A Backyard Fête
Our love story began on New Years Eve, Millennium. We'd each been persuaded by friends to join them for the festivities at a huge dance party in Palm Springs, CA. There were no expectations, for either of us, to meet " the right guy" in that situation. If you (can) remember, there was a lot of apprehension in regards to what might happen, in the cyber age, as systems turned from one century to the next. Nevertheless, we were there to party in the Millennium!
Across a crowded dance floor, our eyes met and there was an instant connection. I'm not going to say "The rest is history" because there, potentially, could have been so many deterrents, and so many ways in which that "one night" could have, easily, turned into just that.
But that never happened. After dating for over a year from cities 2 hrs apart, we moved in together.
Fast forward 12 years...we'd been together and happy. The laws had gone back and forth on same-sex marriage. I (Mark) had never been that intent on "actual" marriage. We were Domestic Partners and neither of us was going anywhere. But Paul felt differently. He wanted "the proposal."
He'd consulted his friends and they'd advised him "Do it someplace special to the two of you?" And, upon reflection, he realized that our most special place was home. So, I came in from work and he had made a candlelight dinner, complete with my favorite martini and a nice bottle of wine. On that amazing night, he proposed marriage to me. Though I wasn't sure the formalities were necessary, of course I said yes!
Though now formally engaged, we didn't feel it necessary to hurry the wedding. We wanted it to be perfect. We knew where we wanted it to occur. My friend from childhood, Kathy, and her husband, Bob, have an amazing, park-like backyard. Neither Paul nor I have religious affiliations that would make us want to have it in any type of church or with any sort of clergy.
Their backyard, in which we have spent many, MANY enjoyable afternoons & evenings, was the only venue we even considered. They, graciously, not only agreed but took it to the next level, making it into an eden that every attending guest was absolutely in awe of. We also knew we didn't want it to be somber or traditional. This was a celebration of over seventeen years together, finally being recognized legally! We chose to walk in, simultaneously, from opposite sides of the garden, to the music of Kelly Rowland's "When Love Takes Over."
What surprised us was that the mood of the song resonated so quickly & easily with the guests. They, spontaneously, erupted into cheers as we entered. That set the mood of the evening. We exchanged our self-written vows amid a more somber moment, then the party was on! We had a number of guests claim, afterwards, it was the "best wedding ever!" It was serious, but casual. Fun, but meaningful. The only advice we'd have for couples planning a wedding/ celebration is... do it the way YOU want. This is YOUR day. It's about YOU...not your family, your parents, your friends, or anyone else. If you want it traditional, have it traditional. If you prefer casual and fun, make it that.
In our case, I think we compromised and did a little of each. Furthermore, allow enough time after the ceremony/dinner/etc to at least acknowledge your guests individually. My only regret of the evening would be that I didn't have the time to spend more than a congratulatory minute with many of the guests. The best part of the day, even from the beginning, as we were dressing, but keeping an eye out the window, was to see people as they arrived.
Despite any differences they may have had - culturally, professionally, politically - they were mingling, that day, putting any pre-conceived differences aside for us. What an honor and an acknowledgment to the power of love!