February 24, 2017
“How did you two meet?”, I asked.
“Interesting,” he replied as they both chuckled.
Ashley began: “We were in a post bac program [at Drexel University] together. He was really studious. He’d look really serious and he’d always have this shoulder bag on.” She added, “An Alpha bag.”
She’d watch him walking to catch the shuttle bus for class, focused and not speaking to anyone. She admits, “This is going to sound so superficial. I remember thinking, ‘He has some nice arms’.”
Chimereze wasn’t in school to look for love. “She’s right about me,” he stated. “I usually just keep to myself. She knows this about me now. It’s not out of arrogance. I’m very reserved. Very shy.”
They wound up living in the same apartment building and Ashley had something he didn’t: the internet. He noticed her pretty face and nice personality. Casual visits to her apartment turned into long conversations about family.
“Her love for family. That’s actually one of the things that drew me to her. One of our first conversations she talked about her niece and her nephews. I could see the love she had for them.” Eventually, Chimereze admits that he “started making up reasons to pay her a visit.” They’d spend hours watching movies. “We watched ALOT of movies”, he laughed.
Over time, their relationship blossomed and they came to realize they could spend the rest of their lives together. Ashley, too, appreciated Chimereze’s deep love for his family. He loved the fact that she prioritized her relationship with God, devoting time to play an active role in her local church even as a busy medical school student.
Although there was no “defining moment”, their relationship grew through a mutual sense of respect and love. “We’re different”, states Chimereze. “She allows me to be me…that’s huge.” While Ashley is outgoing, he is not but they “find the compromise.” He adds, “She knows we’re different and doesn’t try to force me to be a different person. She’s going to allow me to be me, chase my dreams, and be happy.”
Ashley admits: “[Before Chimereze], I was that girl. I have a Type A personality and need to be in control of things…I wasn’t going to ‘bow’ to anyone. I wasn’t going to change my last name.” However, after observing the married relationships in Chimereze’s family, her perspective on “submission” has changed: “Truly loving him doesn’t make me weak….He helped me to be more independent without crippling me.”
In 2014, Ashley graduated from medical school. Chimereze planned a trip to Jamaica and and a romantic marriage proposal. She remembers, “That day, he told me we could do whatever I wanted to do.” They enjoyed a trip to the spa, water sports (“even though I almost killed him”), and a romantic dinner. He even picked out a dress for her to wear. After dinner, they returned to their room which Chimereze had the hotel staff decorate with roses. In the background, songs from what Chimereze describes as “the soundtrack” of their relationship played.
Ashley was amazed. “He remembered all that? Our first Valentine’s Day song. Even the first birthday we spent together.”
Then, as always, they sat down to talk. He reached under the couch. She wondered, “why is he digging under the cushions?”
As the final song, “You” by Jesse Powell played, he got down one knee and at that moment promised to “love, protect, and to the best of [his] ability, make her happy.”
Ashley, of course, accepted and the two are now in the throes of planning a wedding for March 2017. They feel a sense of relief now that their venue, The Penn Ryn Estate in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, is booked. With their busy schedules (Ashley is a 2nd year OB/GYN resident at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia and Chimereze is a 4th year medical student at Quinnipiac University’s School of Medicine), having family help them with the planning process has been crucial.
Both are looking forward to the wedding day and beyond. Chimereze anticipates seeing her walk down the aisle: “It’s a moment I’ve been thinking about for a long time. All those emotions are going to run through my mind. Just to know that I’m going to be able to come home and sit down with her. She’s my complete package.”
For Ashley, sharing their love before family is paramount: “They know that we love each other but to be able to say how I deeply feel about him in front of all the people we love means a lot.”
Ashley and Rez– I’m looking forward to photographing your wedding next month!