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Connextions Magazine issue #23: Nice Life takes a closer look at climate change through an Antarctica expedition, cruise along as Clark & David deal with sea-sickness and dating apps. We lift the veil on one of the Caribbean’s best kept secret Vieques, an island within the island of Puerto Rico. We also take you to “The Jewel of the Riviera Maya,” for the senses and a resort for the renewal of both mind and body.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Manny Velasquez-Paredes CREATIVE DIRECTOR Xioger Sandoval FEATURED WRITER David Duran CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lilly Chris Ross Christianson Clark Harding H. Luiz Martinez Carlos Mayorga David Perry Ali Rothlizzi JJ Vega Manny Velasquez-Paredes Sarah Stanley-Evan

Cover Photo by: Chantell Cruz Photography Published with permission from: Meghan & Victoria

Read Connextions Magazine online:

Meghan & Victoria met on Mardi Gras. They were both living in Richmond. Then went on several friend dates, though Meghan felt these dates were real and she was persistent in trying to convince Victoria that she has potential as a partner. Things fell into place after 9 months of friendship and they have been on the same page ever since.

Write to us: Have a question or comment regarding this issue or future issues of Connextions Magazine? We would love to hear from you! E-mail responses and press releases are always welcomed. All submissions become the property of Connextions Magazine. The views and opinions stated throughout this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of staff at Connextions Magazine. Connextions Magazine, LLC publishing mailing address: PO Box 242 Calverton, NY 11933 Connextions Magazine and Connextions Magazine en Español will not knowingly publish or advertise text which is fraudulent or misleading. The publisher reserves the right to edit, limit, revise, or reject any text without cause. Connextions Magazine assumes no financial responsibility for typographical errors. If any errors are found, please notify Connextions Magazine immediately. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. ISSN 2160-4347 (print) ISSN 2160-4355 (online)

Read more on page 36

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International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

Connextions Magazine, the Travel & Lifestyle magazine for the LGBTQ Traveler since 2010, is a proud member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Gay European Tourism Association & National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, as well The travel Media Sponsor of HRC Greater New York.

Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

Letter from the Editor

Connextions Magazine issue #24: United by Love: The Wedding Issue takes a closer look at the entire process of creating the perfect wedding, from the proposal to your special day. Featuring weddings that are not considered to be typical venues, we are able showcase ideas and themes that will make your special day truly unforgettable. This is also the first time that we are publishing dueling covers. We had so many amazing entries from our readers and some absolutely romantic stories, along with breathtaking pictures of their magical moment, that it was truly hard to just settle on one cover picture, so we finally decided on two different ones. The entire process was fun and exhausting, but their stories kept our hearts warm and smiling. This is probably one of my favorite issues up to date, mainly because it came from my heart. In 2016, I married the love of my life and our wedding planning took center stage in my life for most of that year. So, I truly wanted to create this special issue because I wanted to bring this magic to everyone. I’m a sucker for romance, so when writing this issue, I started telling the story of Zach and Alastair, and ended up writing the entire issue! In the only article not written by me, our Featured Writer, David Duran, introduces his family and shows us that love has no boundaries, no gender, no discrimination of any kind - Love is Love and everyone’s story is a bit different and a bit exciting and that’s what makes us all unique. We hope you enjoy our work, we love to read your letters and emails. Don’t forget to find us on social media channels under our handle @ConnextionsMag. MVP

Editor In Chief


Contents LIVE


Equality Vines: Drink with a Purpose

TRAVEL Destination Weddings Banyan Tree Mayakoba


Cruise Weddings Carnival Cruise Line


Castle Weddings Castle Hotel & Spa


Farm Weddings Foggy Bottoms Boys


Treehouse Weddings Moose Meadow Lodge & Treehouse


CONNECT The Perfect Proposal Zach & Alastair James & Bill



08 16

Planning the Perfect Wedding Manny & Jose 22 Meghan & Victoria 36 Travis & Kelly 44 Sara & Nicole 106 Adrian & Jason 110


The Wedding Day Wedding Planner Expert: Ossy Lopez


I’m in a Platonic “Marriage” with My Straight Best Friend By: David Duran

January 2018




36 4

Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018



Fort Lauderdale MarriottÂŽ Pompano Beach Resort & Spa, a beachfront hotel located in a charming quintessential South Florida harbor town, invites you to relax, unwind and experience life at its best. Say your vows with the warm sand between your toes or on the second floor outdoor Ocean Terrace with the Atlantic Ocean as your backdrop. 194 spacious guest rooms and 25 suites, a full-service spa, elegant dining options both indoors and out will enable you and your guests to celebrate in elegant Atlantic style. And with Certified Wedding Planners ready to make your dreams a reality, the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa is the ideal location to begin your happily ever after. FORT LAUDERDALE MARRIOTT POMPANO BEACH RESORT & SPA


120 0 NO RTH O CE AN BO ULE V ARD, P OMP ANO BEACH, FL Connextions Magazine | 954 .782.0100, PO M PANO M ARRIOTT.C OM

The Parent-HOOD!


June 2015




Connextions Magazine


The Parent-HOOD!


June 2015

© 2016 Marriott International, Inc.



Written by: Manny Velasquez-Paredes Photos by: Zach Garcia & Alastair Patton


he perfect proposal - is it an ideal, a fantasy or can it really be achieved? Do you stress over it or does it just happen? Do you spend days planning it and perfecting every word or do you just jump at it because your heart tells you it’s the perfect moment? There is NO RIGHT ANSWER to any of these questions. If you feel that the right person is in front of you and it’s the right time in your heart, then it doesn’t matter what is around you or when you do it.

go back to the place where we first met, Bryant Park in New York City by the skating rink, and he would propose to me there. He bought the rings, he asked advice from my best friend and his best friend and off to the city we went. He brought with him cards and notes we had exchanged throughout our five years, in order to set the mood. As we were reminiscing through our love affair of the past five years, he brings out the rings and asks me to be his forever.

Personal Example

As I dried up my tears from the emotions and as I say YES and kiss him, right in front of us a lady trips over a tree branch and hits the floor really hard. We both ran to help her and so did her companion and luckily she was not injured, but our precious moment in time was interrupted by what could have been a horrible injury.

My boyfriend, at the time, decided that on the 5th year anniversary of our first date, we would

After helping her, we both nervously laughed and commented on how this may not be a good


Zach & Alastair

omen for our new beginning. So, was this an imperfect proposal? I think not. I think it was one of the most romantic times we spent together, and although things didn’t quite happened the way he envisioned them, the result was the same.

other hand, Alastair, who is 25, grew up in the Federal District of Mexico. His family moved to Texas when he was only 15 years old. He has two older sisters and a younger one and his family has always been very close.

We had a long engagement, 7 years to be exact, because it worked for us. However, Zach and Alastair, who live in Texas, experienced a completely different love story, different time-frame and modern way to meet: through social media.

Alastair first saw Zach in a YouTube video titled “The Gay Guy Next Door” and realized that Zach had all the qualities he had been searching for in another guy, which he thought was nearly impossible, but as luck would have it - they met.

