15 years ago today Robert and Anelle were married in Camden, Maine. Robert and Anelle made Maine their destination wedding spot because it was beautiful and it was different. Robert is from Queens, New York; Anelle is from Brooklyn. I lived in Brooklyn for some time, so I have an appreciation for Anelle. It was many years ago they began dating, and now two children later, they are still together, still in love, still making it work. Often we read blog stories of how to make your wedding beautiful with styled shoots, creative centerpieces, gorgeous dresses, and locations. All those things are lovely and nice for pretty pictures. But on the less popular end of the publishing side but to me the most important, are stories on lasting happy marriages. I went to visit Robert and Anelle in their home in Queens earlier this month. I naively thought Queens would have more parking than the other boroughs, but no. Parking a block away, which is a lot in Maine, I carried my cameras into their apartment complex and to get my blog story and pictures on their marriage success. The address which I have shipped their wedding and portrait albums was about to become real!
This is a 2 part blog post. First are my thoughts and reflections on this couple, and then second are words from the heart shared by Anelle. As your photographer, it is important that you see not only how I see light and moments, but how I the hearts of people. And as a gift from someone whom I have photographed like you, Anelle, shares her thoughts on her marriage. For as Anelle says, love never disappears, it is always there in memories and in your heart. Thank you Anelle for answering my questions so sincerely.
I first met Anelle and Robert in the fall of 2002, when they came to my apartment in Portland to meet with me about their wedding. I had two puppies then, Charlie my pug and Robert had grown up with pugs. Years since their wedding, I have watched Anelle and Robert on social media over the years, and their posts let me know by the genuine smiles in the photos, they are happy. It isn’t idealized posts intended to make one envious, it is more hey here is our life, and we love the heck out of our kids. And props to Robert, I noticed from him a frequent amount of posts with the theme, “I have an awesome wife”! Robert and Anelle have returned to Maine on their big anniversary dates (5th and 10th) and hired me to photograph their family, so I have had the pleasure of seeing their kids grow and see them. Robert got in touch with me last summer while he was planning their 15th, we had saved the date of August 15th, one month after their anniversary because their kids are in a summer program at the Natural History Museum. This winter he got in touch with me to say they had to postpone their trip to Maine this summer because they were planning to send their oldest, Luis to a private high school this fall and all funds would be going to that. My life changed from attending a private high school so I completely understand that decision! April came around and I was planning my stay for a wedding I was shooting in New Jersey, I thought shoot, I should just go and see Robert and Anelle while I am there! They can't come to me, but I decided to go to them.
When I asked them about their first date, Robert blurted out, there was NO first date!
They met both working at Macy’s; Robert an electrician, Anelle at the Make-Up counter. When he asked her out for a first date, Anelle had become sick from food poisoning from bad seafood that her cousin had made the night before. She missed work and couldn’t go out with him. She had called her friend at work to tell him that she was home sick. The friend never told him. A few days later Anelle saw him in the elevator and said hi to him and Robert acted cold. She thought, 'what is up with him'! They talked and found out that he didn’t know she was sick. They made plans for a second first date.
Brooklyn vs. Queens
Robert talks about driving to Canarsie to see Anelle. Rolling his eyes he tells me about having to walk up flights of stairs late at night because the elevators weren’t working in her building, and walking past people ‘doing god knows what’. Anelle laughed and said adamantly nothing bad ever happened to her while living in Canarsie. She said she simply said her prayers every day and didn’t believe anything would. I believe that.
Anelle talked about how funny it was to see people line up for the buses in Queens. Robert’s reply is “ yeah because we are civilized over here in Queens”. I laughed. I find it funny imagining seeing grown-ups line up for the bus like kids going into school too. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just not .. normal!
While I was visiting them, and after having a glass of some bubbly, I asked their youngest, little Anelle, to play a song for me. She had learned guitar the past two years and had a beautiful voice. Her Dad had told her to not forget the Foofighters song she had learned because they were all going to their concert this month and hey they might pull her up on stage. I agreed! That would be much cooler than playing in her middle school talent show that she didn’t get picked for because apparently, the teachers favored those singing Broadway tunes. Which is unfortunate. I appreciate any kid that picks music from the 90’s. The 90’s had great artists! Kudos to parents who expose their kids to quality artists from before their time.
