The Dress Code Was ‘Fly and Gay’

The Dress Code Was ‘Fly and Gay’

By talking frequently for the first year of the pandemic, Ahmad Maksoud and Josef Perou brought each other light in a dark time. Then they finally met.

Ahmad Maksoud and Josef Matthew Perou first met in March 2020, a time that was far from joyful. Both work as models and performers, and were similarly impacted by pandemic lockdowns. Cut off from performance work in their respective cities — Mr. Maksoud in New York and Mr. Perou in London — they were craving connection to their art communities.

That month, when a photographer they had both worked with posted an old photo of Mr. Perou on Instagram, Mr. Maksoud was entranced.

“In a way, he was someone that I kind of dreamed about already,” Mr. Maksoud said. “I almost felt like I already had a connection to him in some kind of abstract way.”

So he reached out to the photographer to find out who the model was.

“He was like, ‘He lives in London. Don’t get your hopes up or anything,’” Mr. Maksoud said.

When he sent Mr. Perou an Instagram DM, the two immediately bonded over their shared career interests. “My first thought was, ‘This man is beautiful,’” Mr. Perou said. “I very quickly came to learn not only is he beautiful, he’s also an absolute fool,” meaning “kind and sweet and silly.” He added, “‘Hot fool’ is my type.”

They communicated frequently by text, phone or FaceTime, and a year later, as soon as Americans were allowed to travel to Britain, Mr. Maksoud booked an Airbnb in the Camden section of London so that they could quarantine together for a week and meet in person for the first time.

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

They consider that whole week to be their first date, which included cooking, playing board games and going on walks. They also modeled together for a few virtual figure drawing sessions with different artists. Some of those artists even gifted the couple their drawings of the two of them from those sessions. “Now we have this catalog of our work of when we first met,” Mr. Maksoud said.

Michael Richman

In the two years that followed, they met up with each other in different cities, including Bregenz, Austria in July 2021. Mr. Maksoud went to visit Mr. Perou, who was living there that summer and playing a gorilla in Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto” at Seebühne Bregenz.

In February 2023, while Mr. Perou was visiting New York, the couple had a “proposal day,” Mr. Maksoud said. They went to the New York Public Library, and after visiting a few exhibits, they found a quiet corner and proposed to each other with matching rings by a large window.

“There were about five or six other people in the area, and it seemed to clear right as we were approaching it,” Mr. Perou said about the corner at which they proposed to each other. “We were like, ‘Oh, this is the spot,’” he added.

Mr. Perou, who was born and raised in Sussex, England, graduated from the Central School of Ballet with a bachelor’s degree in professional dance and performance. He most recently spent five months puppeteering as Blue the Velociraptor at Jurassic World: The Exhibition in London.

Mr. Maksoud, who was born and raised in Boston, graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in theater and psychology and from Harvard’s American Repertory Theater Institute with an M.F.A. Last year, he acted in “On That Day in Amsterdam” at 59E59 Theaters.

In March, Mr. Perou moved into Mr. Maksoud’s Harlem apartment on a tourist visa, and he is currently applying for a green card. Instead of registering for a honeymoon through a wedding registry, they decided to repurpose the concept. They used Honeyfund, a free gift registry, to help pay for immigration fees associated with Mr. Perou’s relocation, such as lawyer fees and medical examinations.

On May 11, the couple was married at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau for a City Hall wedding officiated by Madeline Plasencia, a city clerk. That day, they wore fun, colorful outfits.

“We didn’t want to wear formal black tuxes, we wanted to bring a little bit of spice,” Mr. Maksoud said. “We wanted to be fly and gay.”

They “got a lot of compliments from the security staff,” Mr. Perou said.

Three friends served as witnesses. Afterward, they had dinner at Blue Smoke, followed by a bar hangout at Brass Monkey with 40 people.

“Everything was really casual,” Mr. Maksoud said of the wedding day. “Even when we cried and even when it felt sentimental, everything just felt really light.”