WEDDING WISDOM: BILLY & ANDREW
“We met on Tinder! We both swiped right!” Andrew chuckled as he described how he and Billy first met. He continued his walk through downtown Nashville, Tennessee, talking on the phone with me about how this is where the two experienced a large part of their wedding planning process.
I caught the two during their weekend visit back to the Nashville area - close to where they spent three short months planning their wedding, and where they started their lives together as husband and husband.
“The connecting factor was that we were both nurses. We met up for our first date in complete suburbia, La Verne, California outside of Los Angeles.” They met at Chase’s, a local wine bar. Billy with a glass of Chardonnay, Andrew with a glass of Malbec. “We talked about nursing, all the crazy stories that come from working at the hospital. I asked if he liked country music, being from Kentucky… He was the only other person I knew who was as big of a fan of 1990s country music!” It was a connection of epic proportions.
“About two or three months into dating, I just never felt so safe with someone, so loved and supported in every single aspect of who I am.”
Life sometimes moves in ways that we cannot predict, and as Andrew & Billy’s relationship progressed, this ultimately held true. Life’s challenges and struggles pulled them together fast, and tight. A bond not easily broken.
In February of 2016, upon receiving the news that Billy’s mother had fallen ill to cancer, Andrew and Billy made the decision to move to Billy’s hometown in Southern Kentucky to care for her together.
For Andrew, moving to Kentucky was like moving to a completely different world, far away from their supportive friends in Los Angeles. Given the culturally conservative aspects of the small town, they felt a great deal of culture shock, however; Andrew and Billy leaned on one another for support while adjusting to their new home.
“Before we moved to Kentucky, we had talked about getting married for several months, and I knew without a doubt that we were going to get married.” Andrew explained, adding that he made sure to purchase the engagement rings in Pasadena just before they drove across the country. “Billy is notorious for being a snoop and ruining surprises so I put the rings in a brown paper bag and labelled them as ‘lug nuts’, and put them in the trunk along with the spare tire because I knew he wouldn’t check there.”
The rings stayed hidden in their brown paper sack until that May on Memorial Day Weekend. As Billy’s mother grew sicker, it became apparent that the proposal needed to happen as soon as possible. They planned a last-minute road-trip to Savannah, Georgia. On the drive, Andrew contacted a photographer to capture the surprise proposal. They stopped in Forsyth park to take a few photos together, and as the pictures were being snapped, Andrew got down on one knee to ask Billy to spend the rest of his life with him. It was an immediate yes.
After the proposal, things moved quickly. Setting the wedding for August, they planned their wedding in less than three months. With full knowledge that they wanted a rustic, mostly outdoor venue, and close enough to home for Billy’s mother to access, they set out to see a place by the name of Homestead Manor. Immediately they knew that this was the venue for them. “It was the first place we looked and the only place we looked.” As a grand historic hospital dating back from the Civil War, it holds a restaurant and bar that provides a full catering service. The site itself came with an event coordinator that helped to put everything together. After deciding on the venue, everything else started to fall into place. “Once we saw the layout, we could start to fill in the details.” Andrew and Billy, being extraordinarily handy created most of the decorations themselves. They made yard games such as corn-hole and ladder ball from wood, and elaborate wedding programs that doubled as fans for their guests. “Cause you know, we got married in The South, in August,” Andrew laughs about the excruciating humidity. “We love making things. That was our favorite thing, planning and making the decor together.”
With the wedding just two weeks away, Billy’s mother succumbed to her cancer and passed away. An absolute devastating time for them and their families, and yet on the horizon was this beautiful wedding celebration that Billy’s mother had a central role in being a part of and planning.
“It was a unique circumstance where we just had this really tragic situation two weeks before. We went from this very devastating time to this time of complete support from all of our loved ones.” Bringing both families together, the wedding was a celebration of many things - of marriage, of love and of life. “There were 75 guests, people from all over the world. Just people coming to support us as a couple getting married, and supporting us in life in general. We were living away from our main support system in LA, and to have all of them fly out and be there for us was an absolutely incredible feeling.”
The two grooms wrote their own vows, and had one of their best friends preside over the ceremony. After saying ‘I do’, they took some time privately in their wedding suite to enjoy a glass of champagne and soak in the magnificence of the day.
Their biggest word of advice from Andrew & Billy to anyone planning their own wedding is to carve out 30 minutes to be with your new spouse alone. Be present, be aware, and have a moment to take everything in.
Upon asking Billy and Andrew if there was any message they would like to end with, anything they would like to communicate to the world regarding relationships and marriage, they provided this nugget of wisdom:
“In all situations, in all aspects of your relationship, make empathy the primary thing. Do your absolute best, to put yourself in the shoes of your partner and to look at every situation from their perspective. Make it your primary focus.
We were raised in completely different worlds. Billy was raised in a very small town, in rural Kentucky, much of his upbringing was in a very conservative Christianity - the Pentecostal church. And I was raised by a liberal, progressive, a-religious family in a suburb of Los Angeles. For all intents and purposes, there is no reason we should understand each other.
So, the act of empathy, whether it’s an argument or a discussion - asking why the other may be experiencing something in a way, that’s how you really come to know a person inside and out.”
Billy and Andrew have been married for a little over two years. They celebrated their anniversaries by doing what they love to do: traveling. This winter they will be living in Denver, Colorado, and after that, who knows ... their life is one big adventure they both are living to enjoy. Follow along with all of Andrew and Billy’s travels on Instagram.