"Whatever happened to a generation before us was beyond our control," she says. "I think love is very powerful, and most people want to be optimistic about it." Chris agrees: "We're not naive," he says. "But we're optimists."
In 2009, after a year and a half of commuting between Richmond and Harrisonburg, Rachel finished her undergrad degree and moved with Chris to Ann Arbor. He is now in the second year of a PhD program in survey methodology. Rachel works part-time for the U-M's Confucius Institute (which promotes the arts and culture of China) while working on a master's degree in higher education administration. Living in an apartment near campus, they bike or walk to classes.
They felt so at home in Ann Arbor that they chose Cobblestone Farm as their wedding venue. Though Rachel and her wedding planner researched every detail, she says, she and Chris managed to keep things in proportion: "We never lost sight of what was most important--our ceremony. It wasn't in a church, but it was very solemn to us." Their vows were traditional. "We didn't add any cute or funny parts. We recognize the gravity and the seriousness."