By now you’ve hopefully had a chance to get to know our Marriage & Equality Issue cover couple, Thomas Roberts and Patrick Abner, and learned a bit about how they went from long-distance dating to a walk down the aisle. And in the spirit of love, we’re sharing more stories and advice from other gay couples—both pre- and post-wedding. Think of this as our old-school Instinct Couple’s Quiz with a modern-day matrimonial update!
Brian Seibert and Ricardo Valdez met in 2007 when they both were cast in a play. The couple actually got married in 2013 in a small ceremony at their friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. However, they are planning a big wedding in March 2015, in Puerto Vallarta, with all of their friends and family, where they can say their vows officially in front of everyone. And there <will> be a party.
What initially attracted you to each other?
Brian: I thought he was beautiful. There was something about the connection between us. We had an intense personal human connection. Beyond that, I don’t know how to explain it.
Ricardo: He was beautiful. [Laughs] His eyes, his intelligence and his demeanor.
Who proposed and how?
Brian: I proposed to Ricardo many, many times. The first was on Election Day in 2008, when the world seemed different all of a sudden—although it still took three or four years for gay marriage to become legal in New York. He shrugged that off because I was celebratory drunk, even though I meant it. I asked him a number of times after, but he dismissed it.
Ricardo: [Laughs]. At the beginning I was a little…not surprised, but taken aback. Before the whole marriage equality [movement picked up], I never thought I was going to get married to a guy. So when that question came up, I had to rethink that. I <can> get married and have what I always wanted without any judgment or hesitation. It took a while for me to adjust. It was acceptance of myself, with my background and where I was from [in Mexico] and society. It took me a while to process that, so when I came to terms with it, I said yes, I can! Of course I can! I can do this!
What are the plans for the wedding in Mexico?
Brian: Our [first wedding in New York] was to make it legally official and the [second] wedding will make it official in our lives with our family and friends. It would have been great to just fill out paperwork and be official in the government’s eyes. The legal part seemed important to us—to have the basic protections and be bound and not be taxed on health insurance and stupid stuff that straight people are not. We are going to Puerto Vallarta, which was the first place we vacationed together. It became very special because of that.
Ricardo: The more I get into it the more a want a <big> wedding. I want a [non-religious] ceremony witnessed by my friends and family to see the love between Brian and me, and not just because a paper says so. It’s formalized. I want a ceremony that reflects our feelings toward each other and the agreement we’ve had for the last seven years. It’s a celebration of our union. I want a party, and fireworks. I don’t know that we’ll have fireworks, but I want fireworks.
Kenny Pulsifer and Ritchard Wooley met in 2006, when they both were both in the Seattle Gay Men’s Chorus. In different long-term relationships at the time, they soon connected and fell in love, eventually buying a house together. The got engaged in 2013 and plan to be married in 2015.
What attracted you to him?
Ritchard: I think it’s funny. Both of us thought the other belonged to the “cool kid’s club,” and thought we weren’t in it. He’s just handsome.
Kenny: I’ll take that. I’ve been attracted to his personality. He’s always happy. I’ve known him for a long time, but the Ritchie I got to know is happy and full of life. That’s where I was headed so it’s nice to fall in love with someone on the same path.
Who proposed and how?
Ritchard: Kenny proposed to me on New Year’s Eve 2012. It’s funny, we both go to bed really early, like 9 p.m. Kenny really wanted to watch the fireworks from a vacant apartment in one of the buildings I manage. I said, “You know that’s at midnight right?” So I took a nap, and he woke me up around 11:40 and I didn’t want to go, but we walked over to this building and this vacant apartment where we could see the Space Needle and see the fireworks. We pulled two chairs over to the dark window, and when they were done I wanted to go back to bed. But he pulled out a bottle of Martinelli’s and two champagne flutes, and wanted to toast in 2013. And then he started bumbling with words and then I realized what he was doing, and I thought it was really sweet.
Kenny: The part he left out was that one of his thoughts after my proposal was, “We were buying a house this year! We can’t be getting married, we don’t have any money!” That’s why we are having the long engagement and getting married next summer.
What are the plans for the wedding?
Kenny: We’ve been tackling the big question of what to call our court. They are not bridesmaids. The women are groomsmaids, the men are still groomsmen and we both have two best men.
Ritchard: We want something as traditional as we can as far as a venue and a ceremony without it being offensive to our friends for whom spirituality is a challenge. I am big into an indoor ceremony because I want to hear everything. And you don’t have to count on Seattle weather. It’s a celebration of love and life, so it’s more important for us to have people at our celebration who get it. We are in our 40s and we’re not looking for anyone’s validation, so it’s okay if someone can’t wrap their heads around it. We don’t want to be timid about the kiss.
Kenny: We are going to honeymoon in New York City. I’ve never been; Ritchie has. We are going to see musicals, musicals and more musicals! And we want to drive up to Sharon Springs and see the Beekman Boys.
Todd Verow and James Kleinmann met in 2013 at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Their transatlantic romance—Verow’s American, Kleinmann is British—was a whirlwind. They got engaged in 2014 and plan to marry in Brighton, England, in June.
What attracted you to him?
Todd [Laughs] He was really cute and had a nice smile. He was very friendly and nice, and I wanted to get to know him. It’s cliché to say it was love at first sight, but it was definitely strong attraction at first sight.
James: I thought he was a sweet spirit and sparkly, even though he was quite shy. The more we chatted, the more we had in common. He was fun to be with and very cute.
Who proposed and how?
Todd: We casually decided together at dinner one night that maybe we should get married to be together. We kept putting off a proper proposal—waiting for the perfect time and place, and the most dramatic moment to do it. When we were at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton—where we are going to have our wedding—we were in the music room and I got down on one knee and proposed. I’m still waiting for him to propose to me though.
James: He made it romantic. I was a bit more practical. I was appreciative, but it surprised me. I realized I was less romantic than I thought.
Any special plans for the wedding?
James: I’ve got a friend who is an opera singer and a friend who is a violinist. I’m hoping they can perform. We got my sister to do the invites, because she’s a designer.
Todd: We are getting married in a crazy room with dragons on the walls right under where Queen Victoria used to sleep at the Royal Pavilion.
James: No one has been able to be married at the Pavilion before. It’s only just become available. We were the first to actually book it. As well as gay marriage being new here, you can also now get married in the evening, and I like the idea of an evening wedding. Up to now you could only get married from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., which is why we are doing black tie, which is less common here, especially on the beach.
Todd Because the Pavilion is such a fancy place, it will be black tie and we’ll have music, but the reception at Brighton Music Hall is more traditional British seaside, so it will be nice to go from fancy to seaside.
James: We’re having fish and chips!
Where are you going for your honeymoon?
James: We are more concerned with the wedding right now. We won’t have it immediately afterwords.
Todd: We haven’t really figured that out yet. Because we’ve been transatlantic, I don’t want to fly anywhere. We want to go somewhere and relax on a beach with no cell phones, no computers and have a nice quiet time together.