Tanisha and Phil’s love story began with a hunch. A Latin teacher at Essex High School in Vermont noticed their chemistry and, with the intention of bringing them together, made the two act out certain skits for their senior year class.
“She always put us in roles where I would be the hero and Tanisha would be the love interest,” Phil says. “Like she saw something before we ever did.”
“We just thought she was kind of crazy because even though we lived in the same neighborhood and had been in school together, we never noticed one another like that before,” Tanisha says.
After graduation, when Tanisha went back to visit, the teacher made the ultimate prediction.
“I ran into her in the school and the first thing that she asked me was, ‘So, are you and Phil dating yet?’ ” Tanisha says.
To Tanisha, this was just a former teacher being weird, and she thought nothing of her suspicions. Unbeknownst to them, that teacher was onto something.
After high school, Phil attended George Washington University and Tanisha went to the University of Michigan. They began talking online once they were states apart, and a platonic friendship quickly bloomed. The summer after freshman year, they hung out nearly every day because they lived just a few houses down from each other, and the first inklings of a real crush began.
Still, they didn’t act on their feelings. They both graduated in 2008, and in January 2009, Tanisha moved to Washington for an internship. That’s where the soon-to-be-couple was reunited and had a first date arranged for them, without them knowing it.
“I was going to the Cherry Blossom Festival with two high school friends of mine so I had invited Phil to come join us, and my friends conveniently decided to sneak out in the middle of the festival, which was totally unplanned on my part,” Tanisha says. “Turns out it was the plan the entire time for them. And I think we were at the Jefferson Memorial at that time, and we just spent the whole day there talking and he ended up coming back and making dinner.”
The next week they talked on the phone every day, and when Tanisha told Phil she was having computer problems, he saw an opportunity to woo her once more.
“He came up with a convenient excuse to come over to help fix it, and it was really sweet because he actually didn’t know what he was doing,” Tanisha says with a laugh.
She was charmed, and he was charmed. The string of convenient excuses and arranged meetings finally turned into a real relationship that night. Soon, Phil moved to the same D.C. street as Tanisha, bringing a proximity just like the one they had growing up in Vermont.
Immediately, the idea of a future together started to form.
“We had been friends for so long, and I think we both wanted to be together for so long that when it finally happened, we knew that that was it,” Tanisha says.
Soon they moved into a small one-bedroom apartment in Rosslyn, where the couple learned how to get through everyday hardships and struggles. It’s also where they discovered they were very different people in terms of decorating.
“Phil was really patient with me when we moved. I really wanted to paint the entire apartment all different colors, and we had agreed that I could paint the walls whatever color I wanted,” Tanisha says.
“So we ended up with a kitchen that was traffic cone orange,” Phil says with a laugh. “Even if there was no light in the room, you could see it emanating out of this kitchen like a glow. A radioactive glow.”
Among other problems were a string of fires on the back patio and their apartment almost being engulfed in flames because of a faulty microwave oven. They lived in Rosslyn for two hectic years and say that time drew them closer, knowing that they could make it through the most imperfect of situations. He taught her about letting things go, and she taught him communication and understanding.
Last year, Phil began to telegraph his plans for an impending proposal.
“He asked me my ring size, which pretty much gave him away, so I sent him an e-mail with about 10 links and the subject line, ‘Whenever you’re ready these are some that I like!’ ” Tanisha says.
On New Year’s Eve, Phil did his best to surprise her. They went to dinner at Ristorante Piccolo in Georgetown, on a balcony Tanisha had eyed for years. But the restaurant was loud, and Phil was getting nervous. He changed plans and after dinner decided to take a walk somewhere he thought to be romantic.
“I was still debating between the waterfront but I was honestly so nervous so I went to the canals thinking it would be picturesque — but it ended up being kind of smelly and there was absolutely no water,” Phil says.
Tanisha could sense what was happening. They continued to walk along the dried up, malodorous canals, and then Phil got down on one knee. Tanisha said yes, and an hour later it was 2013.
On Aug. 31, Tanisha Govil and Philippe Ducharme, both 27 at the time of the wedding, were married in a traditional three-day Indian ceremony at the Sagamore Resort, which overlooks Lake George on the border of New York and Vermont. They picked the location so they could be near the area where they grew up and first met.
“I just always felt like it was meant to be when we were finally together,” Tanisha said before the wedding. “I don’t think either of us questioned it from the beginning.”
Turns out the Latin teacher was right all along.