They Found the Harbor for Their Hearts

[ad_1]

“I was mesmerized by the best-looking guy I’d ever seen,” she said. “I told my friends, ‘We have to go over there now.’ I quickly retreated to my cabin, did a beauty transformation and went with my friends to Guido’s boat.”

Mr. Wolff was equally charmed. “She wore a captain’s hat and a green bikini,” he said. “I knew she was the pretty girl that people wanted to talk to, so I left her a little space.”

Photo

The couple

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Hours later, the two boats traveled together to the evening activity, which was a party at Fort George, an abandoned castle overlooking the Adriatic Sea. “Her table was next to mine,” Mr. Wolff said. “I was so attracted to her. I never lost sight of her.”

They drank and danced, and at midnight they kissed. “I remember looking out onto the crowd, being very happy, and thinking this is exactly where I want to be,” Ms. Spagnola said. “Kissing him felt very special.”

It was that kind of special that transcended back to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where Ms. Spagnola was living while finishing her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. Her mother visited the day after she returned home.

“I didn’t think she would meet anyone, it was a singles trip, and she went with friends,” said Victoria Spagnola, 57. “But she couldn’t stop talking about this man she met. She was 100 percent sure she loved him. She had boyfriends before, but she had never spoken about anyone the way she was speaking about Guido. When she said he was from Amsterdam, I thought, ‘How are they going to do this? Is it just vacation thing? Who is going to move where?’”

Photo

A crowd of curious onlookers gathered outside of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral as the married couple made their exit.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

And thus, problem No. 1: location. Ms. Spagnola grew up in Todt Hill, Staten Island. Her parents also own an apartment in Murray Hill in Manhattan. Her mother is a retired accountant, and her father, Fred Spagnola, 58, is a financial adviser for UBS. She and her brother, who went to school in Manhattan, had strong ties to New York. Moving to Amsterdam for love seemed impulsive.

Mr. Wolff grew up in Abcoude, a small town in the Netherlands, until he was 4. Then he moved to Madrid with his older brother and parents. “My mother was a homemaker and my father was the C.E.O. of a record label,” he said. They returned to his hometown six years later, and by then there were four Wolff children.

Still love has a way of steering the ship, so to speak, and after that first kiss, the couple’s course was set.

When the night was over, they departed to their separate yachts, hoping they would continue finding each other along the same route and schedule.

Photo

The scene inside the Metropolitan Club during cocktail hour. The couple had 15 bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

“I was the captain of our boat and in charge of docking the ship,” he said. “I’d always be looking for hers and park as close to hers as possible. Somehow we end up finding each other at every party.”

Except for the final night, which was filled with mishaps. Each thought the other was going to a specific event and, without cellphone reception, there was no way to connect.

“I was so upset I couldn’t find him,” Ms. Spagnola said.

Mr. Wolff was at another party looking for her.

“We didn’t have any goodbye or closure,” she said. “I didn’t have his phone number. I wasn’t sure how he spelled his first name. All I remembered was Wolff had two Fs.”

Photo

Trumpeters welcome guests to the Metropolitan Club.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Upon arriving home, though, she saw that Mr. Wolff had sent her a message on Facebook.

“I was really sad about not saying goodbye,” Mr. Wolff said. “On the last day, every boat goes back to their original harbor. Ours weren’t together. When I arrived back in Amsterdam, I looked at Yacht Week’s app, which was connected to Facebook. I went through 500 photos looking for her, none of which had names on them, but I found her.”

His message, according to Ms. Spagnola, read: “If we didn’t say a proper goodbye, then it wasn’t a goodbye.”

She replied, and phone numbers were exchanged. The next several days turned into a texting frenzy. Then came the phone calls and Skyping. Two months later, Mr. Wolff was visiting her in New York.

“You always have to be cautious with your heart, but I didn’t want any regrets not following it,” he said. “I might as well go and see if she felt the same.”

Ms. Spagnola did. “When I saw him again, I knew I was looking at the man I would marry,” she said. “It was one of the happiest weeks of my life.”

Mr. Wolff stayed with Ms. Spagnola for 10 days, during which time they each said “I love you.” The two also went to see a lawyer who informed them about visas, immigration laws and working internationally.

