This Unconventional Couple Is Getting Married THEIR Way

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For Anne Cassard and Michael Greeson, what started as playdates as kids turned into real dates at 22. Now, eight years later, they are engaged to wed next summer.
01_ElReyCoffeeBar_148Photographed by Winnie Au at El Rey.
Today they are the epitome of the young New York couple: nestled cozily in the Lower East Side, eclectically dressed, and pursuing their respective passions — Michael is the head sommelier at Del Posto and Anne is a design project manager here at Refinery29 (surprise!). But, when we got wind of their engagement, we knew their story would be different.
On Anne: Trina Turk Jacket
02_ElReyCoffeeBar_152Photographed by Winnie Au at El Rey.
For starters, they've done away with traditional ideas of relationship roles, plucked-from-Pinterest weddings, and standard engagement rings. And, we have to say, in a world rife with #relfies (that is, ring selfies), their modern stance is quite refreshing.

Their relationship takes the spotlight — not the bells and whistles that society uses to define love. That is the kind of happily ever after that really
sets the bar.

03_ElReyCoffeeBar_518Photographed by Winnie Au at El Rey.
Ahead, we not only get to know the couple, their totally inspiring love story, and their progressive stance on marriage, but we also get a first look at the ring (hint: it's gorg), all while touring their favorite hangs around New York City. Aside from completely falling head over heels for this perfect pair (and you will), you just might see love in a whole new light.
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04_ElReyCoffeeBar_167Photographed by Winnie Au at El Rey.
You two have been together for eight years, but you've known each other since you were growing up in Grand Rapids, MI. When did you know it was love?
Michael: "I probably knew when I was in eighth grade. My girlfriends were always jealous of my connection with Anne."
Anne: "I definitely did not see it coming. Our friendship has always been the most important part of our relationship for me. I didn't know I wanted more until he presented me with the option."
05_FatRadish01_214Photographed by Winnie Au at The Fat Radish.
How did your relationship begin?
Michael: "We were 22. We were in Ann Arbor celebrating one of Anne's friends' birthdays, and she overheard me telling a friend that I was in love with her."
Michael: "I don't think we spoke for about six weeks."
Anne: "I was about to graduate college, and I had committed to a year-long graduate program in Spain. I came back to Grand Rapids between graduation and leaving for Spain, and Michael and I got drinks. By the time I left for Spain, we were together."
Michael: "She left the next day."
06_FatRadish01_088Photographed by Winnie Au at The Fat Radish.
Wow. Your entire first year as a couple was long distance? How did you make it work?
Michael: "We Skyped out of our minds. And, we already had a really well-established foundation of trust. I never carried any jealousy or insecurity about being in a relationship with Anne. It was difficult because we weren't physically together, but we had to develop our communication skills on a different level."
On Anne: Noon by Noor Top
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07_FatRadish01_151Photographed by Winnie Au at The Fat Radish.
So, you spent four years in Grand Rapids, and then you both packed up and moved to New York City together. What inspired the change?
Michael: "She was like, 'I'm moving to New York. Want to come?'"
Anne: "That was a really pivotal moment, because Michael didn't necessarily feel passionate about moving to New York at that point. But, when he decided to come with me, it started a whole new chapter for us."
Sommeliers work late into the night and on weekends. When do you even have time to see each other?
Anne: "Michael has been in the service industry for most of our relationship, and I've always had a 9-to-5. We just make every moment we have together count that much more."
Cole Haan Jacket
08_FatRadish01_074Photographed by Winnie Au at The Fat Radish.
Sounds like early mornings are your best bet for alone time. Does your dynamic change when you get to go out together?
Anne: "No, I love his way of interacting with people. He never overcompensates. He is always comfortable in his own skin."
Affection and chemistry aside, what do you think makes two people compatible day in and day out?
Anne: "Michael has always been my stylistic counterpart. My taste is really important to me, and his taste is really important to me. It has a huge impact on the way we spend time together, the restaurants and activities we choose."
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09_FatRadish01_120Photographed by Winnie Au at The Fat Radish.
So, you appreciate the same things and have similar values. But, what qualities are important to you?
Michael: "When I think about the kind of person Anne is, I think about integrity, work ethic, structure, and communication. I admire the way she conveys her thoughts and feelings, and the importance she places on cultivating and maintaining relationships with people from all walks of life."
Anne, do you think a relationship should be easy when you've found the right person, or will it always be hard work?
Anne: "I think you get out of a relationship what you put into it, and the goal shouldn't be ease. Some of the most difficult challenges we've faced together have ultimately become the most formative for both of us. I'm as thankful for the frustrations and conflicts as I am for the Champagne, nice dinners, and great trips that we've enjoyed."
010_HighLine_058Photographed by Winnie Au.

You got engaged this past May. With such a diverse mix of modern and conservative views on marriage today, how did you decide what was best for you as a couple?

Anne: "Everyone gets married in different ways. The way we get married should reflect the core qualities of our relationship, and it has always been about partnership, about serving each other, and about leaning on each other consistently."

