Helen Taylor

How this Shakespeare in High Park star foiled her proposal twice

It took three tries before Helen Taylor's husband Gerry got down on one knee

Summer in the city means Shakespeare in High Park is here. This year will feature Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure and will run from July 4 to Sept. 1 at the High Park Amphitheatre. We caught up with actor Helen Taylor who will star in both plays to learn about her real life love story with her husband Gerry.

How they met

In April of 2009, I was asked by my friend Peter to attend his comedy event. I’d been solidly single for almost three years at this point and had no expectations whatsoever of meeting anyone. My now-husband, Gerry, was playing sax and accordion in Peter’s band. Gerry wore a pair of sunglasses with huge fake sideburns attached and I thought he might be a goofball, but he turned out to be a sweet, shy guy. We starting chatting and he invited me for a nightcap. I thought, ‘Hmm, he seems really nice but I need a buffer.’ So I grabbed Peter and asked him to come along. The three of us went to the Only Cafe on the Danforth where Peter promptly abandoned us, so Gerry and I talked and realized we had a lot of interests in common. We ended up having a lovely time.

The first date

Our first real date was breakfast at the Only Cafe, a week or so later. I went to see him play with a cover band the night before and in the wee hours of the morning we shared a cab. He asked me if I’d like to meet him the next morning for breakfast, and I realized it was an actual date he was asking me on. I was a little nervous so I asked if I could bring my dog, Lulu. Gerry, without hesitation, said ‘Of course.’ That was a good sign. After breakfast, we didn’t seem to want to say goodbye, so the date just kept going. We strolled the Danforth chatting, stopping for coffee and window shopping. I think I got home around 6 p.m. that evening. It was a fun, easy time and Lulu was the perfect date companion.

The courtship

Two months after we started dating I got a three-month contract in Nova Scotia, so I packed my bags and my dog and headed out east. We both think this brought us closer than if we’d been in the same city. We really got to know each other through emails and phone calls. I had five days off two-thirds of the way through the gig and Gerry came out for a romantic visit. We drove around gorgeous Cape Breton, which took our breath away, and finished the mini vacation in Halifax whooping it up at karaoke.

 

Helen Taylor
Helen Taylor and her husband Gerry on their wedding day

The proposal

Gerry and I dated for two years, then lived together for another two years before we tied the knot. Despite my conviction for most of my life that marriage was not for me, I slowly realized I wanted to marry Gerry. So around late November of 2012, after a night out, I asked him if he’d ever through about getting married. When he said yes, I asked if he’d ever thought about marrying me. Again he said yes. Little did I know that he’d already decided to buy and engagement ring. Then at Christmas, I went to visit my dad in Ottawa while Gerry spent it with his family in Toronto. On Boxing Day, he drove to Ottawa to join me. The weather was snowy and I was a little stressed about his safety. When he arrived in one piece, the first thing he wanted to do was head back out to the LCBO to pick up some booze. I got a little cranky and insisted that he was being silly to go back out in the snow. He took it in stride and let it go. Had I but known, I could have been proposed to that night, with champagne. The next night, Gerry suggested a walk with Lulu. I invited my nephew along, without realizing I was foiling the proposal plan yet again! It was a beautiful night with a lovely moon and when we got back to my dad’s house, Gerry suggested that he and I go out again. That’s when something twigged. I had my suspicions but kept my cool and we went again into the beautiful snowy moonlit park. Gerry fumbled in his coat pocket, got down on his knee in the snow and stammered out the question while I kept saying, ‘Oh my God’ over and over. Then I said ‘Yes.’ Jubilantly we phone his family and then went back to supper at my dad’s house where we broke the great news.

The wedding

We got married on June 29, 2013 at the Granite Brewery on Eglinton Avenue. The pub is very us, a perfect blend of casual but nice. The ceremony was in the back courtyard. Peter, who was the reason we met in the first place, was our MC. Gerry’s dad, Fred, who was an incredible professional jazz musician, played his sax with Gerry’s gypsy swing band. Fred has since passed away and Gerry and I are so grateful that he could play at our wedding. After the ceremony, Gerry and I played a medley on our ukuleles, we had a lovely buffet dinner, then danced until the wee hours. I loved our wedding.

We honeymooned with Lulu at a cottage on a lake near Kinmount, Ont. The deer flies were murder! We barbecued, swam and went to the Highlands drive-in movie theatre, which has an amazing museum full of old movie projectors.

Shared interests

We both love movies, great television on Netflix, delicious restaurant meals (a little too much), travelling to cute towns in Ontario and karaoke.

Secret to success

Although we can both be stubborn, we seem to be able to check in with each other and talk through our problems. I’m more emotionally hyper and Gerry tends to be calmer so we balance each other out.