As you might know this year I gave away a free wedding package to a deserving couple that wrote in with a love story that I could share on my blog. This years winners where Jessica and Davide . They are a really great couple that have made their relationship work even when they were forced to be thousands of miles apart. Here is their story:

Davide and Jessica: Our Story

I spent my junior year of college abroad through Brown University’s program in Bologna, Italy. Bologna is centrally located in the north of Italy, and many international students study there. When I arrived in Bologna at the end of August 2001, I spoke very little Italian. I was placed in an apartment with four Italians who spoke no English. At first, the entire experience was overwhelming, but I made friends with two girls in my apartment and I began to feel more at home. A month later, I began classes at the University of Bologna. My classes were in Italian, of course, so I understood only bits and pieces of what my professors were saying. Slowly, I began to pick up more of the language. That’s when I met Davide.
I wanted to make new friends, so I joined the Erasmus Student Network, an orientation program for international students in Bologna. The group organized a bus trip to Siena one rainy Saturday in November. I was the last person on the bus to go home and there was only one seat left. I sat down in front of Davide, one of the orientation leaders. He tried very hard to talk to me, despite my choppy Italian. Unfortunately, I was tired from walking around the city and the bus ride lulled me right to sleep in the middle of our conversation! When I woke up we were back in Bologna. Davide was a bit insulted that I fell asleep while he was talking, but he walked me back to my apartment and gave me his phone number.
The next day I sent him a text message to thank him for walking me home and he called me right away. He invited me to pub and after one beer my Italian improved enough to have a conversation. I invited him to the Thanksgiving dinner that the Brown University program had organized for the American students. Thanksgiving is not an Italian holiday, so it was Davide’s first Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner, we went to a party with some friends. We were all at the party listening to a friend play the guitar when the lights went out for a moment. In the darkness, Davide stole a kiss.
Davide and I were together for the next six months. In June, it was time for me to return to the United States. I was miserable that summer. I had found the one and only love of my life, but we couldn’t be together. I went back to college in September and tried my best to pull myself together. Part of me thought that the relationship couldn’t survive the distance, but Davide called me every day. He came to visit me at Thanksgiving, I went to Italy for Christmas, and he came to the U.S. again for my college graduation in May 2003. The following summer, I moved to Italy to be with Davide.
Davide and I have been committed to each other for the past six years and we have had to overcome tremendous hardships to be together. In order to live and work legally in Italy, I spent a year gathering evidence to declare my Italian citizenship. The Italian government finally recognized my citizenship and I was able to work. Davide and I lived together in Bologna for two years as he struggled to finish his degree. When he graduated, we decided that it was time to for both of us to move to the U.S. together. First, we though that Davide could find a company to sponsor him for a work visa. Unfortunately, no company he contacted was willing to go through the process of hiring a foreigner. Davide went back to Italy and my heart broke.
We decided that the only solution was to get married. The separation was unbearable and Davide had been my boyfriend for four and a half years, long enough to know that we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives. So I went to Italy, we got married in the town hall, and three days later I came back to the U.S. by myself. We didn’t see each other for four months. Davide was not issued a visa right away—I had to apply for it for him. I was told that if I applied from the U.S. it could take one to two years before his visa would be issued. However, if I applied at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, he would have it in four to six months, but in order to apply for the visa in Italy, I had to be living there. So, last January I quit my job and moved back to Italy to apply for Davide’s visa.
The visa was issued last summer and Davide and I were finally able to come to the U.S. together. We are living in my mother’s finished basement until we are both employed and able to live on our own. I just found a new job three weeks ago working in a preschool as a teacher’s assistant. Davide is still looking for work, but we are grateful that we can be together despite our financial situation. On Sunday, August 24, 2008, we will have our marriage blessed at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Norwich, Connecticut. Because we were married civilly in Italy, we want our union to be recognized by the Catholic Church. Following the ceremony, there will be a small reception for about 80 family member and friends at the Gelston House in East Haddam. At first, we thought it might be better to wait to have our Catholic ceremony and reception so that we could save money for it, but we decided that we have waited long enough. We want to celebrate our marriage as soon as possible and the date we chose is the two-year anniversary of our civil marriage. We’ve risen above many obstacles—surely we can find a way to have a wedding with limited money. We thank you for helping us create a wedding as beautiful as our love for each other.

Some images from the wedding

just love the range of emotion in this set 🙂

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Jacob Bergmeier
September 2, 2008
I like how the person in the painting in the first image seems to be looking down at the girl. Very nice texture shot too!
Mary Marantz
September 2, 2008
whoa!! that first shot is CRAZY cool!!!

September 2, 2008
good eye Jacob... they were kind of mirroring each other. Just one of those right place at the right time photos.
September 2, 2008
Great!! I love the color and texture of the last one!
September 2, 2008
Yay, I've been waiting for these. Great working together again.
Eric Foley
September 2, 2008
Great work Steve! That is a great thing you did!
September 6, 2008
Steve, we want to thank you for your generosity. You are truly talented and we are grateful that you chose us for the free wedding package. We love the photos you posted.
--Jessica and Davide