AMBRIDGE, Penn. — Aiming to get married, Gunnar Michels took to TikTok and put out a plea seeking a bride-to-be.
Danielle Gross of Ambridge saw Michels’ message and figured “Why not?” and agreed to be his loving wife.
After a bit of FaceTime chatting and their first face-to-face meet-up in Pittsburgh, where Michels officially proposed, the new couple climbed into Gross’ refurbished ambulance and headed toward a Las Vegas wedding chapel.
If all goes as planned, they will wed Sunday, on Valentine’s Day, sharing the photos on TikTok, where they’ve become a bit of a sensation.
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A whirlwind TikTok romance
To the generations of people who met their spouse the old-fashioned way – in a bar, at the office, a blind date fix-up or maybe a church group – finding your life partner on TikTok might seem unusual.
For Gross, not so much.
“I mean, the only way to meet people nowadays is online, so I can’t really say I ruled it out of the question,” Gross said.
Gross typically goes on TikTok (@daniiiellelele) for fun.
“My feed is about 40% animals. Mainly cats,” she says with a laughing emoji. “And also lots of mental health stuff – dark humor mainly, (plus) LGBTQA+ videos, thirst traps from all sorts of stunning people, sketch comedy skits, conspiracy (stuff) … it goes on and on.”
Something about freelance videographer Michels and his TikTok video seeking a wife grabbed Gross’ attention.
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Gross said she related to his willingness to live life the way it was intended: “By doing whatever the hell you want, whenever you want, with whoever you want.”
In a Thursday morning email from Texas, as their vehicle pointed toward Nevada, Gross said she hadn’t felt called to getmarried in any traditional sense.
“So this was probably the only way I was going to get married,” Gross said.
Michels’ TikTok video elicited other offers from women saying they would marry him, though he was smitten with Gross after seeing the TikTok video she posted in response to his offer.
“Hey Gunnar! I’m Danielle! I’m 24, I’m an Aries, and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” it said. “I know that I have to be the one to take this crazy adventure with you because nothing in life has ever been that serious to me.
“And I’ve always wanted to get married in some crazy, stupid way in Vegas. Like in a bikini and a cowboy hat getting married by Elvis or like going on a roller coaster and getting matching tattoos with each other on the roller coaster.”
“Plus, instead of just flying (boring) to Vegas, we could just road-trip down in my ambulance that I live in,” Gross continued.
On bended knee
Shortly after their initial video encounter, Michels messaged Gross, and they agreed to FaceTime with each other.
“I think we should break some societal norms because we’re only here for a short amount of time in life,” she messaged him.
That conversation and follow-up chats went well, so Michels decided to drive to Western Pennsylvania to see her.
He didn’t tell her ahead of time he was coming.
“I had basically no warning he was coming, so I had to mentally prepare and switch my game plan of the day, which was originally to go thrifting with my friend and paint some jeans we find there,” Gross said. “And living with anxiety makes that a tad difficult to shift quickly. But, yeah, it definitely went well.”
On a Mount Washington overlook, Michels, in a suit and tie and carrying roses, bent to one knee and popped the question. Gross said, “Yes!”
“He was super sweet,” she said.
Of course, they shared the moment on TikTok, to their growing audience.
“‘I’M GETTING MARRIED! Meet my beautiful fiancée,” Michels posted.
They went out to eat at Fatheads on Pittsburgh’s South Side, where Michels took her up on the offer to drive to Vegas in her retrofitted old ambulance.
“I’ve wanted to join the ‘van life movement’ for years,” Gross explained. “And I could never really get my parents on board with the idea because I was a young, single female, and I definitely needed their help if I was gonna do it. So after just dreaming about it for a long time, my brother jumped on the bandwagon and bought a short school bus. They converted it, and he’s been living in there for probably close to two years or so. So after my parents saw that it’s actually doable and safe, they got on board with helping me, too. And of course, I had to one-up my brother’s bus by getting an ambulance.”
Driving it across the country, two weeks after meeting on TikTok, has been memorable.
“As I’m writing this, we’re almost to Dallas,” she said via email. “The first night was freezing cold, as expected. I tried to warn Gunnar about how cold it can get in here, but he was not prepared. But we’re figuring it out night by night,” she said.
With all that time on their hands, have they’ve discussed future plans, like where they will live?
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“Well, the goal of this whole shenanigans was to live life spontaneously and make genuine connections with other humans. So basically, no idea,” Gross said. “But I’m planning on living in the ambulance again for awhile.”
A former bartender and server, she now lists her Facebook job status as “retired.”
“My family knew that something like this would be the only way I would get married, so I’d say they’re more on the excited side,” Gross said. “I’d say that this wasn’t necessarily shocking to them from me. My mom just keeps telling me to post more TikToks and updates now that I’m gone.”
So what kind of Vegas wedding chapel have they booked?
“Honestly, you’ll just have to wait and see!”
Scott Tady is the local Entertainment Reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He’s easy to reach at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @scotttady.