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recreating our first date…

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

Bob and I started dating in 1996, when I was 17 and he was 18. We met through mutual friends and were friends first, but after we went to the prom together (I know, crazy right?!?), that friendship turned into the beginning of our future life together. Recently, we partnered together with Banana Republic to recreate our first date in celebration of their new their "Love" campaign. Since we were still in high school, our first date wasn't a fancy dinner out or hanging out at some trendy bar; but it was a day of exploring the city (in our case, Philly, where we're from and lived at the time). We did everyday things like go to the bookstore, get ice cream, and goof off in a photo booth. It was so fun to recreate those moments, captured by Max Wanger, in LA (where we live now) at some of our new favorite spots…

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

Bob and I used to go to bookstores a ton while we were dating. I'd read about art and dig through fashion and interiors magazines, and he'd check out books about classic cars and dream about owning one some day.

1996 bookstore: Barnes & Noble in Philly | 2013 bookstore: The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

Bob learned from early on that you really can't go wrong with taking me to get ice cream. I swear, we ended so many dates with an ice cream cone of some sort. Today, we do the same, except now we've got Ruby, our little ice cream lover, in tow.

1996 ice cream spot: good ol' Friendly's in Philly | 2013 ice cream spot: Milk in Los Angeles

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

oh joy + banana republic | photos by max wanger

There's really nothing more fun than a photo booth; it forces you to be silly and come up with new facial expressions to capture. When Bob and I took our first photo booth photos together, I had no idea he'd eventually be my husband and the father of my future children!

1996 photo booth: The basement of Urban Outfitter's flagship store in Philly (the Anthropologie flagship is there now) | 2013 photo booth: Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles

oh joy + banana republic

It was a pretty awesome to walk down memory lane getting and recreate these moments from our past. I highly suggest trying it. What did you guys do on your first date with your significant other? Any out-of-the-ordinary dates you like to recreate regularly?

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Banana Republic. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting these sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for Oh Joy. 

{Photos by Max Wanger; all clothing by Banana Republic}


  1. Like you, my husband and I met in Philly. We spent our first date squished in a corner couch at Mugshots coffee using chairs as a table because it was so crowded. We went to the art museum afterwards (he had never been there), but since it was going to close in a half hour we had to have a run through, which consisted of me pointing excitedly at my favorite pieces and desperately trying to find the giant buddha. It was the best of my life up to that point and the most fun I had had.

  2. That is completely adorable! And it’s almost funny how much the quality of photo booth strips have improved! Too bad my husband and I never really had a first date… We met in college. The time that we joke about being our first date was when we met at our favorite bar and drunk him convinced drunk me to come over for pizza instead of ordering more bread sticks. I proceeded to sit in front of the oven and watch the pizza cook the entire time! Romantic I know…

  3. As I’ve reached my 30s its become really fun to see the faces of all the people you’ve known since childhood and see how their faces have aged through the years. I sometimes look at my former major crush/boyfriend for a week/now just an eternal BFF who’s about to get married and I remember so clearly how his once chubby face use to look and how thinned out and masculine it looks now. Weird, I know. Anyway, what I find interesting about this is how business like my local Banana Republic is and yet in these pictures you look so cute and casual. I hope my store starts to freshen-up their selection soon.

  4. this is such a great example of a brand/blog collaboration that is a natural fit and knocks it out of the park. and it’s a great story to boot – loved the recreations and the striped skirt looks fantastic on you, and the whole look true to style. Congratulations!

  5. Oh my! Our story is rather strange! I’m from Cyprus, had been studying in Corfu, Greece, and was on a student exchange program in Caen, France.
    He was Greek, studying in his his country, and he was on a vacation in Paris with a friend who was actually visiting my friend in Caen as he was her boyfriend.
    We all met up in Paris for 4 days and we clicked and have been together for 5 years now! 🙂

  6. Oh wow the before and after photos are great!! It just reminded me of how me and the hubby used to do things like that when we first started dating. I think our first date was a study date at a bookstore. Oh the memories. I can’t wait to talk to him about this idea. It would be so much fun!

