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From Roomies to Life-Long Partners, How EC Played A Role In Their Love

Elmira College Alumnae Zoe Shelton Corato ’18 and Marissa Colson Corato ’18 exchanged vows in September 2023 in a camp-themed ceremony that included many nods to the College where they first met and became friends.

From the beginning, the two had a connection. It began when Zoe Corato walked up to Marissa Corato, a Nursing major, on the first night of their orientation and said, “We’re going to be best friends.” The boldness of the statement was slightly out of character for the typically shy Psychology and Business Administration double major, but she was swept up in the college experience of meeting people and making friends. Still, she had no idea how prophetic her words would be.

At first, the friends lived next door to each other in Alumni Hall. Not long into their first year, they decided to become roommates. They’ve roomed together ever since.

Throughout College, neither was much into dating or going out to bars.

“We’re homebodies,” they shared.

When they were seniors, Zoe Corato was admitted to a doctoral program at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. She asked Marissa Corato to look for a nursing role there so that the two could continue to live together and be “best friends.”

“It was only after we were in Rochester for two years that we realized we were gay for each other,” joked Marissa Corato.

The news that these longtime friends were now in a romantic relationship was less surprising to some of their friends than it was to themselves. On hearing the news, one friend asked, “So what’s changed?”

Their response was, “We kiss now.”

It didn’t take long for the two besties now lovers to begin thinking of marriage. Yet, who would propose? It turned out that they both would.

Unbeknownst to each other, they each got rings and were planning to “pop the question.” But Marissa Corato was the first to act, inviting Zoe Corato to go with her to the Warner Castle Estate Gardens in Rochester to see the Alling DeForest Sunken Garden.

Without realizing it, she tipped her hand and let on to her ulterior motive when she asked Zoe Corato to change out of sweats and into something more formal.

“I got suspicious and put the ring I had in my pocket, just in case,” explained Zoe Corato.

When Marissa Corato got on her knee and asked Zoe Corato to be her wife, Zoe Corato said, “Uno Reverse. I’m also proposing,” and then took out the ring she had for Marissa Corato. The whole double proposal was caught on video by a family friend who then took pictures of the engaged pair in the gardens.

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About one and a half years later, the two celebrated their love with family and friends at Camp Cory near Penn Yann, New York. About half of the bridesmaids were friends from Elmira College. The couple had special “Camp Corato” sweatshirts made for the bridal party that incorporated an octagon shape as part of the logo. And the entertainment was the Midwest Dueling Pianos, which they first heard as EC students.

Rather than taking either one of their last names, they created a new one. Corato combines their hometown names of Corinth and Cato, New York.

When asked how married life is going they turned to each other with big smiles and, as if the two had never discussed it before, Marissa Corato said, “I think it’s going well.” And then Zoe Corato giggled and, with great satisfaction, replied, “I also think it’s going well.”

Zoe’s and Marissa’s bond is an example of the lifelong connections EC students create and a testament to the personal experiences so common to the tight-knit EC community.

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