Years ago, back when I worked for the Connecticut Post, the idea of working on a weekend (let alone a holiday weekend) was a particularly dreadful prospect. Sitting at a desk, starring at a computer screen and waiting for news to come in while everyone else was out at barbecues and on the beach wasn't exactly my idea of a good time. I used to think it was because I desperately wanted to be at those barbecues or sitting poolside, but that wasn't it. Really, it was because I hadn't yet found a career I was really passionate about. Now, Rob and I spend nearly every weekend working and I don't mind it one bit. I actually look forward to it - to the excitement of discovering how each couple makes their wedding unique, to challenging myself to do something better at each and every event, and to spending time with the incredibly thoughtful couples we get to photograph. So working two weddings this holiday weekend was more than okay with me. Especially since they were both beautiful and both so different. Lauren & Colin selected a vintage, Etsy-inspired theme for their wedding and Liz & Don's drew inspiration from Don's Irish heritage for their kelly green, Irish wedding (complete with kilts). (For some sneak peeks, head over to our Facebook page and "Like" us!") We say this a lot, but one of the many perks of our job is getting to see how each couple really makes their weddings their own by tying in things that are particularly meaningful to them. It makes working on a weekend not feel like work at all.
And although we may spend the weekends outdoors shooting, we do spend quite a bit of the week indoors at our studio - sitting at our desks, starring at our computer screens. And remarkably, I'm perfectly okay with that too. Because I'm not dreading reading through a story about the stock market or working on the obituary page (one of my thrilling tasks at the paper). I'm looking through our work and knowing that these are images that people will cherish for years to come. But I am thankful for my experiences in the "real world" before joining Rob in this business. They taught me so many things about myself, my goals and what's important to me. Without them, I may not appreciate just how lucky we are to have a job we're passionate about and get to do what we love. And if you have that, you'd work any day (or every day) of the week. Because it wouldn't feel like work. After all, we can always have a barbecue on a Wednesday. Or be poolside on a Monday. The weekends are made for weddings…and that's exactly where we want to be.
And after our exciting weekend, we came back into the office today and were greeted with some wonderful news. Our first wedding of 2011, Danielle & David's New Haven Lawn Club wedding is featured on Style Me Pretty today. Their rainy day, elegant wedding caught the eye of the SMP editors and they couldn't wait to feature it!
The forecast had predicted rain and for much of the rest of the state, that's exactly what came. Torrential downpours in some parts. But where Kristin & Patrick were, there wasn't as much as a drizzle. Somehow the storm clouds had managed to stay away for them. In place of the rain, a mystical fog rolled in for part of the afternoon enveloping the happy couple and acting as a subtle reminder that this one day was all about the two of them. Not that rain would have mattered, actually. With the way Kristin and Patrick look at one another, it's doubtful they would have even noticed if they were standing in the middle of a monsoon. Because every moment since that first night they met back in bar in NYC had been leading up to this day and they weren't going to let one second of it pass by without appreciating it.
From the moment when Patrick first saw Kristin walk into the church on her father's arm to the very last dance of the evening, it was as if the rest of the world disappeared for that one day. Surrounded by their closest family and friends, they had everything they could possibly need in one room. Most of all, they had one another. And that day they made it official that they would for their rest of their lives. Every day that followed would share one very special this in common with their wedding day - they would make their main focus one another. And nothing could distract them from that - rain or shine.
Once Kristin's hair and make-up were complete, it was time for her to get into her gown with her sister and bridesmaids helping her out. When she was all dressed and ready to go, we headed outside to get some shots of Kristin before heading to Christ the King Church in Old Lyme for the ceremony. It was emotional as Patrick watched Kristin as escorted into the church on her father's arm. Throughout the rest of the ceremony, Kristin and Patrick held hands, shared glances and smiled at one another. The ceremony was especially personal since the priest that married them had also married Kristin's parents and her sister and brother-in-law.