  7. So adorable! My husband and I also started dating in ’96 (although we had a few years break in between)… Seeing those pictures made me nostalgic for the two lovebirds that we were!
    Great inspiration for a unique Valentines Day idea!
    Be Ready Bravely

  8. What a cute post!! You two are so adorable 🙂
    My bf and I met in college, and we were luck we had access to a lot of FREE shows and concerts. so our dates consisted of a circus, football games, a lupe fiasco, the cab, and panic at the disco concerts. 🙂

  9. This is such an adorable story. You guys make a great couple.
    I love the fact that you are such a normal and fun loving couple. Who
    doesn’t like books and ice creams 🙂 Cheers to both of u!

  10. Ok, this is adorable. My husband and I started dating at 17 and 18, too! But we met in our first year of college. I’m pretty sure a reenactment of our first date would involve In N Out and walking around our college campus. I’d go for it 🙂

  11. Awwww this post is the best, I love it soooo much. And Max Wanger did an amazing job as always 🙂
    One day, when my boyfriend and I have dated for long enough I would love to do the same!
    Thanks for sharing this <3

  12. Aww! I still remember going to that Urban Outfitters for the very first time when I was 13. I lived out in the burbs with my family at the time. I asked to take two girlfriends and go shopping for the day in the “big city.” We bought a few terrible shirts on south street, and finished up our shopping day at the brand new glorious urban outfitters.
    My husband and I have been dating since we were 19, we met in Savannah in a freshman photography class at SCAD. I’d love to go back and relive our early dating life!

  13. This is a fantastic, such a creative post! I’m a blogger since 2001 and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something so new and creative! Beautiful! I imagine que opportunity to recreate your first date was amazing! Congratulations!

  14. I love this! My husband and I also started dating at 17 – our first date was Homecoming senior year. 🙂 Love recreating those silly moments from when you first started dating and these photos are beautiful!
    P.S. – I really enjoyed Blog Inc. (just reviewed it on my blog today!). Thanks for being a continued source of inspiration!

  15. OMG this is the cutest thing ever!! I love that you still have the photobooth pictures to compare. And the fact that Max was able to photograph these makes it that much better.

  16. I love this post! To recreate how you met is super cool and to do it for BR is out of this world. Congrats guys on all your success. A huge hello from philly 😉

  17. Ha! Yes, when we shot these photos just the two of us…I was like, wow…its so peaceful! But we also felt like something (someone) was missing 😉

  18. This is too cute, Joy! So fun to learn about how you and Bob met. (My husband and I also met around the same age… crazy to think we met our future husband and didn’t even know it!) Super happy for you on this campaign and seeing your beautiful family grow. xx Jeanne

  19. this is such a great story and post. The old photobooth pics are so fun! Thanks for letting us peek into your past.
    My husband and I’s first date was to a yo la tengo show. It was my first day of work and on the way down in the elevator to lunch he ‘mentioned’ he had an extra ticket for the show that night. 13 years later, we’re still smitten with each other and the band. 🙂

  20. This is so adorable! I especially love the side-by-side photo strips at the end. I am in high school now, and hope to someday have something like this. Beautiful!

  21. This is beyond sweet. This is my first time writing on your blog. I’m a huge fan & have been following for some time. But this… was the cutest thing I’ve seen ever. Although my Him & I just met a year ago, I know one day we’ll love to do something like this. And funny, he is from Philly too. 🙂 I adore your outfits!

  22. I love this! So adorable! I always love coming here, thanks for the fun and inspiration! My husband and I started dating in high school too, and the majority of our early dates were ice cream and browsing the travel section of the book store. It was so fun to dream of vacations we’d go on when we “grew up”, and it’s even more awesome now that we actually go!

  23. Memories that are breathtakingly beautiful! Congrats on the lovely hubby/bf memories, as well as the Banana Republic project + Forbes write up! Your parents must rule, because you and your brother have super creative and positive spirits. Keep creating!

  24. I have to say that up until this point in the day I was in a not so great mood and this made me smile! What a great way to celebrate your love. Fantastic post!

  25. Oh, Joy! You and Bob are so cute in 1997. I sincerely enjoyed this little photo presentation. Congratulations! Love you guys!

  26. This is so cute it actually kinda makes me sick to my stomach!! You two are really (barf-worthily) adorable. And of course, Max Wanger’s photography is amazing.
    Congratulations on so many years together!

  27. This is so cute Joy! I’m not going to lie doing those “teenager things” still get me really happy. Now living in NYC I even rent a zipcar just so I can go to the strip mall in Staten Island, hehe. Every time I pass by a photo booth I just want to take 20 pictures! We’re always going to be young at heart. 🙂

  28. This is kind of the greatest. I also want to let you know since getting your book, I have been trying to get a blog of my own off the ground! It’s really inspiring to see that you have an awesome/healthy relationship and social life along with having a kickass blog. I hope to reach your level someday!

