Although marriage equality hasn’t come to Georgia yet, that hasn’t kept thousands of same-sex couples from walking down the aisle, or the beach, or making plans to spend their lives together.
Here are a few of those stories.
GEE AND JUAN
Juan and Gee Session-Smalls are founders of the Gentlemen’s Ball and also run a blog, LoveWorks, to share with others how they make their marriage work. But how did their success together begin? From Gee:
We are not traditional guys, so it makes sense that nothing about our nuptials was traditional either. No one actually proposed to the other, there wasn’t a huge wedding ceremony, no requisite trip down the aisle, nor was there a gigantic reception with an open bar and long-lost cousin’s line dancing into the wee hours of the night. One day we just kind of, well, decided to tie the knot.
It was nearing the end of summer 2009. We’d been together a little over a year, had been living together for about six months, and were blissfully enjoying life. One morning, having just stepped out of the shower, a dripping wet Juan said to me, “We should get matching ring tattoos.”
“But that’s forever!” I responded.
“Exactly!” he said.
That was that. We eloped to Darien, Conn., two months later.
On Oct. 23, 2009, our love was validated—at least in the eyes of the then nine states where gay marriage was recognized—in a magical beachside ceremony. We found a sweet, kind, grandmotherly Justice of the Peace over the internet that set everything up for us. We flew to New York City on a Thursday, took a train to Connecticut at noon that Friday, she picked us up from the station, took us to the courthouse to complete the paperwork, drove us to the beach for the ceremony and before we could say “I do” we were back on the train headed to NYC for the honeymoon!
Read more about Juan and Gee Session-Smalls at www.juanandgee.com.
KIKI AND RIA
The late chef Ria Pell was traveling in Europe for several months and Kiki Carr went to visit her. Romance was in the air with a stop in Paris. Kiki shares this story:
When Ria booked our tickets for Paris in April (in 2005) I loved the campiness of the idea but had an inkling she might be going to propose, so I somewhat jokingly said, “OK, just don’t propose to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower!” —which seemed like just a hair past camp, into cheesiness zone.
Months later, we were in Paris—I was as sick as a dog, but powering through with cold medicine. One chilly Friday night, she seemed quite anxious that we should leave the small sixth floor apartment we’d rented. I felt awful but knew it was important to her.
We took a cab to the Eiffel Tower and the elevator to the top. It was just as gorgeous as you can imagine—Paris laid out before us in the night, a brocade cityscape studded with twinkling diamonds of light. There were several visiting classes of middle-school students from Spain and Italy, milling about, so we took our time enjoying the scenery.
Finally all the students had cleared out, and we were among the few left. Ria looked pale and nervous, and reached into her pocket to pull out a small box. She held my hand, looked in my eyes, and asked me to marry her!
I hadn’t forgotten my warning, and so in that moment it seemed that she must be joking! Making fun of my warning so many months ago! I started laughing at her!
It quickly became clear to me that she wasn’t joking at all, and I recovered, overwhelmed with emotion and love, and said, “Of course, yes, I will marry you!” But the spell of the moment was broken for a few crucial seconds.
She put the ring on my finger, and we hugged and kissed and cried. However she was truly upset that I’d laughed at her proposal, and would never let me forget it!
Lizzy Watts proposed to Taylor Pierce on Nov. 27, 2011. Both are students at Georgia State University and both are originally from Cumming, Ga. Watts says they are getting married June 12, 2015. “We’ve waited so long because we wanted to make sure we could get at least some legal recognition. Our wedding [will be] Young Harris, Ga., in the mountains.”
This is how Watts proposed:
I’m a amateur videographer, video editor and a huge sci-fi fan. When I proposed to my fiance, I told her we were going to be watching “Star Trek V” for our anniversary. She faked a smile (she hates Star Trek) and we sat down to watch the movie. After the beginning intro, the screen cut out, and a voice said, “We interrupt to give out an important message.” My girlfriend sort of looked at me, but I acted normal. Then the screen cut to a slideshow of us, and at the end it read “Will you marry me?” I pulled out the ring in that moment, and it took my girlfriend a little bit to process what was going on before she smiled brightly and said, “Yes.”
To this day, she gives me a questioning glance whenever I ask her to watch Star Trek with me.
On Thursday, June 12, 2003, Joan wrote:
Joan T. Sherwood
Would you like to go to Toronto for our vacation?
