WEDDING WISDOM: MIKE & KIM
Mike and Kim met saving lives. Both were working as nurses in a hospital in their hometown of Toronto in 2010. “A patient of mine was ‘coding’ and I went for supplies and saw Kim. I didn’t have time to flirt!” But, it was apparent that this was as near to love at first sight as it gets, as Mike made every effort from that first encounter to find a way of working with Kim. Mike eventually transferred to Kim’s unit.
Matters were difficult at first as Mike wasn’t even fully sure Kim was gay! “I’d throw him some flirtatious gestures, not sure if he was interested, but eventually he caught on.” Thanks to a group breakfast orchestrated by Mike solely for the purpose of Mike and Kim socializing, they went on their first “date.” And, fortunately, “our friend bailed on us and it was just me and him!” Weeks later they were officially seeing each other.
And, thus began the process of them possibly saving each others’ lives. “Kim comes from a very religious family and was not out. He was even an altar boy,” Mike explained. Much of their early days were about the two of them exploring what it meant to be gay men, how much marriage mattered to Mike and how, together, to go about redefining their lives relative to each other and to Kim’s family and friends. “Before meeting me, Kim worked three jobs. He had no life. Didn’t look after himself well. And, he believed he was going to be lonely the rest of his life.”
“Marriage is important and significant to me, and I needed Kim to understand marriage as essential to our relationship.” With the support of Mike and the promise of a life together, Kim came out to supportive friends and family. “Looking back, it seems how crazy how big of a deal it was for him and me.”
When it came time to getting engaged, everyone thought it would be Kim getting down on one knee. But, Mike had other plans.
The two are avid travelers and adventure seekers. On the occasion of Kim’s family reunion in the Philippines, not to mention Mike’s birthday, Mike planned an escape to the Palawan islands. Hours before sunrise, the two set out on a mountain hike timing their summit with the rising of the sun.
“I proposed and completely shocked him,” Mike explained. “We had not really discussed getting engaged before!” The two were delighted by how the other hikers cheered Kim having said yes.
The planning process took about a year with the help of a wedding planner. “We were each working demanding jobs and wouldn’t have been able to plan it on our own,” Mike said. “I am detailed oriented and I didn’t know what was out there in terms of ideas and vendors and help,” which is why working with Trevor from Trevents turned out to be ideal for them. “We did a lot of DIY to help with the expense.”
But, the biggest challenge for the couple proved to be their parents.
Mike explained: “When I told my parents that I’d be proposing, they said they’d not come to the wedding. This really broke my heart.” The same was the case for Kim’s parents. However, Mike’s parents eventually came around and a month before the wedding, Kim’s mother said she’d come to the reception, but couldn’t stand at the wedding. But, “minutes before the procession, Kim’s mother got in the procession line and walked down the aisle. It was incredibly emotional.”
Equally emotional for Mike was the moment he and Kim first saw each other on their wedding day, moments before walking down the aisle. While they’d planned their custom suits together, they’d gotten ready separately and when they finally saw each other, Mike was overcome. “You picture all these things while you’re imagining and planning a wedding,” Mike shared. “And, then you see your mom and family and all of the emotions come on at once. I could not stop crying. I don’t know how brides control their make-up!! But, when I saw Kim, I calmed down. Thank god we had that first look.”
Fifty four guests joined Mike and Kim for the ceremony and reception at the Vineland Estates Winery near Toronto. The Marrying Lady presided over the ceremony. “I googled Filipino gay wedding officiants in Toronto and she was one of the first to come up,” Mike shared. The two exchanged original vows (helped by a YouTube workshop that the Marrying Lady shared), which according to Mike was the most emotional part of the vows.
Instead of the symbolism of lighting a candle or having their wrists tied, Mike and Kim created an “infinity symbol” “We asked those closest to us to stand in the formation of the infinity symbol with us in the middle. Each person represented a pillar in our relationship: love, adventure, happiness, wellness, dance, romance, friendship and family.
True to form, the grooms designed a wedding reception centered around travel. The design for each table was based on one of the couple’s favorite countries that they have traveled together. Guests were given a “boarding pass” to the given “table destination” and, once at their table, guests were greeted by decor related to the given country, pictures of Mike and Kim at the given places, and write-up of why each destination was important to the couple. This was a fantastic way of bringing their love of travel and adventure, and how these shape a couple’s bond, to life. “We really wanted to make it personal. And, we even had kids’ activity booklets, featuring our dog, Miko, and us as a newlywed couple in cartoons for our nieces and nephews to color in. We wanted them to see how else happily ever after could look.”
When asked what advice the couple would share with those planning their wedding, Mike shared a story. “I had a patient who was at the end of his life and I was telling him of our thoughts about eloping back then. We could marry and honeymoon in the same place, save money and all the troubles of planning. But, my patient, who was older, said to have a wedding because we have the right to and should make the memories of getting up and sharing our vows with all those who love us. We don’t have a lot of milestones to cherish, but a wedding is one of them. And, it was the happiest day of our lives.”
To live is to love and by saving lives, Mike and Kim brought their love to life.