Remember that runaway bride shown over and over in the previews for Netflix’s Love Is Blind? Well, for Giannina Gibelli and Damian Powers, that turned out to be just a dramatic blip in a lasting relationship.
After going on pod dates and getting engaged sight unseen after just a few days, Giannina, 25, and Damian, 27, went through their fair share of ups and downs as they simultaneously got to know each other and planned their wedding only weeks later.
They fought, the made low blows, but they also talked through much of their differences. So, when the big day arrived, Giannina, who had been hesitant about marriage, said she would marry Damian — but he said he couldn’t go through with it.
Cue waterworks on both sides and Giannina running away — and tripping! And that’s essentially when the cameras stopped.
But just a few hours later, Giannina reached out to Damian, they met to talk, and they’ve been together ever since. Here, they take PEOPLE through that journey.
PEOPLE: How has the last almost year and a half been for you as a couple since the cameras stopped rolling?
GIANNINA GIBELLI: It was nice to be in our own space, in our own time, in our own everything. Our own terms.
DAMIAN POWERS: Even after the wedding, I don’t think either one of us was sure that we would see each other again. We both had mixed feelings about each other at that point. Overcoming that was difficult at first, but it was well worth it.
GIANNINA: It’s definitely been taken day by day. I just can’t wait to be able to go hand-in-hand with him and post a picture with him and tell my friends how I actually met him instead of being like, “Oh, I met him through mutual friends.”
Is that what you had to say?
GIANNINA: Well that’s what I said, because we’ve had to keep it under wraps this entire time. I’m just so happy — and I can’t wait to share that.
DAMIAN: Trying to keep our relationship private for over a year has been very difficult at times. But overall, it’s been …
GIANNINA: I have liked it so much. I liked that there was no pressure or anything like that. It was just like we’re the only two that know and our family and friends know. We were in our own little bubble.
DAMIAN: It was nice having that time to ourselves to really be able to grow and self-reflect and say, “Hey, what can we do differently to make, not just ourselves better but each other better?” It was beautiful timing and I think finally we’re ready to tell the world.
Take us through the timeline: The wedding happened on Nov. 15, 2018. How long until you spoke again after that?
GIANNINA: A couple of hours. We told each other we wouldn’t leave without each other, in whatever form that was. I know that so many emotions and so much pressure and my family and friends watching and all these things were a factor in how I left things, which was very, very hurt. I was like this open wound but I really felt that if we weren’t going to be together, we could at least be friends. I was like, “I am in love with this person. There’s no way I can just leave things like this.” So I reached back out to him and I was like, “Let’s just talk.” And we just talked all night.
DAMIAN: We met back at the apartment that we had rented on the show even after they had shut it down.
GIANNINA: We were kicked out of there, but he snuck us back in. We were just talking and holding each other and making sure that everything was okay. And I was just like, “This is still my person.”
DAMIAN: So we spent the night together and reflected, and we woke up and said, “Let’s give it a shot and really see how it goes.”
GIANNINA: We cried a lot.
DAMIAN: It was hard on both of us. I really embarrassed her in front of her friends and family, especially after her not really being in it as much as I was the whole time. For her to be able to finally say, “I will change for you and even though I don’t necessarily believe in marriage, I’m looking for a soulmate. I will do this for you” — it was the hardest decision of my life. Saying “no” to her at the altar broke my heart because it wasn’t to embarrass her. It wasn’t to hurt her. It was because it was the only way I saw if we had a chance to make this relationship work because I wasn’t going to lock her into something when she feels so free and she’s just got this free spirit about her and she’s always hated feeling locked down … It didn’t feel like our wedding day. I wouldn’t have had a wedding on a Thursday. And my family not being able to make it there was rough too.
It seemed on the show like maybe your parents weren’t supporting the wedding. Was that the not the case?
DAMIAN: No it wasn’t. Some things just didn’t work out as far as them being a part of the show and the timeframes lining up. They did want to meet her.
GIANNINA: We spent Thanksgiving right after together.
DAMIAN: They really did want to meet her, just not under the circumstances of all the camera stuff. My brother’s the most important person in the world to me. He has a disease called cystic fibrosis, so I’m very avid on supporting that and doing charitable causes. And with the kids still in school … But as far as everything else goes, if I could have taken that pain away from Giannina and the heartache and any type of embarrassment she bared, I would have because I do love her. But I feel like everything worked out how it should and those decisions made us both stronger. We both realized we did things wrong and we weren’t on the same page we needed to be, but we’ve taken that last year and a half to figure out where that page is and that we do really well together.
Was Giannina’s family forgiving and understanding about what happened at the altar?
DAMIAN: I was a little nervous.
GIANNINA: He was so scared. My mom and my dad and my stepdad were all obviously very hurt because I was hurting. But once I showed them, “I’m not hurting, guys. He’s got me. We have each other. The circumstances were so extreme. I’m not holding it against him and neither should you.” They were just like, “All right, let’s see where this goes.” My dad and him have the funniest relationship. My mom won’t stop gushing about him. It’s not even an issue.
DAMIAN: I’m learning words and phrases in Spanish. She has challenged me to be better, to open up my mind to things that I probably would have never done on my own. Together I’ve become more open to not just her culture, but world culture. For me, our relationship has redefined a lot of who I am and I’m loving it. I’m happier.
GIANNINA: He’s so cute with it. He busts out in these random little sayings or he’ll send me a little voice note and it’s him speaking Spanish. I don’t tell him, “Hey, I wish you would speak Spanish.” He’ll just do it for me. And it’s really sweet.
So what’s next for you? Because realistically now there’s no pressure.
GIANNINA: I think we’re in a really good place right now. We don’t live together or anything, so maybe that could be the next step. I don’t know. I’m someone that definitely lives day by day — but I know that I want my days to be with him.
DAMIAN: I really want to be able to give back to the community, the world and really be involved in more things moving forward with her.
Love Is Blind Season 1 is available now on Netflix. Watch the cast’s reunion on YouTube here.
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