladly proved wrong.

At the time they met, both Mr. Halliday, now 55, and Ms. Bryant, 38, were in relationships, yet a friendship took root.

Mr. Halliday, who grew up in Manchester, England, graduated from the University of Manchester with a bachelor’s degree in history. After traveling for a few years, he settled in London, then moved to New York City in 2002. He is now the managing director of the British record label 4AD, running worldwide operations from the SoHo office in Manhattan.

He would travel regularly for work to London, where Ms. Bryant, who goes by Meesh, was running the photography agency BOLT, which she founded. The two would often see each other at photo shoots and concerts. Their shoptalk gradually morphed into a friendship. But when Mr. Halliday separated from his wife in October 2017, he began to wonder whether he and Ms. Bryant could be more than friends.

By then, however, Ms. Bryant had moved to Berlin. Ms. Bryant, who grew up in Buckinghamshire, England, graduated from the University of Roehampton London with a bachelor’s degree in drama, theater and performance studies. After 15 years in London, she felt she needed a change of scenery. New York was her dream city, but the visa process proved challenging. So in July 2017, an opportunity arose when the lead singer of a band she had photographed offered her a house to rent in Berlin.

Mr. Halliday began visiting Ms. Bryant in Berlin in March 2018, which was when the two realized something had shifted in their relationship.

On his second visit, Ms. Bryant took him for a surprise trip to a spa, with a twist — it was fully nude. “It is quite shocking for the first five minutes, and then weirdly, you get used to it very quickly,” she said.

The two continued meeting regularly in Berlin or London over the next couple of years. When he spoke to his sister, Emma Adler, in 2019, Mr. Halliday realized Ms. Bryant was the one. He took his sister’s advice and made it official during a trip to Berlin that summer by asking her to be his girlfriend.

“I’ve met someone that I want to spend all my time with,” Ms. Bryant said. Just a few months later, the coronavirus shut down travel.

Ms. Bryant’s hopes of moving to the United States were dashed, even though she had recently been approved for a visa. She moved into her mother’s home in Oxfordshire, England.

Mr. Halliday moved to his second home, near Forestburgh, N.Y., with his two children, now 15 and 13. Travel restrictions made seeing each other nearly impossible, though they did manage to meet once in Turkey.

Their forced time apart gave Mr. Halliday, whose divorce was finalized in 2020, and Ms. Bryant the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to each other. Mr. Halliday’s children, who met Ms. Bryant before the pandemic, quickly caught on that Ms. Bryant was more than a friend.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

Finally, in October 2021, Ms. Bryant left London and relocated to New York. “It’s been a bit of a dream,” Ms. Bryant said. She moved into Mr. Halliday’s apartment in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, and the two enjoyed long walks across the city and exploring Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Ms. Bryant also created a vegetable garden at the upstate home.

On Sept. 22, 2022, Mr. Halliday took Ms. Bryant for a hike along the Tusten Mountain Trail in Narrowsburg, N.Y., and proposed at sunset. They celebrated afterward at a restaurant nearby, next to a waterfall.

The couple were married on April 15 at Old Marylebone Town Hall in London by Bruce Marcus, a deputy superintendent registrar. There were 100 guests at the ceremony.

A reception was held afterward at Jamboree, a music venue in London. Ms. Bryant previously worked there and had petitioned to prevent it from shutting down; it reopened during the pandemic at a new location in King’s Cross.

“It was apparently the first sunny day they’ve had in London for months,” Mr. Halliday said.

Ms. Bryant asked her guests to sign her white asymmetrical wedding dress — transforming it into a keepsake that she plans to frame.

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