We Got Married

Ron and I got married Labor Day weekend.

I think this is my favorite photo from the entire wedding. Ron’s laughing and smiling, as always. I’m a little uptight, as always. We’re dapper as hell and ready to take on the world.

I think the word I keep coming back to to describe the weekend of our wedding is: unabashed.

Unabashed, open, full, expressions of joy, tears, laughter, devotion, love, friendship, dedication, perseverance, passion, and affection. Without reservation. Without hesitation. Without restraint. Some of the most amazing people we know, all in one room, all at one time. There to celebrate our lives thus far, and toast the kickoff to our lives going forward. It was a completely overwhelming experience in every regard and I am so happy we did it the way we did.

A Very Long Engagement

I can’t really say for sure why we got engaged when we did. We had been together for fourteen years. Why now?

Mostly because our lives seemed relatively stable for a while. No job changes or other interruptions in our major trajectory. Seemed like now was as good a time as any.

I had always told Ron that I would not agree to getting engaged until we had chosen a wedding date. We’d been together for 14 years and for two guys in their 40s who have been living in the same apartment for seven years to suddenly say that they are engaged without any future plan for a wedding just seems like we’re trolling for Facebook likes.

So last December we decided on a wedding date: Labor Day weekend. I figure it would be quieter in the city because of Burning Man and the weather in the city should be fantastic. I also sold Ron on the fact that since it’s a three day holiday weekend there will be circuit parties in the city so we could have the wedding and the reception and then dance off the cake on Sunday night (and be debloated to start the pre-Folsom Street Fair gauntlet).

So we had the date.

We got relatively non-fancy tungsten rings for our engagement rings. We wanted something symbolic of the change in our relationship and our future plans to wed. We’d get something fancier for the ‘real’ wedding rings.

And so while waiting to go to a Christmas holiday party with some friends, we sat next to each other and figured why not go for it. We setup our joint Facebook posts and like an ICBM launch, we turned our keys at the same time. The outpouring of congrats was rewarding and gratifying to see.

Photo on the left from Up Your Alley street fair 2014, photo on the right from when we were first dating in 2001.

Logistics

Originally we had planned to get married at San Francisco’s City Hall under the massive dome. Couples get married there 8 hours a day like clockwork and it is a beautiful backdrop.

We thought: Get married on Friday and then have the reception on Saturday. I don’t know why that made sense at the time but it did. We even went there and did some location scouting.

Location scouting at San Francisco’s City Hal.

But then we thought we can’t just have a bunch of people show up to eat on Saturday and not ‘witness’ anything or they’d feel cheated. So we’d have to have some sort of vows thing there, too. So we’d need to do double vows somehow.

And if we got married on Friday, we should probably do some sort of dinner afterwards. And that could quickly balloon into its own mini-reception.

Common sense prevailed and we collapsed the two: We’d get married on Saturday afternoon, followed by a reception. We thought afternoon because we didn’t want to take over everybody’s entire day (it sounded like an actual strategy at the time). Plus our families are coming from the Midwest timezone so they are two to three hours ahead of us anyway. And if we really wanted City Hall photos we could always do that at a later time. I asked my best friend Karen to officiate and she agreed.

Choosing the venue was where things really started to happen. One of our friends that works for Kimpton properties lobbied strong on the idea of getting married at a hotel because they already have the team in place to execute the reception and you’ll spend less time coordinating or having to hire a dedicated event planner. We won’t be dragging white chairs and tables out into the middle of wine country and risk having things not show up on time. We looked at Sir Francis Drake (a little stodgy), the Mosser (too modern), and Hotel Monaco (just right). We choose Hotel Monaco (since sold to Destination Hotels brand and renamed The Marker) because it had a light French Neoclassical palette and warmer motif that seemed perfect for a summer afternoon wedding. The banquet rooms were beautiful but more suited to a big wedding with a dance floor and didn’t have any windows.

We liked the hotel’s foyer, The Paris Room with it’s high ceilings, warm colors, and glowing fireplace. The ceiling is domed so the acoustics were good and it had a relaxed feel to it. We thought that would be perfect for the ceremony.

The hotel’s Paris Foyer as it appears on normal days.

For the reception we selected the hotel’s guest lounge, The Living Room. Again, very warm colors, light feeling, windows bringing in light from the street.

We finalized the decision to go with Hotel Monaco. We had a date and a location and that helped to vastly reduce the number of options and choices we had to make.

We created a ‘Save the Date’ Facebook event and Google Form as our play to collect everyone’s postal mailing address.

Sunflowers

Our guiding idea for the wedding was to choose a few things and execute them really well. Not get bogged down in adding special flourishes to every single choice or moment. That’s reflected in our theme.

Our visual theme for the wedding was Ron’s favorite flower, sunflowers. I always associate the bright happy energy of sunflowers with Ron’s exuberant smile.

One of my favorite photos of Ron. I sometimes miss his cleanshaven face and love how sexy/mean he looks with his head shaved. Until he smiles. Then he’s a big emoji.

Whenever he’s been gone for several days in a row for work or if I’ve really screwed something up in our house or relationship, sunflowers are my olive branch. Along with Twinkies.

Ron with one of the sunflower bouquets on the big day.

We chose the bright yellow of sunflowers and the complimentary cornflower blue for various parts of the decor and what we were going to wear.

