With all due respect to the Romeos and Juliets of the world, it’s not time to give up on true love just yet. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve rounded up some of the most heartwarming (and heartbreaking) true romantic stories from recent years that’ll remind you that love sometimes wins out in the end.
Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins
Country music singer Thomas Rhett and his now-wife Lauren Atkins, whom he met in first grade, started off as childhood sweethearts. But life, as it often does, took them in different directions. After college, they were both dating other people. “We might have married them,” Rhett told Hits Daily Double. Luckily, Atkins’s dad gave Rhett a nudge. “I told her father how I felt. He said, ‘If you don’t tell her, I’m going to.’ It was a total Ryan Gosling moment.” Rhett gathered up his courage, and the rest — including the song “Die a Happy Man,” written about Atkins — is Country Music history. Today, the couple has two daughters, and they’re expecting a third in February 2020.
Ted Richardson and His Late Wife
Over the last five years, Ted Richardson, 93, has visited his late wife’s grave at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific every morning at 6:30 a.m. sharp. “I always tell her when I go up there, ‘Payback time,'” he told Hawaii News Now. He pays her back for 72 years of marriage with mini carnations. “I use mini carnations because when you first put them in they’re just buds,” he said. “Then, about three days later, they open up.”
Luke Bryan and Caroline Boyer
If there’s a story that proves love can conquer all, it’s Luke Bryan’s. It’s not how he met or married his wife, Caroline Boyer, that’s remarkable — it’s how they became a family of seven. Bryan experienced two tragedies in a row. First, in May 2007, Bryan’s sister suddenly died. “She was home with her 3-year-old and it was like someone turned the lights out,” he told People. “They never determined what happened.” Seven years later, in 2014, his brother-in-law died, too — leaving Bryan and Boyer to take care of their three children, in addition to the two they had at home. “I woke up one day and I’m raising a teen,” he said in the same interview.
Did they have any regrets about raising five kids, who range in age from tween to young adults? “We never thought twice about it,” Caroline told Robin Roberts back in 2017. Now, the family is full, and the couple is as in love as ever — so much so that Bryan recently made fans blush when he left a saucy comment on Boyer’s Instagram.
Lauren Saia and Marty Bruckner
This young couple’s story is proof that tragedy — specifically a catastrophic category 5 hurricane — can’t get in the way of true love. In fall 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed their home in San Juan, causing the couple to put their wedding on hold. After spending the next few months donating their time and money to relief efforts, the couple released breathtaking engagement photos that captured their island’s beauty amid the rubble. Their work didn’t go unnoticed: The local community then rallied together to give them the wedding of the dreams.
Jan Svendsen and Glenn Weiss
Glenn Weiss, an accomplished director and producer, will never forget the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards. While accepting his 14th Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, he proposed to his long-time girlfriend — and the whole world swooned. Even sweeter, he gave her the ring that his dad gave his mother 67 years ago.
Angela and Jeff Hartung
After a car accident caused Angela Hartung to forget the last 15 years of her life, her husband had to make her fall in love with him again. Although they had been married for 13 years at the time of her accident, she thought her husband Jeff was a mere stranger after waking up from the medically induced coma. Thanks to patience, persistence, and plenty of photographs, the couple eventually said “I do” (for the second time) in 2016.
Heather Krueger and Chris Dempsey
After hearing about a coworker’s cousin in need, a man donated his liver to a complete stranger — and then married her. Former Marine Chris Dempsey decided to get tested to see if he was a match even though he’d never seen or heard of Heather Krueger before. It turned out, they were a match in more ways than one. After undergoing the major surgery, the two quickly became more than friends, and tied the knot over a year later. Their triumphant love story even inspired the Hallmark Christmas movie, Once Upon a Miracle.
Emily Summers and Chris Norton
For college athlete Chris Norton, one wrong move lead to a paralyzing spinal cord injury and a 3% chance of movement below his neck. He didn’t let that stop him: At his wedding to Emily Summers on April 21, 2018, he accomplished his goal by walking down the 7-yard aisle with his new wife by his side. “It was incredible to see how motivated he was,” Summers told People. “When he sets his mind to something, he does it. That’s why I fell in love with him.”
Roseann Sdoia and Mike Materia
Roseann Sdoia was watching the 2013 Boston Marathon when the bomb went off. The explosion severed the bottom of her left leg, but the firefighter who helped save her life never left her side. Mike Materia held her hand, calming her down as they rushed to the hospital. He later visited Sdoia as she recovered, waiting with her for hours at doctor’s appointments. Almost four years later, he proposed to the woman he helped rescue, and their love story even inspired a book.
Anna and Terry
An Australian couple went viral for the proposal of the decade when the clever fiancé hid the ring in plain sight for an entire year. Terry had crafted a wooden necklace for his girlfriend Anna to celebrate their one-year anniversary, but also carved out a secret compartment inside. When it came time to pop the question, he broke the seal and gave Anna the ring she’d unknowingly worn around her neck every day for months on end.
Hannah and Stuart Patterson
After a car accident left her badly injured just weeks before the wedding, bride-to-be Hannah Patterson planned on going down the aisle in a wheelchair. But then-fiancée Stuart Patterson literally took matters into his own hands when he carried his future wife up to the altar. In fact, Stuart was Hannah’s rock throughout the entire recovery process. The devoted spouse even slept in a chair next to her hospital bed, holding her hand.
Craig and Joan Lyons
When doctors diagnosed Craig Lyons with terminal pancreatic cancer, he had to move up his wedding to fiancée Joan. But the couple didn’t let the prognosis get in the way of their commitment to one another. During the reception, the bride shaved her head in solidarity with her ailing husband, and it’s safe to say she looked simply beautiful.
Evan Leach and Kim Kuhl
After 25 years apart, two summer-camp sweethearts reconnected online in a chance encounter. Evan Leach sent a flirty message to Kim Kuhl, not realizing it was his teenage crush. (She’d changed her name from a previous marriage). Luckily, Kuhl remembered him immediately, and the two hit it off, getting hitched in Paris several years later.
Thomas and Irene Howard
Sometimes you just know it from the start. When a young Thomas Howard laid eyes on his new neighbor, he decided right then she was the one. “I was only about 9 then and when I first saw Irene I thought, ‘what a lovely girl, she’s going to be my girl, this one’ and my fondness for her grew since then,” Thomas said. And he was right — over 80 years together, the childhood sweethearts are still in love.
Not weepy-eyed yet? A viral picture from Reddit will have you reaching for the tissues. A 100-year-old man refused to let go of his dying wife, according the poster, their granddaughter. Side-by-side in hospital beds, the couple held hands until the very end. They celebrated 77 years of marriage before the 96-year-old passed away. If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.
For can’t-miss news, expert beauty advice, genius home solutions, delicious recipes, and lots more, sign up for the Good Housekeeping newsletter.