From the beginning of the planning stages, Christopher and Kevin designed their event to be a celebration. Central to the wedding day was the momentous legal ruling that allowed equal representation for their 12-year relationship within their home state. However, their accomplishments within those years wouldn’t have been nearly as appreciated without the support from their friends and family.
Enthusiasm for the celebration had been building over the months, not only for the couple but for the guests that were able to attend. Friends and family represented nearly every state along the eastern U.S., starting from the coast of Georgia, ending at the coast of Massachusetts; California being the furthest distance traveled.
The late season snow and sleet from the previous week had given way to glorious sunshine and Carolina blue skies. Upon arrival at the Grand Hall, a renovated 20th-century fabrics mill, guests were greeted with Champagne and signature drinks. The appetizers of butterflied shrimp (stuffed with mozzarella, basil, tomato & garlic), sous vide chicken mousse (with tomato and rose petal confit) upon a crisp, and mushrooms (stuffed with pork belly, brie, baked apples and banana bread crumbs) were served throughout the cocktail hour.
The rustic industrial space was transformed into a royal banquet room. Gold chiffon fabric hung from the exposed timber trusses, then draped down the exposed brick walls, finally resting upon the polished concrete floors. Regency-style crystal chandeliers hung above the kings table, sending their elegant light upon the gold and crystal accessorized table below. Meanwhile, the couple’s crest was created into an accent lighting backdrop.
Tables were accented with purple chiffon while guest chairs were draped with ruby red, silk ribbons that were gently knotted to display their custom embossments of the couple’s crest. Crystal bouquet towers held enchanting spheres of roses, hydrangea, iris, gerbera and snapdragon selections that gently reached toward the romantic flames of candles below.
There was no question that the host couple would be seated at the head of the kings table at the red velvet fabric and gold embossed wood thrones. Their stemware was custom ordered, Russian crystal with varying patterns of ruby red and gold trims. The grooms soon filled these seats of distinction, not before arriving in their galaxy black Maserati sedan, and greeting every guest before the start of the main meal.
The hand selected menu consisted of lobster bisque (with mushrooms & smoked kale), grilled mahi-mahi salad (with ceviche-style bell & banana peppers, tomatoes, celery, parsley, cilantro, goat cheese mixed within citrus vinaigrette) and seared petit filet over red wine demi-glace (with potato puree over grilled asparagus and carrots). In between the courses the guest were entertained by an opera singer.
Toasts completed the formal dining hour. The best men, uncle of Christopher and father of Kevin, not only boasted of their pride for the well-deserving couple but expressing what this journey of a road-less-traveled relationship has personally meant to them. Christopher’s toast expressed the joys of having a companion for life and sadness he feels when they weren’t in proximity to each other. Meanwhile, Kevin compared their story to a creative writing class, progressing from one chapter to the next, supporting each other as the story developed.
The seventh, and most delightful last course of the evening had been prominently displayed as a backdrop behind the couple all evening. The six-tiered lemon wedding cake topped with purple flowers with butter cream frosting which was strategically filled with raspberry puree easily provided extra servings. However, if that wasn’t enough for the guests, gourmet cupcakes (apple pie, red velvet, salted caramel and key lime) were provided as keepsakes upon leaving the event.
FROM CHRISTOPHER + KEVIN:
The Smith-Shumsky story begins 12 years ago on March 7, 2003. As much of a cliché as it will sound, our paths crossed by chance that night, and most likely would have never happened again. That particular evening focused upon the Carole A. Hoefner Center in the First Ward in downtown Charlotte, N.C. A mixed crowd of nearly 500 people converged for yet another Gay Bingo. This charity event was far from your grandmother’s bingo game at the local social hall. Each event had its own theme, reinforced with outrageous costumes, song & dance. With Christopher recently experiencing the end of a previous relationship, and Kevin being as introverted as could be at that time, neither had any intentions of leaving their houses that Friday evening. Christopher forced himself to go by thinking, “Why not?!”…while Kevin was gently kidnapped by his neighbors. Against the odds, we both ended up sitting at the same end of the same table. The rest, is our history.
Fast forward through three businesses, three added educational degrees, two rental properties, two puppies and all the life that happened between. We are surprised that it’s only nearing our 12th year together. Our joke is that it should at least be our 25th! We’ve been fortunate to have been each other’s champion, with great friends, and our family as priceless support along the way. Our accomplishments are proof that life is a journey and that we have truly been blessed. With our private commitment ceremony in Portofino, Italy, nearly 10 years ago, we were patient for marriage equality to be recognized in North Carolina. On October 17, our day of legality finally arrived!
Therefore, with March 7, 2015 marking twelve years to the day of our first meeting, we looked forward to seeing everyone experience a Smith-Shumsky celebration that truly was a royal affair!
EQUALITY-MINDED WEDDING PROS
Photography: B. Mae Photo
Invitations + stationery: Gourmet Invitations
Officiant and wedding planner: Anything But Ordinary
Grooms’ tuxedos: Ted Baker of London
Best men tuxedos: Vera Wang
Custom event decor and rentals: Creative Solutions Special Events
Catering for reception and farewell brunch: The Round Bistro
Wedding cake: Brenda’s Cake Gallery
Flowers, custom embroidery and lighting: Your Custom Catering & Events
Ice sculpture: Artisan Ice Sculptures
Opera singer: Angela Renee Simpson
DJ, lighting and customized logo: Split Second Sound
Hotel guest transportation: Royal Coach
Arrival and getaway car: Royal Limousine