Art Deco Detroit
Tell us your love story!
Prior to Erica I had never been with another woman but I was truly captivated by her style, her beauty, her smile and, of course, her intelligence. We met at work, we worked on the same unit. Her mere presence brightened my life. We went from coworkers instantly to friends and then I found myself confusingly enamored. Her smile made me smile, her happiness became my responsibility. I “saw” her, unlike anyone else. After I put my fears aside (this was new to me) I knew she was my forever. We did not have an official “first date” we spent A LOT of time together. I truly enjoyed the simplicity of our relationship. I enjoyed our long, deep conversations, we established a very deep bond and we became each other’s strength…we grew together and I love that!
We first met 8 years ago at the hospital we used to work at. Initially there wasn’t a romantic connection for me, and instead we became friends, which was a challenge in and of itself. I was extremely guarded when we first met, but I loved Cierra’s aura and I was intrigued to the point where we started to hang out. Slowly but surely, she started to earn my trust by getting past my barriers with an uncanny way of seeing me like no one else ever had and she became one of my closest friends. Then, after a year of friendship, deeper feelings started to develop. I had been with women before but I wasn’t looking to engage in another relationship with one. But there was this intense magnetism that I couldn’t overcome and once Cierra let me know she was interested the rest is history, as they say. We never had an official first date; instead we had a year of getting to know one another without any expectations or trying to impress one another. We got to know each other honestly and that’s what made it different. That’s what made it special. I truly fell in love with my friend.
What about the proposal?
Well, we actually had two separate proposals and acceptances.
Cierra’s proposal to Erica:
Initially Cierra “proposed” to me 4 years ago. I used the quotation marks because at the time it wasn’t a marriage proposal but instead she was proposing that we make the commitment to be life partners. At the time same sex marriage wasn’t legal everywhere and we didn’t see the point of being recognized in just a few states. That aside, the proposal was beautiful and perfectly tailored to me. On November 10, 2012 I went out with my brother to watch a football game and then Cierra arranged for me to get a spa manicure to get me out of the house. When I returned home there was a heart shaped note outside the door and when I walked in she had music playing and there were rose petals and notes strategically placed in a pattern leading to the bedroom. The notes were a combination of the Volumes of Why I Love You that I had written to her (for 1000 consecutive days I emailed and later combined into books different reasons with an explanation of why I loved her) and other reasons why I was significant to her. By the time I reached the third note I was crying and when I finally reached the bedroom she had a ring in a customized box from Things Remembered on the bed. Of course I said yes! That was truly one of the best days of my life.
Erica’s proposal to Cierra:
Fast forward to 2015 - We had been discussing getting married and then “The Decision” took place and we took that as a sign to legitimately start making plans. However, because I believe that every girl deserves a proposal, on July 19, 2015 I gave Cierra her moment. One of her closest friends was in town and I told Cierra we had dinner reservations for the three of us. Once she was dressed and ready to go I had her sit on the couch and then in walked her mother, grandmother, aunt, and another close friend. I had each of them read one of the Volumes I had previously written and when they were done I told her my own reason for why I loved her and asked if she would officially marry me. Additionally, knowing that Cierra is definitely family/friends oriented I had people who couldn’t be here record themselves reading a volume as well. Later that night I showed her the video I put together as the final culmination of our day.
When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?
I knew I was in love when I yearned for her presence, I wanted to spend every moment with her…that was out of character for me. It seemed odd that I wanted to spend every waking moment with this woman. I had never been attracted to women so I felt confused, I question myself…I thought, "how could this be?" I tried pulling away but my heart suffered. I knew I was in love because despite being fearful of being accepted by my family, friends and society I was willing to take the risk. She made me open, open to love after being hurt. Her love gave me strength, I felt courageous. She was special and different and when we considered not being together because of the struggles we would face, I felt empty. I felt like I couldn’t live without her. She had become my everything. Our connection was strong and I had never felt this way about anyone else. I never believed in a “soul mate” but she embodied that definition. I was in love, deeply in love….I had found my soul mate and she meant the world to me.
