You might think after 10 years of marriage, large romantic gestures would head straight out the window while the arguably welcomed replacement of sneaking warm brownies to share in bed took residence in not only the home, but the relationship as well. That is what is traditionally expected, right?
For Michael Huntsman, 35, of Northville, Mich., the expected was not enough to celebrate his 8-month pregnant wife Rebekah Huntsman, 33, on their 10-year anniversary. Rather, through an elaborate surprise, Michael took his wife on an adventure through time with a twist they will cherish throughout the rest of their lives.
“Ten years is special and I had to get creative because she is close to 9 months pregnant, so that really limits what we can and can’t do as far as the celebration,” explained Michael. “I guess I just had to be in that creative mindset –– I had to get very sentimental because of the limitations.”
Sentimental might be an understatement as Michael swooped in with a limousine to escort his wife from her parent’s home in Williamstown, W.Va. where they had built-in babysitters for their two children to a romantic evening exclusively for two, beginning with a private photo session with me.
“We walked around the corner [on Front Street in Marietta] and there you were with the camera,” noted Rebekah. “I was like, this is the real deal; he really has gone all out.”
Through a midst of romantic and awkward family photos –– the two are huge fans of the website –– we strolled through downtown Marietta snapping photos and videos, sharing their love story for the camera.
“We dated for five years and we were engaged three times before we got married,” said Rebekah. “We were only ever apart for about two to three months, but we weren’t ready to get married until the final [engagement].”
Michael remarked it was a time for growth and was all about timing and maturity.
“Our friends and family said to keep the receipts for the wedding gifts the third time around,” joked Rebekah. “Though, during those breakups, we grew a lot; we learned a lot.”
Michael and Rebekah officially met while they both attended Liberty University in 2002. After meeting in the gym, Rebekah told him she didn’t want to date and would rather just stay friends.
“I had to trick her into dating me and pretend I just wanted to be friends, too,” Michael said.
With 10 years of marriage under their belts, it’s safe to say his plan worked. After the hour spent laughing and taking pictures showing both their fun and loving sides, the limo shuffled them off to their next destination: the location of their wedding reception 10 years prior.
“It was funny –– I called Patty at the Grand Pointe [Conference and Reception Center] when I was planning the surprise and explained I wanted to rent out the ballroom for two people,” said Michael. “She told me she thought I was calling the wrong place and I told her no, I want the ballroom for two people.”
Working with the Grand Pointe and DJ Associates, Michael wrapped up his surprise with a private candlelight dinner followed by dessert and dancing.
“That’s when I broke into my ugly cry,” said Rebekah while recalling what it felt like to walk into the ballroom after 10 years. “And I just felt so special and I felt so loved; we say we love each other every day, and I know we do, but in that moment, I really felt the love and felt so special.”
Michael said seeing her cry as they walked into the ballroom after the DJ announced their arrival was his favorite moment of the night.
“I knew at that point, this was more than just a date,” noted Michael. “She was feeling the true expression of love that I hoped it would convey.”
After dancing to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” –– their first dance song at their wedding –– Michael and Rebekah enjoyed their delicious dinner for two before dancing the rest of the night away.
“I sprinkled the night full of personal touches and sentimental events that took place in our past,” said Michael. “Our relationship, if we were to describe it, would be built on love and laughs; experiencing that with her was not only an expression of love, but it gave us time to have fun together.”
While, in our society, we’ve become obsessed with the gesture, to Michael and Rebekah, the importance of their evening spent together stretched beyond the elaborate events Michael had planned and allowed them to pause and truly focus on who they were as a couple.
“My wedding was a dream and it was perfect, but I think having 10 years together just made the intimacy seem stronger, more intense,” concluded Rebekah. “We weren’t putting on a show for anyone; it wasn’t about the guests or the flowers; it was just us.”
And sure, this particular romantic act was anything but simple; it certainly was extravagant. But Michael found a way to touch what was real, what was at the roots of their marriage, their love, and their foundation.
“Along with the love and the laughs, it’s important to us, for our marriage, to acknowledge our foundation is our relationship with Christ; from there is our commitment to each other,” added Rebekah. “That’s a big part of who we are.”
As for their 20-year anniversary, who knows what will take place.
“You know, I can’t wait to experience the next 10 years and grow in our love with both the bad and the good times,” said Michael. “As long as whatever we do at our 20-year anniversary is someplace we can have fun and laugh and just love on each other, we will be happy.”