Ties and cufflinks.

We saved quite a bit of time and money by creating our own invitations. I’m not a graphic designer but can dick around with Adobe Fireworks enough to create something elegant and professional looking. And with Ron’s flawless nun-beaten handwriting, the addressing of the envelopes was divine.

Sunflowers and sunflower seeds. Stylish photo of our invitation by our friend Ginevra.

My mom — who really never expresses disapproval for anything verbally — was slightly appalled that we were sending out the invites in May and wanted an RSVP back the end of July . She thought that was way too early. I think this was an etiquette thing for her but she seemed pretty miffed that we were going off non-traditional timing. I tried to make the case that since many are having to plan air travel, we have to get things locked down sooner than if it was a mostly-local wedding.

My Biggest Fears

My biggest fear of the wedding was screwing it up.

Having crazy flopsweat that ruins the photos or makes me sweat through my suit. Having a panic attack that makes me behave strangely or sound like I’m gasping for air, or croaking when I speak.

Taking Xanax because of those fears and then being despondent or appearing drugged in front of everybody. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and embarrassing Ron and everybody pretending that it’s really okay but they are all cringing on the inside.

It was going to be an entire day of everyone paying their attention to us and that freaked me out.

As a theatre nerd and an introvert, I am simultaneously captivated and terrified about being the center of attention.

Marriage License

After much reading and re-reading of what documents we had to have when, we went to City Hall together to apply for our marriage license. Weddings take place there throughout the day. If you ever want to see some of the happiest, most hopeful people in the world, go there.

We made an appointment to get our forms, then stood in line (why the appointment?), then got the forms, then filled out the forms, then got back in line again to wait some more. Lots of couples were in line and were dressed in their Sunday best since they were getting married that same day.

One guy in line looked visibly troubled. He asked Ron if he would help him fill out his form. I don’t think he could read it. He was trying to get proof of divorce and I don’t think he could read the form itself. Ron sat with him and talked him through the form and filled it out for him.

That is why Ron is amazing.

We had the documents we needed for our big day.

Work Reception

A few weeks before the wedding Ron told me to keep a specific Monday evening open. I said okay. As the day got closer I noticed that there appeared a long meeting on my work calendar: “Keynote and PR Discussion” or something like that.

Then the day before, Ron’s all, “You should wear this shirt tomorrow. Here, I’ll iron it. This one.”
Hmm… I got a little suspicious. So the next day the entire office — except for my team — disappeared at 3pm. I knew something was about to go down. We walked down to the bar District and I walked in and the entire company was there and they were having an impromptu wedding party for us. It was overwhelming.

In other parts of the country I wouldn’t even be able to put a photo of Ron and I on my desk and here the entire office had assembled to congratulate us. Ron was in the back corner to watch the surprise happen and then he came forward as hors d’oeuvres and champagne started to flow.

Card signed by all my coworkers.

My boss Keith, gave a toast that cause us both to start to get misty.

My boss in mid-toast, me trying not to tear up.
Me, my boss Keith, and Ron.

This is my third company with him and I adore him and his family and he adores Ron and I. He is the reason we were able to get out of What Happened in Charlotte when I disastrously de-railed our lives for six months. He helped me get the job that landed us back in San Francisco. That’s why we refer to him as the Gay Harriet Tubman.

Of course, everyone was enamored with Ron because he is charming and effervescent and amazing and can tell stories for hours. That’s the best part about having an extrovert for a partner. I can just stand next to him smiling, glassy-eyed in adoration while he enthralls the crowd. I call that doing “The Nancy Reagan.”

Day Before

The day before was a fair amount of running around but nobody in a panic. Ron fetched the boutonnieres and corsages for the family members to wear. Family was in town so trying to get everybody happy and fed and chitchatting as needed.

Ron picking up the corsages, boutonnieres and bouquets.

We had corsages — and bouquets just in case.

We had a family dinner that night at the restaurant inside the hotel, the just-opened BDK. The food was great but it was a very, very noisy place to try and have a dinner where you want to talk to each other.

The Big Day

That Saturday morning, I posted:

Trying not to get nervous! I can’t believe today is finally here. It’s an amazing intersection of family and friends, history and biography. It has been overwhelming to know that so many friends and family all over the world have always kept Ron and I in their thoughts and prayers and hoped and anticipated and celebrated our success and happiness over the last 14 years and today is no different. Coming out at 25, I never thought I could want this or have this or be this and I am so happy that so many are so happy. Okay I’m crying again and we haven’t even had breakfast yet. Onwards/upwards! ❤

Champagne Reception

We didn’t want to have everyone show up and just sit around waiting for the ceremony, so we had hors d’oeuvres and champagne while all the guests arrived that afternoon. Everyone was down there, but Ron and I.

The menu for the champagne reception:

  • Deviled eggs with truffle oil and black trumpet mushrooms
  • Thai coconut red curry popcorn
  • Dungeness crab beignets with pepper jelly

The seating on the other half of the room was also set up with a program on each seat and a package of tissues.

I’m from a family of cryers. Ron, not so much.

Meanwhile, Ron and I were upstairs.

We had had breakfast with our families and mostly spent the morning fidgeting and being nervous.

Every half hour or so one of us would say Oh my God! We’re getting married! This day we had planned for months was finally here.

