By Nathalie Bonney
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Shot By: Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing
Producer: Nathalie Bonney
Editor: Garry Sykes
Nanette Kilmer, is 4ft 3, while her husband Richard is 6ft 2. Despite being 37-years-old, it’s not uncommon for people to assume Nanette is Richard’s daughter.
The couple have also had to contend with assumptions about Nanette, who is originally from the Philippines, being a mail order bride – even though after marrying the couple settled in the Philippines for a few years.
Richard and Nanette now live in upstate New York and have one daughter who simply knows her dad is tall and her mum is small.
Richard told Truly: “We've had people take pictures, we've had people yell across the street, we've had people who actually approach us, but anybody who ever meets Nanette, instantly forgets that she's as small as she is because she's so much larger in life.”
Nanette added: “Basically, it's people whose opinions don't matter, have the bad opinion, people that matter to us, don't have any opinions of us.”
The couple met through a dating website – when Rich was based out of Afghanistan for work and Nanette lived in the Philippines, where she was born.
Richard said: “I did a stint in the Air Force and got out and then worked different jobs through a few years. And then I ended up working as a military contractor in Afghanistan.
“Nanette and I met on a dating website.
“I had been in Afghanistan for over a year and not a lot of happy times over there. So when I started talking to her and she made me laugh within the first five minutes, that was a sign.”
For Nanette, the connection with Richard gave her confidence in an area of her life she’d previously struggled in.
She said: “When I was a young adult, I would be confident in some things, I had my degree and I had a job, but there was a segment in my life that I had no confidence in, like, dating. And guys that I would like I would say, “If only you were maybe five foot taller, I would date you,” and that affected me.”
The couple first connected in February 2007 and by Valentine’s day Richard had asked if he could come and visit Nanette.
Nanette said: “He asked if he could come and visit me and I said, "Okay." Valentine's Day came and was about five days later he sent me flowers and every week thereafter I had flowers delivered to me. By April, we met each other for the very first time at the airport in the Philippines, and that was it, that was it.”
Even before they met in person the couple had already said "I love you" to one another – but Nanette hadn’t shared her exact height.
Richard said: “I knew that she was shorter. But I didn't realise how petite she was. When I got off the plane and walked out and saw the crowd of people, I wasn't looking down. I was looking through the middle of the crowd, and then when I saw her, I looked down. And then I realized, "Oh, wow, she is a lot smaller," but that didn't matter. We'd already fallen in love online.”
After continuing a long distance relationship for three years, the couple eventually got married in an outdoor ceremony at Lake Erie, New York. Richard’s friend made a set of stairs, painted white, that Nanette stood on for the vows and wedding photos.
Nanette said: “I wanted to be level in the eye, because it would be difficult keeping my head high and him looking down.
“It wasn't for the looks, it was more for just to be in that moment, to be comfortable in the moment. But it worked out, now we tease my daughter that at the wedding, I was really tall.”
After their US ceremony, the couple flew to the Philippines for a larger celebration party with all of Nanette’s family. They continued to live in the Philippines for two years before eventually moving to the US so Richard could work.
And that’s where the false assumptions truly started.
Nanette said: "In the US, I get offended when people think that I'm a mail order bride because I'm not and it's outlawed in the Philippines. But in the Philippines, it was quite normal to be dating with a foreign guy, a lot of the women there do that. But it was normalised that a lot of Filipino girls are dating Western guys, but the shock factor was like, whoa, you're too short and he’s too big.
“And in the US, it was like, “Whoa, where are you from? Are you a mail order bride?” Things like that, and it was, to me it was offensive.”
Five years ago the couple welcomed their daughter to the family – and now have to deal with members of the public assuming Richard has two daughters.
He said: “We've had people think that our daughter and my wife were sisters.”
Aware of her parents’ height difference, their daughter hopes to be tall like her dad.
Nanette adds: “Our daughter knows that mama is tiny, and dad is big. She wants to be big like daddy and she doesn't want to be short like mama.”
But with or without the height difference Richard and Nanette believe they are well suited because of their differences.
Richard said: “We complement each other in many different ways. And it's way beyond our height difference."
Nannette added: “In some ways we're very different but in some ways we are very alike. Core values we're so alike but with regards to how we get things done, we're so different.”