Kelsey Masako Fumiko Kiyota and Elliott Lin met through a mutual friend in 2012, but it wasn’t until six years into their friendship that they realized they had something important in common — a love for the “Fast & Furious” movie franchise. The discovery happened in January 2018 while at a party at their friend’s house in San Francisco, where they both lived.
“I loved the story being about friends and family,” said Ms. Kiyota, 38. “Elliott had such a different take on it. He was like ‘I just love the cars’,” she said with a laugh.
“I’d never met anyone, especially a girl, that had the same interest,” said Mr. Lin, 34. He knew he had to act. “This could be my shot,” he said. “This could be the one.”
After the party, Mr. Lin texted Ms. Kiyota to ask her out. She said yes but she wasn’t clear if their friendship was truly taking a romantic turn. “I was a little bit confused because I’d known him for six years,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if it was a real date or a hangout.”
That March, they met for Korean barbecue at a restaurant called Han Il Kwan in San Francisco. They discovered a few other things they had in common, including a shared interest in food and dining out. At the night’s end, Mr. Lin walked Ms. Kiyota home and presented her with a gift he had brought — a box of macarons. These gestures cleared up Mr. Lin’s intentions, Ms. Kiyota said.
After more dates, the new couple went to Lake Tahoe a few weeks later. They went on hikes and continued to enjoy going out to eat. That August, Mr. Lin stayed over at Ms. Kiyota’s place and, before falling asleep, he asked her to be his girlfriend. She said yes.
Ms. Kiyota knew things were going well when she introduced Mr. Lin — who comes from a “polite and quiet” family — to her “very loud, very rambunctious” family in Colorado that fall. “He already knew how important my family was to me,” Ms. Kiyota said. “To see him make that effort was the best,” she said. “He was just a perfect fit.”
By the end of 2018, Ms. Kiyota told Mr. Lin that she was in love and he said he was too. Ms. Kiyota moved into Mr. Lin’s condo in Hayward, Calif., in 2019. Marriage wasn’t something the pair talked about much but, in the summer of 2020, Ms. Kiyota mentioned that she thought a yellow diamond engagement ring would be nice. “I like bright colors,” she said. Mr. Lin took note.
The couple moved to Erie, Colo., in December 2021. Ms. Kiyota grew up in Niwot, Colo. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Colorado Boulder and is now a global learning program manager at Fivetran, an automated data movement company based in Oakland, Calif.
Mr. Lin grew up in Fremont, Calif. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Francisco State University and is a project manager at Intuitive Surgical, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Both work remotely from their home in Erie.
Mr. Lin picked out an engagement ring with a yellow diamond, then enlisted Ms. Kiyota’s photographer cousin to help plan a surprise proposal on Jan. 15, 2023. Ms. Kiyota thought her cousin wanted their help trying out some new locations in Boulder for future photo shoots — until Mr. Lin asked her to marry him.
“I was very surprised,” she said.
The couple started wedding planning right away. They knew they wanted to get married in a year but Colorado would be cold then so they set their sights on Hawaii. Ms. Kiyota also had a family connection in her uncle, who had grown up in Lahaina before moving to Colorado. But when the wildfires hit Maui in August 2023, the couple was unsure how, or if, they should proceed.
“We wanted to make sure we were being sensitive to the locals that live there,” Ms. Kiyota said. They eventually called their vendors, some of whom live near Lahaina, and she said they encouraged her to continue on as planned. Their florist was excited that visitors and tourists were coming back, Ms. Kiyota said.
After signing their marriage licenses at home on Christmas Day in 2023 (Colorado allows for self-solemnization), the couple headed to Maui.
Mr. Lin and Ms. Kiyota celebrated their wedding on Jan. 5 at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Maui with about 100 guests. King Alamshahi, a friend from San Francisco, led the ceremony, which took place on a lawn overlooking the beach.
Thoughts of the wildfire were still present for many, including her uncle who lost a friend in the fire. But Ms. Kiyota said the difficulty was balanced with joy.
Shortly before the reception, the sun was setting and the couple was photographed on a cliff overlooking the ocean. “We were able to take a deep breath, relax a bit, and soak everything in,” Ms. Kiyota said. In that moment, there was no sound except for the crash of ocean waves.