LAS VEGAS – Halfway through a year turned upside down by a viral catastrophe, it only seemed fitting that Ryan Angell’s best-laid plans would be disrupted by yet another natural event that spawned a low-grade tornado, which ripped through a supermarket parking lot just a mile or so down the road.

He had thought about making the biggest move of his life several months earlier, when he invited Morgan Bettes to go on a location shoot with him to the Florida Everglades. Ryan was videotaping the exploits of barefoot Myakka City Burmese python hunter Dusty Crum, star of Discovery Channel’s “Guardians of the Glades” series.

“I was just trying to create something special,” Ryan recalls, “but as I’m there, I’m thinking, mmm, maybe this isn’t the right place, we’re actually up to our knees in mud right now …”

So he decided to go with something a bit more traditional, a little closer to home, at Caspersen Beach in South Venice – a blanket, a champagne dinner, a sunset on the sand. Then came the cascading weather, as if Zeus himself was determined to empty every inch of his bladder on Ryan’s strategy. On and on it went. They were stuck in a car at Shamrock Park. Finally, he asked her: Wanna go on a little adventure?

“Well,” Morgan recalls, “we both enjoy rain …” They put on rain jackets and went for a hike in the downpour. They reached a clearing. “And there’s this incline, and I’m running up it, like, pretending I’m Rocky at the top of the steps, doing this little dance – ‘yes!’ – and it’s pouring down rain, and when I turn around, Ryan is down on one knee, with a ring, proposing.

“I think we sat in the car at Shamrock for about an hour afterwards, in the pouring rain, I couldn’t believe it.”

But the really weird thing is, without COVID-19, their wedding – which occurred on Jan. 31 – might never have happened at all.

From the 35th floor of their Las Vegas hotel, Morgan, 32, and Ryan, 30, take a few minutes on the last day of their honeymoon to review the tumultuous events of 2020 that brought them here today.

Their paths began crossing four years ago in Lakewood Ranch. She’s an event planner with her own company, Independent Jones. He shoots events, business ads and TV shows through his Angell Media House company. Both were and are workaholics who managed to maintain a professional distance.

They had their eyes on each other for months. But not much happened until Ryan discovered Morgan was an independent contractor, not a Lakewood Ranch employee, which could’ve presented a conflict. So, with a nudge from his cousin, in January last year, Ryan made his move as he filmed an event at the Sarasota Polo Club.

“His line was something like, hey can I borrow your pretty face for a shot?” Morgan says. “Normally, we don’t film staff because we look horrible because we’ve been running around all day, and my instinct is no. But I said OK and I threw some cornhole eggs for him, and we ended up hanging out and talking more.”

It had the makings of a conventional trajectory. They discovered they were both serious about ping-pong, and on their first date – Jan. 31, 2020 – at “a dive” in Bradenton, Ryan wagered a kiss if he won. “I made him work for it,” Morgan insists.

Six weeks later, however, COVID-19 threw the world into deep freeze. Everything stopped, for both of them – the contracts, the bookings, the paychecks, job security. What they realized was that neither wanted to endure this alone.

“My parents are older, and I knew quarantining at their house wasn’t the best idea, and that Ryan lived by himself in Venice,” Morgan says. “So we just kinda took that leap.”

Read the full article on the Sarasota Herald Tribune.