Photography by Tommy McMillion
There’s an old adage that says, “Love comes when you least expect it.” Cara and Brandon Kelley, and now their son Sidney, are living proof that there’s truth to that proverb. Growing up a world apart, they had no clue that a chance encounter on social media would end in the creation of a happy family. For anyone who hears the story, it seems like destiny.
Cara grew up in a small town in New South Wales, Australia called Aubrey, left at age 25 to teach, and then, moved to Scotland because her mum was born there. She enjoyed globetrotting and soon traveled to the U.S. to train teachers in San Diego, California. But something in her gut told her not just to visit; she needed to live to the United States. There was “no logical reason to move, but it felt right,” she says. Following her hunch, in 2012, she blindly moved to Denver, Colorado, U.S., and within two days, she was hired as a teacher. “That moment for me defined that’s where the magic happens — trusting your gut.”
A right swipe on a dating app almost defined another step in her life. After two years in the state, she was deciding what to do next when she met Brandon on Tinder.
But a date never materialized.
In 2014, Cara decided to return to Australia and started a charity page on Instagram.
Back in Denver, Brandon was intrigued by a new Insta profile. He’d been looking for a woman to join the board of his company, and the essence of this new page struck him. He inboxed the profile and the two began speaking. Brandon insists, “I heard God telling me — as clear as I hear you right now — ‘Do whatever you can to help these people.’” This prompted him to expedite a passport in three days. Three weeks later, he flew to Australia.
The charitable group, Brandon shares, took high school students to other countries to create 100 percent recycling communities. “I loved it and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ This is the vision and the connection I want to build in this world — I love you already,” he recalls saying.
Little did he know, the force behind the organization was Cara — his Denver Tinder date that had never come to fruition. But that all changed quickly once he landed Down Under.
As soon as they met, the proverbial sparks flew, and apparently everyone could see it. “I was thinking business at this point and [out of nowhere] my mum said, ‘I think you found your one,” Cara shares.
It didn’t stop there. The day after Brandon’s arrival, a stranger turned around and — unprompted — said, “You two, you need to fly to Fiji and elope. I have a friend who has a jet.”
“We thought she was joking,” says Brandon. But then the stranger’s friend walked up and said, “It’s not a jet — it’s a sea plane.” Brandon continues, “It was crazy; it was just insane.”
Brandon and Cara couldn’t ignore their feelings any longer, either, and it was time they acknowledged it. To be fair, Brandon had barely been in the country one day. Even so, “From the moment we connected, my life has accelerated,” Cara says. “I thought it was things you hear in the movies or things people say, but everything shifted.” Brandon adds, “That whole story about her even coming to America is why I love this woman so much.”
Brandon extended his Australian weekend business trip to almost a week. Upon flying back to Colorado, he packed up his house, and his life, and flew back Down Under.
On Cara’s side, the feelings were mutual. “As soon as he left, I told everyone, ‘I’ve met my future husband.’” Friends and family believed her, as it wasn’t like her to jump in so quickly. “They knew it for sure because I never had said anything like that before. My older sister always told me, ‘You’re too fussy, you’re too picky.’ This go ‘round, her tune changed. ‘It’s about time,'” Cara recalls her sister saying.
Meanwhile, when Brandon returned to Australia, he asked Cara’s grandma, mother and dad for her hand in marriage. “Everyone I’m really close to, as soon as I met Brandon, could see [our connection] straight away,” Cara says.
Upon returning from Australia after their whirlwind week together, Brandon acquired the first ring his dad had purchased for his mom. This would seal their engagement. He proposed on a tucked-away pier in Sydney Harbor. “There are no animals in this harbor because there are so many boats and ferries,” he says. “I have this ring in my pocket, thinking ‘What am I going to do?’ and this random, lone seal pops up like, ‘Yah — do it already.” So he proposed.
The New Family
It’s like the world was conspiring to push them together. “Obviously it was a huge honor for me, but it was such a surprise [the ring] fit me perfectly,” Cara shares.
Before meeting Brandon, Cara had always known she’d eventually move back to Denver, but she thought it would be to get her master’s degree — not because she fell in love. By November of that year, less than six months after their initial meeting, the couple was together in the U.S. Everything was seamless: Cara easily got a visa, she was offered a job immediately and they found the perfect apartment. Everything was falling into place.
They’d been living parallel lives and possessed all the traits, values, skills and attributes the other wanted. And now, they were complete. Within a year of meeting, they married. Within a year of moving to the States, they had a son: Sidney Ike Kelley. “Sidney is her grandad’s name, and we met in Sydney,” Brandon explains. “Brandon’s gradad’s name is Isaiah, but he went by Ike,” shares Cara.
And like his parents, Sidney’s stumbled into the greatest love one never expected. To look into his parents’ eyes, their adoration for each other has clearly spilled over to one lucky little boy. May their luck and zest for life do the same.