We changed into our first ensemble of the weekend. We had matching dress suits in a bright blue, between a true blue and a navy. The fabric had a little bit of a sheen to it. We had different ties, Ron’s was the sunflower yellow and mine was the cornflower blue.

The photographer came up and took some photos of us getting ready.

Putting boutonnieres on our friends Sam and Eddie.

I was texting people downstairs to see how it was going. So far so good. I texted Karen the officiant and she said that she was ready.

Prepare for battle!

Ron and I stood quietly in the elevator holding hands, smiling like crazy people. This was going to be one of the most meaningful days of our lives.

The Ceremony

We came down the elevator and into the lobby. I could peek behind the privacy screens they had set up and saw familiar faces. Our family came back behind the screen. Mom exclaimed, “You look great!” I totally forgot that no one had seen us in our suits yet.

Paul started playing our first song. Paul was a coworker from a previous company who is also an amazing pianist. I remember the day I asked if he could be our accompanist and he said he would play for our wedding and it would be his gift to us, we both started crying. Having my best friend Brigitte singing at the wedding was always a must-have.

While planning the ceremony, I had only really one thing that I would not budge on at all and that was that I got to choose at least one song. And that it was going to be ‘Falling,’ the lesser-known vocal track set to the very popular main theme from the TV show Twin Peaks with lyrics by director David Lynch and music by Angelo Badalamenti. We had the piano rented for the whole day so before the rehearsal, I was seeing how well I can still read sheet music:

We clipped the first lyric since it’s a bit gothic, but the rest of the song captures exactly how I feel with Ron — especially when we first met. My friend Stevo said that this song from this TV show being in my wedding is “the single most Andy-Wibbels-thing that will ever happen.” The original single by vocalist Julee Cruise is much slower, breathy, and ethereal where our accompanist Paul brought the tempo up so it was less deliberate.

Then I saw your face
Then I saw your smile

I remember when Ron first walked into Caribou Coffee on Aldine and Broadway in Chicago in August of 2001. He was stunning, beautiful, sexy as hell, with an entrancing smile. Everything else around me was the same, but something else changed.

The sky is still blue
The clouds come and go
Yet something was different
Are we falling in love?

Brigitte was singing the song in a crystal-clear bright alto that was just amazing. We were back behind the partitions ready for the second verse and the procession began.

Then your kiss so soft

My sister and brother-in-law walked down the aisle and took their seats down front.

Then your touch so warm

Mom and dad made their way down the aisle.

Mom and dad, and my sister and brother-in-law coming down the aisle.

My heart was pounding. My eyes started to mist up. This was all actually happening.

The stars still shine bright
The mountains still high

Our friend Sam and Ron’s great aunt Flori that took care of him when he was little made their way down the aisle.

Sam & Ron’s aunt Flori and Eddie & Ron’s mom, both in traditional Filipino style called María Clara, woven from pineapple fibers and silk.

But something is different
Are we falling in love?

Our friend Eddie and Ron’s mom came down the aisle.

Falling, falling, are we falling in love?

It’s just Ron and I back behind the partition. I am overwhelmed. We are looking at each other.

Falling, falling, are we falling in love?

Everyone stands and faces us. I appear in the entryway and extend my hand to Ron. He takes it and we walk down the aisle.

I can’t believe this is actually happening. It feels like I’m floating. I’m crying again just thinking about it. I feel like we are walking too fast so I grip his hand and actually slow us down as we walk. I want to be sure we remember this.

Brigitte is killing the song, Paul is wonderful on the piano. We are standing in front of Karen, ready to get married!

Karen formally welcomes everyone and tells an anecdote about when she first met me in college and then when Ron came into the picture and eventually when we went to visit her and her husband in San Diego and we got to hold their newborn baby Alex and she knew that Ron and I were part of this family.

I am already crying. I hoped I would remember my vows.

The Vows

We both had very short vows. The whole ceremony was very short. We both grew up in Catholic families and my mom’s side would have these epic multi-hour weddings and resplendent receptions and Filipino weddings are usually even more elaborate, multi-day affairs. Ours was going to be brief and to the point. I had joked that basically we’re eating and drinking for five hours with a brief break in the middle to get married.

We’d perused through dozens of sites about creating your vows and how they are supposed to go and what you are supposed to say. Usually it’s expressions of devotion, then promises, then you do the big question. We both wanted to have vows that were distinctly ours. Vows that were completely suited to us as individuals and as a couple and referencing our history together.

I wanted to capture how we met, convey that it isn’t all champagne and circuit parties, and that we hold on to each other to get through the worst and to celebrate the best. And everyone in the room knows all the things that we survived and celebrated so they understand the depth of what I’m saying. Many in the room had been part of endless chats or text threads or phone calls coaching us through life’s awfulnesses.

Karen finished her intro and turned to me, prompting: “Andy?”

That’s when I looked in Ron’s eyes and he was already starting to well up with tears and I thought oh crap here we go. I took a deep breath and hoped I could remember what I wanted to say. I tried to speak loudly enough that everyone could hear me but try and keep it intimate so I was speaking directly to Ron. I started in:

Ron,
You have captivated me from the first second you walked into my life.
We have been to hell and back — a couple times.
And whether we are huddled together on the floor of a cold empty apartment —

I started to get choked up thinking about those times and how we clung to each other for survival. The mental image I’ve always had for that in my head is we are in the middle of the ocean at night huddled on an outcropping of rock thrust out of the water with our heads down clinging to each other waiting for a violent storm to pass.

