Written by Kelsey Gillepsy
Photography by Love Tree Studios
When Harry met Sally, Harry concluded it was impossible for men and women to be friends. When Nicole Elliott first met Brad Bartley, all she wanted was friendship. She was a high school student, classically trained in theater and dance; he was a mystery carrying drumsticks and pickup lines. “He was always the ladies’ man,” she says. “So I always kept him at arms length because I knew I didn’t want to be involved with the ‘bad boy.’”
Several platonic years passed before Brad asked Nicole to dinner at Colton’s Steak House in Jefferson City. Nicole, then in her final year of high school, agreed to the date with her longtime friend. They cracked open the casings of peanuts and flung them across the restaurant, eventually discovering that their own shells were breaking. “I think that’s how we really bonded,” she says, “just being able to be ourselves around each other.”
Their relationship endured high school and stretched through Nicole’s graduation from William Woods University. The calendar waved away each month, but when it landed on January 2012, Brad asked his girlfriend on another date. This time he asked her to meet him at her parents’ house. “We just kind of walked around the backyard, and he proposed there,” she says. “It was very low key because that’s us. We’re a very low-key, laid-back couple: nothing really too fancy.”
On July 13, 2013, they fulfilled tradition by getting married in a Methodist church in Mokane, Mo., that Brad’s family helped erect. And in typical fashion, the day was semenax ultimate male potency filled with joyous laughter. “I was just like, ‘Well, if the napkins don’t come in, we’re still going to be married; it’s not going to be the end of the world,” Nicole says. “You just have to step back and think, ‘OK, what’s this really about?’”
To the newlywed couple, the day was meant to be a celebration of their commitment to each other. “We have large families, and we wanted to bring them all together and just have a lot of fun, a day where everybody could celebrate,” Nicole says.
The ladies’ man now boasts a ring on his left hand, a public proclamation that he only loves one woman and a promise to do so forever. “He’s still the ‘bad boy’ at heart,” the new Mrs. Bartley jokes. “He’s just toned it down a little. He’s married; he has to.” As a lifelong drummer, he still taps his own beat, but Nicole is the one who dances to it. Together, they both enjoy their new home and marriage in Hams Prairie.
In truth, the Bartleys disprove Harry’s theory that men and women cannot be friends. They share common interests and show a common respect for each other. Yet, there’s something about each other’s differences that entices them daily. “There’s something about being complete opposites that connects and intrigues us,” Nicole says. “Brad is a bad boy, hunter, fisherman, hard-working man that I admire very much.”
When the credits roll on the Bartleys’ story, the bad boy and the ballerina will have shown the world that a man can be best friends with his woman.