Wendy Darby, youngest of five sisters, took a spring vacation from her childhood home in Michigan in 1990 to visit Jane, her oldest sister, a recent California transplant. Unexpectedly, Wendy fell in love with the beautiful weather, the beach, the tourist attractions, and everything the state had to offer. She was so moved that when she returned home, Wendy decided to relocate to California, too.
The following year, she traveled cross-country in three days, driving ten to 12 hours each day. Her primary focus was moving into a new apartment with her sister’s friend, who was coincidentally, also named Wendy. Wendy had arranged for our Wendy to have a phone interview and she had a job as soon as she moved here.
What she didn’t know was that she would end up meeting her future husband, Steve, the very next day – changing the trajectory of her life completely. Steve lived in the apartment above where she would be living, and at first Wendy and Steve became friends. Then, after a year and a half, they began dating. Eventually their relationship got serious, and they knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
Steve’s parents are originally from Canada. Unlike Wendy, he was used to moving – having grown up living all across the United States and Canada, relocating every three or so years for his father’s engineering job. That said, he was finally able to settle down with Wendy in Rialto, California, and in May of 1997, they decided to get married in hopes of starting a family.
Both Wendy and Steve agreed that they wouldn’t buy an engagement ring, as they were paying for the wedding themselves and wanted to save money. They were living in Lake Arrowhead at the time, and had become regulars at a favorite restaurant they often ate dinner at.
In June, a month after deciding to get married, they were eating there when Steve got down on one knee and surprised Wendy with a ring he had designed himself, despite their earlier agreement. She remembers that she “kind of scolded him by saying, I told you not to buy me a ring!” Then, she continues, “Under his breath he said, quite sternly, just say Yes!” Of course, she did and the diners in the entire restaurant who had been eagerly watching, applauded the newly engaged couple.
The two were married a year later on April 4, 1998 at the Lake Arrowhead Resort Hotel. They planned on having the wedding outdoors, but there was so much snow the week before that they had to move the event indoors at the last-minute. They both had family fly in from across the country, as well as from Canada and France, in Steve’s case. Wendy has four sisters, and they all came to support her on the big day. She recalls that she was incredibly nervous, and doesn’t remember every part of the wedding because of that, though there are certain moments that will always stick with her.
“I remember my brother-in-law, Chuck, walking me down the stairs to the altar, and Steve at the end of the aisle looking so handsome,” she shared. “We were gentle when we fed each other cake. Our first dance was beautiful and our song was All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera.”
Today, they have been married for 25 years and are still best friends. After getting married, they were able to fulfill their dream of starting a family – having three kids. Their children are Stephen, Darby, and Kylee. When their kids were in school, Wendy volunteered in the classroom, worked for the PTA, and held offices at the elementary, middle school, and district levels. She was always inviting the friends of her children to their home for celebrations. As a result, Wendy is often treated like their mom by the friends of her children.
Steve owns a construction company with two partners, and Wendy currently works for the company doing submittals.
Their lives have changed and grown drastically since their wedding in 1998, and the longevity of their relationship can attest for the happiness they have carried with them over the years. We wish them continued happiness and fulfillment in the years to come, and are inspired by the love they hold for each other.
By Gigi Appelbaum-Schwartz