BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
FERNDALE – Joan Kiesling, 35, had no apprehensions about marrying her fiancee.
“You just know,” said Kiesling. “It’s a feeling.”
Her soon-to-be wife said they’d been together for a year.
“We are in love and didn’t want to wait any longer,” said Terri Luxmore, 42, who lives in Eastpointe with Kiesling. “We figured this would be the right opportunity.”
That opportunity was a mass commitment ceremony held on the lawn at Ferndale City Hall on Saturday.
Ferndale Mayor Robert Porter, Ferndale City Council Member Craig Covey and Triangle Foundation Executive Director Jeff Montgomery spoke at the service, along with Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit Reverends Mark Bidwell and Kevin Kinsel and Reverend Deb Dysert of Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church.
Couples dressed in wedding gowns and more casual gear paused for photos, showed off engagement rings and collected bouquets of roses, daisies, lilies and mums before the ceremony.
Jocelyn Bellamy, 39, can pinpoint the moment she knew she’d fallen in love with her partner.
“She was in the emergency room for exhaustion,” said Bellamy, a Detroit resident. “There were tears in my eyes when I saw her in the hospital bed. I thought, ‘I don’t want to lose this woman. I want her to be in my life for the rest of my life.'”
Bellamy’s fiancee, BTL’s own Imani Williams, 42, said the pair wanted to wed to honor their nearly two-year commitment to each other and the three-year friendship they enjoyed before they became a couple.
“It’s the thing to do when you love someone,” said Williams, a Detroit resident.
Jay Fallon, 33, said Saturday was the most blissful day of her life.
She hooked up with her bride, Pat Smith, 31, online.
“We met for breakfast that turned into lunch and then dinner,” said Fallow, who lives with Smith in Ferndale. “I think we spent seven hours talking in the parking lot.”
Her brother Michael Fallon, 38, was swept up in his sibling’s joy.
“I love my sister,” said Fallon, a Plymouth resident. “I just want her to be happy.”
Not everyone was delighted to see the couples wed.
Bidwell received 365 emails condemning the ceremony.
“One I got this week wrote, ‘You’re sick. That’s just my opinion,'” Bidwell said. “I emailed her back: ‘No one asked for your opinion.’ I asked that she might walk in God’s light.”
Bidwell said the 13 couples who said their vows at city hall was the most he’d ever married at one time during the three years he’s performed the special ceremony.
The men and women stood in a semi-circle on the lawn, turning to face each other as they said their vows, many with glowing faces and tear-filled eyes.
When the ceremony began, Bellamy’s cousin – a little girl in a pink party dress and pearlized Mary Janes, ran to her side, holding her bouquet as Bellamy took Williams’ hands in her own.
“Today you said, ‘no’ to the people who said you can’t marry. You said, ‘yes’ to the power of love that’s within you,” said Bidwell during the service. “I believe that God is with us today.”
The mayor asked the couples if any had doubts.
“No!” they shouted, before they said their “I do’s.”
City Manager Tom Barwin was a guest at the service.
“I’m always touched by it every year,” he said. “I learn from it – how sincere people are and how important partnerships and love is in the world.”
Fallon had some marriage advice for his new sister-in-law.
“Enjoy the ride,” he said.