We could get married. http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/depts/legserv_marriage.htm
There are no citizenship requirements. And I hear Toronto is a wonderful place to visit. And they’re probably desperate for tourists now. And I love you with all my heart. 🙂
Joan T. Sherwood
Joan (all smiley)
DREW AND BILL
After 12 years together, Drew Plant and Bill Golden decided it was time to make it official. During an already planned trip to one of their favorite places on earth, Palm Springs, Calif., they decided it was time to get legally married. They hired the perfect photographer, picked out the perfect spot. But there were still a few hiccups.
“The day of the ceremony we showed up [at the place selected for photos]…only to find another gay couple in exactly ‘our spot.’ Our photographer, whose claim to fame is photographing soap stars, was having none of it and offered to ask them to move, but we found a terrific alternative spot, so maybe the move was serendipitous. It provided a good laugh,” Drew says.
Drew also said he noted the irrigation system surrounding where they were to be married. He wondered aloud if they might get drenched during the simple ceremony.
“I was poo-pooed by the rest of the wedding party. Of course, during the middle of the ceremony a distinctive hiss was heard…and the irrigation system indeed came on. Luckily, it was in an adjacent section of the park and not in our immediate area,” he says.
The couple didn’t tell anyone they were getting married but called all their friends after. Drew joked there was no problem reaching their friends on a Friday night. Reaching their elderly mothers was another issue.
“We had a good laugh that we had no trouble reaching our friends on a Friday evening, but neither of us could get our 70-something and 80-something mothers on the phone until the next day.
When we did reach my husband’s mother her first question was, “Did you both wear white?” Since we’re, um, middle-aged, we thought her joke was pretty good.
KORDALE AND KALEB
Kordale and Kaleb achieved global fame in January after an Instagram photo of them combing their daughters’ hair went viral. Together for nearly four years and raising their two daughters and one son, the couple got engaged on Valentine’s Day and plan to marry in June.
Kordale says Kaleb took him to dinner at a restaurant he’d never been to before, the Sundial Restaurant, and he had an inkling a proposal was in the works.
“I kind of knew it was coming, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” he says. Also, because Kordale handles their finances he knew Kaleb wasn’t stashing away money to purchase a ring. But Kaleb proved to be a master at surprise.
“In the end, I didn’t know it was going to happen. He had been saving money and he already had the ring. I started crying,” he says. (The ring is a 2.42 carat black diamond David Yurman, for those who are wondering.)
With a romantic view overlooking Atlanta, Kaleb got down on his knee at the dinner table and asked Kordale to marry him, saying he had never met a man that made him so happy.
“I was happy but so shocked. I’m not one to display affection in public. Kaleb is the one who likes to be affectionate,” Kordale says.
Stunned but thrilled, Kordale said yes.
“He had the managers in on it. They came over and congratulated us. Then everyone in the restaurant stood up and started clapping,” he says.
Kordale and Kaleb continue to post photos of themselves and their family on Instagram and Kordale will have a memoir called “Picture Perfect” coming out in the near future.
SJ AND JENNIFER MCNULTY
Jennifer McNulty shares this story:
On my husband’s birthday, March 27, 2012, he had a long meeting after work and wouldn’t be home until late, so we decided to eat cake and celebrate his birthday at 6:30 in the morning before work. After he opened his presents which I worked so hard to pick out throughout the year leading up to this day, thinking he would be happy, he said, “You know what I really wanted…” and then paused. So many things went through my mind, including, how could I love him this much and not know what he really wanted? After the pause, he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring and said, “All I really wanted was for you to say you would marry me.” Of course I said yes, and that became the coolest birthday present ever. Except was it for him or me?
Liz Diaz was almost literally swept off her feet when Afiya Yabuku recently proposed:
It was a cool evening, a perfect 68 degrees outside when she asked me out for a walk. And as we walked we carried on a sweet conversation about our busy days and how we both look forward to moments such as these. She is my favorite form of decompression after a long and hectic day.
We walked along the sidewalk in a familiar path toward the gazebo that quietly sits atop the gardens across the street from the home we share. She asked if we could sit and chat for a bit. I noticed the flickering light and felt we were walking into someone else’s quiet time, so I tugged at her for us to go back. Something slowly built up around my heart as she gently continued to pull my hand telling me to go on. “It’s ok,” she said.
