WEDDING WISDOM: PJ & THOMAS
The year was 2009 when PJ and Thomas met at a mutual friend’s get-together in their hometown of Cleveland, TN. Thomas was all of 18 and not even out. PJ, five years older than Thomas, was there with his then-boyfriend. “I was as close as possible to being in love with someone I didn’t know, the moment I saw PJ,” Thomas said. And, were we to be totally precise that first moment was actually a few years before when Thomas came across modelling photos of PJ on MySpace two years prior. “He was the most beautiful person I had seen in my life and I could not believe he’d been to my high school!’ One could say that PJ and Thomas’ marriage was meant to be!
For PJ, "meant to be" came the moment when he was leaving the get-together and locked eyes with Thomas. “We made eye contact and I never forgot about that moment.”
A year or so later, after PJ had broken up, he reached out to Thomas on Facebook. They exchanged numbers and before too long, Thomas was over at PJ’s house for a six-hour-long evening getting-to-know each other. “All we did was talk the whole night on the couch, about friends, about family, about life. I told him I was bi, which is what most gay guys do as they are coming out,” Thomas said laughing. But, what Thomas described as his best night ever, PJ encapsulated in a note on a torn envelope to Thomas the next morning: “You made it into my dream last night,” the note said. “Pretty crazy, huh?”
Two months later, Thomas “made it official” by “asking PJ out” who, a few months after that, made it official by asking Thomas out, too. And the two have been together ever since 2010. “When we finally got together, I wanted everyone to know,” Thomas said. “Because before meeting him, I’d not even planned on coming out!” Love really does set one free.
Their relationship developed over four years, until the summer of 2014 when the two split up. “Until that time, Thomas had never lived with anyone other than his mom,” PJ explained. “We needed the time apart to really appreciate what we had,” he continued. And, getting back together meant they’d be all in. “Getting back together meant that we were going to do everything it took to stay together,” PJ said about their next steps which was to get engaged.
“I proposed to PJ, which is funny because I had always wanted to be proposed to. I mean I asked him out first, after all!” Thomas said laughing.
Christmas is PJ’s favorite holiday and thus was the ideal time to pop the question. “I’m into Christmas, but PJ is obsessed with it.” So, in December of 2014, with all of Thomas’ family gathered from New York, he proposed. But, there was some cajoling required. On the night Thomas had planned to propose, he and his family were at this brother’s house 30-minutes outside of Cleveland. Thomas had not accounted for PJ not wanting to make the drive. Thomas pleaded, cajoled him with Christmas presents and, finally, bargained by saying: “If you never do anything else for me in my entire life, please do this!” When asked if he had any idea the proposal was coming, PJ answered: “I knew something was up!” No matter, because how could one not answer Thomas’ plea!
As PJ was making the drive, Thomas’ family took to hiding upstairs, behind doors and throughout the house, while Thomas lit a path of tea candles from the front door to the back porch. PJ arrived, walked outside to find Thomas ready with the proposal and ring, while their favorite song played: Taylor Swift’s Enchanted. “You can’t judge, but it describes our first night together,” Thomas said defending “the queen!” “I think I started crying before I finished, but I got down on one knee and asked PJ to marry me.” Before the couple knew it, family appeared from all their hiding places to make a perfect “small engagement, surrounded by family.”
But, having set a precedent for asking each other out at the start of their relationship, the same pattern would hold for their engagement, when PJ asked Thomas to marry him, a few months later! “I had grown up envisioning me proposing to my husband,” PJ explained. “So, on his birthday, one of his presents was his ring.” The two were in downtown Chattanooga, again surrounded by family and Thomas was “totally surprised, [I] had no idea!” We love this idea of popping the question twice!
During their engagement, the couple bought their first house together which became the center of their attention. “We kept getting a lot of pressure from Thomas’ mom to set a date,” PJ said. “She thought if we were going to be living together, we needed to be married,” which both found surprising for a woman born and raised in the liberal north.
So, PJ and Thomas turned to planning their ideal wedding. “We started adding up how many guests we’d want, the invitations, the kind of food and venue we wanted – because we are both into design and spaces – and looking into getting married on my dad’s farm,” PJ explained. But, PJ summarized their planning best: “What we really wanted was a kitchen! So we decided for a tiny wedding in our new house.”
The two went to the courthouse to get their marriage license, hired the officiant recommended by the courthouse, and gathered 10 family members – and two sisters via FaceTime – set out pictures of themselves throughout the years, filled their house with Frank Sinatra tunes and got married in the living room of the new house, they’d not even yet moved into!
When asked if they’d read original vows to each other, they couldn’t remember why they’d gone the traditional route, but Thomas said: “I’ve written my vows to PJ over the years in Instragram writing him these ridiculously long birthday wishes!”
The reception was at Jenkins Deli, a famous local restaurant within walking distance from the house where they “hung out for the rest of the day!”
“There’s a lot of pressure for people to have these huge weddings,” PJ explained. “When I look back at how stressful it was for us to make decisions for our bigger wedding, I know I couldn’t have been happier than being surrounded by our family and the fact that we spent maybe $150 total for our wedding. You don’t need a huge, extravagant thing.”
“The end game is saying I do and being in love,” Thomas added. “What most felt like us was getting married in the home we had spent 6 months renovating and now living in.”
Because there is no place like home, and there is no comparison to the love and joy one experiences when saying; “I do!” we could not be more supportive of PJ and Thomas’ home wedding. Now, one can only imagine that their registry was heavily focused on kitchenwares!
Later this month, we will be gleaning more wisdom from PJ and Thomas as they share their expertise in remodeling and making home.