What are your names?
Tom and Christy Besser
What is your anniversary date?
June 26, 2004
How long have you now been married?
We'd love to share with everyone how you met. Can you tell that story?
(Christy) We were both students at ORU in Oklahoma, but we never spoke to each other until we shared a flight from Dallas, TX to Newark, NJ over fall break of 1997. Both of us were in a season of really evaluating what kind of marriage we would like to have, although at the time, neither of us had anyone in particular in mind. We had a rather deep discussion about relationships and families, and that was the start of our friendship. We even noticed at the baggage claim that we had the same suitcase! We returned to college and life got pretty busy (especially for me, since I was in nursing school and had sworn off dating in favor of the occasional nap, meal, or shower!), but we had conversations in the cafeteria and kept in touch. I knew that he liked me, and even wrote a note in my diary something to the effect of, "Dear future husband, Tom Besser likes me! He seems to follow me everywhere! I'm glad you're not him!" (When he read this years later, he said, "I win!").
Tom graduated in 2000, and when he came back to the campus to visit in 2001, he somehow found me in a stadium with 8,000 people!
(Tom) I happened to be casually thinking to myself, "Wouldn't it be interesting if I happen to run across Christy in this huge arena." As soon as I stepped inside, to my surprise she called out to me from the section right next to the entrance I just set foot through! As chance would have it, she also had a free seat available!
(Christy) After the event, we talked in the dorm lobby until midnight. As he said goodnight, he asked me, "When will I see you again?" I carelessly replied, "I don't know," and walked up the stairs and out of his life. At that time, I had big plans to be single forever, run a medical clinic or an orphanage in a foreign country and save children from human trafficking, and possibly never come back to the US once I left. I graduated and moved to New Jersey, and he was in Texas.
(Tom) Meanwhile, as I was back in Texas and trying how to solve the problem of being single, it suddenly dawned on me that I was mentally comparing every girl I met to Christy. I told God, "If this was really meant to be, it'll have to be you're doing because she definitely wasn't planning on being in Texas."
(Christy) When I was moving out of my parents' home into my own place in January 2002, I found Tom's email address. I dropped him a line...
(Tom) I saw an opportunity.
(Christy) ... and he decided he had to keep me talking. So he asked me to tell him more about my plans to go overseas. We emailed frequently, but our relationship was strictly platonic.
(Tom) The hunt was on!
(Christy) In April of 2002, I decided to visit the college one more time to see a few remaining friends before they graduated. Tom decided to drive up from Texas, where he was working for a nonprofit in Garden Valley.
(Tom) My goal was to see Christy (and maybe catch up with a few other friends).
(Christy) Right before the trip, my then-boyfriend had a dream that I had broken up with him. I denied everything (even though I didn't really like him) and went off to Oklahoma. Tom was there from the moment I exited the plane. I was still so clueless. I remember telling him, "I have my own rental car; there's no need for you to be here." He just smiled and told me he wanted to greet me at the airport. The visit was wonderful. Not only did Tom treat me better than my boyfriend did, but he was a much better conversationalist. He held every door, took me out to dinner at Carabba's (our unofficial first date), and took a walk with me.
(Tom) The walk and holding hands was great inspiration. So, I wrote a note...
(Christy) When I was waiting for my flight home, he handed me a note that said, "I hope this doesn't ruin our friendship, but I just had to tell you that I love you." I read and re-read that note about a hundred times as I flew home. By the time I reached New Jersey, I decided to break up with my boyfriend, and the rest is history. Tom and I were long-distance for another year, writing massive amounts of letters and calling for hours at a time, and when my hospital contract ended in April 2003, I moved to Houston to live near him. We were engaged in October 2003, and we married the following June.
And of course we have to tell everyone how you got engaged... it's our favorite part; please share!
(Christy)Tom ordered a diamond online. He planned to buy a setting and present it to me at a restaurant or somewhere "romantic," but he was so nervous and acting strange after he received it in the mail, I demanded he tell me why he was being so weird.
(Tom) I had just picked up the diamond and was grinning from ear to ear. I'm just lousy at keeping this particular thing secret.
(Christy) He got out the GAA specs folder and asked, "How would you like this diamond?" The diamond listed was just about perfect in every way. Of course I said it looked amazing, and he produced the "ring" right there as we sat on his couch. Because it was mounted on a ring-shaped prong, not an actual setting, the tag on the side said "NOT A RING" in big letters. We still laugh about how he proposed to me with "not a ring."
(Tom) I still got down on one knee! And we had it set properly in short order.
Please tell us about your wedding. What were some of the details? Where was it? What were your favorite parts?
(Christy)Because of the widespread geographical locations of our families, we opted to marry in West Virginia, which was somewhat central to all. I had always wanted an outdoor wedding. We chose to tie the knot on top of Cooper's Rock, a bluff that towers 2100 feet above the gorgeous Cheat River valley near Morgantown, WV. The top of the bluff is a popular place to marry, but it can't be reserved, so the park ranger informed me over the phone that if another wedding party wished to use the rock at the same time, "you will just have to work it out." Thankfully, although another wedding did occur that day, it was several hours before ours, so all was well. I wore a dress that Tom picked out of a catalog; he called it a "Galadriel dress" because it reminded him of the elf queen from Lord of the Rings. Sure enough, it fit beautifully.
(Tom) I was actually surprised she went with it because I always figured that picking out a wedding dress was clearly something that I would not be qualified for.
