Love of a Lifetime

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be grateful for.  Thankful for the life that I live and the people that I share it with.  I want to thank my amazing husband Gus, who helped me create this life full of love, joy, compassion, and gratitude.  The universe has always been in our favor since we started dating 17 years ago and this past September we celebrated 15 years of marriage.   In true Serrano style we wanted to celebrate big with a party and a photo shoot.  But mother nature had other plans for us because Hurricane Florence rolled into town and we had to cancel our grand plans.  Then, exactly 2 weeks after our anniversary a photographer reached out to me on Instagram telling me she would love to take my picture with Gus to celebrate our anniversary.  Emmy Gaines of Searching For the Light Photography, by chance was already planning a trip to Charleston so the timing worked perfectly.  Emmy is a Colorado based photographer who specializes in couples photography, focusing on milestones such as anniversaries.  She noticed that couples stopped celebrating their marriage after their wedding day and she wants to encourage others to celebrate their beloved every single day.

The whole experience with Emmy felt like a couples therapy session.  She made us take inventory of the past 15 years by sending us questions to answer and we took the love language quiz.  She even had us write letters to one another which we brought to the shoot and read out loud. Emmy went above and beyond and had us record our voices and send to her so she could put together a slideshow with us reading the letters.

 It is so important to reflect on the time spent together and celebrate it.  It’s so easy to go through the motions everyday without taking a moment to appreciate everything that has happened in your life both good and bad.  Doing this photoshoot reminded us of the life that we built together.  Being able to document all of this will be a keepsake we will always cherish and hopefully our children will enjoy it for years to come.

I’m so excited that our story is also shared on The Wedding Row today as well.  View more if you want to learn more about our love story and see more of the beautiful photos by Searching for the Light photography.

Blue dress by Joanna August from Bella Bridesmaids Charleston, Jewelry from Gold Creations, Headpiece from Emma Katzka // Green dress by Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids Charleston, Rings from Gold Creations, earrings from Moon & Lola, Headpiece from Emma Katzka

Photography by Emmy Gaines Searching for the Light,  Makeup by Jonny Cosmetics at Colur Studios, Hair by Drybar Charleston, Car from Cars on Kiawah , Flowers by Petaloso

I first met my husband Gustavo when I was in my early 20’s.  I was an aspiring fashion stylist living in New York and I would always come back to Miami in the winter to visit my friends and trade in the chilly temps for 80 degree weather.  I went to college there and studied Fashion Merchandising at a small now defunct school called The International Fine Arts College.  Little did I know that the love of my life was also going to school with me and living 2 blocks away from me in Miami Beach.  But that’s timing, things are supposed to happen when they are meant to.  On one of my winter trips down to Miami I met Gustavo at my friend’s holiday party.  It was hosted by our friend Danny Santiago, a stylist we had both worked with in college at our internship at MTV Latino.  We both continued to assist him on photo shoots after college – him in Miami, and me in New York whenever he would come up to work on big productions.

When I met Gustavo he was with his girlfriend at the time and there was no instant chemistry.  I encouraged them both to move up to New York to pursue their fashion careers.  A few months later they were living in New York and coincidentally moved into my neighborhood in Brooklyn.  I would continue to bump into Gus at random stores in the city, clubs (we both love house music), and shoots assisting Danny Santiago.  We had the opportunity to work on some pretty epic jobs together including Baby Gap and an editorial shoot for Jennifer Lopez for the cover of Premiere Magazine.   We would have so much fun and worked very well together.  Eventually we would get our own styling gigs and I would hire him to assist me on jobs and he would hire me to assist him.

For the first few years of knowing each other we were just good friends that always had a great time together.  That was the solid foundation that our relationship was built on.  Eventually him and his girlfriend Natasha broke up, but we would still all hang out together.  When I introduced him to my circle of friends, everyone felt an instant connection with Gus.  He always looked out for my single girlfriends – making sure they had a drink when we went out and that no creepy guys were bothering them.  All my friends were pushing for us to get together and saying he’s the perfect guy for you.  But I was so hesitant because I didn’t want to jeopardize this great friendship for a possible fleeting romance.   Then one 4th of July I had a revelation.  I had nothing to lose, but so much to gain if we got together.   And so the great love story began.

We were inseparable and decided to move in together only after a few months.  We had the best time living in our tiny 450 square foot studio apartment in Brooklyn, having dinner parties and getting to know our awesome neighbors.  The only thing we fought about was not spending enough time together. The next summer we travelled to Italy and Greece.  That was the first trip of many where our stomachs dictated where we would travel.  One of our first stops was on the idyllic island of Capri.  After a long day of swimming in the ocean Gus proposed on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  After a year of dating I was not expecting a proposal, but I was so ready for this.  We share the same ideals and outlook on life which is – life is short and why wait for things to happen when you can enjoy now.

We got married a year after the engagement in upstate New York in a small town called Oswego where my grandparents lived as well as many of my relatives on my father’s side.  We got married in the same church my parents got married in and it was an unforgettable day filled with so much love and lots of dancing.  A year after we got married we moved to Charleston to be closer to my brother and his family.  We knew we wanted to start a new life and plan on having a family of our own.  We opened our 1st boutique b’zar on Upper King, only knowing a handful of people in town and no social media to promote.  With lots of grass roots marketing we opened up in a time where Charleston was a small town with not a lot of shopping options.  We ended up meeting so many great local people that we are still connected to this day.  Even though the store didn’t survive 2008, our marriage did and we came out stronger.

A lot has happened between then and now.  We had 2 beautiful boys – Mateo Fortunato, and Sebastian Rose and found jobs that we really loved to do.  For the past 5 years of my blog Gus has been my #1 cheerleader and supporter.  I really could not do this without him.

 I know I’m incredibly lucky to find someone who is not only my partner for life, but my best friend.  When our energy comes together, magic happens.  Gus has fulfilled so many aspects of my life and I’m forever grateful for that. The past 15 years have been more than I’ve ever dreamed of.



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