Michael: "We'd had a conversation about a year prior [to the engagement] about what marriage meant to both of us. We basically concluded that we wanted to make that commitment to one another, but we didn't need to celebrate it with an ostentatious display."
011_HighLine_003Photographed by Winnie Au.
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012_HighLine_157Photographed by Winnie Au.
Can you paint us a picture of the proposal?
Michael: "I decided I wanted to propose in Paris. We rented an apartment in St. Germain for the second time in two years. We came with a couple of friends, so I had one of them bring the ring in her luggage. Anne packs all our stuff, so there's no way I could've hidden it. Late that first night when we came back to the apartment, I just put the ring box in front of Anne and got down on a knee."
Anne: "He left a breathtaking red Cartier box sitting out on our living-area table and allowed me to deduce what was happening before he went on to say a few words. It was as perfect as it sounds. It's such an idyllic town. To be proposed to in that setting couldn't have been more perfect. I'm still amazed by how surprised and moved I was by the experience. I felt more special than I ever knew I could feel after eight very consistent, committed years in this relationship."
J.Crew Dress, Chiara Ferragni Shoes
013_HighLine_338Photographed by Winnie Au.
Let's talk a little more about the unconventional ring you chose.
Anne: "I don't really wear jewelry, so it wouldn't make sense for me to have a big diamond. This [holds up hand] is the only thing I'd feel comfortable wearing every day."

Is opting out of a traditional engagement ring representative of your relationship?

: "It was important that our rings be similar. That's where the symbolism of balance and equality comes in. Neither of us is expected to provide something the other wouldn't. And, I don't think Michael would want to wear a diamond ring. I'll give Michael this wedding band at our ceremony."

014_HighLine_410Photographed by Winnie Au.
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015_DelPosto_160Photographed by Winnie Au at Del Posto.

Michael, it sounds like Anne set you up for success here. No sparklers, no custom designs. Still, we imagine that finding a ring can be quite daunting. How did you land on the perfect band?

Michael: "Because I was going to propose in Paris, I started looking for rings with French heritage. I wanted something that was unique, that had a sense of timelessness. I knew if I bought something from Cartier and wanted to get another ring 15 years down the line, or if something needed to be fixed, it would be around to take care of it. Once I decided on this simple, yellow-gold wedding band, I walked from the Lower East Side all the way up to the store on Fifth Avenue and bought it, and then I walked all the way back home again carrying the red bag and ring in hand. I couldn't stop thinking about how proud I was of our relationship and how prepared I felt to move into a new, more significant level of commitment to one another."

Anne: "The ring was an adorable three sizes too big. I still wore it the entire time we were in Paris — I couldn't bring myself to take it off. Then when we got back, we went into the Cartier store, and this lovely man named Patrick (the same man who helped Michael select the ring) worked with us to find a replacement. He made the process seamless and fun. Then, we had drinks across the street at The Plaza Hotel to celebrate — another dreamy facet to the whole process so far!"
016_DelPosto_237Photographed by Winnie Au at Del Posto.
Have you finalized the rest of your wedding plans? Will they be as simple as the rings?
Anne: "We haven't set a date exactly, but it will be next summer, probably in May or June. The plan is to get married at City Hall — wearing something fabulous — and then go to lunch with some really good friends who will probably attend the ceremony as well."
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017_DelPosto_181Photographed by Winnie Au at Del Posto.
Will your families attend the wedding?
Anne: "We tossed around that idea, but the logistics of that get crazy quickly."
Michael: "Later in the summer, we'll get the families together and go up to her parents' lake house for a night or two. We have a lot of shared memories there."
Anne: "Our Midwestern families are not New York families. These people aren't in their own skin here. If we want everyone to relax and celebrate, we need to do that in a familiar place. That said, getting married in New York is a very special thing. The city has done so much for us. And, keeping things simple is just our style."
Adeam Suit, Marni Shoes
18_DelPosto_180Photographed by Winnie Au at Del Posto.
And, it's back to Paris for your honeymoon?
Michael: "Yes, it's a city of endless discovery. It's like New York in that way. We always find something new and inspiring to draw us back, whether it's befriending a stranger at a café or getting kicked out of the Louvre."
Did that actually happen?
Anne: "We got a little aggressive in the Dries Van Noten exhibit."
Well, that's understandable.
Anne: "For the wedding, we both even plan to wear Dries Van Noten for the first and possibly only time in our lives, just because."
Five years from now, what do you think this relationship will look like?
Anne: "I think that's the point where we'll get to start thinking about having a family. In terms of our careers, we're both very fulfilled. It's nice to be able to invest yourself in what you're doing at a given moment. I think my stress level is lower when I don't have some self-imposed expectation about where I should be in the next few years."
Michael: "I'll be looking to do something on my own, professionally. I suspect it will involve a restaurant."
19_DelPosto_221Photographed by Winnie Au at Del Posto.
So, you'll be in New York indefinitely then?
Anne: "It's hard to imagine being anywhere else when you're so in love with a place. We both feel like we have a lot of experience left to gain here. We would both love to live internationally. We've even talked about moving back to Grand Rapids."
Michael: "I just hate cars. We both do. That sort of narrows the field a bit."
Anne: "I think, right now, this is our place. I've gotten a lot more comfortable with not knowing what my next steps are."

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