I heard lots of plastic packaging being ripped open as everyone opened their tissues.

— or dancing together as the sun sets in the desert, I am so happy I found you in this world and I can’t imagine a day on this earth without you.
Do you take me as your husband?

And he said:

I do.

And I took the ring out of my coat pocket, took his hand, and put the ring on his finger. Lots of sniffling in the audience.

Karen turned to Ron and prompted him, “Ron?”

Ron said:

There’s nothing I can say or do to prove how much I love you.
Through all the successes and failures, happiness and sadness, laughter and tears, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be with during these times. Allowing me to be who I am, accepting my flaws with no conditions, loving me for being me.
In return, I will love and honor you, respect and trust you… put you above all else. My life with you is like a beautiful dance, it’s ours to shape, it’s ours to make it however we want it to be…
So I ask you: Will you dance with me now?
Will you dance with me forever?

This was where we wanted to do something a little bit different than just saying, “I do.”

Initially Ron wanted it to be a surprise to everyone, including me, but I told him that he’s got an officiant, a pianist, a singer, and me all trying to do the right thing and he needs to tell us what he wants to have happen so we can make sure it happens. And if I did the wrong thing, I know that I’d feel terrible about screwing up our wedding forever.

So instead of saying “I do,” Ron reached out his hand to me, I took his hand, and we pulled in close to dance. Our first dance was going to be my answer to his vows.

The song Ron chose was “When You Tell Me That You Love Me,” made famous by Diana Ross. I have to admit I rolled my eyes when he first suggested a Diana Ross song. I’d already told him we couldn’t have any Lloyd Webber since I have so many theatre friends there and that’s like Wedding Music for Basics. That and Pachebel’s Canon in D. It was a great choice. Here we are singing it outside Castro theatre a few months before while we waited for a movie. I remember the first time I listened to it, we were driving to Guerneville I think, and I started crying in the car.

It’s not as well-known or obvious as her other hits, but it is a gentle, sweet ballad about how being loved transforms your life. Brigitte built the verses carefully as Paul played the piano and we danced. The crying in the crowd intensified. I leaned my head on to Ron’s and we danced.

I remember when Ron said that we’d have a first dance (but not have an actual dancing/DJ’ed wedding), I had worried about this whole thing because I’m thinking: Everyone is going to sit there and watch us dance for three minutes? That’s crazy.

But it was actually perfect.

I want to call the stars
Down from the sky
I want to live a day
That never dies
I want to change the world
Only for you
All the impossible
I want to do

It felt like we were floating.

I want to hold you close under the rain
I want to kiss your smile and feel the pain
I know what’s beautiful looking at you
In a world of lies you are the truth

The only thing we had planned in this whole dance was some sort of twirl. So as Brigitte launched into the chorus, I extended Ron out in a flourish. That was a welcome release of the dramatic tension as the attendees laughed and then started cheering.

Ron spun back into me and Brigitte went into the chorus:

And baby every time you touch me I become a hero
I’ll make you safe no matter where you are
And bring you everything you ask for nothing is above me
I’m shining like a candle in the dark
When you tell me that you love me

Brigitte built up to the bridge and the final soaring chorus.

In a world without you, I would always hunger
All I need is your love to make me stronger

And baby every time you touch me I become a hero
I’ll make you safe no matter where you are
And bring you everything you ask for nothing is above me
I’m shining like a candle in the dark
When you tell me that you love me

As the song ended, we came back face to face. Ron extended his hand, I gave him mine, he took out the ring, and put it on my finger. We held hands, facing each other as the song ended.

When you tell me that you love me

We were both ruddy and more than a little teary.

Karen came back in front of us and said: “By the virtue of the power invested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you husbands. Let’s seal it with a kiss!”

Now, I didn’t know if Ron wanted to do a sweet chaste kiss or just go for the gold. We embraced and kissed, my hand on his back pulling him to me, his hand to my face. We kissed more passionately and I heard some laughter but didn’t really know why until later.

Turns out when I pulled Ron closer to increase the heat of our kiss, I had put my hand on his butt to pull our hips closer together. That’s kinda our default passionate kissing pose so it was really just instinct kicking in.

Everyone cheered and yelled and cameras flashed. The outro music began, the Diana Ross song played as a triumphant instrumental, and we walked back down the aisle. Karen did a quick announcement that we’d like to have everyone in attendance on the grand staircase in the lobby for a photo. Ron and I stood in the back of the room as everyone hugged and kissed and congratulated us. Video of the dance:

We assembled all the attendees on the grand staircase and the photographer took several photos. I hoped I was smiling correctly and sufficiently. I was beaming on the inside of course. After the group photo, everyone moved to the reception room while we stayed back to do several different shots with family and friends. After that, the rest of the family and friends moved to the reception for dinner and Ron and I ran upstairs.

Hard part’s over! Back up to our room to change for the reception.

The Reception

I wasn’t sold on having completely separate outfits between the ceremony and the reception. Mostly because we were down to the wire the week before and still hadn’t found vests that Ron liked.

Finally one day we went to Macy’s, I think, and had to choose between light vests or dark ones. I’m glad we went with the light ones, very summery for a September afternoon. We changed and came back downstairs, as we entered the reception, the crowd burst into applause.

