Philippe and Sarah
Years together: 12 and a half
By Marisa Demarco
Philippe Bonneau wasn't looking for a wife when he placed the personal ad.
"Boy, did he get more than he bargained for," Sarah Bonneau laughs.
Wedged between a guy looking for lactating women and somebody who liked to suck toes, there it was, an all-expense paid trip to Paris.
"I was broke and working hard and thought, 'Unless this guy's Ted Bundy, I'm on the plane.'”
The bar scene wasn't for Sarah. At 35, she still envisioned a marriage and a family. She knew what she wanted. She'd answered other ads, meeting four other guys in public places with a short list of qualities in mind. He had to be tall. He had to have an education. He had to be funny.
They spoke on the phone for hours before agreeing to meet. Philippe arrived at the lounge at the Rancher's Club early. They hadn't exchanged pictures, but Sarah swears that when she walked in, she knew who he was. "I don't remember anyone else in the room," she says.
On their second date, Philippe presented a ticket to Paris. "I just wanted some companionship," he says, "nothing else. I just wanted somebody to come along so I wouldn't be all alone."
Sarah had been to Paris once before in the early ’90s on her way to Egypt. It had been a lonely trip, she says, "one in which I would sit in my hotel room and drink, staring out the window, right from the bottle kind of thing," she laughs. Sarah just didn't feel connected to the city.
For their first trip together, Philippe—who was raised in Chartres, just outside the City of Love—booked the same hotel Sarah had stayed at before, saying "I wanted you to have better memories of Paris." Their courtship was like something out of a movie. They returned to Europe many times over the next three years. He proposed in the south of France after celebrating his 40th birthday, across from the cathedral where his parents were married.
They were married over the Grand Canal in Venice by the city's mayor. They wore their wedding clothes all day and hired a photographer to follow them around from place to place. People applauded as they passed. Nine years later, they have a daughter and it's a little harder to make yearly trips overseas (or even to get away for dinner on Valentine's Day), though they are discussing the possibility of traveling sometime in 2007.
Six months after answering Philippe's ad, Sarah came to work for the Alibi. Today she is the senior account executive. "If it could change my life like this, the door was open for other changes," she says.
When Philippe and Sarah tell people how they met, the reaction is often, "Really? A personal ad?" they say. Every once in a while, someone says, "That's how I met my husband."
"I don't think it's the method," that counts, Sarah says. "It's that you find the one, the person, that's right for you."
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