Their desire to be with each other superseded the obvious roadblocks.

In November 2013, she visited him in the Netherlands, and again for the New Year’s holiday. In March 2014, Mr. Wolff stayed with her for three months. That October, Ms. Spagnola passed the bar and Mr. Wolff visited to celebrate.

“They were so committed to each other from the start,” the bride’s mother said. “It was true love. You could see it. They looked at each other like no one else was in the room.”

Photo

Jacqueline Spagnola and Guido Wolff are seated for dinner in front of a family crest they created. They used it for invitations, menus, wax seals, programs, napkins and even on the wedding cake. Above,

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

But the couple understood they would not often actually be in the same room, let alone live together full time.

“I lived in constant fear we wouldn’t be together,” Mr. Wolff said. “There’s also the fear of not knowing when you’ll see the other person or that you’ll lose them because they’re not in the same city or even the same country with you.”

Ms. Spagnola felt similarly. “I never knew you could miss someone so much that it caused physical pain,” she said. “Guido had unwavering confidence in us and the value of our love.”

In December 2013, Mr. Wolff obtained a sales job with a denim company that would sponsor him to work in the United States.

Photo

Guests on the dance floor during the reception at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

The couple found an apartment in Williamsburg.

On a cold, foggy day in February 2015, while walking on the Brooklyn Promenade, Mr. Wolff dropped to one knee and proposed with a diamond ring he had designed.

“Even though we spent so much time being separated, I wanted her to know this was forever,” he said.

Things seemed to be going well until that September, when Mr. Wolff, who planned to study for an M.B.A., received a scholarship to Hotelschool The Hague, one of the best hospitality schools in the world, in Amsterdam.

He was hesitant to leave. “When you only get to be with someone for a week or two at a time, there’s the fear you won’t get a chance to really know them because you’re only seeing them for such short periods,” he said. “We never got to have a normal rhythm of life. I wasn’t sure leaving would be the best thing for our relationship.”

Photo

Guests pose for selfies in front of the couple’s newly created family crest. The crest included a tribute to how the couple met: on a boating excursion.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Ms. Spagnola refused to let him miss the opportunity. “It was an 18-month program,” she said. “I knew he couldn’t pass it up, so I really encouraged him to take it. ”

For the next four months the couple fell back into a long-distance relationship, each visiting the other monthly. In January 2016, Ms. Spagnola, unable to live without him, found work by persuading a law firm that it needed an international person in its Amsterdam location. Another visa, this time for her, was obtained.

“Everyone told me not to go, but I would have regretted not meeting the people who made him the person that I love,” she said.

After a year, Ms. Spagnola was unfulfilled with her job. Knowing that Mr. Wolff would return to New York after graduating from school in September, she came home in May 2017. Mr. Wolff was able to secure a job in New York as an account executive at Harver, a Dutch technology company.

“Everyone says how great we’ve managed doing a long-distance relationship, but it’s been extremely hard and painful,” Ms. Spagnola said.

Eduard Sabbagh, who was part of the groom’s boat and a guest at the wedding, saw the couple’s determination from the beginning. “Within a week the relationship escalated very quickly,” he said. “It was difficult, but they did it. If Guido sets his mind to something, he’ll figure it out. They’re very similar in that respect.”

The couple were married Oct. 7 before 190 guests at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. The Rev. Andrew King, a Roman Catholic priest, performed the ceremony.

Later in the evening, guest were greeted by two trumpeters in medieval attire at the Metropolitan Club on 60th Street. The couple’s 15 bridesmaids and groomsmen descended the grand stairwell of the club, and then waited as the newly Mr. and Mrs. Wolff entered the reception.

“They were instantly drawn to each other,” said Morgan Manousos, who was on the bride’s boat when the couple first met. “It didn’t matter there was an ocean between them and different continents, they both love fiercely.”

Indeed, in the last four years, between the two of them, they have taken the eight-hour flight between New York and Amsterdam more than 35 times.

“We’re both big dreamers,” said the bride, who clutched her husband’s hand before they walked into the dining room for their first dance. “But he’s here, and we’re here. Today has been better than my wildest dreams. Everybody we love is here. It was the fairy tale wedding I always wanted.”

Continue reading the main story

[ad_2]

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *