Equally Wed founders’ wedding, reflection on nine years of marriage, PTSD, death, love and motherhood
Nine years ago today, I married my wife. It was a lush garden wedding with greenery and blooms at every turn. We both wore white, she in a dapper suit, me strapless in so many frothy layers, I looked like a pale version of the peonies I carried in my ten-pound bouquet. I surprised Maria with a broom’s cake designed to look like a crab. She’s a Cancer, and I also was making a point that I’d always love her despite her crabby moods. Raspberry and sage were our colors of 2009, though we’d certainly make different decisions now. (And hire a different caterer and spring for a dance floor.) But the decision we made to marry each other has certainly been one of the wisest I’ve been privileged to make.
We’ve been together for 14 years, we have two sons, two dogs, one house, one turtle, four fish. I asked her out on a date in a lesbian bar where we used to dance nearly ‘til dawn. A month later she asked me to be her girlfriend in her alley kitchen of her bachelor-style apartment. Like all long-term couples, we’ve been through a lot. My father died. My brother died. Our dogs have died. My relationship with my mother died. Both of our grandmothers died. My PTSD reared its ugly head when our boys were born, and I didn’t know if we would make it. I didn’t know if I would make it. I struggle mightily with recovery from years of sexual abuse and trauma.
Maria has stayed steadily by my side even when I tried to push her away when my mental illness has jumped up and declared itself unlovable. Our marriage hasn’t been perfect on either side. We’ve hurt each other, and we’ve stepped in when we saw the other one hurting themselves. But we’ve also worked hard at supporting and loving each other beyond the hurt and made space for each other to heal and grow.
But it’s taken a long time to get to this point. To grow up. We started dating when I was 25, her 23. I’m 40 now, her 38. We’re wiser now. We’re more settled now. Our egos have been reined in. We’re still growing, learning how to better love and support each other and ourselves, to challenge ourselves and each other to be the best version of ourselves, and to enjoy all these wondrous gifts that the universe has bestowed on us, and give something back in return. We’re on a journey, and it’s a gorgeous one that I feel safe in.
In the eight years since we have been publishing Equally Wed, I’ve not once thought about doing a Real Wedding post on ourselves. We did a mini-post on our legally recognized wedding in New York when marriage equality was passed there in 2011. Here’s a look back at the day Maria and I got married in Decatur, Georgia, on June 13, 2009.
EQUALITY-MINDED WEDDING VENDORS
Venue: Mary Gay House
Photographer: Our Labor of Love
Florist: Adaptation Florals
Broom’s crab cake: Karen Portaleo, cake artist
DJ: Mike Zarin
Jewelry: Solomon Brothers
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Hotel for guests and afterparty: W–Atlanta Midtown
Kirsten Ott Palladino
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