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Michelle Obama’s Becoming:  The Love Chronicles Since ’89

Michelle Obama’s Becoming: The Love Chronicles Since ’89

Like every one, theirs had a beginning

The public’s introduction to the couple came on the campaign trail in 2007, but the Obamas’ story began nearly two decades earlier when Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor Barack Obama at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin. Now, their first date, a trip to see Do the Right Thing in 1989, is getting the Hollywood treatment through the film Southside With You hitting theaters on Aug. 26.

After a three-year courtship, the couple wed in 1992. Thanks to more than a decade in the public eye, thousands of photographs capture their relationship, seeming at once comfortable and restrained, joyous and subtle. She gingerly adjusts his tie. He lends her his jacket. Hand in hand, they face the public, poised and relaxed. In one frame, hundreds of spectators photograph the couple dancing during the official Inaugural Ball. In another, Mrs. Obama watches the president speak on a television, alone.

Here’s a look back at some of the moments, many of them captured by the Obama’s White House photographers, that followed that date on Chicago’s Southside 27 years ago. —Chelsea Matiash

A Timeline of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Marriage If You Just Finished Becoming on Netflix

One of the greatest romances of all time began with a date at an ice cream shop in the summer of 1989.

barack and michelleINSTAGRAM/@BARACKOBAMA

In the pantheon of greatest couples, there is one duo that raises the superlative to the highest degree: Michelle and Barack Obama. Together going on 31 years, the former President and First Lady have coursed a journey from young Ivy League dynamos to a power couple commanding the world’s political stage.

Still, the Obamas have somehow managed to keep their personal life somewhat private, which is what makes Mrs. Obama’s new Netflix documentary Becoming all the more historic. Inspired by the former First Lady’s same-name memoir and directed by Nadia Hallgren (She’s the Ticket), the two-hour film was released on Netflix May 6, chronicling Mrs. Obama’s post-White House book tour across the country to connect with “groups large and small, young and old, unique and united.”

An uplifting outlook on the human spirit, the doc is proof that we are all connected through telling stories. (If you haven’t seen it yet, the below trailer is all the proof you need that the film will inspire you.) While the focus of Becoming is, of course, on Mrs. Obama, there are also some delightful cameos from her family, including daughters Malia, 21, and Sasha, 18, and her brother, Craig Robinson. But in one adorable section in particular, Mrs. Obama reflects on her marriage with President Obama as the cameras flash back to the moment he surprised her onstage during her tour.

After watching Becoming on Netflix, you might be wondering: How, again, did Barack and Michelle Obama meet, and what’s the timeline of their marriage and love story? Ahead, we’ve shared everything we know, from where they went on their magical first date, details (and photos!) from their wedding, and beyond.

1989: Barack and Michelle first meet at a law firm in Chicago.

A year into her position at Sidley Austin, a robust law firm in Chicago, Michelle Robinson, 25, was tasked with showing the new guy the ropes. “Because I went to Harvard and he went to Harvard, and the firm thought, ‘Oh, we’ll hook these two people up,’” Michelle told ABC News.

Barack, 28, put his work as a community organizer helping some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods on hold to pay off his student loans with a job at the firm. And it’s a good thing he did. “In the luckiest break of my life, [Michelle] was assigned to be my adviser,” Barack told O, The Oprah Magazine in 2007. “I remember being struck by how tall and beautiful she was.”

Michelle, however, wasn’t as impressed. At first. Though Barack was causing quite the flurry around the office, with the ladies taking note of his smarts and dapper good looks, Michelle remained skeptical. “In my experience, you put a suit on any half-intelligent Black man and white people tended to go bonkers. I was doubtful he’d earned the hype,” she wrote in her 2018 memoir Becoming on $32.50 $11.89 (63% off) SHOP NOW

“I asked her out. She refused. I kept asking. She kept refusing,” Barack recalled to O, sharing that his future wife would turn him down time and time again over the course of several weeks, claiming it was because she was his boss. But if someone puts a hurdle up in front of Barack, he’ll find a way to clear it.

As Michelle remembers his courting in her memoir, she wrote: “Not once, though, did I think about him as someone I’d want to date. For one thing, I was his mentor at the firm. I’d also recently sworn off dating altogether, too consumed with work to put any effort into it.”

Like a true romantic, Barack offered to quit his job, then asked her out again. She finally said yes.

Summer 1989: The pair goes on their first date.

