Meet Joseph and Raif, two American gentlemen that recently got married. Here is their love story.
Joseph, the inked guy to the left, is from Cross Plain, Wisconsin, and Raif is from outside New Orleans, but has lived all over the world.
The couple have been together for seven years, but had a brief romantic encounter much earlier than that. Just a quick look while out that they both remember clearly.
'It was instantly love at first sight but I didn't even know his name, how to find him or who he was. I just KNEW that he was special and was supposed to be mine', Joseph recalls.
They randomly ran into each other again six months later and Joseph came up to Raif and asked if he could kiss him. And so they did in the middle of the crowd, not even knowing each other.
They have been together ever since and say that they are complete opposites who bring out the best in each other.
Joseph is the reserved type that loves routine, quiet moments and hates decisionmaking.
He grew up in a small farm town in Wisconsin.
Raif, from outside New Orleans, is on the other hand a spontaneous man. As an avid traveller he has lived all over the world, counting exotic places like Saudi Arabia and Singapore among them.
'We have grown together even more as a couple through travel.'
The couple got married at the Theis Farm, where Joseph's grandmother still lives and where he grew up – a place filled with fond memories. It was founded in 1862 by his ancestors who were some of the first German immigrants to Wisconsin. They ran a dairy farm until around the 1950's after which his grandfather got into telecommunications and leased out the farmland to grow corn and hay.
It all started as a birthday celebration. For Raif's 35th they went to Habitas, Tulum, Mexico. A magical eco-chic resort. The day after the couple woke up early to see the sunrise on the beach and Joseph had staged a message in a bottle that was left there for Raif to find.
'I truly thought I had found a note someone had thrown out to sea and was so excited, I didn't think people actually found notes in bottles. I picked it up, opened it, and soon realized it was Joseph's handwriting. A super sweet letter stating his undying love and need for me in his life till the end of time.'
As he looked over at him, he realized he had surprised him and while getting on one knee he took out a Cartier box and asked him to marry him. 'I was so in shock, I couldn't speak. We shared tears of joy, and kissed as the sun was rising above us. Of course, I said YES!', Raif says. 'We walked around on the beach in bliss.'
Travel is indeed a large part of their lives today and last summer they went to Cambodia for ten days and had a three day stay over in Singapore, where Raif went to middle and part of high school.
'I grew up Jehovah’s Witness and come from a very conservative republican family. It was very tough, I had to hide it for most of my life. We constantly moved around because of my dad's job and so I was always the new "different" kid. I had girlfriends, played varsity football to make my dad happy, ran track and field, went to church. I didn't have my first boyfriend until I was 22. I didn't even speak to my family about being gay until I was 30 and had been with Joseph for a couple of years and brought him across the country to a family reunion for my grandmother's 80th birthday', Raif tells us.
Joseph's family, on the other hand, was always very accepting. He did, however, grow up in a very small town which caused a few issues. But at 14, when coming out, it was no big deal to his family.
Since none of these healthy guys drink and rarely go out in their home town, they enjoy it even more so when travelling. Often with a stop at a local gay bar to explore the scene.
'We loved the drag shows at Bar Code in Siem Reap Cambodia!'
Right now they are planning an adventure-honeymoon to Sri Lanka with a stopover in the Maldives! We wish them all the best and hope to see some romantic honeymoon pictures very soon.
JOSEPH AND RAIFS TULUM TIPS For dinner Casa Jaguar for a romantic dinner -Raw Love Tulum for juice, breakfast, and lunch. Spa The Mayan Clay Spa has a new location that is in the jungle 25 minutes away from the beach, it is amazing. Only one couple there at a time, 5 hours of treatments and you feel like a whole new person. / STELIOS VASILANTONAKIS, CO-FOUNDER