Meet Zach and Alastair We meet Zach and Alastair as the couple is putting together some new furniture for their new home, just a couple of months after their wedding. Zach is 23 and from West Texas, but his dad is in the Air Force, so they moved around a lot throughout the years. He is the oldest of three and growing up wasn’t “always the best experience.” On the

Alastair romantically reminisces about the first time he saw Zach, “he had such a magnetism that I looked him up on Instagram and followed him right [away].” Zach also followed Alastair and they started “liking” each others pictures, which led to a private message, and a real life meeting a couple of weeks later. They decided to become official boyfriends when they met. Zach says they discussed marriage throughout their love affair and they both planned

on proposing to the other, but he just beat Alastair to the proposal and 6 months later, Zach proposed and the couple got married a year later. Zach’s perfect proposal took time to plan. I actually first noticed the couple due to Zach’s proposal video and absolutely fell in love with their story. Zach is a YouTube celebrity and creates vlogs, (66 at time of publication to be exact, with over 134,000 subscribers and over 11 million views) and has shared many of his personal thoughts and life through his YouTube channel - The Adventures of Zach and B, (his adorable dog, Bronson) so of course his perfect proposal planning process was recorded for the whole world to see. The Proposal video, published almost a year ago, already has over 270,000 views and The Proposal Part 2 published around the same time, is close to 300,000 views - if you haven’t seen it and you want

to fall in love with their love, check them out! In the proposal video, we see Zach stressing about calling Alastair’s mom to ask for his hand in marriage, but he feels really strongly about having her blessing - so he rehearses what he wants to say, but in the end he just dials and starts talking. Alastair’s Mom quickly responds in a positive tone and you can feel Zach take a deep breath of relief. He hangs up and smiles - that smile says it all - he has overcome a huge hurdle. Next of course, is actually getting “Baby boy,” as he lovingly calls Alastair, to say YES, so he rehearses different versions to ask for his hand in marriage. They were going to meet in Denver, CO during Alastair’s birthday weekend, and Zach knew this was the perfect opportunity to pop the question. He remembers that “a lot of people said it was too soon to get engaged, but really, who can say that other than yourself? And for me, I knew long


Zach & Alastair

before that he was the one. I’d never before met someone as special as Alastair, or someone that I connected with on such an intense and natural level. So there was no hesitation for me.” He thought of different ways to propose, but all along he kept saying to himself is, “if I lose him I’ll be the dumbest son of a bitch.” Since they were going to Colorado, he thought, maybe the top of a mountain, or other romantic places could be ideal settings. However, Alastair’s leg was recovering from a surgery, so hiking was not an option. Finally he decided to do it at the airport. Zach says, “being in a long distance relationship, airports unintentionally turned into special spots for us. I met him for the first time at baggage claim, so that’s where I’d propose, right as he landed in Denver, so we could enjoy the weekend as a newly engaged couple.” Habitually, whoever was picking up the other person from the airport,

would bring a sign or poster to welcome the other one as he got off the plane. This time, Zach created a “Happy Birthday” sign for him and he made a faux plane ticket, which instead of having the usual flight details, like boarding times, etc., it had the dates of their meeting, and the question “Will you marry me?” Zach says, “it was damn corny, but it was original and personal to our story. When he arrived at the baggage claim, I presented him with the decoy sign, then whipped out the airline ticket.” While Alastair is reading the ticket, Zach started playing one of their favorite songs, Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” and he dropped to one knee, and held a watch in his hand in place of a ring. The couple had discussed the idea of exchanging watches instead of engagement rings. Zach admits he was shaking and nervous, and as he started his fully rehearsed proposal speech,

he “just jumbled up” his words and he says it did not sound romantic at all. Alastair admits that he didn’t fully understand what Zach was saying, but, Zach finally popped the question. “Baby boy was so damn cute. That’s what I remember most. He was tired and surprised, and he just stared at me, jaw-dropped, without saying anything for a good half-minute that for a second I actually thought he might say NO. But then he smiled real big, said YES and that was that. We hugged, we kissed, and I landed myself the best guy on this planet,” explains Zach. Alastair admits that he was shocked when Zach proposed. He explains, “I felt like I was going to melt with love and excitement at building a life with my best friend. I was able to give him his watch and propose to him a few months afterwards which reaffirmed our commitment to each other.”

A double proposal. Their engagement story is a fast moving fairy-tale that not even Disney could imagine. The couple knew they wanted to get married during the summer, so they picked July 11, before Alastair had to go to ARMY training. Initially, they wanted a big wedding. Zach’s aunt, who owns a wedding planning business, was helping them. They looked at several venues around Texas. They even got rejected by some for not being a “traditional” couple - in other words a “gay” couple. They looked at bands, cakes, the works, and things started to get crazy. Their guest list was in the hundreds. Zach quickly decided to take the bull by the horns. “I’m a simple guy, so I suggested we cut out all the crap, bring it in to just our immediate families, and rent a beautifully set ranch for us all to stay at for the weekend, where we’d also get married.


Travel: Vieques

Alastair was on board, and it turned out to be the most perfect, intimate occasion of our lives.” Zach and Alastair met on social media. Zach’s YouTube channel has been witness to their relationship and their followers are vested in the couple. Zach and Alastair love the ability to go back and see the beginning of their relationship. “Not everyone gets to do that. When I started YouTube, I wasn’t at all interested in social media. No Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook was only for family to get in touch with me. If I’m honest, I could quit social media and be just fine. But it’s a great way to promote my videos, and I’ve gotten some awesome opportunities from it. Plus I wouldn’t have met my husband without Instagram, so I guess I can’t hate on it too much,” Zach laughs. Zach also loves the amount of people that he has connected with on a personal level. He’s interested in people and their stories, “so hearing about my viewers’ lives has really given me a more open mind about things and helped me to learn about myself and what it means to be just one person in this massive world we share. I’ve always been stuck in my ways, so it’s been nice seeing other perspectives.” For example, Zach remembers he made a video, and used the term “gay lifestyle” a few times when talking about living his life as an openly gay man. He remembers that some of his viewers called him out on that. “It really got me thinking. I’m from the South, and I’ve heard things said about gays my whole life. Naturally, some of those things, such as gay being a lifestyle, have stuck in my brain. Gay isn’t a lifestyle, though. And I thought, how long would I have continued thinking that if these people hadn’t said anything? I never would have even thought about it.” Some people decide to have a long engagement, like in my case and others choose the short version. So, which one is correct? There is NO right or wrong answer. Take as long as you need to or as little to pop the question, and take as long as you need to be an engaged couple. Go with your gut feeling, just be sure to - DO YOU!


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018



Photos by: James and Bill Rowan and Friends


ames and Bill took the modern route to meeting each other – online. They actually met on, when it was still one of the very few men dating sites. Boy meets boy for coffee, they talk and get to know each other and decide to take things to the next level and have a dinner date. They split appetizers, sharing lobster ravioli – and when there was only one ravioli left – they decided to split it and that’s how they knew it was meant to be. They took their first vacation that summer and while walking around South Beach, Bill uttered those three little words, “I love you,” ten years later they are still splitting appetizers and raising a son together.