I was immediately mortified that nobody was eating and I was almost sure we’d told the banquets people to let everyone start eating without us. I always hate weddings where the wedding party shows up late so the guests are starving by the time the newlyweds arrive.

Of course, no one knows that or knew that it was wrong, and they quickly started getting people queued up for the food which was stationed in the alcove corner of the room.

Having food ‘in stations’ is fancy city-talk for buffet.

Elegant, minimal simplicity.

Servers were offering wine and drinks to everyone and we had an open bar as well. Ron and I made it to the ‘family table’ and sat down, mostly relieved and ready to relax and visit with everybody.

My sister had a gin gimlet ready for Ron at his seat and a vodka tonic at my seat. While the first of the four big tables got up to get food, I tried to visit with as many people as I could.

The Food

The food was absolutely fantastic. Ron and I had come in three weeks before to BDK, the restaurant in the hotel whose kitchen also handles the hotel’s catering, to sample the different food options. It was all delicious. Here’s the menu for posterity’s sake:

  • Oven roasted beet salad with faro, radish, watercress, goat cheese
  • Asparagus & pea shoots with mint, crisp croutons, ricotta and meyer lemon vinaigrette
  • Arugula salad with goat cheese, pickled red onion and walnut salsa
  • Risotto with green garlic pesto, peas, wild mushrooms and asparagus
  • Chianti braised short ribs, mashed potatoes, baby vegetables & crisp onion
  • Grilled white fish with tabbouleh, pine nuts, black olive puree and orange oil

Glowing

One friend remarked that I was completely glowing. I tried to really just focus on being present and with every single person I talked to that day. Try and keep centered in my mind and my attention fully on whom I was talking to. I will never have all these amazing people in the same room at the same time ever again. I should accept all this love and really hear and appreciate all of this goodwill as much as I can.

Ron and I promised each other we wouldn’t do that annoying bullshit where when people cling their glasses with a utensil you have to run to your new spouse to kiss. Though someone started one of those. We did it once and then I reminded folks, “This isn’t a straight wedding!”

Dinner was underway. Everyone was having a fantastic time. The afternoon sunlight came in through the windows from the street.

Circuit boy seating. Well, Norman and Michael on the left have four sons now, so they’re on sabbatical.
Pinoy brigade.

Eventually it was time for toasts.

Toasts

The toasts brought out more tears and love. My two best friends Karen and Brigitte gave folks a little background on my dad’s plans for my future spouse:

Brigitte: Between us, Dan Wibbels — Andy’s dad — thought that one of us would be the future Mrs. Andy Wibbels.
Ron: I win!
My best friends Karen and Brigitte reveal my dad’s plans for my future wife.
Karen: Because it’s still a contest. But soon after meeting Ron I realized that the only way I could marry Andy was if he would let me officiate at his wedding.
Brigitte: And I always knew I would never be the man that Andy wanted. We were all roommates in Chicago and you are privy to private moments when you see the best and worst of each other and I can always remember a little nugget of time when Andy was starting to question his sexuality and would he choose Karen or Brigitte. Because it’s still a contest. We would always hub-bub, “I just don’t understand why he doesn’t find someone amazing!” And then we met Ron and Andy became truthful to himself and opened himself up to a beautiful human being. And we as family — because we are a family — we are so grateful that Andy found his partner in life. And we’re okay conceding with Ron.
Andy: And the tiara.
Brigitte: We do leave you with this parting moment — for both of you.

They then serenaded us with the song ‘I Know Him So Well’ from the musical Chess.

My sister told everyone the three reasons that is as a great little brother which would be why I’ll be an amazing husband.

My sister and I, yesterday and on the big day.
I am Andy’s big sister and now Ron’s big sister as well. So I’m going to tell a little story about Andy that exemplifies the three treats he has that make him the perfect partner. It’s a good story, I promise.
When we were little, I was the big sister so mom and dad would leave us home alone and occasionally I would lock him out of the house. Let me just say there were two doors into and out of the house and one of the doors was always open. He would be at the front door and it would be locked an I would say, “But the back door is open!” So we would run around to the back and I would lock that door becasue it was faster to run through the house. And he would say, “Let me in the house!” and I would say, “Well, the front door is open.” So we did this for years — I inflicted this upon him and this sort of exemplifies three things because he never told our parents.
It took 22 years until we told mom and dad. So after 22 years we mentioned it to mom and dad who were mortified that I would do this to him but he was my little brother! You’re gonna pick on your little brother, right? So this exemplifies three things that make Andy a perfect partner to you Ron.
One, he can keep a secret. He can keep a secret for at least 22 years. So you know you’re good. You got 22 years after that no promises.
The second is, he’s loyal. Because I told him if he told mom and dad that they would force me to be adopted by someone else. It’s a Catholic family, a lot of guilt traditions.
And third, he doesn’t hold a grudge because he still loved me even though I occasionally locked him out of the house.
So those three traits will serve you both well. And I want to thank Ron for making my brother smile. For making him happy and for giving him a home. We love you guys.

Our friend Sam, told us of an old Greek proverb that he felt was reflected our lives:

Sam gives a toast and leaves us in stitches.
You have made the biggest skeptic in love, a believer.
In Greek mythology they say, human beings were created with two heads, four arms, four legs, and one heart. But since they disobeyed the gods, the gods cut them in half and they had to look for their other half for the rest of their lives. And I believe that you are part of all this.
Watching you guys plan out your life together, you make every thing just wonderful. I love you guys. I’m so proud of you.

