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.
Michael: "I probably knew when I was in eighth grade. My girlfriends were always jealous of my connection with Anne."
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."
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."
Michael: "She was like, 'I'm moving to New York. Want to come?'"
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."
Anne: "No, I love his way of interacting with people. He never overcompensates. He is always comfortable in his own skin."
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."
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: "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."
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: "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: "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?
Anne: "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."
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: "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."
Anne: "We tossed around that idea, but the logistics of that get crazy quickly."
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."
Anne: "We got a little aggressive in the Dries Van Noten exhibit."
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."
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."
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."