Todd is executive vice-president/head of global compliance at U.S. Bank; Andy is a language arts teacher at Eureka High School in the Rockwood School District. The couple lives in South St. Louis City.
HOW DID YOU MEET?
Andy: It’s your everyday boy-meets-boy love story: We met at the gym. From the treadmill, I thought I was being subtle when I was checking out the hot guy in front of me…and I failed to notice the huge wall of mirrors in front of Todd, which allowed him to see that he was being checked out. Todd, being oh-so-subtle, turned around, walked right up to me, and asked me out. Once I finally managed to stop blushing and was able to stammer out a “yes,” our love story began.
WHAT INITIALLY ATTRACTED YOU TO EACH OTHER?
Andy: Aside from the aforementioned, it was the power of his personality. Todd is kind, generous, intelligent and larger than life; he does everything with gusto. He is a champion for anyone in need of help, and is fiercely protective of those he loves.
Todd: I was attracted by Andy’s smile (and still am) because it lights up his face. It instantly sparked, literally. I got nervous—and I never get nervous. The idea that Andy could make me nervous attracted me and intrigued me.
HOW DID THE PROPOSAL GO?
Todd: After 14-and-a-half years together, when we were at the Louvre in Paris, I knew the moment was right. There was a statue called “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss,” which depicts a soul being reawakened by the spirit of love. It was now or never…(and) it was so appropriate because—as a result of knowing each other and experiencing love—each of us has become a better person, and a new part of each one has become awakened.
WHAT WAS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR WEDDING?
Our wedding was distinctly “us.” Having been together for so long, we weren’t worried about tradition. We simply wanted it to be a big party to celebrate and thank all of the people who have supported us on our journey. Not only did we write our own vows, but we also wrote our own ceremony, and interspersed the story of our lives together with reading from some of our favorite authors and poets. Andy’s dad got ordained so he could marry us, which was incredibly special. As far as the reception, we didn’t want anyone to be hungry or thirsty, wait in line, or have a “terrible table,” so we had five bars and five food stations, and people could eat what they wanted and sit where they wanted. We had amazing music…an outdoor dance area under a giant pergola built specifically for us…outdoor “living rooms…” It represented who we are, both unique, but also with shared values; plus, we really wanted to be the one couple who had fun at their own wedding! We could never have pulled it all together without our “partner in crime” and now dear friend, Alaynne Allen from Catering St. Louis…she just completely “got” us and understood what we were looking for, and—more importantly—the feel of what we wanted the day to be, namely a gift to those we love.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE BIG DAY?
Andy: Walking down the aisle together holding hands to start the ceremony, and hearing the guests spontaneously start cheering.
Todd: Mine was standing at the Japanese Garden before the guests arrived in that quiet time, and then seeing the guests walking up to the ceremony site. We greeted every guest before the ceremony and frankly, I was overwhelmed at all of the love that was given to us.
WHAT DO YOU CHERISH MOST ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
We’ve learned, as all couples do, that true love is not always easy, but it is always worth it. We’ve learned that the sad times pass, the hard times are easier to endure with your partner by your side, and the good times are even better when shared. We’ve learned that physical distance—even between the frozen north of Minneapolis (where Todd often travels for work) and the sometimes equally frozen city of St. Louis—does not equate to being distant. Through it all, we’ve learned to be strong, with the kind of strength that comes not from losing oneself in another person, but the kind that comes when two individuals magnify the best parts of the other and recognize the holiness in each other—and choose to be together.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT THISPERSON WAS THE ONE?
Andy: After an embarrassingly short two weeks, I said I love you—and meant it. From that point on, I knew that this was it, and he was the one I was meant to be with.
Todd: I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this, but it was instant for me. I cannot explain it and I have often dismissed others’ claims of “love at first sight.” However, there was a connection that was deep and an instant but silent permission for me to be vulnerable because I was safe.
VENUE: Missouri Botanical Garden
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jacob Loafman
SUITS: Brooks Brothers
RINGS: Jewelry by Johan
FLOWERS: Off the Wall Florist & Gifts
ENTERTAINMENT: Whiskey Raccoons and DJ Danny Morris
CATERER: Catering St. Louis
CAKES/DESSERT BAR: Russell’s on Macklind
WEDDING COORDINATOR: Alaynne Allen (of Catering St. Louis) and Todd Ackerman