Our friend Eddie, spoke of his admiration for our devotion and our contribution to his own life:

Eddie’s heartfelt toast.
My closest, sweetest, most kindest, generous friends that I’ve ever met. I’ve only known him for two years but it feels like a lifetime. They’ve been there with me through thick and thin. Happy, sad, everything.
Today I am so proud to be there with them to celebrate this day and see them be husband and husband. I just wish them pure happiness, joy, love, and — just a lot of love throughout their lifetime.
They are the model of what I want in life. Respect. Love. Someday I’ll find it. Someday.

I knew I was going to lose it when it was Ron’s mom’s turn to talk. She’s the classic steely Filipina immigrant mom who has done everything for her kids and crawled through hell so her children can have opportunities on this side of the world. She simply started walking up to us and I couldn’t hold back the tears. She has done so much for them and she loves Ron so very much.

Ron hugs his mom as she gives a toast.
Ronald is always the best son. I have three of them! He always takes care of me. And everywhere he goes. He finds a way to buy a present for me every time.
And I love him so much. And he’s so far away.
And thanks to Andy for taking care of each other.

More sniffles in the crowd.

My dad gave a fantastic toast that referenced the Kim Davis madness in Kentucky and also re-iterated the relationship advice he had given me when I first came out at 25:

I will have each and every one of you know that this message has been pre-approved. I had to audition. “You can’t tell that story! You can tell this story. Nah, don’t tell that story.
I will tell you that Andy’s big adventure. Andy is probably the most unique child I’ve worked with. I’ve been a teacher for thirty-four fun-filled years as an educator. But he was different. He saw — he could catch the wind and touch the stars. He could write. He could act. He could play. He didn’t play a great deal of athletics mainly because of his different allergies.
What he had was the kernel of love and compassion and he had this background of his grandfather was German, grandmother was French… and I will stop that story. I have my ADHD.
Mom and dad give their toast.
And I will share with you that my wife and I, Diane, who is the most important person in my life, have just celebrated our 48th anniversary.
Andy was incredible. Moved with his colleagues to Chicago. And I remember he’d call up and say, “Dad, this is really crazy. Every Sunday, Brigitte and Karen and us get together and we go out and go coat shopping. We’re trying to find coats that don’t make us look fat.” I’m thinking that’s just part of growing up and finding who you really are.
He came home once and said, “You know, I think I’m going to date men.” I said, “Okay.” And I said, “You know, if you have in this life a chance to find somebody that makes you happy inside, that you can love, and you can share things with, and help you get through the hard times, and celebrate the good things, you’ve really found somebody to love.” And I said, “Grab them and hold tight because this ride of life is over so quickly, and he was lucky enough to find another dreamer and stargazer with Ron. And they fit like a glove. They are an amazing couple. Talented, dancers, artists, and we’d really like to get them home in Middle America and traumatize Ron with all the things the Midwest has that San Francisco doesn’t have.
And I’m so happy for Ron and Andy and the members of the community here this is a wonderful time in your life to celebrate your uniqueness and who you are rather than what you can’t be.
I mean, we’re coming from Kentucky, where the big thing down there we’re having issues with is issuing marriage licenses, but that’s going to come to an end quite quickly. Because the marijuana crop is being harvested and that’ll take the pressure off the gay marriage.
But congratulations to you both. I love you. We treasure you. We treasure you when you get home. And Karen, Brigitte we follow you on Facebook and we get so excited with your ups and your downs. And that’s part of this — well you know you’re all a family. Just a wonderful family. And to celebrate all the people that have come here and traveled for you is quite remarkable. Congratulations on your nuptials and hear, hear!

I was really happy all of our San Francisco friends got to spend time with my family. Everyone adores my parents and thinks my sister and brother-in-law are hysterically funny. Which they are.

Oh good the toasts were done.

“Your turn!” Ron pointed to me. I drew a deep breath:

I am overwhelmed at everybody that’s here today. Thank you much for spending your day with us — and your life with us. We are very fortunate to have you all of you in our lives. Thank you so much.

Ron’s turn:

Ron and I give our toasts as well.
There’s no words that I can say. We came to San Francisco knowing no one here. We didn’t know anybody. We had no idea what kind of life we were going to have here. And for you guys to be here and to share in this special day… there’s no words I can say. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I wish I could share with you or I could at least make you feel what I’m feeling today. One day you probably will and I hope I’m there. Thank you so much.

Cutting the Cake

When we settled on the sunflower theme for the wedding we knew we wanted that reflected in the cake as well.

Our coordinator suggested having a cutting cake and then individual cakes for each guest. Not a cupcake but an actual individual cake. We loved the idea. We dropped the fondant option because even though it looks amazing everybody ends up eating around it anyway. With sunflower embellishments and yellow and blue to match our palette.

We had also decided not to do the thing where you smash the cake into your spouses face. I always find that kinda déclassé.

So we cut the cake together and then Ron did a little boop of frosting on my nose and I on his and that was it. That satisfied our requirements for the cake cutting.

The cake was fantastic with a seasonal berry filling and the buttercream frosting was light as air.