Bill explains, “I don’t know how much we talked about getting married, maybe here and there but never quite seriously. But, marriage equality was becoming a thing. It was already the law in DC and the march toward marriage equality in Maryland, where we’ve lived for 8 years now, was imminent. I don’t recall why exactly, but the timing seemed right, it just did, probably as a way to further cement our relationship. The proposal was a big deal! I did the proposing and James never saw it coming! I started planning about 4 months ahead. There were no rings involved, instead I commissioned a pair of custom paintings by my college friend Mary Campbell, an artist and designer in Atlanta. I shared lots of information about our history, our origins, our love of travel, the day we met, our pets, our favorite poem (We Two Boys Together Clinging by Walt Whitman – we had recently seen a painting inspired by the poem at a National Portrait Gallery exhibit of art from the gay rights movement).”


James & Bill

Mary Campbell conceptualized the artwork for weeks all the way from Atlanta. The other key part of the proposal was the venue – CulinAerie, a recreational cooking school in DC. Bill knows the co-owner, Susan Holt; so they colluded to cook up the perfect ingredients for a romantic proposal. Bill excitedly explains, “Susan had a couples lobster cooking class in the works, and I decided that it would be great for us to do – we went to Maine a couple of summers prior, where we both participated in our first lobster boil. On the day of the proposal, I left work early to come home and make whoopee pies, another Maine staple that we could assemble after the cooking class, as a prelude to popping the question. I had to hide them and even bake cookies to provide a cover story for the delicious smell in the house! That night, during cooking class, we were organized into couples, with Chef Susan instructing us on

how to prepare and eat the lobsters. At the end, we stayed after, under the guise that I needed to talk with her about something work related. That’s when we dragged out the whoopee pies to assemble, and the actual proposal took place. I hadn’t prepared anything, I wasn’t down on one knee (we were sitting on stools), and there were no cameras or flash mob. It was just us, Susan, and a few kitchen staff cleaning up in the background. When I popped the question, James was startled – for a moment – and then said yes. We celebrated with a prosecco toast and applause from the kitchen staff. Then we went home where James discovered the paintings to mark the occasion of our engagement.” 11 months later, on the eve of Earth Day, in a gay-owned multi-functional art gallery, Fathom Gallery, they celebrated their special day. Bill, “as soon as we saw it, we knew it was the place.

The multi-level, multi-room space provided the perfect venue to welcome our guests, host a pre-ceremony cocktail hour, enjoy a rooftop-deck ceremony, and mingle at an indoor seated dinner. Everything said “special occasion” – including the unexpected affirmations in the restrooms – without hitting anyone over the head with gaudiness or wedding overload.” Besides hiring the caterer and venue, they did all the work themselves, from interviewing wedding officiants, to writing and editing the ceremony, to creating invitations, place settings, menu cards, etc. They decided to include a ceremonial planting of a cherry tree, which has since thrived in their yard, providing fruit for several seasons. “We planned the dinner, including local fare like

Maryland rockfish, with the caterer’s guidance, and asked them to create a nontraditional plated dessert – no cake – because we just wanted it to all be good and unique, not showy or traditional. We created and supplied our own Pimm’s Cup, along with local (Virginia) wine, and Horton Vineyards’ unique sparkling viognier in lieu of champagne. The caterer provided the tableware, which we accented with a variety of herbs we potted ourselves. The venue provided a unique and lush rooftop deck for our ceremony with a view across DC, along with background music and a place to hang our engagement art in the gallery. We selected a Native American prayer for reading during our ceremony, as well as the Whitman poem, each performed by some of our best and “oldest” friends.”


Capturing Your Love


Riviera Maya, Mexico Photo by: Banyan Tree Mayakoba Connextions 20 Connextions Magazine Magazine | | Deluxe Deluxe Life Life | | December December 2015 2015 20


Riviera Maya, Mexico 22 Photo by: Banyan Tree Mayakoba


he perfect wedding takes time to plan. My fiancé at the time, Jose, and I had decided a while back that we would get married on the same day as the adoption of our kids, which in theory is a beautiful idea. However, when we finally received the date of our adoption (you are given this date by the court system), it only gave us about 3 weeks to plan. In the end, we decided we didn’t have enough time for a wedding and instead chose to have a civil ceremony on the same day as our kids’ adoption. In essence, we entered as individuals and walked out as members of a family unit. However, I had always dreamt of having a wedding - a ceremony with our friends and family, and of course a party to celebrate our special day - so I decided that I would plan a wedding in 5 weeks after the adoption. Why 5 weeks? Well, I decided that I wanted to have our wedding on the same day as the anniversary of my mother’s death, because in my mind this would ensure

she would be there, her energy would bless our marriage and it was a way to change the vibe of the date in my head. However, when reality kicked in, it was nearly impossible to find the right venue at the right price for us. Finally, my now husband, Jose, sat me down and noticed how stressed I was trying to plan a wedding in 5 weeks, and he said, “listen, I know you want this date, however, you need to realize that things do not seem to be working, the venues we like do not have the date, the venues that have the date available, we are not 100% sure about and some we can’t afford. It feels like we are fighting against the universe and this is not allowing you to enjoy the process of planning our wedding. In the end, your mother will be with us no matter what date we choose and where we get married, because she is always in your heart and in your mind.” His speech made so much sense; it gave me clarity and hope. That’s one of the reasons why I chose


Planning the Perfect Wedding

Jose, because he is one of the few people who can make me see things when I am blinded, and he remains calm when I am the most stressed.

In the end, we decided we would plan the wedding we always imagined, the one we truly wanted, the one we talked about many nights imagining the magical event. We knew we didn’t want to get married in a hotel, we didn’t want to get married in a dance hall or anything like that, what we really wanted was a cruise wedding!

for us, and then we called to see if they had a date available - Carnival Cruiseline did! So, in the end, Carnival chose our wedding date and we were totally fine with it, because it worked for us on so many levels. It finally felt like I was going with the flow of the universe, instead of fighting it and it became so easy.

I did some research online and found two cruise lines with wedding packages within our budget. Jose and I wanted to spend about $3,000 on just the wedding, not counting the honeymoon.

I’m a bit of a control freak and this process was really new to me, so I wasn’t sure how it would work out. I called Carnival and the first thing I said is, “we’re a gay couple and we would like to inquire about weddings. Do you do gay weddings?” They answered positively and they briefly explained to me the planning process and costs, and I reserved the date.

Most of my family lives in Florida and most of Jose’s family lives in Puerto Rico, and most of our friends are in New York, which is home to us. So we took into consideration our family’s and friends’ travel abilities and decided that a cruise out of Florida would be best for us. We found the ideal itinerary

Quickly, I called Jose and told him all about it, and he said, “is this what you want?” and I said, “this is what we talked about, and it’s sort of within our budget.” So of course, Jose caught on to my not so subtle way of discussing price and I explained further.