After the ceremony, Kristin & Patrick and their bridal party headed over to Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford - the location they had chose to take pictures in before the reception. Kristin had selected Harkness because she had thought about having their wedding there but ultimately decided on the Saybrook Point Inn - getting to do pictures at the park in between gave her the best of both worlds. After spending time exploring the grounds of the park, we all headed back over to Saybrook Point Inn for the reception. It was a lively party - especially since the band, Brick Park Entertainment, kept the dance floor packed all night long. Kristin & Patrick love to have a good time with their friends and made sure to be in the center of the floor all night long, soaking in every minute of their amazing day.
It's especially beautiful at Harkness in the springtime - the grass is super green and flowers are in bloom everywhere. I love the little buttercups that pop up in the grass, giving just a touch of color in the midst of all the green.
On one side of the park is a tree-covered area that reminds me a bit of the mall area in Central Park. It seemed appropriate to bring Kristin & Patrick over there since he proposed in Central Park and that's where we photographed their engagement session.
This is right about the time the fog rolled into the park, surrounding Kristin & Patrick as they walked up this path. This might be one of my favorite shots from their day, I love the mystical feel of it.
Kristin & Patrick were up for anything (which we totally loved!) and wanted to head to the beach area of Harkness. On our way there, we stopped at this boardwalk area for some sweet cuddling shots of the two of them.
Seriously, how cute are the two of them together?
Anytime Kristin & Patrick looked at each other, they would inevitably bring out these big smiles.
We always think it's important to get solid looking-at-the-camera shots - something so your grandkids know exactly what you looked like on your wedding day.
After the beach, we headed over by the Eoila Mansion where there are tons more great spots for pictures - like by this vine-covered stone wall, perfect for a beautiful portrait of Kristin.
And, of course, we added Patrick in for some more fun.
Harkness is like a photographer's dream - just steps away from the vine-covered wall is this trellis area.
You can just feel the sweetness between Kristin & Patrick as they cuddle in close.
Patrick looked especially handsome in his tuxedo that he got at Men's Wearhouse.
Kristin & Patrick had a simple and elegant color palette for their reception decor. Ivory, green and purple with touches of yellow....
...tied together with their bright candy station - a big hit with their guests.
There was another huge smile from Kristin as Patrick escorted her into the reception and lead her into their first dance.
The selected one of my favorite songs for their first dance, "Crazy Love," - the original version sung by Van Morrison.
Once the dance was over, there was a blessing and then toasts offered up by Kristin's sister and Patrick's brother.
The centerpieces by Madison Flower Shop were beautiful - white hydrangeas with a pop of purple and plenty of ferns, a nod to the nickname she got as a child when her favorite movie was "Fern Gully."
Kristin & Patrick, thank you so much for inviting us to share in your day - it was amazing! We definitely need to get together soon, especially since we're practically neighbors! Hope you're having an amazing time in France & Italy on your honeymoon.
There are some couples that seem to say a thousand words to one another without actually speaking at all. Ashley and Alex are one of those couples and it was never more evident than on their wedding day. It started from the very first moment they laid eyes on each other that day during their first look on the winding dirt road leading out to the golf course of the country club. While Alex stood there waiting to feel Ashley's hand gently touch him on his shoulder, he held his hands together in an effort to contain his nervous excitement. Although he couldn't see her, Ashely was doing nearly the same thing as she walked toward him grinning ear to ear, trying to keep in all the emotions she was feeling as she was about to see Alex.
When they faced each other, it all came to the surface. The flurry of emotion between the two of them came flooding out through the sweet expressions on their faces, the way they grasped each other's hands and how they would gently touch each other's face when the kissed. That connection stayed strong all night long, each of them knowing exactly how the other felt with the simple touch of a hand or glance. As they signed their Ketubah surrounded by their closest family and friends, they held hands tightly and look over at one another as if they were each trying to reassure the other that this all really was happening. As they exchanged vows, they did so not only with their words but also with their unspoken support in the form of a loving glance or squeeze of the hand. When the night came to an end and the last dance was played Ashley and Alex were out in the middle of the dance floor, holding one another tight and staring into each other's eyes. In that moment that one look said more than any words every could.