We were done with all the formal parts of the reception and so just spent the rest of the time visiting and trying to talk to as many people and taking lots of photos with them.

Parting Gifts

For the ‘party favor’ side of things we had individual boxes of macarons for each guest.

They were a special recipe with colors to match our blue and yellow theme. They were baked by one of Ron’s friends whom he hasn’t seen since elementary school in the Philippines. She’s a registered nurse in San Diego and baking is her hobby. When she heard he was getting married, she wanted to be a part of the celebration. They were amazing.

Our photographer took us into the alley where the setting sun was hitting at just the right angle. We took some more photos, said some more farewells and went upstairs to change for the second reception. We left the first reception and ran upstairs to change but decided to keep our vests and ties on. Jumped in a car and headed over to Lookout and got to make a grand entrance.

The Second Reception at Lookout

We had kept the guest list for the ceremony and reception trimmed to 48 but still wanted to have sort of additional extravaganza for our local friends. We choose Lookout’s private lounge since it’s centrally located on Market and is big enough to hold 50–60 people. Plus, we joked that people could talk shit about us: “Those queens just had to have two receptions!”

Plus, they have a kitchen so we could have some food onsite along with the cake.

For this second cake, we went to our favorite cake joint, Sweet Inspirations. Ron and I argued about having a tiered cake or just a flat sheet cake. He didn’t want the cake to look plain and my point of view is why would you have a tiered cake at a bar? The owner of the bakery helped us through it and let Ron choose the flavor, and I chose the format. The cake was their signature Rachel’s Cake, named after one of the baker’s daughters favorite birthday cake flavors. The cake read:

Congratulations Ron and Andy! (Party’s Over)

We showed up a little late of course so we could make a grand entrance. We stayed in our vests and corsages.

Grand entrance and giving a toast.

Ron had a bouquet with him as he came up. At one point we gave a toast. I said:

Thank you everyone for coming tonight. This toast isn’t about Ron and I. It’s about you. We are both overwhelmed that so many are so happy that we are so happy.

Ron threw the bouquet. He didn’t really toss it. I think he was tired of carrying it. He hurled it at our friends David and Charles who were due to get married just a couple weeks later.

We had about fifty to sixty people show up over the course of the night. About halfway through, our families were getting tired — they are used to a different timezone so they were completely exhausted. We put them in Uber and Lyft cars to get back to the hotel for some rest.

Dancing at BeatBox

Third reception!

Out on the town with our CEO and some co-workers.

My CEO and his wife came along to the second reception at Lookout with two coworkers and we decided to join us at BeatBox since Fabio Campos and Russ Rich were spinning. One of my best friends from college and his girlfriend were also coming with us. I warned everybody: “Okay this is going to be super gay. Not like ‘Just Jack’ friendly-cutesy best-friends gay but like pounding bass, shirtless guys, crazy party gay, gogos in jockstraps.” They were game so we jumped in cars and made our way to the club.

We thought about changing out of our shirt, vests, and ties and dancing shirtless but it was kinda fun to stay dressed up. When you see two guys dancing together in matching formal wear at a gay bar you can pretty much guess what they are celebrating. Lots of friends and strangers congratulated us on the wedding. I figure this is one of the few nights in your life where you truly have the right to get all the attention and tidings you can so might as well live it up. After a half hour, my CEO confessed, okay they had to go to a different club, none of the girls are getting any attention, so they went on to Butter down the street I think. Ron and I stayed until about 2:30 and then came on back to the hotel and went to bed.

Crepevine on Sunday Morning

We slept for several hours but knew our families would be up early and ready for brunch so we took them to our go-to weekend breakfast place, Crepevine. I will always be a fan of an uncomplicated eggs and bacon and toast breakfast, they also have amazing pancakes and crepes. The owner knows we’re regulars and congratulated us as we left.

Exhausted, but happy.

Time for a nap. We decided we would all meet up later to say goodbye since everybody had to fly out early the next morning, and Ron and I had a few more social engagements to hit that night. We checked out of the hotel and came back home.

Back Home, Sobbing and Sleeping

We came home and took a nap — well Ron did. I laid next to him just watching him sleep with tears streaming down my face. I think from release and relief. But because we had cemented even further our commitment that we are going to be together until one of us dies. Because that’s usually how it happens unless we die together in some awful occurrence. I know that’s gallows to think about.

No matter how much we fight or bicker, if we go out for the night we try to keep our conflicts behind the scenes and usually try to hold hands while we’re on the train or in a cab or car — no matter how pissed off we are at each other.

While I laid there next to Ron, tears were welling up when I thought that some day I’ll reach for his hand and it won’t be there. He’ll be gone. Or I’ll be gone and he’ll be going somewhere and he won’t have me to hold his hand or take care of him. That’s what makes me cry. That we have pledged and promised to be there for all the victories and all the defeats. And that one day we won’t be able to help the other. But until then, it’s the reassurance that we are armed and ready, locked and loaded, to defend each other from this cruel awful world.

Glad he didn’t wake up while I was silently sobbing next to him. He thought he would have married a psycho.

After the nap we met up with the family one last time to sit and chat and reflect and visit. We took some more photos. Here’s one where Ron is busy on his phone while my sister takes a photo:

Then realizes we’re doing a photo and smiles:

And then we both laugh.