Our original budget for the entire wedding was $3,000. Our wedding package with Carnival started at $2,000 and then we added the few extras we wanted and it was still within our budget. We then added the plane tickets from New York to Florida and of course, the honeymoon cruise for us, it started adding quickly. As luck would have it, when I was researching plane ticket prices, I came across a really good deal, so I bought plane tickets for 4 (us and our 2 kids) and then paid the deposit for our honeymoon cruise, which was also on sale and we had the option to pay it off until 90 days prior to our trip. So, it didn’t hurt as much - but even with those extras, we spent a bit more than $5,000, which to be honest would have been the cost of a so-so wedding in New York in a so-so venue and it would not include the honeymoon. The wedding planning was an interesting process for me, mainly because The Wedding Experience,

Carnival’s wedding department, provides the couple with a virtual Wedding Planner. I am a very visual person, so I am one of those people who needs to look at things to understand them fully, so I called and emailed our Wedding Planner several times throughout the entire process, and Diana Morales, our Virtual Wedding Planner, was always available to answer my questions (during working hours), which is a hard concept for “bridezillas” or “groomzillas,” to comprehend, but it is part of the process and you have to learn to trust and allow the experts to do their job (easier said than done). Diana was absolutely amazing, she took the time to guide us and answer all of our questions, and to provide great suggestions that we hadn’t even imagined. I recall several days where I would speak to Diana more than to Jose and she was always pleasant and super sweet. I felt that she was always with me and could hear her warm and comforting smile.


Planning the Perfect Wedding

Size Matters!

One of the first things to plan is the size of your guest list. We knew we wanted a small wedding, between 20 - 25 people, so that settled the cost per person. And of course we picked a private venue within the ship that spoke to us. Diana emailed us three different options and I forwarded the email to Jose and asked him to pick his top choice – we both picked the same one – so we knew that was the one for us. The planning process can be very stressful for the couple, so take some time to really listen to each other. Do you invite all of your relatives – even the ones who may not agree with your wedding? Or do you invite the ones who truly love the two of you and want what’s best for you? This is my advice to everyone looking to get married: you are under ZERO obligation to invite relatives you don’t want at your wedding,

Riviera Maya, Mexico Photo by: Banyan Tree Mayakoba

especially the ones who have not made an effort to get to know your better half. Oftentimes, in the gay community, we tend to pick our “family members,” you know the ones who will stick with you through everything, the ones who know you backwards and forwards and just because they are not blood related, they are still family! Also, this is your day, so invite the people who make you happy. Just because your parents are paying for your wedding, it does not give them the right to invite their friends – however, be open and receptive to their suggestions, especially if they’re paying the bill. But in the end, the choice is yours and remember, this is YOUR wedding so enjoy every second of the planning process, because before you know it you’ll be saying “I DO” and you’ll forget about the headaches and focus only on the best parts.

Riviera Maya, Mexico Photo by: Banyan Tree Mayakoba It’s in the Details Diana explained all of the details involved with a cruise wedding. For example, all wedding guests have to go through customs and therefore, need to provide an ID (passport preferred) or birth certificate for younger guests upon boarding the ship. We had to compile a list of our friends’ and family members’ passport numbers and had to turn this in about two to three weeks prior to the wedding and once the names are turned in, they cannot change. There are a couple of cruise wedding options, including: a shipboard wedding and a destination wedding. The destination wedding is a more elaborate process. You choose an island as your scenery. The blue skies, the sounds of nature and even the sea-scented breeze as you say “I do” become some of the most vivid memories you make that day. Carnival will help you plan nearly

every detail. Carnival will take the couple to the wedding site, select a local Officiant to perform the ceremony, and handle the music and bouquet. They will even help with the legally-binding marriage certificates in your destination port. For destination weddings, the guests have to travel with you and when you arrive at the island where you will wed, that’s show time! On a shipboard wedding, not all wedding guests have to cruise, some can stay on board and cruise with you, while others can exit the ship after the wedding and return to land. Since, some of our guests were not traveling with us, we decided on a shipboard wedding, which meant that our entire wedding party and guests had to arrive by 10am, and our wedding would take place around lunchtime. With a shipboard wedding, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Only the couple can


photographers and get to know them before the wedding, but since we know several photographers who were a part of our wedding, we asked them to bring in their not-too-professional cameras and take pics, just in case we weren’t happy with the pics the ship’s photographer took.

Note: if you are planning the traditional not seeing each other before the wedding - this may not work for you.

Guests are allowed to take pics and videos, but no professional cameras or tripods are allowed. My worries all vanished when I saw the pictures. Our photographer had been well versed on who we were and every step of our ceremony, she was able to capture some absolutely gorgeous pictures. She even made a beautiful video for us.

For us, we wanted to create our own traditions, so this was not an issue. We actually looked forward to helping each other with our tuxes and accessories, which made for some really cute pictures. Cruise lines have professional photographers on board, therefore, couples are not allowed to hire outside photographers. This caused a bit of stress because I wanted to see the work of the


Prior to the wedding date, you will virtually meet your Officiant to discuss your wedding bows. Since we have Spanish speaking family members, we chose a bilingual version of the ceremony. We discussed the entire ceremony, including our processional and recessional wedding songs and

Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

Photos by: Gio Morales Photography

change aboard the ship, all guests and wedding party must arrive fully dressed. Also, the entire group - couple, wedding party and guests - must check in and board the ship at the same time, so the “surprise” effect is only based on couple’s outfits.

which poems we wanted to be read, we had our own bows and we even chose an Apache blessing for our ceremony. The Special Day While the couple is getting ready, your guests are free to roam around the ship, order drinks at the bar and enjoy some hors d’oeuvre s prior to lunch. We decided that we wanted to spend a relaxing time with our guests after the wedding, so we chose an elegant three-course sit-down luncheon, instead of a dance party. Note: On your wedding day, your private wedding coordinator and Officiant will meet you before you check in to board the cruise. Your guests, wedding party and you will check in together. Those who are sailing will go through customs and those visiting just for the wedding will be escorted

Manny & Jose

through another line not too far from you. So you can see your guests as they arrive.

My now husband and I had t-shirts made prior to our wedding, which we wore on the morning of our wedding while we were checking in. Our t-shirts featured our wedding logo: “Live, Love, Laugh” and also the word “Groom” in big bold letters – so there was no doubt who we were! As a matter of fact, our t-shirts caused a reaction in people, some were surprised and happy and we even had some dirty looks, but we didn’t care. One lady even said to us, I see the grooms but where are the brides? To which we replied, no bride in our party just two grooms and smiled as we kept walking with our kids and left her behind with an astonished look on her face. Since our kids were part of our wedding and they are minors, we were able to bring them with us to our cabin and get dressed. My sister and

Manny & Jose

niece came in to help our daughter with her hair and make-up. Our kids were a huge part of our wedding – they were the ones who gave Daddies away and they were part of our first dance.

think I cried several times during that process. I may have not been able to get through my vows because of my crying, but it was lovely and we’ll never forget it.

Once we were ready and it was show time, our onboard wedding coordinator, who works with our virtual planner, was there to help us every step of the way. At this point, I was too nervous to even worry about whether or not the wedding coordinator would follow my directions – but Diana, our virtual planner, had everything under control and our coordinator took care of every little detail as we had discussed.

As we walked to the salon where our ceremony would take place, the nerves started to kick in. I remember trying to keep our kids from getting too nervous, because they had to remember their steps and lines. But as soon as our processional song started to play (a Spanglish version of John Legend’s All of Me with a beautiful violin solo at the beginning), we all got into character, our son walked in first, followed by our daughter, then my husband and lastly me. After a welcoming message by our officiant and greetings, our officiant asked: “Who supports this Couple’s Decision to become life partners?” And our two kids who were holding our hands, answered, “We Do,” as they took our hands and united us for the first time.