* * *
Ashley and Alex had visited pretty much every reception venue within an hour's drive of their Manhattan home looking for the perfect place for their wedding, finally finding it at the Highlands Country Club in Garrison, New York. It's a sprawling country club with a large main house reminiscent of a southern plantation, an ideal setting for their ceremony and reception. When we arrived, Brittany DiGiacomo was finishing up Ashley's hair. Ashely was a ball of excitement that morning, so thrilled the day had finally arrived. While Meredith Hayman got started on Ashley's make-up, we began capturing Ashley's details.
We started with Ashley's gorgeous Watters WTOO gown, a dramatic yet simple statement piece that was the perfect fit for Ashley's great personal style. She had found the dress right in the city at Lovely Bridal Shop in the West Village. Once Ashley's hair and make-up were complete, it was time for her father to see her for the first time. Like much of the rest of the day, that moment was filled with emotion. Next up, was the moment for the next man in her life to see her - time for the "First Look" between Ashley & Alex. We spent quite a bit of time with the happy couple, exploring the grounds the country club and capturing their natural chemistry before we added in family and the wedding party.
Due to the foreboding rain clouds rolling in, the ceremony was moved inside the green house area of the Highlands Country Club. The reception was simple and elegant, held in the country club's ballroom and decorated with personal touches and shades of pink and ivory flowers done by Lee Vazquez Floral Design in Piermont, NY. The really kicked off right after dinner, with Alex's friend's band Fevah Dream treating their guests with their unique take on dance floor classics. It wasn't the last treat Ashley & Alex had in store for the guests, providing individual s'mores kits for their guests to enjoy around the fire pits on the grounds of the country club. (They were a huge, gooey hit!) After everyone enjoyed some s'mores, they headed back in for the last few dances - all gathered around the very happy bride and groom.
The Highlands Country Club had many simple and beautiful rooms for Ashley to get ready in and we especially appreciate the skylights in the rooms providing some beautiful light for us to work with to capture her shoes, Watters WTOO gown, and accessories.
Ashley, a personal trainer and ice skating instructor, takes very good care of herself and looked gorgeous even before she had Brittany DiGiacomo do her hair or an ounce of make-up applied.
For Ashley, the flood of emotions started right at the beginning of the day. Once her hair was complete, Ashley's mother presented her with a very special gift - a custom garter that she had personally made, incorporating elements from her own wedding dress, her's own mother's wedding dress and the earrings Ashley had worn at her Bat Mitzvah.
After she had dried her tears, Ashley had her make-up applied by Meredith Hayman.
Ashley's "something old" was also her "something borrowed," a clutch purse that belongs to her grandmother.
Once her make-up was complete, Ashley's sister, Lauren, gave her the next surprise - a photo book filled with pictures of Ashley and Alex together, complete with personal notes from family and friends.
It's a good thing Meredith Hayman gave Ashley, her mother and sister some tips about how to wipe away tears without smearing their make-up. This was just the beginning of the tears of happiness.
When it came time for Ashley to get into her dress, her mother and sister gathered around to help zipper up the back. Ashley was delighted when she saw herself in the mirror.
Ashley's father was completely overwhelmed when he saw his little girl in her wedding dress for the first time. Everyone in room was moved by the moment, even Rob and I. As we always do, we made sure to capture this special moment from two unique angles. This was my view...
and this is Rob's shot just a few seconds later. This is probably one of my favorite shots of the day.
And this is my view of that very same moment. This is one of the many reasons we love shooting weddings together, we always get such different approaches to the same moments and since we have worked together (and know each other so well) we can anticipate what the other one may do so we never overlap.
Then, the moment finally arrived for Ashley to head outside for some pictures of just her. Of course, she needed just one more finishing touch - her veil. This is Rob's shot of the last adjustment of her veil.
