Four Chattanooga couples tell us the stories of how they met and fell in love

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Katie, left, and Anna Mullaney pose for a photo at their home.
Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Katie, left, and Anna Mullaney pose for a photo at their home.

Everyone loves love — we're always looking for it, hoping for it, rooting for it. And when we come across a couple who's been lucky enough to find it, one of the first things we want to know is: So how'd they meet? People come together through blind dates and dating apps, mutual friends and mutual interests, set-ups and chance encounters. The following four couples reveal their "meet-cute" stories and how they found romance and each other.

Be Stalled My Beating Heart: Katie and Anna Mullaney

Katie and Anna Mullaney met for the first time in an unusual manner. In fact, Katie, who was a volunteer debate and speech coach at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, found herself with a dead car battery and a stalled car. Someone called Anna, a student at the college, to help out, and she came to the rescue with her jumper cables.

But after that brief interaction, the two wouldn't see each another again until six months later, when they just happened to find themselves in the same bible study group. They describe their first meeting as romantic and organic, during a time of digital and social-media dating.

For the first two years of their relationship, they hid in secrecy, afraid to come out due to religious and social pressure from those around them. Nevertheless, despite stressful and painful times, they endured with the help of one another. Now they live together, happily married with their dog and, most importantly, a community with boundless amounts of support and love.

"Our goal as a couple is to create a safer, more accepting space for all [queer] people to live as freely as they'd like, without fear," says Katie. Three words to best describe the Mullaneys: love, community and family.

Love and Basketball: Hannah and Trent Murrell

Hannah and Trent Murrell are the embodiment of college sweethearts. The two of them have been married for almost nine years, but their love story began 11 years ago in a gymnasium at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They both were attending a UTC Mocs basketball game when they were introduced to one another through a mutual friend.

The sparks between them were immediate. "I thought Trent was funny, and I liked the fact that he was able to be fun and goofy at the basketball game. I loved how we hit it off so quickly," says Hannah.

  photo  Contributed photo by Katie Mead Carroll / Hannah and Trent Murrell with their dog, Marshall


Trent says he was immediately charmed by Hannah's beauty, sense of humor and fun personality. "It felt like we just clicked and had known each other longer than the few minutes we actually had," he says.

The two now live happily in North Chattanooga with their German shepherd, Marshall, and say their plans for the future include purchasing a larger home with a big backyard for Marshall and sitting beside one another in rocking chairs on the front porch when they're 80 years old.

The Way to a Man's Heart Is Through His Kidneys: Monica Smith-Hunter and Lamont Smith

Monica and Lamont Smith met during unusual circumstances: in a medical facility — a dialysis clinic, to be exact. Monica was a dialysis technician and nursing student, while Lamont was a patient at the facility, receiving dialysis three days a week. The two never crossed that boundary of provider-and-patient relations while Monica was working there. In fact, Monica says they just got to be friends, talking while Lamont received his treatments and getting to know one another.

Soon, they realized how small of a community Chattanooga was: Their families had known each other quite well, but their paths hadn't crossed before. After graduating nursing school and leaving dialysis behind, they continued to stay in touch, which led to a profound friendship and eventually, a relationship. The two have been together for 16 years and married for 10 of those years.

  photo  Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Lamont Smith and Monica Smith-Hunter walk through the Collegedale Commons.


"I was just drawn to him," says Monica. "He didn't seem 'sick'... he was young and thriving."

Meanwhile, Lamont's first impression of his now-wife was "She had some big feet!"

After receiving a kidney transplant in 2015, Lamont has been living life to its fullest, with Monica by his side. The two say their plans for the future are to be adventurous and to explore new experiences together.

Love Is Contagious: Noah Kettenring and William (Will) O. Witt Jr.

Noah Kettenring and Will Witt Jr. found love during the COVID-19 lockdown. Once upon a time when the world was quiet and isolated, these two found comfort in navigating uncertainty together.

The couple was introduced through mutual friends, and after talking to one another on social media for a while, they finally met during a weekend trip to Atlanta, where Will was living at the time.

"I thought Noah was a timid, kind soul and hilarious, and I was drawn to that," says Will.

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Noah Kettenring, left, and William Witt


Following that magical first weekend, their love story unfolded with frequent journeys between Atlanta and Chattanooga. When the looming threat of quarantine emerged, a pivotal decision was made: Will relocated to Chattanooga, and a new chapter in their relationship began. The global pandemic served as an unexpected catalyst, prompting the couple to reassess their priorities, needs and desires within a relationship. After some time, they made the decision to move in together.

Will reflects on the concept of opposites attracting, sharing that Noah's influence has encouraged him to embrace his emotional side, fostering personal exploration. In turn, Will says Noah has taught him the value of self-kindness. Their love story, forged during a time of precarious isolation, is a testament to the transformative power of shared growth and mutual understanding.

Upcoming Events