Photos by: Gio Morales Photography

I remember I wanted our cake to have two different ribbons and I had mentioned to Diana how I wanted the ribbons to look and in what order, so on the wedding date I gave the ribbons to the coordinator, and she said, “don’t worry, I know exactly how you want these to look.” And when I saw our wedding cake I cried again. I


Manny & Jose We arrived 4 days before our wedding, because we wanted to spend some time enjoying the weather and sun. A few hours after arriving, we got a phone call, my husband’s father who was in Puerto Rico, had just unexpectedly passed away, heart attack. We were devastated. I remember telling Jose to cancel the wedding and to fly out to Puerto Rico. He decided not to cancel the wedding. We drove Jose back to the airport and he went to Puerto Rico. I stayed with both kids back at the hotel, but our hearts were with him and his family. The next morning, I woke up with a huge migraine – I had not experienced anything similar in years. But of course, I had bigger issues to deal with, like my husband’s pain and grief. I called Jose. They were feeling a bit better, but still in shock and in pain. I asked him once again about canceling the wedding and he said, “no, I’ll be there Friday night.” Originally, we had planned on having our guests join us for Thanksgiving dinner, brunch on Friday morning and cocktails later that evening and wedding the next day, but I canceled those events

and just laid low at the hotel with our friends and family, mainly making sure Jose felt us close even if we weren’t physically next to him. Friday night, I picked him up from the airport. I knew he was in pain, but he really needed to talk and feel loved. We stayed up with some of our friends, drinking and talking. He felt he made the right decision about going through with the ceremony. The day of the wedding, we spoke with the Officiant and we explained what had occurred and she quickly decided to include his dad’s and my mom’s names in her welcoming message ”whose spirits and love will be with [us] always.” It was very emotional, but a perfect way to express how we were feeling. Looking back, it was the right move to go on with the wedding, because it allowed Jose the time to get away from everything and everyone and be surrounded by love. Sometimes, when you are planning big events, there are always things you can’t plan for, the key is to remain calm and allow the universe to guide you!

Capturing Your Love


Connextions Magazine


The Parent-HOOD!


June 2015


Connextions Magazine


The Parent-HOOD!


June 2015

Meghan & Victoria

Photos courtesy of: Meghan, Victoria & Chantell

Meghan was preparing to relocate for work. So

Cruz Photography

the conversation about forever came up: “do we


move across country together? Does that mean

eghan and Victoria met on Mardi Gras.

we might as well be married? Does our time line

They were both living in Richmond and had a

for having a family match up?” It seemed it was

mutual friend. Victoria was hosting a dinner party

the perfect time to answer these tough questions.

for Mardi Gras and Meghan attended. Through

Since Meghan was leaving Richmond for work,

their mutual friend, they met at several gatherings

they made a bucket list of all the things they would

over the next few months and before they knew

like to do one more time before moving.

it, they went on several “friend-dates.” However, although for Victoria, these were just friendly

One of the things on the couple’s bucket list was

encounters, Meghan felt these were real dates,

“to walk the flood wall along the James River where

so she persistently tried to convince Victoria that

we first held hands and talked about taking the

the two were perfect for each other. Nine months

leap to be together. Richmond is the only urban

later of friendship and the two became an item.

setting with class III rapids running through it thanks to the James. It is a beautiful setting where you can

After two and half years of dating, the couple

see the downtown landscape as the backdrop

had to make some life altering decisions. Victoria

for the rushing water. There is a flood-wall on the

felt like she wasn’t getting any younger and

south shore that lets you walk along the River until


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

Meghan & Victoria

arriving at Belle Isle.” Meghan asked Victoria on a

As Victoria flipped through the pages, she noticed

date to knock off some of their bucket list items.

the end of the book pages were cut out. Meghan had inserted a ring box into the book and asked

The first stop was the flood wall. “As we walked hand

Victoria to marry her. Of course, Victoria said “yes!”

in hand, I started talking about our relationship,

They finished the evening at Williamsburg Winery

which was not an uncommon topic for us given

bed and breakfast, where they spent their first

our circumstances. About halfway down the wall,

weekend trip. Meghan had arranged everything

I pulled out a copy of the alchemist and started

to leave straight from the flood wall, including the

talking about the book. Earlier in our dating history,

dog walker. “We celebrated just the two of us in

Victoria would get me to read books by writing

front of the fire that evening, waiting to share the

notes in the margins for her to encourage me to

news with our loved ones until the next day.

continue the stories to finish the books.” Because of the special place of the alchemist in So, there they were on the flood wall and Meghan

our relationship, we made sure to incorporate that

told Victoria she read the alchemist and made

into our wedding day and had a huge quote from

notes in the margin for her. When Meghan opened

the story featured as soon as guests walked in.”

the book to point out some of the notes, like “let’s make our dreams come true together,” she

The couple got engaged in March and married

stopped walking and sat her down on the bench.

eight months later. The couple had a very quick


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

Meghan & Victoria

time line because they knew they couldn’t

to take too much vacation time from work. We

marry in the spring, and wait over a year to be

picked Thanksgiving weekend to get married,

married and start planning their family. Also, they

which was extra special as November also marks

took Meghan’s brothers lacrosse schedule into

3 years together. While searching for a wedding

consideration, and a spring wedding meant they

venue, I came across a very small wedding venue

would not have been able to attend. Meghan is

at a canoe outpost, only to find out the venue was

very close to her family, which is also one of the

the property of a neighborhood and events had to

reasons they chose a destination wedding. Her

be sponsored by a resident of that neighborhood

grandparents don’t travel, so the couple decided

to be held there.”

to bring the wedding to them. Victoria almost gave up, but still mentioned it to Because of the time line and geographical

Meghan, just because she couldn’t stop thinking

distance, they decided to have a wedding

about the location. “As the universe would

planner, Daring Events! They admit, “we couldn’t

have it, the canoe outpost was exactly in the

have done it without her!”

neighborhood where Meghan’s grandparents lived, so everything fell into place for our wedding

“Since we were limited to the fall and we knew we

to happen at a canoe outpost in Fernandina

wanted a destination wedding, we tried to pick

Beach, Florida. Because gay marriage was not yet

a time when people could travel without having

legal in all states, we signed our marriage license


Connextions Magazine


Travel Heels


September 2016

in New York before we left, so according to the

and had a birthday fortune telling book to be

government we were married in September, not

read while waiting to sign. Their initial budget


was $10-$15 thousand, but when everything was said and done, they spent about $25,000 on their

“Because the wedding was small, we had

wedding weekend.

boutonnières/flowers for everyone to wear. Our program included fun facts about everyone

“Because we were planning a very intimate

who attended so the guests would have topics

wedding (40 guests), we wanted everything to

of conversation with those they had not met.

be very special. And though the number of guests

Meghan’s grandfather married us, which made

influences your budget, some things are fixed

the day even better, to get the blessing from

costs like photography, the band, the wedding

someone with almost 50 years of marriage under

planner regardless of how many guests you have.

his belt. We had local beer from Florida, New York,

The venue cost $100 to rent, but we had to bring

Virginia, and Louisiana to celebrate where we

in everything, including furniture.”

came from and where we were.” Their wedding favors were blankets, which came in handy with

The couple went on a pre-wedding honeymoon

the extra chill the weather brought that week.

to Sandals in Grenada. They have 2 little boys,

Instead of a guest book, they had guests fill in a

Rowen and Reed. Rowen will be 3 this year and

perpetual calendar of birthdays and anniversaries

Reed was born last June.