And this is what I captured as Ashley headed down the stairs to go outside for some portraits.
The Highlands Country Club is a sprawling estate with white picket fences, brick and tons of flowers in bloom, perfect for a spring-time wedding.
With bridal portraits, we always look to capture a simple, timeless image framed in a beautiful setting (to show off the location you chose), to really show off just how beautiful you look that day. This image of Ashley is the perfect example of our approach.
The wind was picking up while we were out in the lawn with Ashley, but she just totally embraced it and had fun with it. Leading to gorgeous shots of her like this one that Rob captured...
and these two that I took.
With "First Looks," Rob and I scout out a secluded and pretty location first. Then, I bring the groom over to the spot and have him turn away from where the bride will be coming. Then Rob leads the bride to the spot and steps back to capture her approach - leading him to catch great moments like this one.
And this is the angle I had during the "First Look."
Back to Rob's point of view, getting a glimpse of the sweet smile that Alex gave Ashley when he turned around and saw her.
And when the wind picked up again, I captured this sweet smile from Ashley.
And... back to Rob's point of view again. One of our favorite things to do after a wedding to go through one another's images and see what the other one captured. It's always a lot of fun.
So much to love about this shot - the underneath of Ashley's dress showing through, the sweet way Alex has his arm around her back, and her veil blowing in the wind.
Although he was nervous in front of the camera during their engagement session a few months ago, Alex was totally comfortable on his wedding day - mostly because he was spending so much time as close as possible to Ashley.
Always a perfect gentleman, Alex was more than happy to help Ashley out with her train and her bouquet.
We headed to the back of the country club to spend some more time with Ashley & Alex, who were more than happy to get extra close....
and even a sweet little forehead kiss here and there.
Since Ashley & Alex had decided to see each other before the ceremony, we had time to take family photos before the ceremony. They had so much time, that Ashley was actually able to held upstairs and do some finishing touches to her vows before they had the Ketubah ceremony.
We couldn't resist grabbing a quick portrait of Ashley in the country club's cute little tavern pub.
Since rain was forecasted, the ceremony was moved inside to the greenhouse area of the country club - a simple, elegant setting of simple simple, green and brick.
The Ketubah ceremony was especially emotional, with Ashley and Alex holding hands and staying close throughout the whole thing.
Before we all knew it, it was time for the ceremony - Ashley and Alex were both escorted down the aisle by their parents, all of them with big smiles on their faces.
As emotional as their "First Look" was, it was all that much more moving when Alex watched Ashley walk down the aisle to him.
It's always one of our goals to get an overview shot of the ceremony as it's taking place. We feel it's important for you to look back and remember not only what the room looked like but also all the people who gathered around to watch you exchange vows.
One of the many bonuses of our job is getting to learn all the different wedding traditions that people incorporate into their weddings. One of my personal favorites is the Jewish tradition that has the immediate family of the bride and groom stand around them during the ceremony. It's really beautiful.
The ceremony was complete with the stomp of the glass, the big first kiss as husband and wife....
and the walk out of the ceremony to the cheers of their family and friends.
Rob happened to capture this great shot of Ashley and Alex sharing a private moment right after they finished walking down the aisle.
While all their guests headed out for cocktail hour, Rob and I spent a few more minutes with Ashley and Alex - grabbing some timeless "mantel-worthy" shots like these.
And then some playful shots like these. Alex said he and Ashley had actually practiced him picking her up, just in case. We were more than happy to but that practice to good use.
Ashley & Alex had many personal touches throughout their reception decor. One of our favorites was the cabinet filled with pictures of Ashley & Alex over the years - from childhood to the present.
Ashley's mother personally did all the calligraphy for the place cards which were stunning. In another personal touch, their guest book was "New York Line By Line," a book featuring drawings of the neighborhoods in New York - with a note to guests to tell Ashley & Alex were your favorite city location is.
