It could be a plot that comes straight out of the 1989 classic When Harry Met Sally. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy. They become close friends, support each other through many relationship ups and downs – but never see what was obvious, even to their friends: they were destined to be together all along.
For Marion couple Michelle Ouellette and Chris Perry, their love story was 25 years in the making. Now they are sharing their story in the hope of winning a contest for a free wedding in Portland, Maine.
Both 43, Michelle – a Sunday School Director at St. Gabriel’s Church, Marion School Committee member, surrogate and mother – and Chris, an assistant with Sippican girls’ basketball team, a member of the New Bedford Country Club and Chairman of the Four-Ball golf tournament, met early in life.
“We were fast friends,” recalled Chris, who said the two met in high school in Dartmouth (Class of 1986). They always spent time together, even as double dates at their high school prom. They still have the photos of them together with their dates celebrating that high school milestone.
Post high school, they remained friends and socialized in similar circles.
“People always thought we dated,” Chris said, but they had never dated, even briefly, over the years.
“He was never ready for a relationship. He wasn’t ready to commit to a full-fledged relationship,” she said of Chris.
Again and again, Michelle would seek solace in her friendship with Chris when confronting tough times.
“When these things happened, she always called me. We supported each other. That’s what we’ve done for each over the years,” Chris said. She likewise was there for him when he underwent a major lifestyle change and lost 166 pounds.
However, signs appeared that romance was possible. Two years ago, there was that unexpected long kiss in a car after a night out with friends. And for 15 years without fail, she would give him peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses on top.
Even when Chris told his ex-girlfriend that he is marrying a close friend, she knew immediately it was Michelle because of those cookies.
Their friends knew better as well. One friend, Debbie, said upon learning of their recent engagement: “I always knew you cared about each other as more than friends.”
Last summer, a friend finally broke the ice on a topic the two had never broached with each other. At the Airport Grille, the old friend boldly suggested they date. “You’re the best couple I’ve ever seen,” she had said, according to Chris.
In the moments after dinner, Chris finally summoned the nerve to suggest dating to Michelle. “Let’s date,” he told her. They both agreed to start off casual.
That night, Chris received an unusual text at midnight from Michelle, who said she had something very funny to share with him.
Before he had a chance to talk to her, he had learned what was so funny that next morning when he checked his inbox: he had received an email from match.com saying they were a good match. She had received the same note.
“’Are you kidding me? That’s so funny!’” Michelle recalled saying to Chris.
“Obviously the stars had aligned,” Chris said.
After many months of the dating and 25 years of friendship, the couple is now ready to make the ultimate commitment and plan to get married this year.
In the hope of making it very special, the two entered a wedding contest sponsored by the magazine, Real Maine Weddings. They currently are one of three couples vying for the prize wedding – an all-expenses paid wedding in Portland, Maine.
To see and vote for their video, go to www.realmaineweddings.com/itemlist/category/2.html The first round of voting is from February 7 through March 15. Then finalists will be chosen and a new voting period will take place from March 19 through March 24.
The winner is determined 50 percent by the number of votes they receive, and 50 percent by judge’s determination. Judges look at the video based on its creativity, personality and enthusiasm.
The lucky couple will be announced April 1 at a bridal show in Portland, Me. Best of luck, Chris and Michelle!
By Laura Fedak Pedulli