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018


Connextions Magazine


Travel Heels


September 2016

The Photographer’s Portrait

Wedding Professionals Proud to Provide Services and Support to



Plan Your Perfect


WORLDS LARGEST PREMIERE Online LGBT Wedding Planning Directory



Travis & Kelly

Photos courtesy of: Marble Rye Photography

So Travis did what any other gay man suspecting a blind date setup would do, he asked his best


friend Dayna, who later became the officiant at

heir story begins in 2003, when they met for the

their wedding, to tag along. So after walking into

first time. According to Kelly, they met in a meeting

the restaurant, Dayna turned to Travis, approved

he was facilitating in Travis’ place of employment.

via a thumbs up and left the couple-to-be to get

Kelly claims a mutual friend introduced them and

to know each other.

said “you’d be perfect for each other.” They recognized each other from the meeting, However, one lived in Texas and had a boyfriend

and the rest is history as they say. The couple

and the other lived in Portland. Travis remembers

says “We haven’t been apart since that brunch.”

the meeting, but does not recall the conversation

Kelly is the type of person who follows his instincts

leading to the introduction.

without hesitation, so he proposed and had rings designed for Travis’ birthday, six months after their

“Obviously, it wasn’t the right time for either of us,”

brunch date. Travis who self describes as “much

exclaims Travis. Five years later, Travis moved to

more diligent and thoughtful about these types of

the Bay Area and another mutual friend invited

decisions,” waited for another six months before

him to brunch and said that she was bringing a

finally saying “I love you.” And, ten years later, and

friend that had just moved to San Francisco.

two kids later, Travis finally threw Kelly a surprise


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018


Connextions Magazine


Travel Heels


September 2016

Travis & Kelly

birthday party, where he not only proposed, but

important people in their lives would be there, why

also married him on the same weekend.

not surprise him and the guests with a wedding?

“This is such a part of our story as a couple. Kelly is

Why not? When you know each other so well,

a heart person and just goes with how he feels, but

you can pretty much guess what the other

attention to detail is not his strength. So, it took me

person will love. But to plan a wedding without

a while to plan out the perfect wedding,” exclaims

the other person having any say in it, it’s a huge

Travis. When Travis turned 40, Kelly surprised him

undertaking, but Travis knew exactly what Kelly

with a Carmel Valley Ranch party. It was one of

would want for their special day and how they

the best weekends of their lives, because while

envisioned it. That’s just a testament to their love

the couple was driving to the surprise party, they

and unity. Travis admits, “it was very difficult to pull

found out that they had been matched with what

off,” but his love and desire to surprise Kelly made

would become their future son’s birth parents.

the process more bearable.

Carmel Valley Ranch became a very important

Friday evening, the couple toasts Kelly’s 40th and

place for them, so when it came time to plan

Travis gets on one knee and proposes. Saturday,

Kelly’s 40th it couldn’t be anywhere else. Travis

the couple says “I Do!” Travis planned every little

realized this was the place he envisioned the

detail, from timing to menus to wedding setup.

two of them getting married, and since the most

Everyone admits “It was the best weekend ever!”


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

The Photographer’s Portrait

United States - United Kingdom - Canada - Brazil - Germany - Kenya - Indonesia - China - Russia - France Japan - Italy - Netherlands - Australia - Spain - South Korea - Mexico - Turkey - India - Philippines - South AfWe are your Connextions rica - Pakistan - Malaysia - Poland - Argentina - Beltravel- Finland & new- adventures. gium - to Sweden Norway - Denmark - Israel - TaiwanWe - Singapore - Thailand - Portugal - Ukraine are your Connextions Algeria - Ireland -readers Austria - Switzerland - Vietnam - Puerto 350,000+ in 135 countries. to Rico - Venezuela - Romania - Bangladesh - Czech Republic - Egypt - Colombia - Greece - Peru - Estonia - Hong Kong - Saudi Arabia - Slovenia - United Arab Emirates - Chile - Latvia - Yemen - Sri Lanka - Nigeria - New Zealand - Hungary - Iran - Lebanon - Morocco - Qatar - Serbia - Bulgaria - Côte d’Ivoire - Dominican Republic - Ecuador - Jordan - French Polynesia - Turks & Caicos Islands - Bahamas - Kuwait - Macedonia Oman - Slovakia - Syria - Tunisia - Bosnia & Herzegovina - Bahrain - Costa Rica - Cyprus - Georgia - Guatemala - Croatia - Sudan - Trinidad & Tobago - Uruguay - Albania - Angola - Bolivia - Botswana - Jamaica - CamWe are your Connextions bodia - aLibya - Martinique - Mozambique - Namibia to 20,000+ social media followers. - Paraguay - Senegal - Uganda - Kosovo - Afghanistan We are your Connextions - Aruba - Barbados - Bermuda - Belarus - Belize - Cuba to the - Djibouti - Ethiopia - Fiji world! - Grenada - Guinea - Bissau - Iraq - Jersey - Cayman Islands - Kazakhstan - Lithua@ConnextionsMag on all social media channels nia - Luxembourg - Mongolia - Macau - Malta - New Caledonia - Nicaragua - Panama - Somalia - El Salva48 dor - U.S. Virgin Islands - Venezuela - Vanuatu - Zambia


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September 2016

Capturing Your Love


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Connextions Connextions Magazine Magazine | | Deluxe Deluxe Life Life | | December December 2015 2015

Meghan and Victoria Photo by: JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ

The Wedding Day We sat down with Ossy Lopez, who has been in the Convention and Meetings, as well as Weddings and social/special events since 2005, to give us some pointers about Your Wedding Day. Ossy has been working for the past 10 years with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. He recently finished a project of transitioning and opening the new hotel “The Confidante Hotel”, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, located in Miami Beach. He is now back home in Orlando, Florida at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. He has produced over 120 weddings in his career, including same-sex couples. The most expensive wedding he produced was close to a million dollars, between venue fees, catering, décor, dress, ring, and other expenses besides the actual ceremony, reception and rehearsal diner. The least expensive he produced was a wedding for 20 guests. Ossy says, “this wedding was very sweet and simple. Just food, Hotel décor, because they just wanted to


celebrate their union and use their money to travel.

n your wedding day, you will most likely

The couple used several hotel resources to save

be a wreck of emotions - from joy, to fear, to

money, such as hotel linens, centerpieces and

excitement, to everything else in between - and

available décor, and the food and beverages,

that is OK!

which helped them to cut down on costs.

It’s YOUR special day, but try to enjoy every second

Connextions Magazine (CM): What have you

of it, because before you know it, you will be taking

learned about weddings, since you started

off your shoes and try to process the entire event.


