Married for Eight Years! / by Leslie

My engagement and marriage were nothing typical. Chris and I decided to get engaged in April of 2003 and met with the ring designer, Christopher Roule, together. I think we designed the engagement and wedding rings at the same time. We met in his apartment in the Village and he showed us different diamonds and we picked a unique “miner’s cut” diamond to be set in a bold ring. We picked tiny blood red rubies to be wrapped around our wedding rings, set off-center on my white gold ring and on the side of Chris’s platinum ring. We loved designing our rings together, it was meaningful and so fun.

So I knew it was coming, but not really when. I tried not to think about it, because I wanted to be surprised, but I did have some clues. Hint one was that we had tickets to see the American Ballet Theater's Romeo and Juliet performed at the Metropolitan Opera House. Hint two was that Chris wore a jacket even though it was hot (to hide the ring). We had dinner at the Grand Tier which is located right in the Met,  and got our favorite crab cakes and steaks. Nothing happened, so I thought maybe I was wrong and tried so hard not to expect a proposal. We watched the first acts of the ballet and at intermission we returned to our table for dessert.

In the middle of the amazing dessert, Chris got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I wish I had a video of that moment because I forget exactly what he said. I think he said something about me making his life better and the moon and the stars, or something like that. All I know for sure is that I said yes. There were people watching, the wait staff mostly, and they all clapped and cheered. I was so giddy it was hard to finish eating, much less return to the ballet, but we did and I beamed in the dark while watching one of the most romantic stories in history.

We started thinking about a wedding and all the logistical details made me anxious and seemed to take the fun out of it. I didn’t need or want a show, I just wanted to marry this man, so we planned to elope. We booked a room at an exclusive hotel, The Post Ranch Inn, in Big Sur California for October. We contacted photographers and an officiate, but then I lost my job.

My job was the only reason I was allowed to be in the country. I was in the US on my fourth one year temporary visa from Canada and if I didn’t have a job I wasn’t supposed to stay here. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but I was insistent on doing things the right way. I didn’t want to stay illegally in the country for three months until we were supposed to marry, so we cancelled most of our plans for eloping and decided to get married at home. 

We wanted to go to the court house, like my parents did, but they were renovating the beautiful old building and the temporary court house was kind of a depressing place to get married in. We decided to use the deck at Chris's parent's house and we had the mayor of our town come there to act as the officiate. We got everything ready in just a couple of weeks. I got my dress off the rack at BCBG and my veil and hair comb at a wedding shop.

It was so simple and perfect, except for the fact that my parents and sister weren’t there. They couldn’t fly from Canada with such short notice but I talked to them on the phone before and after and I pinned an old clip of my Mom’s into my bouquet. They were there in my heart.

It was short ceremony, with the traditional vows and Chris's family watching along with two of our friends. Again, I beamed through the whole thing. Chris sweated through it, but that’s because it was August and he was damn hot in that suit. He looked good though and I dried his brow with my handkerchief. I still have it, the handkerchief, but it’s washed now. 

After the ceremony we had champagne, strawberry shortcake and a light lunch and then Chris and I headed into the city to spend a couple of nights at the Mercer Hotel in Soho. We had dinner that night with everyone plus a few more friends at a lovely restaurant called One If By Land, Two If By Sea. It was fun to walk around Soho as a bride. People stare, in a good way, and everyone wishes you well and has big smiles for you. Later that night, our friends came back to our room and we jumped on the bed and cleaned out the mini-bar.

Our reservations at the Post Ranch in Big Sur were kept and became our official honeymoon a few months later. It was a magical time being there and I hope one day to go back. I still remember the smell of the deck wood heating up in the sun at the end of the day and the way the stars looked like a blanket across the sky at night. The clouds at dawn, hanging above the ocean and below us, were otherworldly. When I need to go to a happy place in my mind, that's where I go.

It's eight years later and we are still going strong. Though it’s true that we are not going to be together today to celebrate. We had planned to return to the Mercer Hotel for a grand night out without the kids, but it will have to wait until I return from Canada. That’s the thing about a good marriage. For as much as we are bonded and sewn together, sometimes we know even more when we need to be apart. We let each other stay as individuals while still coming together to raise a family and nurture a marriage.

Happy Anniversary to Chris, the love of my life. I look forward to many more years together with you.