As we got closer I came to recognize the candles from our “Zen” room. I thought, “Sweet as always” here she was surprising me with another date night. She pressed play on the already cued player and our song began to serenade us. I had to fight back the tears even then but little did I know.
She talked to me about forever, talked about “our” forever. She asked if I ever doubted that she has always known what she wanted. I told her how my only doubts came from recognizing how amazingly rare she is, how I felt humbled by the thought that she would chose plain little ol’ me.
I nearly lost all feeling in my legs as I saw her kneeling down before me. I honestly think I forgot to breathe. She told me she never again wanted me to doubt for one second that I am what she wanted and the one she wants to be with forever. And with those words she simply said, “Will you marry me.”
I did forget to breathe and in that moment I couldn’t make myself remember how. I couldn’t even speak and so, I cried. Quiet tears made their way down my face and in a whisper I finally said, “Yes!” She slipped a ring on my finger, I buried my face in her neck, and for what seemed like forever we held each other tight.
KYLE AND TREVOR
It was almost like a comedy of errors when Kyle Strahl and Trevor Primo kept trying to propose to each other. Eventually, everything worked out, though. Here’s how Kyle describes the events leading up to their marriage on Oct. 20, 2012.
Trevor and I took our first big vacation together in 2009, to New York. The next-to-last day of our trip comes around and we take a walk through the Central Park. Trevor starts saying, “I don’t want to spend my life with anyone but you” and pulls out two tungsten rings that he had bought and puts them on both of our fingers. I was stunned. He actually kept a secret and had done a fairly good job at it. Even though the road was bumpy, we both knew that we had found our soul mate.
Unfortunately, the ring that he bought me was about three sizes too large, and tungsten rings cannot be resized. After months of Trevor working back and forth with the jeweler, they could not find a ring small enough or in materials that we wanted that would fit my finger. Trevor got so aggravated through the drawn-out process that he returned the rings, never found replacements and we never talked about the “proposal” again. It’s as if he took it as a sign.
Years go by and I am still not a married man. I know that if I am ever going to get this man to officially take the plunge that it will fall on my plate to pop the question. So another trip rolls around and we decide to jet off to Paris for a week. Once we booked the trip I knew this was it. I was going to pop the question at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It had been done, yes, but it still felt so right to me. I custom-designed our rings and had a company forge them per my instructions.
But the evening before the trip, these rings still were not in my possession. It was nearly the end of the day and the jeweler finally called me to say that the rings were ready and that I needed to pick them up by 5:30 to have them for my trip. I ended up getting there right before they closed and I got the rings.
But I didn’t make it home until later that evening and Trevor had been there the whole time wondering where I was. I gave him a cover story to keep the surprise, but he was not buying it. Did I mention he is a police detective? We argued for about an hour and I finally broke down and blurted out, “This is why I was so late!!!” And I threw the ring boxes at him. I slumped to bed and we were off to Paris the next morning.
Ruined? Not quite. I justified in my head that I still had the ability to pick the location and delivery for my proposal. The time finally came. We were at the Eiffel Tower. It was just as amazing as I thought it would be. Except for the thousands of tourist residing underneath, beside, upon and atop the thing. When you are being herded through tight quarters with tourists snapping photos and talking amongst themselves, things start to get a little less romantic. So “less romantic” that it is the last place on earth that you would choose to propose to somebody. So we left. Just as Trevor’s plan had been destroyed, I felt as if mine had crashed and burned. I was starting to think that we would never get married.
Then the reality sank in one day, mid-December, 2011. I discovered that these stories we heard of as children into our adult life of ways to romantically ask your partner to be with you forever were merely great stories of circumstance that worked out for other people. I was not entitled to create the perfect proposal scenario and see my vision come to life. I was entitled to be with the man that I loved forever. It didn’t have to be pretty. It didn’t have to be planned. It just needed to be.
So after six years of being together I finally just dove right in and pulled the rings out of my dresser one morning and said, “This is going to be the day.” I asked Trevor to marry me December 25th, Christmas Day, right here in our own home. After all those years and all that planning we decided to be together forever right in the place that made the most sense. We built this home together with our family, friends and the “kids” (pets) and this is where it made sense all along. I look back now and couldn’t imagine it any other way.