Ashley & Alex had a simple and elegant color palette of soft pink and ivory that they carried throughout their whole day.
The back lawn of the country club was the perfect place for guests to relax during the cocktail hour. The fire pits were lit during the cocktail hour and really used even more as the night went on - as a place for guests to gather after the sun went down and for them to roast their marshmallows for their s'more favors.
These are Alex's little nieces, Helen and Charlotte. They were adorable and incredibly well-behaved all day long.
The reception kicked off with Ashley & Alex's very sweet first dance.
Again, we like to capture an overview shot during the first dance as well. In the pictures of our own wedding, we remember enjoying seeing the looks on our guests faces during the big moments as well as the close-ups. We like to give both options to our couples.
Especially because the wide overview shots are the perfect compliment to sweet moments like these.
And, of course, no Jewish wedding is complete without a Hora which are always filled with such amazing energy.
As dinner got started, toasts were offered up by Ashely's sister & father and Alex's brother and best man.
Being as emotional a day as it was, it was no surprise that the parent dances were also very moving. You can tell how much Ashley & Alex are loved.
Then it was time for dessert! First up - cake!!
Then guests were invited to head outside with their own individual s'mores kits and make them around the fire pits. Ashley & Alex headed out to enjoy one with their guests.
Of course, the flower girl Helen couldn't resist the chance for some sweets! I give her a lot of credit for eating her s'more so delicately. I would have made a total mess of myself and I'm much older than she is! :)
Everyone then took the chance to work off their cake s'more sugar high by dancing to the music provided by Fevah Dream. Helen couldn't get enough of dancing with her new Aunt Ashley.
And everyone else was clearly quite enjoying their time on the dance floor as well!
Ashley & Alex, thank you SO much for everything! We had a great day with you and feel really lucky to have gotten to know you both. Hope to catch up with you sometime soon here in the city!
He lived in Africa as a boy, attended high school in London and somehow ended up selecting St. Louis, Missouri when it came time to pick a college. From all his travels around the world, it would be in Missouri that Matt would find a girl from Connecticut. Renee caught his eye during the three years they shared the campus at Washington University, yet they never really got to know one another. Even though Renee does say that she definitely noticed Matt back then as well, they wouldn't connect until years later.
Both committed to helping others, it was their shared interest in helping the people of Rwanda that finally brought them together. After law school, Matt started a nonprofit called Indego Africa, an organization that partners women artisans in Rwanda with high-end retailers and returning all of the profits back to Rwanda in order to help bring an end to poverty in the region. (It's an incredibly worthwhile cause and the products are amazing, you can check out the online store here). Renee, pursuing a career in clinical psychology, had a research trip planned to Rwanda when a mutual friend suggested she get in touch with Matt since he knew quite a bit about the region. She was more than happy to go along with the suggestion. They chatted on the phone for a bit and eventually an official date was made. It was at a bar in D.C., they not only noticed one another once again but finally got to talk in person. The spark between them was clear right away.
For a couple always seeking to make the world a better place, they did that night. Just by finding one another.
* * *
It was a very short commute for us on Saturday for our very first wedding in the city since becoming New Yorkers. It was a bonus that it just so happened to be at one of our favorite venues in the city, the eclectic and stunning Gramercy Park Hotel. As much art gallery as it is a hotel, it's filled with beautiful things to look at from the super plush furniture to the ever-changing collection of 20th century art. If you could have a crush on a hotel, it's safe to say that Rob and I would be sending Gramercy Park a Valentine.
When we arrived, Renee was getting ready in her suite with the help of her twin sister. The room was a flurry of excitement as they gathered together all of Renee's beautiful details and made decisions on hair and make-up. While they were finishing up, Rob and I headed up to the terrace, where the ceremony and reception would be taking place, and brought Renee's gorgeous Christos gown along with us. The terrace has a beautiful study with it's trademark lightbulb ceiling that we knew would be perfect for shots of Renee's gown and shoes. When we arrived back at the suite, it was only a few minutes before it came time for Renee to put on her dress. We spent a few minutes getting some shots of Renee before heading down to the Rose Bar for her "First Look" with Matt.
