WEDDING WISDOM: CONNOR & KEITH
Remember Connexion, Facebook for the Gays, way back in the aughts? Well, Connor and Keith certainly do as that is where they first met seven years ago.
Connor's profile shared that he loved the smell of new books. Keith's "pick up line" was to state his love of " the smell of old books," because they had a better story to tell. And, it was this shared love of books that set their love affair in motion.
Connor was just staring at University of Denver, while Keith was finishing college at CSU in Ft. Collins, CO, in addition to being a spokesmodel for an alcohol brand. It was on one of these promotions that Keith made his way to Denver at to his first date with Connor at Applebee's! Connor, trying to impress with his sensible order of a salad, was knocked into "this is the guy for me" when Keith ordered a cheeseburger at fries. "He was 3 hours late," said Connor, which Keith robustly counters. "I had had a little bit to drink, though." Connor instantly fell for Keith's ease and simply being himself, cheeseburger and all.
And, it was pretty much from that first date that this couple grew up together. "We mellowed each other out," Connor said. "He was goofy and I was high-strung. And, his real life experiences complimented my book smarts." Eventually, the couple made their way to Chicago where they really found their community. And, became domestic partners, in order to take advantage of the benefits offered by Connor's employer.
"We played around with the idea of getting married, but also buying a house or going on a trip," said Connor.
Keith had planned on asking Connor to marry him around Christmas, Connor's favorite holiday, but was thwarted and so simply waited for the right moment to pop the question. That moment came around Connor's birthday in July last year. Many of his friends gathered, unexpectedly, in Chicago to celebrate. Connor was elated to be surrounded by his tribe and it was at that moment, in front of dear friends that Keith proposed.
"After tricking him with an empty box from John Atencio (the jeweler), I gave him a box made from an Aspen tree with the caption: "Will you, forever," on the cover" said Keith. Connor found the ring inside and reacted by exclaiming: "Are we getting engaged?!" to which Keith asked: "Will you?" Once the moment settled in, Connor enthusiastically answered: "Yeah!!"
And, while totally surprised in the moment, Connor knew something was coming. "Keith isn't really good at hiding things and I had seen the box in our filing cabinet." Keith was unaware of this discovery until the moment of our interview with the couple!
How they tackled their wedding planning was aligned with their personalities. Keith, the big picture partner in the couple, handled the venue, DJ, florists, insurance, etc. Meanwhile, Connor took care of the details including papier-mâché-ing the centerpiece votives.
The concept for their wedding drew on their first exchange about books and their connections to family and home. Keith's grandfather had left him a number of vintage books and suitcases. Connor spent his days growing up near the Washington Park Boathouse in Denver. Together, Connor and Keith walked their dogs in the nearby park.
"Denver is up and coming, so we wanted to show Denver off to our friends. Oh, and it is insanely cheaper there," Connor added!
"Denver is the Napa Valley of Breweries," said Keith, who is a micro-brewer himself and, with Connor, a serious lover of beer. "But it is also sunny and has the beauty of the mountains," he added. So the couple planned a week's worth of activities for their friends, including a visit to Keith's family's ranch, hiking in the mountains and, of course, visits to Denver's many breweries.
The wedding itself was modeled after a Quaker wedding. The couple didn't have an officiant, but guided themselves through their vows (standing at an altar made of Keith's grandfather's vintage suitcases and books) and then invited friends and family to offer their words of praise and support. And, again, their vows mirrored their personalities. "I quoted Mean Girls," said Keith, "while Connor got all sentimental!" "Come on, you got sentimental, too," countered Connor. And, together they marveled at the love and support that their friends expressed as the mic went around the room. "It was a bit nerve-wracking not knowing what would come out of everyone's mouth!" But, when they completed their unity experience of combining two beers, Connor and Keith were married.
Once the altar was cleared and the photos taken (by none other than MEN'S VOWS featured photographer Carrie Swails) the guests took to the dance floor right where Connor and Keith became husband and husband. "It is funny, but I prefer the word partner," said Connor. "It is still a radical queer term! But, I do call Keith husband at home!"
When asked what wisdom they'd share about the experience of their wedding, Keith first said, laughing: "save the money and elope!" But, focused on their favorite experience of their wedding. "You'll never have all these people in the same room, realizing how important they are to you and you are to them." Connor added his favorite moment as when they exchanged vows and everyone fell away at it was just him and Keith. But afterwards, Connor added about their friends and family: "you won't be hugged the same way, again!"
More tactically, Connor and Keith advised that future couples focus on the big things first. The rest of the details sort themselves out. Especially if you have "an expert team" on the day, points out Connor. And, as we have heard before, "don't get bogged down in others' expectations. This is your day so make it exactly as you want it to be. You want to look back on the day and say: that is exactly how I wanted it to be."
"We wanted a party," Connor shared, "and because we disappeared with our friends to the basement to do shots of whiskey, we don't remember the half of it!" We can't imagine a more auspicious beginning to married life than one that includes books, beers and shots of whiskey!
Photos: Carrie Swails Photography