When the future 44th president of the United States—a smooth talker with all the confidence needed to pull off showing up at her house in a rackety, banana-yellow Datsun with a “rusted-out, four-inch hole” in its floorboard—Michelle finally felt a bit of charm set in. “He showed all the sides—he was hip, cutting edge, cultural, sensitive. The fountain—nice touch. The walk—patient,” Michelle told The Telegraph.Muhammad Lila@MuhammadLila

As Obama returns to #Kenya today, a flashback: Young Barack and fiancee Michelle in Kenya the 90s (via @KResearcher)

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The itinerary of their first date has actually been combed over in detail by multiple publications, Michelle’s memoir, and interviews, but perhaps the best way to digest the incredibly relatable and truly intoxicating daylong odyssey is to watch the events unfold in Southside with You. But more on that film later.

Lunch outside an art museum and a Spike Lee flick, followed by a leisurely stroll that culminated in a stop at an ice cream shop and a soul-stirring kiss on a park bench—this magical daylong odyssey wasn’t your typical first date.

“I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate,” Barack told O. Michelle summarizes in her memoir: “And with that, I leaned in and everything felt clear,”

Local business owners have since installed a plaque commemorating the spot, according to NBC News Chicago.

chicago, il   august 16 a plaque placed outside a strip mall in the hyde park neighborhood marks the location where president barack obama and first lady michelle obama shared their first kiss on august 16, 2012 in chicago, illinois the kiss took place in 1989 on the corner of dorchester and 53rd streets when the president treated the first lady to ice cream at a baskin robbins in the mall, which is now a subway restaurant the obamas will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in october photo by scott olsongetty images


1991: Barack proposes to Michelle.

The couple dated for two years before Barack put a ring on it. And according to ABC News, the couple’s engagement doubled as a dinner at Gordon’s celebrating Barack’s passing of the bar exam. In the simplest and sweetest gesture—with the help of a restaurant server—Barack popped the question.

“And then the waiter came over with the dessert and a tray. And there was the ring,” Michelle said. “And I was completely shocked.” He then got down on one knee right there in the dining room, and Michelle gave her “yes.”

October 3, 1992: Barack and Michelle Obama get married—and the wedding photos are as romantic as you’d expect.

Staying loyal to their roots in the Windy City, Barack and Michelle tied the knot at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Brides magazine reported that Michelle’s brother Craig walked her down the aisle, with Barack’s brother serving as his best man. At the reception, held at South Shore Cultural Center, the couple—she in an off-the-shoulder ’90s gown perfectly suited to the era—danced their first dance to Stevie Wonder’s “You and I,” and then took off for the California coast to celebrate their honeymoon.

The couple wrote their own vows for each other, with Michelle sharing that Barack’s sincere sentiments were a peek into what their future would be like together. “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise, he delivered,” she said.

Now, the pair consistently takes to social media to celebrate the calendar flipping another year on their romance. On October 3, 2019, the former president shared a post of the couple admiring a flushed sunset. “Like the Beatles said: It’s getting better all the time. Thanks, babe, for 27 amazing years!” he wrote.Barack Obama@BarackObama

Like the Beatles said: It’s getting better all the time. Thanks, babe, for 27 amazing years!

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Michelle returned the shout-out with a post of her own; hers also featured a sky at dusk, but with the couple in full-on laughing mode. “27 years ago, this guy promised me a life full of adventure. I’d say he’s delivered. Here’s to our next chapter of becoming empty nesters and discovering what’s next—while still feeling the magic that brought us together all those years ago. Happy anniversary, Barack,” she wrote.

27 years ago, this guy promised me a life full of adventure. I’d say he’s delivered. Here’s to our next chapter of becoming empty nesters and discovering what’s next—while still feeling the magic that brought us together all those years ago. Happy anniversary, Barack.

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1998: The Obamas welcome daughter Malia.

On July 4, 1998, Malia Ann Obama was born. And we can’t help but note the patriotic significance of her birthdate, and the possible premonition it bore: Malia would go on to pretty much grow up in the White House, with her parents serving two terms as the nation’s First Couple.

naobama  date  21007 credit linda davidson  twp   edited  remote  location  in front of old capitol building, downtown springfield, il  summary   supporters turn out on a freezing saturday morning to hear illinois senator barack obama announce that hes running for president in 2008  pictured  barack obama takes in the applause from the crowd as he arrives on stage   behind him, his wife michelle and daughter malia, age 8, wave to the crowd  staffphoto imported to merlin on  sat feb 10 133201 2007


In her memoir, Michelle shared an endearing anecdote about a time when Malia was 16 and begged her “unchill” parents to just “be cool” when they would be meeting a boy who had finally worked up the nerve to ask her to prom. Luckily, Michelle and Barack kept their composure, and even let their eldest ride alone in the car with her date.

washington, dc   january 3 afp out us president barack obama waves to the assembled press as he walks with his daughter malia on his familys return to the south lawn of the white house january 3, 2016 in washington, dc the first family is returning from their two week hawaiian vacation photo by ron sachs poolgetty images

Now 21, Malia is a student at Harvard University. But letting her daughter head off to college was an exercise that proved one of the most difficult. “Being a mother has been a master class in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried—especially at first. As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal. What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters,” she said in a Q&A with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, for British Vogue.

