Three couples wed Saturday at the Married With Pride ceremony in the Community Art Gallery of Ferndale. Organizers of Ferndale Pride say they are the first to be wed at a Michigan Pride event since the Supreme Court granted marriage equality for gays last June. The ceremony was performed jointly by Mayor Dave Coulter and Deacon Angela Lippard of Christ the Good Shepherd Independent Catholic Community.
“It was an honor to perform the ceremony,” said Lippard. “I know that there are a lot of ministers and a lot of affirming churches in the area that these couples could have chosen so the fact that they chose to participate in Ferndale Pride, and also that they were willing to take time out to meet with me to let me get to know them so I could make the ceremony more personal, was very moving to me.”
Brittany and Brittney of Waterford, who met on the online dating site Plenty of Fish, have been together just over a year. “The second that she pulled up to pick me up for our date and I got in the car and saw her, I was like, ‘I found the one,'” said Brittney.
The couple said they chose to marry at Ferndale Pride to cut down on costs. “We have pretty much been planning our wedding for a couple months now and no matter what it was going to be in the $10,000 range, and we’re in our mid-20s, still trying to establish ourselves, so we’re not going to be able to afford that for a few years,” Brittney said. “That’s why we were like, ‘We can get married at Ferndale Pride. We can do this for us now and do the whole family thing later.'”
Melissa and Melinda of Whitmore Lake also met online about a year ago, this time through Match.com. They said they had been talking marriage since late last year. “It started out in December,” recalled Melinda. “I was asking her if we could do promise rings and she said, ‘No, I want to do engagement rings.'”
Michael and David from Lansing have been together for 34 years, having met while both served in the Navy. They chose to get married at Ferndale Pride to avoid the fuss of a traditional wedding. “Now that it’s legal, we just wanted to do it and get it over with,” Michael said. Lippard wanted to pay homage to Michael and David’s longtime commitment and singled them out in the ceremony. “Today we celebrate the love you found over 30 years ago,” she said before the couple exchanged rings. “We know the relationship you have built together has been holy and sacred. And now we witness you making your commitment again in marriage.”
“Two of the couples had been together for only a year,” Lippard explained. “So I did want to emphasize that the couple that has been together for 30 years that what they had was totally sacred. I just helped them make it legal and reaffirmed their commitment to each other.”
Several local vendors helped make the big day special for the three couples. Blumz by JR provided boutonnieres and corsages; Nan & Audrey Photography took photos; Apple and Tree Bakery brought a wide selection of miniature wedding cakes; and RockSugar enhanced the gallery with special wedding touches all purchased from local vendors.
Sommer Realy of Level One Bank, inside which the gallery is located, said she was happy to provide the space for such a momentous occasion. “It was actually just an idea that we had to be able to give toward the Pride event,” she said. “Darren (Bolsby, branch manager) and I put our heads together and I enlisted my husband to offer some creative advice and we said, ‘What a great place for a wedding.'”
Bolsby concurred. “We just wanted to give back to the community,” he said. “We do art shows, workshops for small business, and our community is a very diverse community and this fits right in with everything that we embody here at the gallery and the bank. And to be able to give something like this back, that is so special to me. It was totally an honor to be able to do it.”
Coulter said he was honored to be a part of it as well. “This is a milestone,” Coulter said. “We’ve done commitment ceremonies in Ferndale for many years and those were wonderful. But to get to do legal, real marriages is long overdue, and I’m just honored to be a part of it.”