WEDDING WISDOM: MOHAMMED & MATTHEW
We love a story that was meant to be. “I had an early meeting the next morning and I was ready to go home,” Matthew said of Gay Pride weekend in Atlanta three years ago. While in a crowded bar and making his way to the restroom Matthew “turned the corner and I saw this guy staring and I started staring right back at him. I had to walk past him and as I did, he put his hand on my chest and said: ‘you have a very nice smile.”
Laughing, Mohammed further explained: “I, on the other, hand was very drunk so I had liquid courage to do so!” He also didn’t really believe Matthew when he said that he’d be right back following a visit to the men’s room. But, two-and-a-half hours of conversation later, Mohammed and Matthew’s life as a couple was off to the races. And, Matthew was off to bed to be ready for his meeting!
“We both had been single and were open,” Mohammed said. “And, I left there knowing this was different, but also considering if we were up to pursuing something long-distance.” Mohammed was living in Dallas at the time. But, the two spoke daily and ten days later, Mohammed was back in Atlanta, “to see if we could take it any further. That weekend we knew we were willing to pursue getting to know each other.” And, every two weeks Matthew and Mohammed were together in Atlanta or Dallas.
“From early on, there wasn’t a question about it. I didn’t have any doubts,” Matthew said of the start of their relationship. Mohammed expanded by saying: “We are opposite in many ways, but our values, goals in life and family backgrounds are very similar, and so, for us it was like you hear about, we found our other half.”
A year-and-a-half later, Mohammed thought, “this is the time.” Though the two had been talking about a life together – especially the subject of Matthew moving to be with Mohammed in Dallas – they’d never actually discussed getting engaged. “To me it was a total surprise,” Matthew said. Mohammed decided to ask Matthew on a trip to Costa Rica with seven friends; a high-stakes gamble for seven people to keep the engagement secret!
After a scuttled attempt to propose on a horseback riding trip, Mohammed honored Matthew’s more private side and decided to quietly propose back at their villa. “I was just in shock, because I really had no idea! He just pulled out the rings and started walking towards me!”
“When you think about engagement, you think you have to make it the most romantic. But, to me there is nothing more romantic than being raw and putting it out there,” Mohammed explained. “So I opened up the box and had two rings in there which, to me, meant we were both committing to each other.” The couple used the same rings for their wedding, too.
Like with most aspects of their relationship, the wedding planning fell into place swiftly. “I fell in love with Spain and I knew I wanted to get married there,” Matthew explained. And, upon researching locales, he discovered Arcos de la Frontera, “a place where Muslims and Christian’s collided, and spoke to Mohammed’s Muslim upbringing and my Christian upbringing and a perfect place to blend our love into one.” Blending would be an amusing challenge.
“To me, a small wedding is 3-to-400 people,” Mohammed explained. “For Matthew, he wanted 20 people there!” And, after a few rounds of negotiation they came to 50 people, which as Mohammed pointed out, was the absolute least he could do. And, for all of them they created an intimate and special event where, “Matthew met some of my family he’d not yet met.”
“We planned a wedding in Spain, with me in Atlanta and him in Dallas… without a planner!” “You underestimate what it takes to get 30+ families set up with their welcome gifts and all the stuff” Mohammed said about his perfectionism about details and the fact that details take time and effort, especially on your actual wedding weekend. Needless to say, they pulled it off.
It was a three-event weekend this past July starting with a “White Party” welcome cocktail. Drinks, hors d’oeuvres and the Andalucian countryside greeted all guests.
The main event was the following evening. “You know it doesn’t get dark in Spain until 8pm,” Mohammed said. “And, my family – the Arabs – are known for being late,” so it isn’t difficult to understand why the ceremony, dinner and dancing continued until 4 a.m. true to the spirit of the couple’s and the host country’s outgoing ways!
Presiding over the ceremony was Matthew’s best friend from seventh grade, Lucinda. Though close with Matthew for so long, it was Mohammed who suggested she serve as their officiant. From the rehearsal to the ceremony, Lucinda led the couple in what proved to be a very moving and emotional experience. “At the rehearsal, I had to pull myself together many times. There is nothing like saying these words that mean so much to someone who means so much to you.” Matthew pointed out. And, while Matthew was “a mess” at the rehearsal, it was Mohammed who was more emotional at the ceremony.
Making the ceremony even more poignant was the fact that Mohammed’s Muslim relatives convened with Matthew’s Southern Baptist relatives to witness the couple exchanging vows and declaring love. That said, some of Matthew’s family in particular opted not to attend the wedding. As Mohammed said, “both of our families are traditional, his are more religious.” “My family still acts like nothing happened,” Matthew pointed out laughing. Ultimately, their families have been able to support the couple in the ways that they are able.
And, to round out the weekend, the couple hosted a “tapas and paella party by the pool,” where the couple really got to enjoy all of the guests without the stress of the wedding. “We were finally able to breathe,” Matthew said. Mohammed added: “and we had rosé all day!” Turned out this was one of the couple’s favorite experiences of the weekend.
When asked what advice Mohammed and Matthew would give future grooms, Matthew swiftly advised: “Pick a place that really means something to you. It is going to be one time with your one true love and do it the way you want to do it.” For Mohammed, “there is so much expectation about weddings, so focus on it being about you and being authentic. Oh, and get a wedding planner!”
They went on to say: “Give your guests experiences that are going to bond them with you, because these are the people that are going to be in your life forever.” When it is meant to be, forever is how it will be.