We always love hearing stories about how couples meet. It warms our hearts this time of month. Sure, we can all agree that Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark” holiday but it does serve as a reminder to spend time with the ones we love the most. Our team agrees that it’s not about the gifts…except for flowers. We can all use some fresh blooms this time of year.

We’ve ditched the idea of doing a straight forward Valentine’s Day gift guide this year. Instead, we’re sharing our personal and somewhat goofy love stories.

HEATHER:

Where did you two meet?

We first met playing on the same Ultimate (Frisbee) team while living in Vancouver. There was no love connection at that time. He remembers some girl who hated cheering and I remember some guy who was always gung-ho about cheering. Three years later we met again while racing on the same sailboat (a boat named Buzz Lightyear) and I knew I liked him.

How long have you been together?

It will be 17 years this spring.

Favourite Romantic Vacation?

Spending three weeks sailing up the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Tofino on the west Coast of Vancouver Island.

Funniest Date?

Our first official date. He brought his best friend and we went to see Blade 2. Maybe also the worst date.

What’s your typical Valentine’s Day like?

Low key. He is an engineer, so Valentine’s Day doesn’t really make sense to him.

So, what’s the secret?

Sharing your life while also maintaining a sense of self. We love many of the same activities (sailing, travelling, the kids, climbing, eating new foods). But I draw the line at his love of music. I simply loathe the mandolin but he loves playing it (I even bought him one for his birthday). He just needs to play it AWAY FROM ME. I also believe honesty is essential. We’re in it for the long term, so everyday we work at our marriage. Sometimes it truly is the little things that make the difference.

IVA:

Where did you two meet?

We met in 1995 at the Croatian Canadian Folklore Festival in Hamilton. It’s held May long weekend. There are performances Saturday and Sunday, banquets Saturday and Sunday and a Catholic mass on Sunday. He was still dancing folklore with his group from Sudbury. I was a student at the University of Waterloo (I am originally from Windsor) so this was my first year attending where I wasn’t a performer. I walked into the Saturday hotel where everyone was staying with  my white pants (he still remembers the white pants) and his friends and him noticed me, I did not notice them. They talked about me amongst themselves. The next day they were sitting in front of us during mass (if you can party all night you can go to mass the next morning) and we all got talking AFTER mass. The rest, as they say, is history.

This festival is still being held today and our children have all  performed. I know lots of friends who met their spouses dancing folklore.

How long have you been together?

We’ve been together for 21 years, married 16.

Favourite Romantic Vacation?

A last minute vacation to Aruba. I had 48 hours to pack. I took 3 small children bathing suit shopping. It was worth it.

Funniest Date?

Our first one. You had to be there.

What’s your typical Valentine’s Day like?

We don’t celebrate at all so Netflix and Chill but the literal meaning. I don’t like being ripped off – paying so much for dinner, flowers and things. If I want something I buy it for myself. Not romantic but it works.

So, what’s the secret?

Marriage is work – that’s the secret. It’s never 50/50. Sometimes it’s 100/0. It’s also the most important decision you can make so chose wisely and be prepared to sacrifice for the rewards. Plus take time away from each other. We all need some space.

LIBBY:

Where did you two meet?

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar….

How long have you been together?

Together since 2001, married since 2005.

Favourite Romantic Vacation?

For our ten year anniversary we went to Paris and Amsterdam. I’d never been and Mike showed me his old haunts and we discovered the city together. I was training for a half marathon at the time, which was days away, and Mike, even though he’s a non-runner, surprised me and brought sneakers and tackled a run through Paris with me by dusk. It was so romantic and meaningful!

Funniest Date?

Oh, our first, which was a Depeche Mode concert, and we stole a paddleboat from Ontario Place. You know if you came *this close* to being arrested on day one, you found yourself your Clyde!

What’s your typical Valentine’s Day like?

We tend to not do much. Usually, we seek out cards that don’t make sense, or even go with the holiday theme. The dumber the better. Then usually cheese fondue with our kids.

So, what’s the secret?

Working at it, and remembering why you chose this person as your mate to being with. Don’t be complacent! Marriage takes work and effort, and the more you put in, the happier you’ll be!

SONYA:

Where did you two meet?

We met while working at The Bay as teens. I was part of the events team. My boss actually set us up as she was hosting a Halloween party and told him he needed to drive me. I will never have a Fuzzy Navel ever again. FYI she gets all the credit.

How long have you been together?

Um…well, since 1986? I think? Crazy. We’ve been married now for uh, 27 years? I lost count– that’s a good thing, right?

Favourite Romantic Vacation?

For our 20th anniversary we went to the South of France. My only request was that we stayed in a castle. Not high maintenance at all, right? We spent a couple nights in Eze — stunning hilltop village once owned by the King of Spain. We dined hanging off the side of the cliff. Literally. Our table jetted out of the side suspended over the rocks. We wandered the village at night when all the tourists had left and drank with artists. It was unforgettable.

Funniest Date?

We were regulars at Luigi’s Trattoria. One of the nights we were having dinner and another couple sent over drinks. We first thought it was a really nice gesture. I waved across the dining room enthusiastically saying “thanks”. Then the waiter gave us that look and told us the drinks were called “sex on the beach”.  Then we thought “EW” and avoided making eye contact with them the rest of the night.

What’s your typical Valentine’s Day like?

We don’t make a big fuss over Valentine’s. Unless it’s a handbag but I don’t REALLY need them. But OMG I’m lusting over that Fendi Baguette — pretty sure it would spark a lot of joy. Kidding. Sort of. But that’s more of a birthday thing. He’s always been into making special days very “special”.   He always visits his favourite local florist and picks up something dazzling. He knows I’m not a fan of red roses. We usually have a quiet dinner at home with an extra gooey dessert.

So, what’s the secret?

Giving each other space. Yes, we have some common interests but you don’t have to completely do and like the same things all the time. He likes golf and jazz, I like contemporary art and musicals. He’d also tell you I’m unpredictable. Life is full of surprises. It’s amazing looking back at all these years and seeing how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown together.