There are few engagement stories more epic than that of KiSS 92.5's Maurie Sherman and his husband, Matthew Almeida. After all, not many people propose on stage during a Mariah Carey concert! But that was the brilliant and ingenious way Maurie popped the question to Matthew, and it has since become famous.
Matthew, a publicist at CTV, and Maurie, known for his work on The Roz & Mocha Show met in 2007 in the press room at the MuchMusic Video Awards. It all started when Maurie realized he absolutely had to talk to Matthew and tapped him on the shoulder. We all have moments when we're inexplicably drawn to someone – maybe it's a case of instant romantic attraction, or we know they'd make a great friend. And Maurie knew if he didn't introduce himself to Matthew, he would miss an opportunity an amazing connection.
At first, Matthew insisted on being friends, saying he didn't want to date someone who also worked in media. But their feelings for each other were undeniable, and on New Year's Eve that same year, Matthew passed a card across the table to Maurie saying he felt it was the right time for them to become a couple.
Flash forward to a glamorous night in Las Vegas, where Maurie got on stage during Mariah's big show and asked Matthew to marry him – a nod to Matthew's joking insistence that he would only get married if he could meet Mariah first.
They later eloped, saying "I do" at Bethesda Terrace arcade in New York's Central Park in late 2016, following it up with some of their traditions: brunch at Serendipity 3 and dinner at Katz's, famous for its pastrami on rye and matzo ball soup and equally popular with tourists and celebs from the Big Apple's theatre circuit.
The strength of their love and connection can clearly be seen on Maurie's Instagram and Twitter accounts, where the two frequently post everything from cute selfies with their dog, Andy Monroe, to inside looks at their holiday and Pride celebrations.
HELLO! Canada caught up with Maurie and Matthew to talk about how Maurie made that magical engagement happen, their favourite memories from their wedding day, what they love most about each other, Pride moments they'll always remember and much more.
HELLO! Canada: Maurie, when you tapped Matthew on the shoulder, did you feel something right away? What was that moment like for each of you?
Maurie: I'm sure Matthew's recollection of that moment is different than mine. We met backstage at an awards show and I just had a feeling that I had to introduce myself and say something to him… it was one of those, "if you don't, you will regret it" moments. It was fast, but when we locked eyes, and I said something dumb like "Ok, I'm leaving now," it felt like everything slowed down… even though it was actually a millisecond of a moment.
Matthew: Honestly, I was in work mode. It was the end of the night and I was just about to wrap my shift when he tapped me on the shoulder – and my first thought was "of course, right when I am about to be done my shift he has to ask me something now!" But he was just introducing himself, and so we chatted quickly.
I knew of him through the industry, but it was the first time we met. I thought he was a nice guy – but didn't really think anything more of it. It wasn't until we emailed back and forth after and hung out a few times that I started to form a real impression of him.
Matthew, you've said you were "adamant" about not dating anyone who was in the media. What made you decide to move from friendship to relationship? Was there a particular moment that made you realize you needed to take that step with Maurie? Was it something about him?
Matthew: At the time, I was just starting my career. And as a publicist in the very small world of PR, the last thing I wanted to be known for… was for dating members of the media! But honestly I had to let that go because as they say, "the heart wants what it wants."
The move from friendship to relationship happened organically even before we made it "official." We were friends for a while, and the whole time I knew there was something special about him. There were so many moments that made me realize not only did I need to take the next step, but that he was the one. We clicked, and he just made me laugh constantly. He is a lot of fun to be around!
I was attracted to his confidence and his "not worrying about what other people think" mentality. But another big thing for me was I saw how he treated my friends and family – he was sincere, genuine and authentic. And you can tell a lot about someone's character based on how they treat others (and not just yourself) in a relationship.
Maurie, how did you feel when Matthew slipped you that note at dinner on New Year's Eve?
Maurie: I started to cry right away. After chasing him for so long and he wanting to just be friends, I said to him "look, when you're ready to take this further just let me know, because I want to be more than just friends." Leave it to him to surprise me months later with the perfect card that read "now is the right time" on the cover. Years later, he surprised me again with the same quote he found on a magnet, which currently hangs on our fridge.
Your engagement story is famous. But... Maurie, were you talking with Mariah's people beforehand? How did that happen? Did she just actually hand you the mic right there, or did you work something behind the scenes?
Maurie: That was one of the hardest things I've ever worked on. I wanted this to happen so badly, as I knew it would be very special for Matthew who is one of the biggest lambs on the planet. Sure, there are many other ways I could have proposed, but that was the one that was perfect.
It took about a year of asking rep after rep, and being redirected or told no many times. I had no idea it would indeed happen until halfway through her concert, we were brought backstage mid-song and next thing you know she was calling us onstage.
I didn't tell Matthew a thing, and he was freaking out thinking we were going to sing karaoke with her as he was confused as to why I was holding a mic. It was Mariah's stagehand who handed me her blinged out mic side stage quickly before walking on.