Like everything else in our relationship I don’t know if there was ever an “a-ha” moment. I fell in love with her gradually without me truly realizing it was happening. However there are two moments when I knew she was special and unlike anyone else and in hindsight I have to say I realized I was in love with her. The first of these was when she randomly told me that she recognized that I was fragile and she needed to handle me with care while we were on the phone. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at that moment. I also remember initially feeling unsettled because I didn’t like that she picked up on that but at the same time I felt reassured and safe. The second moment only reconfirmed what I already realized and it was when Cierra had broken up with me after we’d only been together a few months. Her reason was because I was torn between my feelings for her and my religious convictions at the time and she said she didn’t want to stand in the way between me and my beliefs in God. Essentially she removed herself from the equation because she wanted to give me the space to be at peace. However, it had the opposite effect and I was extremely heartbroken and disturbed which perplexed me because I didn’t think I should be that heartbroken over a fledgling relationship. But that’s how I knew she was special and I knew I couldn’t let her go. For her to evoke such a strong response from me I knew I had to fight for her. And that’s exactly what I did.
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
We definitely knew that we wanted our wedding to be uniquely tailored to us. As we began the planning process and looked at traditional formats, we instinctively knew that’s not what we wanted. We hand-crafted every aspect of the ceremony from the time-line (we had a cocktail hour first), the venue (a historic jazz spot), and even the way the ceremony was officiated (she told our love story to our guests instead of telling us about love and marriage). We knew music was going to be a big part of the day and we wanted an atmosphere that was intimate, warm, light-hearted, and slightly poetic. Essentially we wanted people to have a better understanding and deeper connection to us and our journey (especially the journey because although we’d been together 7 years before marrying not everyone knew how two seemingly straight women ended up together). We wanted people to understand that our relationship was serendipitous and how we share a connection that is truly unique.
What surprised you during planning?
I think we were most surprised with how consuming the process was. We didn’t use a wedding planner and instead handled every facet of the wedding ourselves. There wasn’t a portion that was particularly difficult because we’re very resourceful. As it pertains to our vendors, it’s actually kind of funny because things just happened to fall into place. If anything was considered difficult it would have been getting our entire entourage (we like that better than wedding party) to comply with their outfits. We gave everyone guidelines for what they could wear with the stipulation that pictures had to be sent before any purchases were made. We believe in expressing individuality and didn’t want everyone to look alike. But at times we had to redirect people so there was continuity. Oh, and the guest list! Absolutely the most difficult part of planning. But I think that’s a general consensus for everyone.
Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?
Set strict expectations and deadlines for the wedding party!! Everything ended up working out, but it’s extremely stressful when your wedding is a month away and not everyone has their entire outfit, accessories, and an idea of the hairstyle they will wear. We allowed too much leeway because we didn’t want to be overbearing bridezillas (we can be too passive at times), however a little more assertiveness would have helped us not to stress out towards the end of planning. At one point we were ready to have the “I love you to death, but you’re this close to not actually being in the wedding” conversation.
Any advice for couples planning weddings now?
Enjoy the journey! Don’t focus and stress so much planning the day of the wedding that you forget to enjoy the person you’re marrying. We still took time to go on dates and we made a point to stay connected because we’d heard the horror stories of people who almost called off the wedding because their significant other drove them crazy during the process. And we probably wouldn’t have changed much other than perhaps magically becoming millionaires to alleviate the financial burden!
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
There were a few highlights, with the most obvious being that the whole day was magical. That may be a cliché, but that’s how it felt. It was a long journey to reach the point where we wanted to make it official and it felt amazing for it to happen. It’s kind of that surreal feeling of “wow, this is real.” Another highlight was our bouquet dedication (instead of a bouquet toss) and our gift back to all our guests. Instead of a more traditional wedding favor, we wrote personal and individualized letters to each of our guests thanking them for not only their presence at our wedding, but also their presence and influence in our lives. It was a very touching moment and many of our guests shed tears. Lastly, Erica’s parents were not present because of their views on same sex relationships, but for us to stand and declare our love and have it legally recognized was freeing. We essentially said our love matters, despite what other people think. Our love is real and we’re not going anywhere.