15th wedding anniversary

Fifteen years ago today, Jennifer and I got married. Actually, technically it was yesterday, since it was in New Zealand, but we ignore the time zone differences. It was April 2, 1995.

Ours was a rather unusual story at the time, though not so much anymore. You see, we met via the internet, before most people had even heard of the internet. Before there was a web browser (or at least before we had heard of one: Mosaic technically was released a couple of months earlier).

Back in 1993, I was attending the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Jenn was at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, USA. I was using the FirstClass BBS client software on my Mac, while she was using a text-based terminal at her part-time job at the college.

We were both fans of Star Trek, so were reading the rec.arts.startrek.current newsgroup via Usenet, and met via a posting there on June 18, 1993. We switched to email, and quickly became friends, and developed deeper feelings as we got to know each other better. This was all via text communication, so we discussed all sorts of things, and got to know each other really well. We still have a foot-high stack of printouts of our early discussions.

It doesn't seem so strange to have e-friends nowadays, that you've never met in person, but back then it was definitely not the norm.

In due course, it was evident that we were in love. So we talked about getting together in person — remember, we were separated by nearly 7,000 miles of ocean, and just had emails and a few photos and other airmail correspondence. So on February 3, 1994 I flew to Sea-Tac and we met in person. So the first time we saw each other in person was at the gate in Sea-Tac (this was before the increased security, when non-travellers could go right to the gates). I stayed with Jenn in Portland for 5.5 weeks, getting to know each other even better, and exploring the area. Then I headed back to Auckland.

Yes, I had hair back then, or some anyway. :)

Our odd long-distance relationship continued, though that time apart was quite difficult for both of us. On August 17, 1994, Jenn moved to New Zealand, and on October 15, 1994 on Long Bay beach near the water edge, I proposed, and she said yes.

We set the wedding date for halfway between our birthdays, on April 2, 1995. (For some reason, we didn't want to get married on April 1. Go figure!)

We've always been ones to do our own thing, and our names were another example. My surname was originally "Lambert", but rather than Jenn taking my name, or using a hyphen or other convention, we decided to both adopt a new name of our choosing. We decided on "Sinclair", and I legally changed my name, then she took it when we married (seems much easier for women to change their names when getting married).

Our wedding was in our own style, too. We didn't want a big fancy traditional wedding, so we opted for a small informal affair on our favorite beach, Long Bay. We rented a shelter for the reception, and had the ceremony on the adjacent grass overlooking the beach. The ceremony was conducted by my late grandfather, who was a minister and came out of retirement for us. That was very special. And since we were (and still are!) unashamed geeks, our wedding cake had bride & groom Macs on top (see the photo).

Since meeting via the internet was so remarkable back then, we were interviewed by a local newspaper and TV station, who filmed our wedding. Some of the best footage of our wedding is from their pro cameras. Apple even gave us a PowerBook 150 laptop as a wedding present.

That was 15 years ago. 15 wonderful, happy years, and we love each other all the more deeply now.

What's the secret of our success? The "four C's":

  1. Communication: talk through concerns, don't use the "silent treatment"; always be honest.
  2. Commitment: those vows really mean something.
  3. Compassion: be supportive and considerate of feelings.
  4. Compromise: be flexible, come to agreements that you can both live with.

That's worked for us. That, and starting out as e-friends, where all we had were our words, so we really got to know each other very well. We both work from home most of the time, so spend a lot of time together, without getting on each others nerves too much. :) So we must be doing something right.

Happy anniversary, Jennifer. I love you!