She Heard His Voice and Found Her Soul Mate

Natasha Grano and Michael Graziano said their intimate wedding with four guests on June 5 was “elegant and powerful.” Equally special was the ceremony a day after, attended by thousands on the social media app Clubhouse, where their closest confidants gather.

The two probably wouldn’t have even met had Ms. Grano not fallen in love with the sound of Mr. Graziano’s voice on the audio-only platform that bears some resemblance to an old-fashioned party line.

Ms. Grano, 31, is a motivational speaker and the author of “The Action Plan: How to Implement the Law of Attraction Into Your Life in Under an Hour.” She may be better known as an Instagram influencer. In 2017, she bought the account of a fashion blogger who already had a following of 500,000; she now has more than three million followers of her own.

Her enchantment with Mr. Graziano’s voice on Clubhouse began on Feb. 15, when she joined a room on media and marketing. Mr. Graziano, 32, the founder of Mindful Media, a Canadian public relations firm, was one of several featured speakers.

“Everyone asks me what Michael was talking about that first moment I heard him, but I really don’t remember,” said Ms. Grano, who moved with her 5-year-old son, Rio Grano, to Mr. Graziano’s hometown, Vancouver, Canada, from her native London in June. “It was just, his voice was so magical and enticing and gentle, I was blown away. I said to the universe, ‘Is this the guy?’”

She had started enlisting the universe to help her find love only two weeks earlier. That Mr. Graziano surfaced so soon shouldn’t have surprised her, but it did.

“I’m always showing people through my speaking and coaching how easy it is to manifest everything you want,” she said. But while she was confident she could help followers manifest love, she wasn’t sure she could do it for herself.

Ms. Grano grew up the oldest of five siblings with her parents, Karen Stephens and Dr. John Efthimiou in London. “My parents divorced when I was 15, and it was very painful at the time,” she said. “I had to help raise my sisters and brother and that was a wonderful journey, but I became a bit of a rebel because of it.”

Instead of going to college, she started modeling for beauty companies and clothing lines, including Fashion Nova and AX Paris. At 26, she married a boyfriend she had been dating for three years. Within a year, she was a divorced single mother.

“I had lost all my modeling business, and I started walking around the streets of London with a newborn on my chest.” The walking around was to markets, where she offered vendors pieces of jewelry pulled from a garbage bag. “I was looking to sell my belongings,” she said, adding that she had no place to live and was $30,000 in debt.

[Sign up for Love Letter and always get the latest in Modern Love, weddings, and relationships in the news by email.]

Within months, she was having panic attacks. She and Rio moved into her mother’s basement, in Oxford. “My mother was incredibly supportive,” she said. “I was able to heal fully. But when you’re coming from being married and living in a dream house with dream cars and then you’re in your parent’s basement, it’s not ideal.”

It was ideal in at least one way. While Ms. Grano recovered, her mother helped look after Rio, which freed her to read about manifestation, an offshoot of the Law of Attraction, a centuries-old philosophy that has informed such classic self-help books as “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “The Secret.”

She had already been studying the habits of Instagram influencers and scouring YouTube for content on how to win followers. By 2017, when she bought the established fashion blogger account, she had her own account with a following of half a million.

“My journey helped me build from the inside out,” she said. “I was healing in a way that let me go deeper into my mind. I got rid of all my self-limiting beliefs.” Except, perhaps, for one. After her divorce, she dated several men. But “they were more or less not great relationships.” By the time she joined Clubhouse, in January 2021, “I had kind of given up hope.”

In addition to a podcast, Ms. Grano hosts a weekly “Law of Attraction” room on Clubhouse. She said it draws more than 30,000 regular weekly listeners.

In late January, one of the room’s participants hit the raised-hand button to ask her a question. “This person said, ‘You help everyone else manifest what they want. But do you have love?’” Ms. Grano said. “It really hit me. I said, ‘No, I don’t. But I’m going to lead by example. Give me one year and I will find my soul mate and show you that you can, too.’”

Carmelia Ray, a professional matchmaker and Clubhouse host, was among the listeners that day. “When I heard Natasha was single, right away I D.M.-ed her,” she said. “The people I work with are successful, attractive singles. She’s beautiful. She was right in my wheelhouse.”

Ms. Grano agreed to let Ms. Ray introduce her to three men a month, with the goal of finding her soul mate by the 12th month. Before she could meet more than a few potential matches, she heard Mr. Graziano’s voice in the media and marketing Clubhouse room.