2001: Sasha Obama is born.

On June 10, 2001, Natasha “Sasha” Obama was born. “When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep. We loved to listen to the little sounds they’d make—especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming,” Michelle reminisced with Markle for British Vogue. Later, at seven years old, Sasha would become the youngest person to ever live in the White House.

pella, ia   july 4   exclusive  democratic presidential hopeful us senator barack obama d il, his wife michelle and two daughters sasha 6 and malia 9 play cards in their rv, july 4, 2007 on a campaign swing between oskaloosa and pella, iowa the us senator from illinois, who is on a two day campaign swing through iowa, recently announced that his campaign had raised 325 million in the second quarter, outpacing rival sen hillary clinton d ny, who pulled in 20 million photo by charles ommanneygetty images


Now 18 and beginning her extended studies at the University of Michigan, Sasha continues to make proud parents out of the former First Couple, and Michelle has admitted to getting teary-eyed when she dropped Sasha off at college for the first time. Understandable. And Barack is quoted as saying that he attributes both of his daughters’ good-natured ways to his wife.

chicago   november 2 candidate for the us senate barack obama d il sits with his wife michelle and daughters sasha l and malia r in a hotel room as they wait for election returns to come in november 2, 2004 in chicago, illinois obama is expected to win easily against the republican candidate alan keyes photo by scott olsongetty images


“The great thing about the girls is they’ve got a wonderful role model in their mom,” Obama told Essence. “They’ve seen how Michelle and I interact—not only the love but also the respect that I show to their mom. So I think they have pretty high expectations about how relationships should be, and that gives me some confidence about the future. I joke about this stuff sometimes, but the truth is they are smart, steady young women.”

2004: Barack Obama is elected to the Senate, shining a national spotlight on his family.

Though he served as a state senator from 1997 to 2004, Barack Obama was elected to Illinois state senator in 2004 and served from 2005 to 2008. You know what that means: The spotlight suddenly was turned on.

chicago   november 2 candidate for the us senate barack obama d il and his daughter malia l, wife michelle and youngest daughter sasha r celebrate his victory with supporters over repulican rival alan keyes november 2, 2004 in chicago, illinois obama was expected to easily defeat keyes in this first ever senate race featuring two major party african american candidates photo by scott olsongetty images


Born in Hawaii and just the fifth African-American in congressional history to serve in the U.S. Senate, Barack was officially a big-time politician, and Michelle was right there with him. His right hand during his campaign, Michelle was also appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

2008: Barack Obama is elected President, and America falls in love with the First Couple.

After “Yes, We Can” proved to be a true statement of change and hope for Americans in 2008, Barack Obama was sworn in the following year after defeating Republican nominee John McCain, with a record-breaking crowd in attendance in Washington, D.C. The two campaigned together, navigating a muddy campaign trail. We can only imagine the stress their relationship was put under. Fortunately, Michelle knows the secret to making it through tough times.

evansville, in   april 22  democratic presidential candidate sen barack obama of illinois and his wife michelle obama embrace after he spoke at the roberts stadium, april 22, 2008 in evansville indiana today late exit polls showed obama losing the pennsylvania primary to rival sen hillary clinton of new york by ten percentage points  photo by mark wilsongetty images


“It has to be a true partnership, and you have to really, really like and respect the person you’re married to, because it is a hard road,” Michelle told Oprah Winfrey in 2011. “I mean, that’s what I tell young couples. Don’t expect it to be easy, melding two lives and trying to raise others, and doing it forever. I mean that’s a recipe made for disaster, so there are highs and lows. But if in the end, you can look him in the eye and say, ‘I like you.’ I stopped believing in love at first sight. I think you go through that wonderful love stage, but when it gets hard, you need a little bit more.”

democratic presidential candidate us senator barack obama hugs his wife michelle while meeting families during a picnic at a park in noblesville, indiana, may 03, 2008  afp photoemmanuel dunand photo credit should read emmanuel dunandafp via getty images


As for Barack, he knows that flattery will always get the job done. “If you were going to list the 100 most popular things that I have done as president, being married to Michelle Obama is number one,” he said in his State of the Union address in 2010.

st paul, mn   june 3  democratic presidential candidate sen barack obama d il r and his wife michelle obama bump fists at an election night rally at the xcel energy center june 3, 2008 in st paul, minnesota obama clinched the democratic presidential nomination following todays primaries in south dakota and montana, although his rival sen hillary clinton d ny has not yet conceded the race  photo by scott olsongetty images


2009: Barack and Michelle slow-dance at the Western Inaugural Ball.

