What makes Barack and Michelle Obama’s marriage so endearing and inspiring to millions of people around the world? Their captivating relationship epitomizes character, class, intelligence, passion, respect, realness, and endurance. They show that marriages can indeed thrive in the difficult terrain of politics. They seem perfect, yet they are humble and relatable, and they’re devoted to encouraging other couples to build strong marriages and families. We love how President Obama is equally dedicated to strengthening the middle class and providing affordable education and health care, as he is to being a doting husband and father. Michelle Obama is widely lauded for her impeccable style and class. However, she is as intelligent and dynamic as she is beautiful. The First Lady along with Second Lady Jill Biden created Joining Forces, a national initiative to give military service members and their families support, and she launched Let’s Move! an initiative to tackle childhood obesity by encouraging youth to eat healthier foods and to get active. We could go on and on about the Obama’s accomplishments, but for this Throwback Thursday we would like to focus on their awe-inspiring love story, which has spanned 20 years and share their advice on having a fruitful relationship and family.
How they Met
Mr. and Mrs. Obama met during the summer of 1989, when President Obama was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm Sidley and Austin. Mrs. Obama, then Michelle Robinson, was Mr. Obama’s advisor. In a 2007 interview with Ebony Magazine, Michelle relates, “He made the first move. I was skeptical at first; everyone was raving about this smart, attractive, young first-year associate they recruited from Harvard. Everyone was like, ‘Oh, he’s brilliant, he’s amazing and he’s attractive.’ I said, ‘Okay this is probably just a Brother that can talk straight.’ […] I already had in my mind that this guy was going to be lame. Then we went out to lunch and that first day I was really impressed. First, he was more attractive than his picture. He came in confident, at ease with himself. He was easy to talk to and had a good sense of humor.” Even though Mrs. Obama was impressed, she refused to go out with him for an entire month. Finally, she gave in, and on their first date they spent the whole day together. They started off their date at the Art Institute, then had lunch at an outdoor cafe, followed by a movie, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, and finally a drink on the 99th floor of the John Hancock building. President Obama shared with Oprah Winfrey in 2007, “On our first date, I treated [Michelle] to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.” After their first date Mrs. Obama admits, “We clicked right away…by the end of the date it was over…I was sold.”
Their Wedding and Marriage
About two years after their first date, President Obama popped the question at Gordon’s Restaurant (now known as Naha) on Clark Street in Chicago. He surprised Michelle. When dessert was served, the engagement ring box was sitting on the plate! One year later, the couple tied the knot on October 3, 1992 at the Trinity United Church in Chicago. Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. officiated their traditional Christian ceremony, and their wedding was attended by 200 people. Michelle’s father died suddenly the year before the wedding, so Craig Robinson, Michelle’s brother, took his father’s place in walking her down the aisle. Of their vows, Michelle has said, “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he delivered.” Michelle’s wedding band was traditional, but Barack’s was an intricate gold design from Indonesia, where he had lived as a boy. Michelle wore a beautiful off the shoulder, floor length, A line gown. Barack wore a black suit with a white rose boutonniere. His best man was his half-brother, Malik Obama. In honor of the Obama’s Kenyan roots, some of the guests, including Malik, wore traditional Kenyan attire. Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the South Shore Cultural Center, and the couple’s wedding song was Stevie Wonder’s “You and I.” In the days following the wedding, the newlyweds spent their honeymoon on the California coast.
On July 4, 1998, the couple had their first child Malia Ann. Their second child Natasha, known to us as Sasha, was born on June 10, 2001. In a May 2012 interview with Ebony Magazine, the Obama’s emphasized the importance of balancing parenting despite their hectic schedules. Mrs. Obama revealed, “Basically, Barack and I feel that our greatest responsibility is to raise two productive, respectful, kind, empathetic young women….My husband talks to our girls about how he expects men in their lives to treat them, and he offers examples by how he treats me and how he treats them.”
Timeless Words of Love
No marriage is perfect, but we love how the Obama’s accept each other’s imperfections, while always striving to be better. In a 2007 interview with Ebony President Obama shared, “It is important that when I’m home to make sure that I’m present, and I still forget stuff. As Michelle likes to say, ‘You are a good man, but you are still a man.’ I leave my socks around. I hang my pants on the door. I leave newspapers lying around. But she lets me know when I’m not acting right. […] she’s trained me reasonably well. […] She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s honest. She’s tough. I think of her as my best friend.” In an interview with Essence Magazine the First Lady shared this about her husband, “One of the things that attracted me to Barack was his emotional honesty. Right off the bat he said what he felt. There are no games with him—he is who he appears to be. I feel fortunate as a woman to have a husband who loves me and shows me in every way.” And in every way President Obama and the First Lady are an inspiration to us all.
Michelle Obama’s Wedding Dress
Mrs. Obama has always been fashionable, so it is no surprise that she wore a stunning, fashion forward off-the-shoulder duchess satin wedding gown, which featured a sweetheart neckline and floral appliques. To complete her bridal look she wore a princess-length veil and opera gloves. Michelle’s off the shoulder dress was very indicative of the 1990’s. According to Henryroth.com, “many of the silhouettes we look to today are inspired, in part, by the 1990’s. From the debut of off-the-shoulder designs to the highly sculpted corset bodice. However, free-flowing voluminous gowns had been replaced by narrow and A-line gowns silhouettes.” According Keija Minor, editor in chief of Brides Magazine, “It feels like strapless has been the go-to in wedding dresses forever, but, historically speaking, it’s still a very recent trend. With some notable exceptions, gowns had high necks and long sleeves up through the 1990s.” Popular wedding designers that debuted in the 1990s, such as Vera Wang, stepped away from the poufy sleeves and over the top embellishments of the 1980s wedding dresses, and started to create dresses with more structure and a streamlined shape. We love that the off the shoulder gown is making a comeback. It is classic, and brings drama without being too sexy. Here are some modern takes on the off the shoulder dress:
Photo Credits: The Obama Family, Official White House Photos- Pete Souza, Maeling (The Natural Chica)- Sophia Barrett Studios
Check out this recent interview in which President Obama talks about the First Lady with the lovely ladies of the View.