Towanna Jackson and LaShawn Peterson of Southfield were married on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2016, around 1 a.m. inside the Plaza Royale Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.
“My sister was able to catch a flight and fill the role of best woman, maid of honor and DJ. My cousin and his wife happened to be on vacation and met us at the chapel. We had friends that woke up and watched the live stream,” said Jackson.
Keeping with tradition doesn’t really matter to them as long as they are together doing what they enjoy like traveling, camping, cooking, watching Netflix in “chill” mode, shopping, spending time with their grandchildren – Celine and Andre III – and selling real estate.
Jackson said, “It’s all fun with LaShawn by my side.”
Crystal and Heather McBride of Wyandotte met almost 15 years ago in Toledo, Ohio through a mutual friend.
“We hit it off from the first meeting and have been inseparable ever since,” said Heather. The couple got engaged on December 23, 2013.
“I said yes without hesitation never really knowing if we would truly have the opportunity to wed,” she said, adding that it was important for them to show their two adopted children what true love, commitment and dedication is.
Crystal and Heather were married on the beach on August 10, 2015 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. They had a reception back home with family and friends.
For Scott Sauter and Domenick Viviano of Ann Arbor, marriage equality means they are no longer second class citizens.
“It means putting that civil union nonsense to rest. It’s about having the same right to a beautiful marriage or a painful divorce,” said Domenick, who married Scott on April 23, 2017, the couple’s eight-year anniversary together.
Scott proposed to Domenick at a Garbage concert (his favorite band) at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit in 2013.
Finally, after marriage equality and months of planning, the couple ended up getting hitched at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas.
“The right to marry did not affect our relationship, but it prolonged our engagement during the first year,” said Domenick. “We blame years two, three and four on disagreements over the setlist.”
Candice and Renee Coschino of Clinton Township have been together for six and a half years. Candice proposed to Renee on Valentine’s Day in the Renaissance Center in Detroit after four years of dating.
They were married on July 10, 2015, shortly after it became legal to do so.
“We didn’t want to wait because we were worried that it would be taken away from us again so we did a quickie wedding in our backyard,” said Renee. “We both cried and celebrated and were just incredibly happy that we could finally have the same rights as everyone else.”
However, the couple still wanted to do a big formal wedding so they took the next year to plan their perfect day and got married again on August 26, 2016 at Fox Hills Golf Course in Plymouth.
Hannah Hartley and Diane Schultz of South Lyon – two transgender women who met four years ago during an LGBT community meeting at Affirmations in Ferndale – were married locally on June 17, 2017 at The Barn, a 4,400-square-foot restored barn from the 1860s found online at Vacation Rentals by Owner.
“Diane caught my eye from the first moment we met. She seemed to have an elegance and a kindness that made me think, ‘I really need to know that woman,’” said Hartley.
Schultz knew, too, that she had found a new friend. She said, “Hannah seemed like the cool girl, and a person that was a real go-getter in life.”
The Buckley-Ball couple, Megan and Birdie, at the Joe Louis Arena on their wedding day, Sept. 28, 2012. Birdie is like many masculine of center women who choose to wear tuxedos and suits to their wedding. The dilemma for many MoC women, transgender men and gender non-conforming individuals, though, is finding a shop where they feel welcome and respected, and a clerk adept at the differences between fitting women and men’s bodies.
“I rented a tux, and the funny thing is it was easy,” she said. “But the people took my measurements as if I was a guy. So when I did try on the shirt it fit me perfectly fine in the neck and that was it. So the clerk, she realized at the time that she didn’t take the right measurements. Eventually, she found me a shirt that was a little too big. But it was my own fault for not getting a custom-fitted shirt.” Even if the process can be a little complicated, Birdie said it’s worth it to be able to walk down the aisle feeling confident and comfortable.
Dr. Theodore Carson Baker, II (57) and Richard William Thomas, Jr. (60) are, in Baker’s words, “nontraditional.” They met in 1999 at an HIV retreat and, despite challenges over the years, have remained together.
They were engaged in September 2015. They had their wedding two years later at the Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church in Ferndale (Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit). Their reception was held at DeCarlo’s Banquet & Convention Center in Warren.
“It was a Cinderella and Prince Charming thing … well, a Prince Charming and Prince Charming,” Baker said with a laugh. “The number of people, how big it was, how long it was, we did it with all the pomp and circumstance. We did the chauffeurs and everything.”
For people with wedding plans as big as Baker and Thomas’ (BATO’s, as the pair loves to be called), Baker has very specific advice: “If you have a handful of people, maybe four or five that you can absolutely trust to do a thing and know what they’re doing and you trust them to do it, and you have a lot of money to pay for things, do it.” Otherwise, he said, don’t aim for a wedding like his.
Tia and KB Ivory were married on Sept. 23, 2016 in Flint. In 2013, KB surprised Tia with a ring while they celebrated their five-year anniversary at the Atheneum Hotel in Detroit. On Sept. 23, 2016, they were married at the 67th District Courthouse in Flint by Judge Herman Marable, Jr. As the two approach nine months into their marriage they say they feel good about their relationship and it’s future.
“It’s awesome actually,” said KB. “You feel more whole, more complete finally. I was sure of myself before I got married but I’m actually more confident of myself now. It feels good.”