“I knew he was the one I had manifested,” she said. His picture confirmed it. She had drawn up a list of her ideal man’s 100 traits, and Mr. Graziano — who is 6-foot-2, has long blond hair and wears jewelry and all black clothing — checked every box for physical attributes. To find out if he lined up with her less superficial ideal qualities, like kindness, she messaged him on Instagram to ask if he would be a guest on her podcast.

Mr. Graziano responded right away. “I was minding my own business in Vancouver when she reached out, and then I click on her profile and see that at the time, she had 2.8 million followers,” he said. She had also interviewed people he considers thought leaders. “She was what we call a titan.” On March 10, he went on the show to talk about Mindful Media, the company he started in 2020.

Mr. Graziano’s entrepreneurial journey started just before he dropped out of the Western University in London, Ontario, in 2011, while he was an exchange student in Copenhagen. In Denmark, he couldn’t find a job because he didn’t speak Danish. “Even Burger King wouldn’t hire me,” he said.

So he started a business promoting parties for American students. Back in Canada, he followed that up with a light-up T-shirt company. In 2014, on the last day of a solo backpacking trip through Thailand, he made a commitment. “I was meeting all these people from different places who told me how beautiful their countries were,” he said. “I decided I was going to go to every country in the world by age 30 or die trying.”

The 193 he made it to before returning to Vancouver, where he grew up with two older brothers, a younger sister and his parents, Carmella Osborn and Donald Hennefent, took him six years.

A month later, the pandemic began. “Overnight, the entire travel industry disappeared,” he said. “I was in debt. I needed to pivot.” During his travels, he found he was good at getting news coverage of his adventures. In June, Mindful Media was born. By 2021, he was regularly discussing it on Clubhouse. Now, with Ms. Grano, he discusses love, too.

Ms. Grano and Mr. Graziano’s Clubhouse connection turned romantic just after he appeared on her podcast. “After that, we never really got off the phone with each other,” he said. By the time Mr. Graziano flew to London to meet her and Rio in person, on April 9, they were talking every night until dawn.

“We called it getting ‘love drunk,’” he said. “I’d wake up with a hangover the next day.” When he left London on April 16, it was with a sense of purpose. “I was in love with her and with Rio. I knew I wanted to marry her.” The day he left, she gave her London landlord notice she was moving to Vancouver.

For Ms. Grano, the visit reinforced the value of practicing what she preaches. “I’m an example of how easy it is to find your soul mate when you’re in the right space in your mind,” she said. They were engaged June 1 in Vancouver.

Their tiny wedding four days later, at St. David’s United Church in West Vancouver, was attended by just Mr. Grano’s parents and grandparents, Grace and Ted Osborn; the Rev. Dal McCrindle officiated.

Their two-hour wedding on Clubhouse on June 6 had 27,000 members listening over all. It was led by Ms. Ray, the professional matchmaker.

For the first hour, more than a dozen bridesmaids and groomsmen, the rapper Ja Rule among them, toasted the couple. The influencer Jim Kwik, during his turn, said, “I have truth bumps.” In the second hour, John Gray, a pastor who preaches under Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church in Houston and was formerly the lead pastor at Relentless Church in Greenville, S.C., married them a second time.

“It’s almost a God wink that you guys would connect on a platform that still has not reached its potential,” Pastor Gray said. “Neither of you has reached your potential yet, but already you’re changing the world.” After inviting anyone in the room who had cause to object to their union to “speak now or forever hush your Clubhouse mouth,” he turned the room over to the couple to read handwritten vows.

“I vow to always be addicted to your love in a healthy way,” Ms. Grano said through audible sniffs. “Natasha, you are my queen, my soul mate, my being,” Mr. Graziano said. As guests prepared to leave the room, the pastor offered a concluding thought: “Be it now forever confirmed that Natasha and Michael have pledged their love in historic fashion. They have created their own clubhouse.”

On This Day

When June 6, 2021

Where The invitation-only social media app Clubhouse

Visuals, Too Between speeches, Ms. Ray regularly reminded guests to “PTR,” meaning “pull to refresh,” so they could see changing images of the bride and groom, who updated their profile photos to reflect the stages of the wedding. Before Ms. Grano was shown walking down the aisle in a Dany Tabet off-the-shoulder gown, she blew a kiss from inside a limo. Ms. Ray also reminded the room frequently that a website had been created where guests could view photos, write in a guest book and give wedding gifts.

Blessings After the June 5 wedding, Ms. Osborn, 87, had the newlyweds over for tea. In a phone call, she said she didn’t approve of how quickly Mr. Graziano fell in love with Ms. Grano at first. “Don’t think I’m mean, but I was afraid it would be trouble,” she said. “But then they decided to get married and Natasha came to Vancouver. I changed my mind. She’s delightful. I absolutely love her.”

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Source: Read Full Article