The ceremony took place back up on the terrace, with Renee and Matt exchanging vows under lush greenery hung from the ceiling and a chuppah covered with orchids. The cocktail hour was held back down at the Rose Bar where two of Matt's closest friends offered up toasts in his honor. The guests then headed back up to the terrace where the staff of the Gramercy had transformed the room, with long tables filled with flowers and candles as the city lights shone in the distance. During dinner, more toasts were offered up - this time from Renee's sister, brother and father and Matt's best man and father. It's a true testament to who Renee and Matt are as people that they had so many people eager to stand up and share just how special they each are. The party truly got started during cake cutting when, as part of a Persian tradition in her family, Renee and Matt had flower petals tossed at them as they cut the cake. With Persian music playing, all the friends and family got into the spirt and packed the dance floor and it stayed that way the whole rest of the evening.
The outside of the Gramercy Park Hotel is elegant and unassuming, making the entrance into the decked-out lobby even more impressive.
The Terrace, where Renee and Matt's ceremony and reception took place, has several rooms with unique touches like this ceiling covered with lightbulbs.
Renee had thought of every possible detail and had many beautiful accessories, especially her "something borrowed" - an antique watch that was her grandmother's.
Renee's Christos gown had intricate detail with flowers cascading down the side and went perfectly with her high-heel peep-toe pumps.
In the suite while she was getting ready, Renee had old family photos. It's always nice to see a couple thinking about the past important days in their family history as they're about to start one of their own.
This is the view from Renee's suite, with the Chrysler Building in the distance.
And her she is - Renee, looking gorgeous even before her make-up has all been applied.
Renee and her sister took one last look at her hair in the mirror, making sure it was exactly how she wanted it to be.
The art work collection is not just featured in the main areas of the hotel, but is in the suites as well. What's great is that every room has different art work, making it that much more fascinating to visit a new room.
Renee's sister hand-painted the Ketubah, with the pomegranates as a nod to Renee's Persian culture and the tree branches representing Matt's time in Africa.
The light and setting in Renee's suite were absolutely gorgeous, we could have photographed her in there for hours.
Probably my favorite photo of the day, I just love the simplicity of it. Another great shot by Rob.
Before we headed down to meet Matt for the First Look, Renee's hair dresser and sister made sure every detail was completely perfect.
The hallways in the hotel are incredibly dark, with the lights on the ceiling casting downward to where the room numbers are printed onto the carpet. We embraced the moodiness of it all for this shot.
As you could probably tell by now, we could photograph all the unique details of the hotel all day long.
Matt couldn't wait to see Renee for the first time that day, and Renee couldn't stop smiling when Matt turned around.
We really lucked out getting access to the Rose Bar for shots with Renee and Matt. The bar is super-exclusive when there is no event going on.
There is a genuine sweetness between Renee and Matt, especially evident when he takes her hand and pulls her in close.
Renee's bouquet of cascading orchids was the perfect compliment to her gown.
The handsome groom, looking especially sharp in custom suit and orchid boutonniere.
It's rare you find a bar where the area when they hold the liquor bottles is actually really cool looking. We knew we wanted to incorporate it into the photos, with a bit of a "Mad Men" vibe.
A bit of a "Where's Waldo" shot, the best way to really show off the decor of the Rose Bar.
Technically, the hotel says you're not supposed to photograph the bride and groom in the lobby. But we did happen to snap this one while we were still in the Rose Bar and they were in the lobby. :)
Some of the many works by Andy Warhol on display throughout the Gramercy Park Terrace.
Then it came time for Renee and Matt had to sign the Ketubah. Just as they would during the ceremony, Renee and Matt were both escorted into the room by both of their parents.
Ketubah ceremonies are almost always emotional and Renee and Matt's was no exception, especially since they both took a minute to express their feelings for one another before they signed.