We took a few more photos and said our goodbyes. We weren’t done.

Sunsation Sundays and Pulse at Oasis

Fourth reception?

Photo by Marques Daniels at Pulse event at Oasis SF.

Our good friends Ky, Juan, Mohammed, and Johnathan produce events in the city like House Party at Powerhouse and the rooftop/tea dance Sunsation Sundays at Oasis. They were debuting a new event that night for the holiday weekend: Pulse. The first part of the evening was their Sunsation Sundays with a post-brunch vibe and energetic house music that gradually became more driving as they did the change over to Pulse. To celebrate our nuptials, they reserved the VIP area especialy for us with champagne service. We toasted some more, surrounded by new friends and old and spent the evening dancing.

One of my favorite moments was SF super-diva Suzan Revah waving people out of the way with a massive fan escorting us from the VIP area to our spot down front on the dance floor as DJ Dan De Leon executed another high-energy fantastic mix. So much fun to get the superstar treatment.

Sanctuary at 1015 Folsom

Fifth reception?

And it’s a holiday weekend so that means local circuit party producer mainstay Gus Presents is producing another Sanctuary event at the massive dance temple, 1015 Folsom. Ron and I came home from Oasis for a bit and showered and changed and then made our way to the club. Morabito and Phil B were spinning.

It was just us, no friends or hangers-on. It was nice for it to be just us for the evening dancing the night away in each other’s arms and of course it was exhilarating having more friends and strangers congratulate us on our wedding. We danced until about 4:30 and came home and collapsed.

Labor Day

Cover of our thank you cards.

I can’t even remember what we did on Labor Day. I think we slept most of the day, exhausted.

We ordered our thank you notes the next couple days and got those out the door as well.

Honeymoon

Everyone was asking us where we planned to go for a honeymoon. After spending that much time planning just one day of our lives, I can’t imagine trying to coordinate and leaving for a multiple week vacation immediately after that. We’re going to go Palawan, Philippines in March. This will give me a chance to put my Tagalog classes to good use.

In lieu of a wedding registry (we really don’t need more stuff in the house), we set up a honeymoon fund on Zola. It’s still open if you’d like to contribute.

Exemplary Living

We have many friends tell us that Ron and I are one of their model couples for how they picture a successful long-term gay relationship. We’ve had people introduce us as “The two nicest guys in San Francisco.” Or catching up privately with distant friends who say, “It’s good to see you aren’t just ‘Facebook-happy.’” We always try to come from a place of sincerity and honesty.

Obligatory beefcake photo (from Folsom Street Fair 2015).

I always try to convey that it’s not all jocularity and jockstraps. We argue and bicker. Maybe have real arguments occasionally. Have silent treatments (I get so much done!). But more often than not, one or both of us is being a pig-headed asshole and we need to calm our shit and relax.

I try to disabuse people of any Disney-soaked fantasies of meeting someone who completes you or meets all your needs or is the perfect partner or the perfect person. Ron and I also have similar values in some key areas — in other ways we are complete opposites.

It is hard work. But it should have a sense of ease. I remember when we first met I was freaked out about that sense of ease. It felt like there should be more obvious effort. I think some people confuse the friction of conflict for the throes of passion.

Ron and I met when we were 27 and we have been very lucky that we’ve generally grown up at the same pace and in the same direction over the last 14 years. We have gone through some terrible times caused by external forces as well as internal decisions and sometimes due to just random shitty misfortune.

But we always try to find a way to laugh. That was actually the whole point of my ‘turning 40’ essay last April.

Not to laugh away problems, but to laugh at the world. This world that can be such an unrelenting piece of shit that if you can’t stand outside your own pain and howl with laughter you won’t hold on to your sanity for very long. And sometimes you do lose your mind.

Marriage Matters

People ask me what’s changed or if I feel different since we got married? The main practical change is I have to remember to introduce Ron as ‘my husband’ and not as my boyfriend (which I would rarely do since we’re so many years in) or partner (never ‘lover’ which I always found kinda gross and 1970s).

And at least once a week one of us says: “Oh my God, we’re married. That means we’re together forever. I’m stuck with you! That’s insane!”

But marriage matters. It isn’t for everyone and there are still walls to break down for queer people in the US and all over the world. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include other marginalized groups in that future ideal as well.

I am lucky that I can put a photo of Ron and I on my desk and don’t have to worry that an executive is going to call me a faggot to my face or make faith-based remarks about what a terrible person I am. I am lucky that my family accepted their gay son. I am lucky that neither of us has fallen into drug or alcohol addiction or illness.

As I said earlier, coming out at 25, I never thought I could want this or have this or be this. So many have sacrificed their lives, families, and careers so gay/trans/queer men and women could simply have access. The personal is political. How you live our life is a statement to the society around you.

If one closeted kid in Indiana reads this post about how another Hoosier kid grew up to have a compelling life, successful career, healthy relationship, loving husband, amazing friends and a supportive family, it is just one more example that it is possible to have the life that you want. Things might go to shit a few times first, but tenacity is the key and if you have someone as tenacious and stubborn as you pushing next to you, you can get a lot done.


Our wedding and the surrounding weekend are some of the most amazing days of my life and there are countless small moments, glances, and vignettes I will always hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

Ron, I love you so much and am so lucky that I am your husband.

Special thanks to event photographer Sabrina Wong Photography.