It was worth all the hard work on this… it turned out perfectly, and I'm forever grateful to Mariah and everyone on her team for helping make this happen. Mariah didn't have to stop her show for this, but her devotion to her fans – us lambs – is unparalleled dahhling! It was a moment we both will never forget! We are so thankful!
What are both of your favourite memories from your wedding? What's something you'll always cherish and hold dear from that incredible day?
Maurie: We eloped in New York and were so worried that where we wanted to do the wedding within Central Park would be busy with people, but when we got there, I will never forget how empty it was. I loved that it was vacant in that moment just for us – which made it intimate and extra special – fairytale like.
I also surprised Matthew with a bunch of handwritten letters of messages and greetings from our close family and friends who couldn’t be there with us, which had both of us balling as we read them to each other at the end of the day.
Matthew: I loved how we really celebrated that day the way we wanted to. We were originally planning to have a big wedding, but I am so thankful that we eloped in New York because we got to celebrate our love exactly the way we wanted to without having the added stress that planning a big wedding can bring. We were in our favourite city, during our favourite time of year, doing the things we love doing… but as part of our wedding.
For example, we had booked a fancy upscale restaurant for our dinner that evening, but in the moment we both looked at each other and said "I feel like Katz's," so we cancelled our reservation and headed to our fave deli decked out in our tuxes!
I love where we got married – a location we decided on years earlier on a previous trip. I love that we both agreed we didn't want cookie cutter vows – they had to be our own – so hearing his vows for the first time made it that more special because they were all his words… and also the letters he surprised me with from our family and friends really meant a lot to both of us.
What qualities do you love most about each other?
Maurie: I love how strongly opinionated Matthew is. He is so passionate about everything and it is so refreshing. And, even though he argued against getting a dog, I love how much of a great "pawrent" he is to our puppy Andy Monroe – the two are inseparable now.
Matthew: His big heart. His confidence. His ability to make you laugh – I swear not a day goes by where I don't laugh because of him! He is selfless and a romantic. He is also very patient with me, which I appreciate! *laughs*
What do you think are the biggest keys for a strong relationship?
Maurie: Communication is important! Listening is key. Plus, have a "thing" with each other, a silly way you say good night or favourite meal you share once a week… I love traditions and silliness.
Matthew: Communication and laughter are definitely key. Plus, a mutual respect and trust in each other are equally important.
Do you both remember attending Pride for the first time? When was that and what were your first impressions of it?
Maurie: I attended Pride for the first time in 1999 I believe… I worked for a talk radio station at the time, which broadcasted live from the parade. It was so great and moving to see so much love, acceptance and happiness in one place.
Matthew: I think it was 2000 or 2001 when I attended Pride for the first time. I was so amazed by the scale and scope of celebrations – the massive crowd… a sea of acceptance, the elaborate floats, and streets bursting with pride. It was exhilarating!
What are your most favourite Pride memories?
Matthew: So many fun memories of just celebrating with friends! Pride is celebrated year-round, but there is a special feeling that you get as soon as the Pride flag is raised at City Hall to kick off Pride Month!
Of course, watching the parade is tradition, and Pride always delivers some of the best acts each year – from Brandy to Evelyn "Champagne" King, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Grand and Corey Hart – some of my favourite concert experiences were at Pride. I’ll also never forget that incredible fireworks display during WorldPride – I may have started crying when "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" started playing!
What's your favourite LGBTQ+-themed movie and why?
Maurie:The Danish Girl – what an unbelievable movie. I watched this while on a plane, and loud, ugly cried while watching it. Philadelphia – I was left speechless. Tom Hanks did this movie proud. Boy Erased – this story needed be told! If we can add in a couple LGBTQ+ TV shows too – I’d have to give snaps to – It's A Sin and Queer as Folk.
Matthew: Philadelphia – this was the first LGBTQ+-themed movie I ever saw and it really stuck with me. The Birdcage – I mean does it get any better than Robin Williams and Nathan Lane? Madonna! Madonna! Madonna!
There have also been a number of powerful documentaries. Welcome to Chechnya – One of the most important documentaries of our time! Another story and ongoing issue that had to be shared. So thankful for the incredible work Rainbow Railroad is doing. Bridegroom – I literally left the theatre sobbing and it really got us thinking about loss, what-if scenarios, and the importance of same-sex marriages and civil unions.
On the TV side of things...
I will never forget Doug Savant's portrayal of Matt Fielding on Melrose Place – I think that was one of the first times I was seeing an openly gay character on television.
Queer as Folk –both the U.K. and U.S. versions. This show meant everything to me – I was just coming out of the closet at the time it was airing, so it had a major impact on me… plus it was filmed in our backyard! What do we need to do as a community to bring this show back – is there a petition we need to sign?!
Pose – The category is: setting a record for transgender visibility on television.