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Bridal Bliss: Connie and Elliot

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Bride: Connie Henson, 48

Groom: Elliott Gibson Sr., 55

Occupations: Henson, administrative officer of the U.S. Courts and graduate student; Gibson, retired police captain.

Homebase: Upper Malboro, Maryland

Wedding Date: Friday, June 27, 2008

Love at Third Sight: Though they met over 23 years ago, the best friends would marry and divorce other mates before looking to each other for love. "We spent so much time together: talking on the phone, going to the movies, eating dinner. But I never saw him as anything other than a wonderful friend," Connie recalls. "He always had a girlfriend, and I enjoyed the single life. Then, we both married other people in 1991."

Sealed With a Kiss: "My mother always encouraged us to date, but he was never my type. He was a ‘nice guy,' " recalls Connie with a laugh. As feelings began to develop, Connie decided a kiss would be the ultimate test. "Either there will be a spark or it'll feel like I'm kissing my brother," she explains. The result? "I felt butterflies."

Perfect Timing: "I never thought I'd find love again," confesses the mother of two. "I was divorced with kids and in my 40's." Some friends and family members echoed Connie's doubts. "Everyone thought I was crazy," she says with a chuckle. "But God opened up my heart to receive Elliott for such a time as this. Had this happened before, I wouldn't have been ready. I needed to work on myself before looking for love a second time."

Love Yourself First: "There were things about me that weren't positive," Connie admits. "I was codependent and a people pleaser." As part of a long journey toward self-improvement, the newlywed "went into counseling and relied on faith and family," for support. "Now, I'm stronger, less concerned about what people think and more focused on being a good person," she explains. "When it came time to date, I wasn't looking for someone to complete me. I was complete when Elliott found me."

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Family Circle: The lovebirds describe the union of their families as a difficult, but rewarding, process. Connie has two daughters (age 17 and 9) and Elliott has two sons (age 30 and 19) and one daughter (age 14) from prior relationships. "We talked a lot about blending our family even before we were married," Connie recalls. "When he was dating me, he was dating my kids too. He'd always spend time with us—eating dinner and playing games." Once the newlyweds decided to marry, they turned to counseling to make the transition easier. "He is an invaluable help, picking up the kids while I'm at school. I'm very blessed to have him in my life and my children's lives."

Keeping the Magic Alive: The Obamas aren't the only couple who believes in the importance of dating. The Gibsons set aside time to enjoy each other's company every week, on Friday night. "Because my time was very limited with a job, two kids and grad school, we made Friday night "date night." We'd go to the movies, go out dancing or sometimes just spend a quiet evening at home together. " ‘Date night' became such a staple in their relationship that they held their wedding on the ‘ultimate date night,' Friday, June 27. "That ‘date night' and every ‘date night' since is special to us. It's our time. I still get giddy on Friday nights."

Bridal Budget Bite: According to Connie, brides-to-be can look like a million bucks without breaking the budget. Her rule-of-thumb when dress shopping: always look for sales. "I took a girlfriend with me to David's Bridal just to look around. But when I saw a great dress on sale from $1,000 to $399, I had to purchase it that day," recalls Connie. And don't rule out social currency, she adds. "I didn't realize how expensive makeup was, but the artist cut me a break because she was recommended by a mutual friend."

Filed Under: Expert Advice
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