A landscaper since the age of 9, William Herring has always understood that plants require patience, maintenance and time. It was a lesson he also learned about relationships years later when he met Sasha Charles, the woman who would later become his wife.
The couple agree that their first meeting in January 2017 was a bad omen. While attending Eastern Michigan University, the two were on the same dating app, although both say they were busy and rarely used it.
“We met on the app,” Herring said, “and he [the progression of the relationship] was very, very slow. We talked there for weeks, maybe months, just sending one word messages to each other.
Charles recalls a similar lack of urgency on her part. “We had the driest conversations. He said, ‘Where are you from?’ A week later, I texted back, “Evanston.”
Their first official date at a nearby steakhouse in Benihana presented its own set of challenges. The two sat side by side at a noisy communal table surrounding the teppanyaki grill. Charles, who is deaf in one ear, was positioned on the wrong side of Herring.
“I was making the laugh,” she says. “I was playing it, playing it cute. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to tell her at first. It wasn’t until their third date that Charles told Herring about his disability and confessed that she hadn’t heard a word he said at dinner.
Still, the two found a way to communicate. Herring said they discovered a lot about each other that night and formed a powerful bond. “We found out that we had both been raised in single-parent homes most of our lives,” he said. “We were both raised a lot by our grandparents.” These similarities, he added, “created the bond we have today.”
At the age of 12, Charles lost his mother to colon cancer and his grandparents, as well as his aunts, whom she calls her “TTs”, and his uncle stepped in to help make up for the terrible empty. “My family really embraces the idea that it really takes a village,” she said.
Herring, who grew up with her mother, Beatrice, remembers her grandparents also playing a central role in her life. His grandfather cooked his breakfast every morning and taught him the value of saving and investing for the future. It was his grandfather, Herring said, who encouraged him to start his own landscaping business the summer after fourth grade.
Louie and Williams Lawn Care is now a thriving business Herring continues to own and operate in Belleville, Michigan. It’s not too far from the quaint one-bedroom farmhouse the couple share on a pristine five-acre plot. There is plenty of room for their rabbits and chickens and space to grow sunflowers, fruits and vegetables. Two oversized dogs, Sage and Titan, sleep with them in the house. Charles, who works as a special education resource teacher at a local primary school, said she and Herring plan to expand their accommodation in the future, but for now that is enough.
Although the couple have put down roots in Michigan, Charles said their wedding in his hometown of Evanston, where his father, Louis, and grandparents still live, was still part of the plan.
She chose the Woman’s Club in Evanston for its convenient location and timeless Old World charm. The couple opted for a Bridgerton theme, encouraging their guests to dress in the style of the popular drama of the Regency era.
Charles said she didn’t notice any powdered wigs among guests at the Sept. 10 affair, but many of the women wore long gloves, square-necked dresses and elaborate updos. Her own dress was a shimmering white strapless design accessorized with a dramatic jeweled necklace. Herring wore a tailored burgundy and ivory suit. “One of my buttons fell off because I was dancing so hard,” he recalls, “but other than that it held up well.”
Bridgerton was the inspiration for the celebration, but the couple went off-script for other elements of the ceremony.
An empty chair in the front row next to Charles’ father was wrapped in fairy lights to emit a magical glow. It was marked with a sign that read “mother of the bride.” “It was all on for her,” Charles said.
In a nod to their ancestors, the two exchanged vows and then jumped over the broom, a custom initiated by slaves in the southern United States who were not allowed to legally marry.
The couple also planted a brilliant purple orchid in a flowerpot provided by Charles’ father and sprinkled it with holy water from Pastor Steven Johnson, Charles’ uncle and their wedding officiant.
The “unity plant” is a symbol of their life together, according to Herring. He admitted to being a little nervous carrying him from the ceremony to their home. “We have to deal with this properly,” he said of the orchid. “It represents our marriage.” Fortunately, he has the right training.
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