A person you can trust, besides your soon to be

Ossy Lopez (OL): One thing I have noticed is

spouse, is your wedding planner or producers are

that 99% of the couples begin to truly enjoy the

they are called sometimes and often referred to

reception during the last 15-30 minutes before

as miracle workers. If you decide to hire one, the

it ends. For the past year, I have focused the

right one can help you make possible YOUR vision.

planning to increase that time frame by advising

A good Wedding Producer will listen and provide

couples to get all the formalities out of the way

advice, they will speak firmly when needed and

early in the evening, for them to be able to enjoy

be compassionate at the same time.

the real reason they are there.


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

Wedding Planner Expert: Ossy Lopez Every Wedding is unique… these are people’s

with the costs. Your parents mean well, even if you

dreams and personalities being reflected on the

disagree. Try to find areas where you can meet

day. Each Wedding is unique, as each person is

in the middle to try to please almost everyone,

unique. They may have similarities, but somehow

however, never forget this is YOUR DAY.

each wedding, each couple has something special and different from the other ones.

5. Do not forget the reason why you are getting married. Enjoy each moment. If something does

CM: Is there a celebrity couple you would like to

not go as planned, remember that only you

work with (present or past)?

know what the plan. Do not stress over minimum

OL: I would have loved to do Ellen and Portia’s

elements, and try to make the best of each

Wedding. Ellen is such an inspiration for so many

experience in the process, especially the day of

people, she brings so much joy and happiness,

your wedding. You want to have great memories,

that I would have loved to take that energy and

even if something goes wrong. You have the

somehow tried to transfer it to their guests. Ellen

power to turn anything into a great moment and

and Portia, if you want to renew your vows, please

therefore, having a wonderful memory of the day

look me up!

is the most important. And, do not forget to enjoy each other’s company. After all, you are marrying

Top 5 Tips From the Expert

that person and you should have the time of your life with them.

1. Use the venue resources as much as possible. Hotels tend to be higher in pricing, but they have way many more resources than other venues. 2. Book your event with the Team you trust. There must be some kind of connection between you and your vendors, to be able to enjoy planning and executing the wedding. 3. Plan YOUR DAY… not someone else. Even though is a good idea to see what others have done, make a list of what you want, before looking at other people’s weddings. 4. Prepare for strong involvement from your family. It should be the couples making all the decisions, but let’s be honest… most of the times, it’s the parents’ day. Do not fight everything. Choose your battles, especially if your parents are helping


Connextions Magazine


Travel Heels


September 2016


UNCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE RIVIERA MAYA Be swept away by pristine coastlines and robust life forms in this bounty of freshwater lagoons and mangroves, natural dunes, intricate coral reefs and the famed Riviera Maya coast. Dance your soul on the wind of the Caribbean. Mayakoba is an arcadia of indigenous fish and bird species and has a carefully maintained ecosystem. Banyan Tree Mayakoba is the epitome of premium resort living, bringing Asian hospitality to the idyllic Riviera Maya. Nestled within the private gated integrated resort development of Mayakoba, immerse yourself in untouched nature complemented with the Riviera Maya luxury resort’s familiar warmth and charm. 54



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CRUISE WEDDINGS CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE Carnival helps folks make fun memories every day, so just imagine what they can do for a festive event like your wedding. Picture your wedding photos with a blue sea-sky background or white-sand beach behind you… and a gentle breeze through your hair. Oh, and don’t forget the guests! Whether you get married aboard the ship on a scenic island destination, Carnival staff takes care of all the details. And then there’s the honeymoon — is a Carnival cruise the world’s best honeymoon? Only if you like fine dining, entertainment, exotic locations and comfy staterooms. Nearly all the best ways to spend your honeymoon are included in your cruise fare. Say I DO!


Photo by: Manny Velasquez-Paredes



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Photo courtesy of: Gio Morales Photography




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Castle Hotel & Spa in NY offers the perfect backdrop for your wedding. Your guests will marvel at the architecture and ornate dĂŠcor, capturing the romance of an era that lends itself to endless photo opportunities. The artfully landscaped grounds provide a tranquil setting for an outdoor wedding ceremony and cocktail reception. The Private Wing offers the magnificent 40-foot vaulted ceilings and Gothic Tiffany stained-glass windows of our Great Hall, coupled with the romantic, crystal chandelier adorned Caramai Ballroom.

Photos courtesy of: Castle Hotel & Spa




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Farming on the California North Coast in the Foggy Bottoms with two fabulous farm boys, a few goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens and a whole lot of cows! Connextions Magazine first featured the Foggy Bottoms Boys on issue 17: Love Around the World, and we reported on how Cody & Thomas became a couple. The couple currently lives in the town of Ferndale, which is about 5 minutes from the farm. The Foggy Bottoms Boys (FBBs) had the opportunity to grow up on farms and they truly believe it is one of the greatest ways for a child to grow up and they would like their future children to have the same opportunities. The couple has a strong desire to build a family, and are considering adoption as a priority. One of Cody’s goals is to become the awesome farmer/4-H/soccer dad. There are 120 acres on the dairy with a couple hundred additional acres being leased for the heifers and beef cattle. The dairy itself is a purebred Jersey dairy that is certified organic, free-range, and humane, verified GMO-Free. The FBBs place the highest value on the health and well-being of their cattle with a focus on quality over quantity. The cows at Foggy Bottoms are grazed on pasture 365 days a year, only ever confined to the barn in major inclement weather events, which being in Humboldt County is truly rare. Rather than making a final product, they produce milk for Rumiano Cheese Company, which according to the FBBs, it has an incredible green and sustainable philosophy. The milk from their cows becomes part of their line of organic award winning cheese that is now sold at Whole Foods nationwide, in all 50 states, and in 7 different countries on 3 continents.



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TREEHOUSE WEDDINGS MOOSE MEADOW LODGE & TREEHOUSE Imagine waking up to the splashing of rainbow trout and the music of the hermit thrush as you gaze out on the pristine pond at Moose Meadow. The Treehouse at Moose Meadow is where nature and luxury come together in tranquil harmony, and where your imagination can soar. This experience will change you forever. Nestled on 86 secluded acres in the Green Mountains, the Adirondack style Moose Meadow Lodge in Waterbury, Vermont invites you to enjoy a Vermont lodge experience. Make yourselves at home and enjoy the peace and serenity of our secluded property. With four luxury guest rooms and a magical treehouse, the property provides mountain views, a hot tub, hiking trails, a trout pond, and the Sky Loft - a glass-enclosed gazebo at the highest point of the property with unparalleled panoramic views. Supported by two mature pine trees, the Treehouse at Moose Meadow is redefining glamorous camping or “glamping.” Designed for those who enjoy camping as well as creature comforts, this handcrafted two-story nest is made with cedar, pine, maple and hemlock. Its 31 windows maximize your experience of the natural surroundings. This magical New England treehouse getaway features a living & dining area on the first floor with an expansive wrap-around deck. Enjoy the view of the woods as you climb up the circular staircase wrapped around a maple tree. The second-story bedroom with its custom made queen size bed provides comfort and warmth, while the balcony provides a high perch to take in the surrounding natural beauty. Willie Docto (founder of the Vermont Gay Tourism Association) and Greg Trulson (Justice of the Peace) are committed to providing a comfortable, fun, and make-yourself-at-home atmosphere at the Moose Meadow Lodge. They met in 1992 at a log home B&B in West Virginia. In 1996, these former Washingtonians moved to Vermont to pursue their dream of owning a B&B. They bought a single-family home on 86 acres, and after a couple of years of research, planning, fishing, hunting and renovating, they opened the Moose Meadow Lodge in October of 1998. Willie and Greg were named Vermont’s “B&B INNKEEPERS OF THE YEAR” in 2005 by the Vermont Lodging & Restaurant Association. 94

Photo by: Moose Meadow Lodge & Treehouse



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Connextions Magazine


The Parent-HOOD!