Anelle put on her wedding dress which actually is a little too big for her these days. How many of us can say that?! She loved wearing her dress it was pretty awesome. Then she wanted to add her veil in, I said why not. So we recreated the photos we took on their wedding day, the whole time they were laughing at how hot it was under the veil.
To be honest I had forgotten about that picture, but Anelle remembered! It was in her album and one of her favorites.
How it works
Laughing is a good thing. I am going to say that couples who can laugh together, stay together. And I think Robert’s ability from the get-go to go out of perhaps his comfort zone by dating a woman from Canarsie Brooklyn, because she is awesome, is also why it works. Sometimes in life, we don’t get out of our comfort zone and can miss out on a whole lot. In this case, it is a lifetime of marriage, or “Bliss” as Robert said sarcastically while rolling his eyes, laughing and hugging his wife.
Words from the wife ....
For me, marriage has meant so many things...the first thought that comes to mind is friendship, the strongest, most reliable, most supportive friendship I have ever found, created, nurtured...There is no one else I trust more with my feelings and thoughts. It's knowing that my best friend is always there to listen, to hear my complaints, my worries, my insecurities, with no judgment. Just there to listen and help me through challenging times. And to celebrate and enjoy our accomplishments together. It's an incredible feeling knowing that there is always someone there to support and love you.
I had no Idea what marriage would be like when I first got married. I knew I married my best friend, and we were about to start a new life together. I knew it would be for life. We finally could dedicate all of our time to one another and enjoy each other without any other influences around. That was what excited us the most, becoming autonomous! We thought we would travel, spend quality time together, just the two of us, have exciting adventures...We just loved being together, spending time together and that was our goal, feeding our bond and establishing our life together. We planned on having one child, maybe in a few years so we could have some time to spend with one another before starting our family...things don't always go as planned...
Email from Anelle
I cannot believe 15 years have passed! It's been some ride, nothing like I thought it would be, everything happened so quickly. We were expecting our first child 4 months into the marriage. We were so excited, and I remember laughing so much about our plans - all time we were going to spend with one another, alone. We laughed so much, and then we had to deal with a complicated pregnancy, tragic loss, all of which I couldn't imagine surviving without Robert. The experience brought us closer, no one else could give us the type of support we gave each other. Then our focus became our son, born 7 weeks early, making sure he grew big and strong! And then 20 months later came our little princess, or surprise number 2. Again, we had scary times at the beginning of the pregnancy but this time the pregnancy went smoothly...the birth was a different story... Another challenge we faced and survived. Now we were focused on making both our children happy and well-adjusted. Now we focused on making meaningful memories for our children, exposing them to adventure, science, and as much knowledge as possible. We got to discover what type of parents we wanted to be. I guess that's another reason I realized I chose Robert as a husband, I knew he would make a great father and would put his children before his own needs.
And that is it. We continue to dedicate ourselves to our family, always sharing with our children how important each one of us is, how we are our biggest support and our greatest joy.
Now that I think of it, I did have some expectations of marriage, or at least reasons I chose Robert as my husband, and how I saw my role as a wife. I expected to always have someone there I could depend on, who made me feel safe and loved, I wanted to also be that for Robert. Someone who could always listen, to give support and give advice that would help him, not a selfish opinion. To challenge his thoughts if I thought he needed it, and I expected the same from him. And I feel we have been there for each other, helped each other grow as people in our different roles, giving support and insight. Communication is very important, ours have gotten much better through the years and is something we continue to work on. But more important than anything is love. Just knowing how much he loves me, always remembering the old times, before we got married, why we got married, how I felt every time I would see him when we were dating, remembering him holding our premature son and giving Luis a sponge bath every day, all the little things he's done and continues to do, it's all those memories of love, you feel it every time you think of them, it's that love that keeps it all going. I don't believe love disappears, it's always there, in your memories, your thoughts, your heart. I always feel it, I'm surrounded by it. It's what we based our marriage on and has grown with us throughout the years. You can never forget why you got married, it's that love that you couldn't live without, your soulmate, I always remember that and that feeling is with me everyday.
It also helps that I have a great husband :) A good counterpart, the ying to my yang, because opposites definitely attract!
I hope that wasn't too wordy or confusing, my mind goes all over sometimes, I tried staying focused but I kind of just winged this one.
Thanks so much for everything,
Cheers to staying together Robert and Anelle! I will have some champagne with you today. I saw all those bottles in your living room I am sure you will be having one of them!