News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

A memorable first kiss

A couple’s first kiss is memorable, but for Alissa and James Cowan, theirs was unforgettable.

They met at a church conference in Redmond — James was setting up the stage lighting when he saw Alissa’s silhouette. Tripping over cables in his scramble to find out who she was, he tracked her down and they exchanged information. Several phone calls and emails later, James made the trip from Sisters to Las Vegas to visit Alissa for a week. Their first dates included dancing by car light to Brian Crain’s “Song for Sienna,” a formal night out on the town in Vegas (complete with gondola ride), and a ’50s night with burgers, bowling, and poodle skirt.

By the end of the week, they both felt that spark. While hiking at the Calico Hills in the Red Rock Canyon, James gave Alissa a promise ring, declaring his intention to court her. Alissa gladly accepted and had her own proposal — to save their first kiss for their wedding day.

They continued their long-distance relationship the following year, getting to know one another and their families, and splitting their time between Sisters and Las Vegas. During a sunset hike at Calico Hills, James got down on one knee and proposed to Alissa in September 2008.

Nine months later, James and Alissa married on May 16, 2009, at Spring Creek Gardens in Utah, where they said “I do” and shared their very first kiss (and second, and third) at the altar. Afterward they released butterflies into the gardens and danced their first dance to “Song for Sienna.”

They honeymooned in Canada, visiting the national parks then moved to Sunriver, Oregon. After living in Sunriver and Bend, they built their home in Sisters, where they have spent the past eight years raising their six children. They love living on the land they used to explore while dating and having space for their kids to play. They happily agree it’s their forever home.

After 14 years of marriage, Alissa and James still make time for one another. They have enjoyed a staycation at FivePine Lodge and a recent date night chocolate tasting at High Desert Chocolates. Throughout their years together they have found the importance of keeping God at the center of their relationship, practicing grace and forgiveness, and working together as a team.

Recently, self-care has been a priority — Alissa takes ballet at Sisters Dance Academy and James consistently exercises in the morning before work. They stress the value of not feeling guilty about regularly taking time for yourself and your relationship — including spa days!

“You come back refreshed,” says Alissa.

They recommend continuing to learn how to strengthen your marriage by investing time in each other, and choosing to stay devoted to your spouse. As their love story continues, they have learned that “fairy tales don’t end because of a bad spot; a bad spot becomes a part of your story, and this is where you grow, and draw closer to each other.”


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