At the end of the signing, Matt placed Renee's veil over her face which he would lift again at the end of the ceremony.
As was the case with their whole wedding day, the ceremony was filled with a lot of beautiful details - from their custom yarmulkes and programs and the Spanish guitar that played as they walked down the aisle.
The chuppah was stunning, with orchids and greenery cascading down every side.
Something we've never seen before, many of the guests actually clapped as Matt, Renee and their bridal party walked down the aisle.
Many couples are tentative to do a First Look for fear that when they see one another in the ceremony it won't be as emotional. As you can see from Matt and Renee's faces, that's actually never the case.
Renee couldn't help smiling up at Matt, even as she read his vows to him.
Ceremonies on the Terrace are set up in a L shape, making for an unique and beautiful experience for their guests as they look on during the ceremony.
Of course there was much more clapping at the end of the ceremony when Matt stomped the glass and pulled in his now wife for their first kiss.
As the guests were down in the Rose Bar for the cocktail hour, the staff of the Gramercy Park completely transformed the terrace into this gorgeous candlelight garden setting.
During the cocktail hour, Renee and Mike had a live performer playing Sitar music - such a unique touch.
Many people offered up toasts for Renee and Matt, with one common theme emerging from every speech: the generosity and kindness that are strong traits for both of them.
A few more of the incredible Andy Warhols paintings scattered throughout the terrace.
As part of a Persian tradition in her family, Renee and Matt had flower petals tossed at them as they cut the cake...
...and then the party truly got started as the Persian music played and the guests spontaneously broke into dance.
The dance floor cleared as Renee and Matt shared their first dance.
Then Renee shared a dance with her father, who invited her mother in to join them at the end of the song. A very sweet moment.
Then it was Matt's turn to dance with his mother.
Renee and Matt spent the entire rest of the evening dancing hand in hand, with guests walking over to join in and congratulate them often.
Renee and Matt gave their guests favors handmade by the women of Indego Africa
Renee & Matt, thank you so much for inviting us to share in your amazing day. We truly enjoyed getting to meet your families and capture your love for each other.
When I was younger, like most kids, I would get embarrassed by my parents. Not because they did anything extraordinarily weird but because they have always been quite obviously in love. And they didn't seem to care who knew it. They would hold hands in public and kiss in the kitchen. They would banter back and forth like a couple in a 1950's romantic comedy. And I would be mortified. Just when I thought their public displays of marital bliss couldn't embarrass me more, they took up ballroom dancing…and would practice while my friends were over. My friends were mystified by what they would see when they came over to my house. They thought it was cute and I couldn't understand why.
What I didn't realize at the time is that my parents were a rarity: a couple as in love today as they were the day they got married, if not more so. A couple that carved out their dreams together and made them a reality, from building their dream house to creating a family. They survived raising four kids, no easy task if you know me and my three older brothers. They taught us the importance of following our dreams and pursuing our passions, giving us the love and support to believe we can do anything. They have taught us what unconditional love is and what it means to put others needs before your own - something they have done consistently for the four of us, and now for our spouses as well. They have taught us these things not only through their words, but through the example they set in the way they treat one another. As embarrassed as it made me when I was younger, it's definitely something I noticed. When I first started to think about getting married myself one day, I knew without a doubt I wanted a relationship just as solid as my parents. No matter how much it may embarrass our own teenagers someday.
Now, I am happy to point out my parents when they are doing a fox trot in the middle of the crowded dance floor at a wedding. It makes me smile to see them sitting on the couch holding hands and laugh when I hear their banter. I love seeing my parents exchange a sweet look across a room and watching them play with my nieces. I wonder if they had any idea what life had in store for them when they met back in spring of 1968, my mother just a few days away from college graduation and my father starting out in his career. They got married three years later, on a rainy Mother's Day in 1971. That was 40 years ago today. And it was just the beginning.
Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad. Your love for each other makes me proud to be your daughter. I love you.