They’re your new favourite couple on HGTV – Mandy Rennehan, star of the new season of Trading Up With Mandy Rennehan sat down with us and her partner Lauren Ferraro to tell us their love story in their own words. Mandy and Lauren – AKA Bear and Annie – are breaking barriers as a female couple on television, but that’s not why you should love them. It’s purely their personalities and the obvious love they have for each other and their family (the two of them, plus their adorable dogs, a pair of Westies) that makes it impossible not to fall in love with them as they banter back and forth – both on the show and when we sat down to chat with the pair.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Bear and Annie On How They Met
Q: I want to get started talking about the two of you.
Annie: Do you want to get married, Bear? Do you want to marry me?
Bear: Are we really having this conversation?
Annie: We’re totally having this conversation. What would you like to know?
Q: I want to start at the beginning and hear about your love story.
Annie: Well I’ll give you my version… I’m a public speaking coach and years ago Bear’s publicist at the time called me and said, “Hey, I have this person who’s great at speaking but she has a little bit of a squirrel complex as they called it. So someone would ask them a question and she would start to answer it and go off. So they said, “Can you work with her on public speaking?” I said, yeah, sure. I’ll look her up. They sent me some videos and sure enough, she rambles and I said, “Sure, I can fix the squirrel complex”.
Eventually, I met Bear at her favourite place to meet people – to eat, to enjoy music, her home away from home when she’s not at home – we met as our first consultation and Bear said it was love at first sight. She said she fell in love immediately and we just hit it off. We never talked about work at all. We talked for probably what, five hours and then the coach in me was like, “Oh my God, we didn’t get to any work!”. And then we met up again and we just talked for eight hours. And so eventually it was sort of like, are we going to get to this public speaking stuff?
Bear: So that’s her version. Right out the gate, I was kind of like, why do I gotta go see this woman? She wants eight sessions. I know I’ve got a squirrel complex, but it will be quick. And Annie will always tell the story that I still owe her for that that – I haven’t paid my invoice for that session. But one of the things is that I came out of a 10-year relationship probably about six months before I met Annie.
It was one of those things where you just never know when you’re gonna meet that person. And we sat down… it was literally – we just couldn’t stop talking to each other. And later on, she said she fell in love with my eyes. But, you know, I was just taken with her energy and her ability and I was just like, “Wow”. It was one of those things that from that moment we met, we’ve been together ever since. Annie had never been in a female relationship. And, you know, it was just one of those when you meet that person, you just know what’s right. And so, five and a half years later, here we are, kids, telling you about our love story.
Bear and Annie On Their Wedding Plans
Q: So what are your wedding plans now?
Annie: We have ideas. I’m from Ontario. She’s from Nova Scotia. So where do we do this? Classically, everyone would say do it at The Windmill. The Windmill is stunning, but I actually have a feeling we’re going to do the wedding here [in Ontario]. And then we sort of toy with are we going Louis Vuitton or are we going, you know, kitchen party/East Coast style. We could go both ways because Bear is very stylish in that sense. Or we could do both and mix designs. You would know that.
Bear: I’ve always believed that a wedding needs to be about projecting that happiness on everyone else. I’ve always said to Annie that if we have it here or wherever we’re gonna have it, it needs to be about the fact that the people that we adore and love show up free of charge. There’s none of these stag and doe, and people buying us gifts and buying this and buying that. It’s always been very important to me that this is a day that we’re able to share what love looks like.
Annie: And our love for them!
Bear: Yeah. And our love for them. It has always been very important that this wedding is about everybody. Annie and I found each other later in our lives (I say later in our lives, like over that 35 mark) and we very much knew that we were good for each other. I think that there are so many lessons in what a wedding can be and why it’s important, and that’s why for us it’s been about where is the place that we can pack in as many of our crazy people as possible and and what’s that gonna look like. And this wedding is not just about us, it’s about truly showing what things can be.
Q: Will the dogs be in the wedding?
Annie: Ohhhh yes. Yes, short answer. If we plan, like, the walk down the aisle thing, I kind of envisioned Bear and I walking down together or entering a space together. I like that idea. As opposed to me being given to you, which is sort of the old concept. I like the idea of Bear and I entering the room together, so we probably each have a dog.
Bear and Annie On Pride, Visibility and Celebrating Their Love
Q: What are your plans for Pride Month? Any special memories or way you’re celebrating?
Annie: No plans, per se.
Bear: We’re like this every month.
Annie: We’re like this every month. We’ve put some cute photos on social. Just existing is representing. I think not hiding and I think the show is representation like no other. It’s part of what we’re doing for the month – it’s the show, there’s us. I’m not like going to Toronto to the Pride parade, not for any other reason besides, it’s really far away, but I think it’s just Bear and I being ourselves. And being here. Existing!
Bear and Annie On the Reception to the Show
Q: Any final thoughts you want to leave the audience with?
Annie: In regard to the show, my inbox doesn’t stop, so thank you for people reaching out and writing. It’s extremely touching. Seems so cliché, but it’s moving. I’m glad it’s helping people and inspiring people and they’re laughing and loving it and getting their husbands to watch it.
Bear: The only thing that I would say to mirror what Annie just said, is what made me what I am today is very similar to what we’re seeing evolve from the show, which is that it doesn’t matter what you’re packing, what color your skin is – any of the variables that have stopped the world in its tracks. This show very much represents love and acceptance and charm and happiness, and that you can have it all if we just stop judging things unnecessarily.
I think the thing that I’m loving is that Annie and I on this show represent a female couple that has never been seen on TV before, let alone on a reno show. And just how normal it is. I think that normalcy is transcending into people’s living rooms, no matter who you are or what you were, because whether they have an issue with homosexuality or not, they’re having a hard time not liking us. The key is people just being them and following the realness of who they are and knowing that people really relate to that.