Like a lot of couples, Stephen and Pat wanted their wedding to be meaningful, and a reflection of their values.
The couple met their freshman year of college. They flirted for about a month before having a first date, they dated for a few weeks, and then broke up. Six months later, they got back together and have been together ever since.
For a long time they really didn't think much about getting married. Since gay marriage wasn't legal, it seemed like a bit of a sham. A meaningless way to spend a lot of money on a party. They even went as far as to "anti-propose" to each other. During a somewhat sappy and stereotypical gay wedding, with two grooms in white tuxes, they looked at each other and said "Will you promise NOT to marry me?"
But by 2005, as they approached their 20th wedding anniversary, two states had legalized gay marriage, and they started giving marriage some serious thought. In 2007, this New York City couple began to plan an extravagant New York style wedding for their 25th anniversary in 2011. Disco balls were planned!
Then, also like a lot of couples this actor (Pat) and photographer (Stephen), stopped for a minute and looked at their budget, and looked at their plans, and started to think some more about what they wanted their wedding to mean.
In 2009, as deposits were beginning to be due (this is New York after all), they cancelled their original plans. They hit upon a new idea. Instead of one huge wedding, they would have seven small, intimate weddings, one for each state where gay marriage is legal.
Their weddings started in December 2010, in a Vermont farm house. The next day they had an outdoor wedding in New Hampshire (yes, outdoors, in New Hapshire, in December, they are truly committed). In January of this year, they visited Iowa, and in February, Massachusetts.
Later in March, they'll be going to California. Gay marriage isn't legal in California anymore, but they still wanted to include the state. California will be followed by Connecticut. Then, on April 26, 2011, they'll celebrate their 25th anniversary with a wedding in Washington, D.C. Hopefully, on the steps of the Supreme Court, if the permits come through.
Inspired by the anti teen suicide film effort, the It Gets Better Project, Stephen and Pat enlisted their friend Allan, a film director, to create a documentary about their wedding tour.
As Stephen says, "We want to celebrate our relationship, but we also want to make a statement about the lack of equality. People still have such preconceived notions of homosexuals. We want young people to be able to hear our story. We're like any other couple that's been together for 25 years."
All seven weddings have a very different feel, but they're all DIY events. Friends have provided food, and when it comes to wedding cake, it helps that their friend Jennifer owns the hip New York City bakery, This Chick Bakes. Their plane tickets to California were a wedding present, which brings the total budget for all seven weddings to an inspiring $2,000.