  29. what a lovely idea… you guys actually look even happier in your recent photo booth shots than you did in the originals… power to you!

  30. You inspired me to find the photo booth pic of me and my husband from 18 years ago. Love the outfits, the post and the reminder to have fun with your hubby no matter how long you’ve been together. Are the clothes from BR newest collection?

  31. literally “oh joy!” i am one of those bad non-commenting, everyday visitors (I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!) and after seeing this plus a glass of much needed wine after a hard days work i just HAD to say something!! this post is the most uber-adorable thing that’s touched my heart in a very long time. the romance never ends you two and it’s quite something to see. i adored this post so much! the ultimate reminder of what true love looks + feels like – believe me and the many others, it translates right through the screen. yes and more yes: so good!
    kudos to the “Love” campaign & Max…mayhaps a big ol’ victory lap is called for here 🙂

  32. this is so sweet! my mom and dad started this way, but it was a sadie hawkins dance in the 70’s. they have been married 38 years this june 🙂

  33. I love this so much! It reminds me of my husband and I. We met when he was 15 and I was 16 and we never went a date without gettng a photobooth picture taken. We have an entire album…in fact, it’s how he proposed too! You guys are adorable!!! Love love!

  34. I can’t find the words to describe how stinkin’ cute this is. 🙂 You two look like you had so much fun. P.S. I want ice cream now.

  35. this is so cute! our first date was oddly similar, we even did a photo booth in the basement under the Urban Outfitters in Seattle! You’ve inspired me to see if I can find our pics! We also met young and were friends first, I’d just moved to the area and he took me out to explore the city…we spent a lot of time just walking, eating good food, browsing book stores. fun times 🙂

  36. Gosh this is so sweet! Re-enacting the first date is possibly the best way to revive those super cute/hilarious/awkward moments. I definitely hope to do something similar in the future! Thanks for the inspiration!

  37. That was adorable!!! You are so talented and cute! And, you and Bob are perfectly matched. Love the post and love you guys!! Always, my FAVORITE couple- EVER!!!!!

  38. I love this post, Joy! Brought such a smile to my face. And seeing you still had the film strips from your first date further emphasized I need to take photos of everyday moments more often. Outside of my work as a photographer and photo editor, I have my camera around so much for shooting assignments, but rarely just for getting random everyday moments. My hope for this year and going forward is to capture and print more of those moments just as keepsakes for my future children and to be able to smile back on them 🙂
    Boyfriend comes home tonight after being away at military training for a few weeks, and I think I’ll have my camera in tow to capture his face when he walks in the door 🙂
    Thanks again for sharing this lovely memory with us!

  39. so incredibly sweet, and what a great idea. my first date with my hub involved breaking in to a grand piano in the mall atrium after watching pulp fiction. i think i would indeed like to recreate that.

  40. My heart fluttered, and I just hope one day I can make a post similar to this. It makes life look so sweet. I hope you to have a beautiful day on Valentines day.
    The photobooth photos are too cute.

  41. What a great collaboration! I love the idea behind this, it’s so inspiring as well. Absolutely love the side-by-side photo strips.
    On a side note: you guys are such a fashionable couple!

  42. That’s my uncle’s book your husband is holding! And yes, our last name is Joy! I’m sure you will agree that it’s a great name to have, regardless of whether it’s first or last!

  43. I love your legs–they are just like mine a little bow-legged. I have always been self-concious of them, but seeing you so confident in a skirt is helping me to realize it doesn’t matter!!!! Thank You!

  44. So sweet. I love it! My first date with my husband was at an art museum to look at photographs. We had espressos in the cafe, and he timidly asked me for a photo of myself that I had in my wallet. It was pure joy!

  45. This is so incredibly sweet! What a wonderful way to keep the love alive. You’re happy little family is such an inspiration. So thrilled I get to follow along! xoxo

  46. Ha – our first date involved getting locked in the park on what turned into a very cold evening. But I forgave him and here we are nearly 19 years later!

  47. I think this might be one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. Absolutely adorable and proof that young love can last!

  48. I love this! My boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over a year and we always go in the photo booth every time we see one.


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