Mrs. Obama proved herself a fashion icon that night, stunning in a one-shouldered Jason Wu number with floral embellishments that was talked about for weeks. Meanwhile, her husband proved himself a regular Prince Charming, singing in his wife’s ear, holding her close, and sealing the slow-dance with a kiss.

“First of all, how good looking is my wife?” Obama asked the crowd, after the pair were introduced by Denzel Washington, per ABC News. Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Sting, Faith Hill, and more performed, while the couple slow-danced and the world fell became smitten.

washington   january 20  us president barack obama and his wife first lady michelle obama dance on stage during mtv  servicenation live from the youth inaugural ball at the hilton washington on january 20, 2009 in washington, dc president barack obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the united states today, becoming the first african american to be elected president of the us  photo by mark wilsongetty images


2012: President Obama is elected for a second term.

Barack Obama ran for president for a second term, defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney, meaning the world was given four more years with the now-iconic Obamas, who often say things about each other like this: “I do care deeply about my husband,” Michelle told Gayle King in an interview for CBS News in January 2012. “I am one of his biggest allies. I am one of his biggest confidants.”

des moines, ia   november 05  us president barack obama embraces first lady michelle obama during his last rally the night before the general election november 5, 2012 in des moines, iowa the rally was held just outside obamas first headquarters from the 2008 campaign, where his first march to the white house started obama and his opponent, republican presidential nominee and former massachusetts gov mitt romney are stumping from one swing state to the next in a last minute rush to persuade undecided voters  photo by chip somodevillagetty images


And also like this: “The truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls. I deeply loved the man I had built that life with and I didn’t want that to change if he became President. I loved Barack just the way he was,” she said at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

chicago, il   november 06  us president barack obama stands on stage with first lady michelle obama after his victory speech on election night at mccormick place november 6, 2012 in chicago, illinois obama won reelection against republican candidate, former massachusetts governor mitt romney  photo by scott olsongetty images


The two were even caught on the Kiss Cam during the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team’s game against Brazil in an adorable display of affection:

2015: Cameras capture an adorable bit of Barack-Michelle PDA.

In an adorable snapshot caught behind the scenes, then-First Lady Michelle Obama snuggles against then-President Barack Obama before a videotaping for the 2015 World Expo. You know what they say about a picture…Obama of the Day@obamaoftheday

March 27, 2015 – First Lady Michelle Obama snuggles against President Barack Obama before a videotaping for the 2015 World Expo, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, March 27, 2015.

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2016: A movie about Barack and Michelle Obama, Southside with You, chronicles their first date.

Michelle and Barack Obama’s enchanting initial courting received the big-screen treatment in 2016—one that called “a beautiful tribute to enduring love” and “an irresistibly romantic and rousing success.”

southside with you


One of the standouts at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the independent gem starring actors Tika Sumpter (Mixed-ish) and Parker Sawyers (Zero Dark Thirty) as the soon-to-be power couple tracks the young lovebirds over the course of their date, from their lunch in the courtyard at the Art Institute to their screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to their Baskin-Robbins ice cream finale in Hyde Park. Yes, exactly where the couple shared their first kiss.AMAZON Southside With You$7.99 SHOP NOW

2019: Michelle is seen admiring a historic portrait of her husband.

Though the couple left the White House in 2016, their legacy has lived on, and not just in the history books—now, in modern art hanging in the capital’s American Portrait Gallery.

While on-site to honor Lin-Manuel Miranda at the American Portrait Gala, the former First Lady wowed in a chartreuse Schiaparelli gown, but also took the time to step away from the crowds and festivities to take a gander at a portrait of a man she knows all too well: her husband. That simple red heart emoji in her caption says it all.

2020: The love story continues—and is captured in Becoming on Netflix.

Let’s face it: The start of the new decade has been challenging. The world is currently forging its way through a global pandemic, with every day revealing new heroisms in frontline and health care workers, and the enduring strength in this phenomenon we all call humanity. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the Obamas will always be here to show us what life is all about: finding that one person you want to dance through life with.

credits to DeAnna Janes, opramag and

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