(Christy) My bridesmaids wore indigo, and the bouquets were made from several varieties of red rose. We were the first to ever bring a sound system to the top of Cooper's Rock, and the park rangers were a little surprised at our jazz band during the reception at a nearby pavilion. I really wanted a cake topper with two giraffes, so my sister Megan found a large night light on eBay and transformed it into a cake topper for us (I only know that a hammer was involved). The park did not allow alcoholic beverages, so we served sparkling apple cider, and there were so many extra bottles, we drove away with a trunk full as we left for our honeymoon. The guests waved streamers in our wedding colors as we left, and it was just about the most perfect day for which a couple could wish.
What is the best memory you have from your wedding day?
(Christy) My favorite memory was the moment when we were in the car, pulling out of the state park, and we both breathed a big sigh and said, "We did it!" My face hurt from smiling. It was such a relief to have all those months of planning behind us and our life together in front of us.
(Tom) My goal was just keep the car on the road!
Of course we have to hear about your pictures, since we were your photographers. What was it like having Kimberly photograph your wedding? What do you remember most about your photography? What is your favorite picture to this day?
(Christy) Kim was just getting started at that time. Tom knew her from his nonprofit job, and he thought she would be a good choice, so I agreed without ever seeing her work. She was truly amazing, so helpful, and she seemed to be everywhere at once without disturbing a thing! When we looked at some of the wonderful shots she obtained, we said, "She has a gift." Now, ten years and multiple published shots and awards later, we realize what a gem we found in Kim. We are very grateful for the important role she played in helping us preserve memories of our special day.
Now that your wedding is over, what is the one thing you look back on and are so thankful that you did?
(Christy) We got some flak for having an outdoor wedding in a rustic location. However, I am so glad we stuck to the plan...even though some guests were upset that the terrain was not high-heels appropriate! Because it was held on the top of a rocky bluff in a state park, we saved a ton on flowers and decorations, didn't serve alcohol (it was prohibited), and avoided reception hall costs by renting a $100 pavilion. I'm also glad we chose to have the festivities end around 6 pm. It was nice to have time to ride into the sunset together while we still had energy!
How has life changed since your wedding day, please fill us in on all the details (moves, kids, new houses, promotions, etc).
(Christy) After the wedding, we settled in Seabrook, TX. I worked in the emergency room as a nurse, and Tom worked as a NASA contractor building software applications. In 2007, I left the ER to raise our first daughter. After Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area, we moved away from the coastal town where we had lived for five years and purchased a home in Pasadena, TX, where we still live today. Tom just celebrated 10 years with his company. I have been homeschooling our girls for three years now, and Tom also heads up the audio support team at our church.
If you have kids can you please share with us about them... we LOVE to hear fun kid stories.
(Christy) Jocelyn is 7, Shannon is 5, and Verity was born May 14, 2014. Our two older girls are a different as night and day, from the type of hair they have, to how they interact with people. They are very high-energy and fun!
Do you have any updated pictures? Tell us about the pictures that you are sending to us.
(Christy) We took some family photos when the baby was just a week old.(photo credit: Mark Kinonen, League City, TX, Mskinonen@hotmail.com) They aren't perfect pictures, but they do reflect our reality! Our oldest is very serious and thinks in black-and-white terms. Our middle daughter is a clown and loves to laugh. We aren't sure what the baby's personality will be yet, but I know she will be just as interesting as the other two. The photos of Tom and me with Verity were taken shortly after she was born. We were both so exhausted, but so happy to meet her after a tough pregnancy that included a miscarriage scare and 21 days of bed rest. We have included three wedding photos. The first shot, in black and white, was just so classy and beautiful; of all our photos, it's my favorite. The second one is a shot of Tom dipping me on a wooded path. He did it spontaneously, and Kim was there to capture the moment. The third shot shows the beautiful view behind us during our ceremony.
When you were newlyweds did you picture this would be your life, this many years after your wedding?
(Christy) For the most part, life has turned out as expected. The most notable difference from our plans: we still live in Texas, even though we would have laughed at you if you told us that 10 years ago. Tom and I spent most of our lives "up North" (Chicago for me, and Brooklyn and West Virginia for him). However, the low cost of living in Texas...
(Tom) And homeschool-friendly environment...
(Christy)...has enabled me to stay at home with my daughters, something that would be much more difficult to achieve if we lived on the East Coast.
If you were to go back in time and tell your newly engaged selves one thing, what would it be?
(Christy) Calm down, relax, and don't take every bit of opinions and advice--or yourselves--so seriously! Also, when planning your wedding, get everything in writing. Especially that part about being allowed to bring a sound system and a jazz band into the state park (we caught a few park rangers off guard with those last two items!). Simplify, simplify, simplify. And don't forget to breathe!
Do you have any advice for new bride and grooms?
(Christy) You will never regret the money you spend on photography. All the other high-dollar items will only last one day, but the photos you will have forever. You only get married once (we hope!), so it's one of the best investments you'll ever make!
Make sure you put as much time, thought, and attention into your marriage as you did with your wedding. The marriage will thrive to the degree you invest in it. You and your spouse will constantly change, and that is one of the only things you can be sure of. There will be bumps in the road, ups and downs, moments of glory and times of slogging through the mud. Determine now that you will always fight for the marriage and not against each other. And, as Dr. Emerson Eggerich says in his book Love and Respect, "Whoever considers himself or herself most mature should apologize first." Ask for what you need. One of our key phrases during our early days of marriage was, "My mind reader is broken." Our favorite rule about conflict is, "Never start an argument if you're hungry." It's amazing how many issues solve themselves when you have stabilized your blood sugar.
Some books that have helped us along the way are as follows:
Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
and a pair of books from Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only (helping women understand men), and For Men Only (same, except about women).