Oak Forest residents Annette Fiszer and Nalani Callico met through a friend, took it slow, and then fell hard. It’s the kind of love story most people can only dream of. For Annette and Nalani, it became a long-hoped-for reality.
Annette, 51, an office manager for Texas Endocrinology Group, was born in Laredo, Texas. Except for a few early years living in Florida, she’s called Houston home since the age of seven. Nalani, 54, was born and raised in Houston and is a trial coordinator for Judge Robert Schaffer in Harris Country’s 152nd District Court.
The two met six years ago through a mutual friend. Nalani later invited Annette to a group happy hour at La Boheme. “It was an instant attraction, but a very slow move into anything more than friendship. We seemed to be such opposites. Nalani loved to be around people, and I’m more reserved,” Annette says, adding that being in a group situation that night helped take some of the pressure off.
Nalani says she purposely invited as many people as she could because she was so nervous. “I tried to be cool and not just lock Annette into a private conversation,” Nalani recalls.
It wasn’t long before Nalani knew Annette was the one. “I knew she was my forever the day we were sitting inside Annette’s garage, watching it rain and having a couple of drinks. It was a Sunday, and we were both dreading that I would be going home and wouldn’t see her until later that week. At this point, being away from her for just one day was torture. I remember saying something like, ‘I hate Sundays because I know I have to go home.’
“And that’s when Annette said, ‘Well, what if you didn’t have to go home?’ I looked at her in complete shock and said, ‘What?’ This was her asking me if I wanted to move in with her. I was over-the-top excited! To this day, I cherish her original house key [she gave me] that says ‘Home’ on it.”
After living together for the past four and a half years, Nalani managed to pull off a surprise drive-by proposal in May with the help of a lot of friends. “I remember telling our friends, “If she doesn’t cry, then I didn’t do this right!” Thanks to her neighbors and a planned distraction, Nalani said she had just enough time to turn their driveway into a beautiful space to propose.
“Annette slowly approached me as I stood proudly inside a heart of petals with our two pups by my side. She was completely surprised, as planned! Once she was close enough to hear me, I asked her to marry me. She cried the entire time as cars were passing through to congratulate us. So I think I did it right,” Nalani says.
Annette only remembers two things from that day: saying yes, and asking “Who is that?” several times as people drove by to congratulate them. “I didn’t recognize so many faces behind their masks, and I was in shock,” Annette explains.
The couple was married on October 17, 2020, by Judge Schaffer (Nalani’s boss) six years to the day from when they met. “We had always known that we wanted to get married on our anniversary date,” Nalani says. Friends and family gathered downtown at the Sabine Street Bridge to watch the ceremony from a safe distance, wearing custom-made masks and waving rainbow-colored wedding wands.
Nalani recalls that the most special moment of the day for her was simply seeing Annette at the other end of the bridge. “It was as if the whole world stopped and it was just the two of us on that bridge, walking toward each other. The joy in my heart at that moment is impossible to describe. I was about to marry the absolute love of my life.”
Annette felt the exact same way about their ceremony in the shadow of Houston’s skyline. “It was the first time that I had ever seen her in a dress. She took my breath away,” Annette recalls.
There wasn’t much that was traditional about their wedding, thanks to COVID-19. “Most important for us was to have our moms, who are no longer alive, with us in spirit that day. We both had lockets with their pictures in our wedding bouquets,” Nalani notes.
“Our photographer, Amanda DeBusk, who is a friend I’ve known for many years, actually traveled from Indianapolis to shoot our wedding. Being a part of the LGBT community herself, she was so taken aback by my experience. She just knew that she had to document our day.” Sadly, DeBusk graciously stepped in after two local photographers refused to work with the couple after realizing that this would be a same-sex wedding.
To keep their guests as safe as possible, the couple changed their venue twice and made multiple reductions to the guest list. “In the end, we chose to have our wedding [outside on a bridge] so our friends could witness our exchange of vows from afar,” Annette says.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, they’re putting off the honeymoon until they feel more comfortable with traveling. In the meantime, Nalani explains, they had a “familymoon” instead. “We rented a four-bedroom house in the Hill Country and spent some quality time with our nieces and their families. Since both of our parents have passed, we have become very close to our nieces and their kids.” They hope to be able to celebrate with their friends and extended family in the near future.
One of the reasons Annette fell in love with Nalani was her ability to share her love so easily. “She sees the absolute best in everyone. Her kindness is part of what makes her so beautiful—along with that smile.”
And Nalani says she loves Annette’s ability to communicate effectively with everyone. “No matter how uncomfortable a topic may be—whether it be political, social, or any other topic—Annette is never afraid to speak her mind if she feels that it can be a teachable moment, or can help someone in some way.”
This article appears in the December 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.