Winners of a Canadian gay wedding contest enjoy two weddings: an intimate ceremony followed by a marriage with 1.5 million witnesses at Toronto's Pride parade.
Carter: Breken and I met at a party, having each ended relationship the previous year, bonding over how we were swearing off love and relationships—forever! It was really hard because we had this great connection, but we had just spent the night talking about how we were not looking to date. But within a few weeks I broke down and emailed, saying how I much I enjoyed the time we shared. We were both traveling a lot for work; there was a lot of writing back and forth, telling stories and courting one another through the things we shared. When we were finally in New York City, Breken would only agree to meet for coffee, saying ‘we’ll see how things go.’ The reunion was great, coffee turned into drinks and then into dinner. I remember looking across the table at Breken and saying ‘you know I am going to marry you someday.’ Breken literally laughed in my face. Things progressed nicely and it was clear to us both early on that we had found someone unlike anyone we had ever met before. Plus, I had a dog, Belle, who never likes anyone, aside from Breken. It was like she sensed it and knew Breken was THE ONE … she was right.
Breken: Then came a day in May when we were walking down the street and saw a massive wedding cake on Eighth Avenue. It was a promotion by Tourism Toronto, promoting Canada’s marriage equality. They were asking people to write an essay about what marriage equality meant to them and have their photo taken on top of a giant cake that read, “Come to our Wedding in Toronto.” We each knew we wanted to marry the other, but we wanted a very small private wedding on a beach. After some encouragement from our friends, we climbed on top and smiled for the camera.
Carter: From the moment the phone rang nine days later, things moved at warp speed. You cannot imagine the range of emotion you feel when you hear that you have won an all-expenses-paid dream wedding…. with the caveat, that it is taking place in three weeks and there will be 1.5 million people in attendance.
Breken: We still got our intimate wedding on June 30, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, Canada. We committed our lives to one another. It was perfect. We had a gorgeous, intimate ceremony and dinner with the 10 most important people in our lives. We had a traditional ceremony, and we each wrote vows of love and devotion for each other. We entered in to our new life together surrounded by the love and support of those we cherish most.
Carter: The morning after was July 1, 2012, Toronto Pride Parade. You cannot imagine wakening after your wedding and realizing you have another wedding day ahead of you. It’s like, I am not sure I can emotionally do this again. We arrived dressed in our wedding best to a 45-foot float, decked out to our specifications, with a massive banner down the side that read: “The Marriage of Carter and Breken.”
Carter: Nothing could have prepared us for that day; people cheering, couples (gay and straight) holding up their wedding bands, supporting us through their unions, cameras, TV crews, our friends and walking down the aisle again (this time a moving one). The best was the sea of volunteers who walked aside and behind the float, blowing bubbles, cheering, crying and wearing T-shirts that read “Carter & Breken: Long Live Love.”
I thought I didn’t like crowds. But when you feel the support of 1.5 million people, recognizing the love you have for the most amazing person in the world it is a tremendously powerful experience. In that moment there is clarity of what marriage is and why marriage equality is more important than ever. Long Live Love!
Photographer: Jessica Hill, A Brit and a Blonde