June 2015

Sara & Nicole

their lives. Sara explains, “moving in meant we

Photos by: Sara & Nicole


didn’t plan on moving back out. To me, I felt that I should be intent on marrying someone if I ara & Nicole followed the modern trend and

was going to move in with them. I had already

met online, both from New York and both moved

talked with Nicole’s mother about my intention

to the DC area within a few months of each other.

to marry her and I wanted Nicole, as well, as her

They shared their first kiss in front of the Lincoln

support system to know that I wanted to spend

Memorial. They dated for just over a year before

my life with her. The proposal wasn’t very planned,

getting engaged. Sara says, “it probably seemed

to be honest. Nicole was out that morning and I

soon to some, but we both had been in serious

randomly decided to pop the question when she

relationships and we knew what we were looking

got home. I bought some roses, lit some candles

for. We wanted to have kids and be a family, so

in our room, and did the whole ‘get down on one

we were just ready at that point.”

knee’ thing. She accepted and we spent most of the rest of the day calling our families to tell them

Sara proposed a week after the two moved in

our good news.”

together, a month or two after their one year anniversary. They had talked quite a bit about

Since they got engaged just over a year after

what moving in together meant, and neither

moving to a new city, most of their guests were from

of them wanted to play games at that point in

out of town, so they wanted to choose a venue


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

Sara & Nicole

that accessible. They found a hotel in downtown

first gay couple she had worked with. Needless to

Silver Spring, MD that had accommodations to

say, the couple left a heartfelt testimonial on the

have the ceremony, happy hour, and reception

wedding planner’s website after the event as a

all on the same floor. “Our hotel package included

thank you and payment.

a wedding planner and she was amazing, but it’s not something we would have likely sought out on

Their wedding planner ran the event incredibly

our own. Nicole is super organized and good at

smoothly and they had no major issues on that

that stuff, so our general rule was for her to pick

day. There was however, some drama prior to

her top three of whatever the choice was, and

the wedding. At the time, they were attending a

then I’d choose from those three. I was much

Presbyterian church semi-regularly and Sara and

more about the marriage than the wedding, but I

Nicole asked the minister at their church to marry

had no idea until that day how amazing it would

them. The church they went to was very pro-LGBT,

be,” says Sara.

although the larger entity had not yet come around on the issue. The minister committed and then

Their wedding planner actually quit the hotel

called them a few months before the wedding to

a few months before their wedding, but she

back out. She was in some trouble with the church

volunteered to stay with Sara and Nicole through

for having performed another gay ceremony,

that day at no cost. She was starting her own

and she said she could not sign another marriage

wedding planning business and they were the

certificate at that time.

They were getting

Sara & Nicole

married in Maryland, which recognized, but did

female couple. So the trepidation about facing

not yet allow gay marriage. They explained that

judgment as a gay couple turned out to have

they would get legally married 2 months before

quite the opposite result—the vendors we settled

their actual wedding in DC with the justice of the

on were extra attentive and pleasant with us.”

peace. The Maryland ceremony would be to celebrate with their friends and family, but it was

“I believe the whole event cost was in the ballpark

just a formality. She was relieved and excited to

of $30k including rings. We spent just under $20k

be able to marry them, or so they thought. Shortly

for the venue, which included the ceremony

thereafter, the couple stopped hearing from her.

room, cocktail room, reception, a great dinner,

They tried semi-desperately to get in contact with

and open bar. They also gave us great discounts

her in the weeks leading up to the wedding, but

on rooms for the guests which was huge because

she did not return their multiple emails or phone

over 100 of our guests stayed there. Our main thing

calls. The couple’s feelings were hurt, but they

was making the event guest-friendly since most

were excited for their special day and ended up

people in attendance had to buy plane tickets

asking a friend to perform the ceremony.

and hotel rooms in order to come. We splurged a bit on dinner and open bar for that reason. It was

Sara explains, “we got married in August because

important to us that we show our guests a good

the oppressive heat in DC makes things cheaper


then. We spent a lot of time planning. It was kind of a weekend job for much of that year. It felt

“We spent about $5,000 on the photographer,

insane to be debating things like napkins, but we

which included an engagement session with

fortunately didn’t feel too strongly about particular

photos made into the guest book of the event.

details, so I think we coasted through as much as

Our photographer was incredible. He met us at

one can when planning a larger wedding. Neither

4am to shoot our engagement photos in the

of us had any idea how much work actually went

cherry blossoms and stayed at the hotel after our

into planning a wedding for 160 guests.”

wedding to accommodate my request to take photos jumping into the pool. He changed into

“What I remember most is the process of picking

his bathing suit and jumped in the pool with his

our vendors. Gay marriage was a very hot topic

equipment to take these incredible photos.”

when we got married and, being new to the area, we were very leery of having a vendor who was

Sara and Nicole have two beautiful daughters.

anything but supportive. We were very selective

Isabella is almost three and Elizabeth (Betsy) is

in choosing the people who would be helping us

almost one. Sara considers herself lucky, because

in our special day, and we found some amazing

“Nicole wanted to carry a child. She’s tougher

people. We realized as we got into the process

than me in every sense of the word. Being able to

that having gay-friendly vendors not only suited

watch a human laugh, walk, and talk for the first

us, but suited them as well. I think every vendor

time is just nuts and being a mom will forever be

we used asked if we would write them a review,

my greatest joy, and I’m so grateful to my wife for

as we were most of their first time working with a

enabling us to have these incredible kids.”


Connextions Magazine


Travel Heels


September 2016


Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018


Photos by: Jason Howe & Adrián Pérez Boluda


hey met at a bar in Sacramento in 2003. Typical love story, boy is finishing his doctorate and meets boy who’s dating another boy, then a year later after graduation – on a dare – asks boy out. Jason was a TV reporter, and one night while Adrián was out with a friend, Jason’s segment plays on the television. Adrián’s friend thought Jason was hot and proudly, Adrián says “well, I know him!” She dared him to ask Jason out, he did, and they have not been apart since. Jason says, “it’s funny; it’s almost as if we weren’t together, and then we were. Our reaction wasn’t so much as ‘at last I found you!’ as it was ‘oh, there you are.’ I think we both knew. We met in April and he moved in with me before Halloween, breaking every rule I’d ever set for myself.”

Much like their dating, neither really proposed. The couple just started discussing as if it was always meant to be in 2005, as soon as it became legal in Spain, which is where Adrián was born. After Jason lost his job, the couple decided to register as domestic partners, in order for Jason to be included in Adrián’s medical insurance. As they started to take the forms to the Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento, they literally had their hands on the door when Adrián asked “wait, this is it? This is like going to the DMV. So we rescheduled the delivery of the form to when we could have a festive brunch with my mom and sister present – but it still didn’t feel like it carried the weight of a marriage certificate,’ exclaims Jason. Adrián’s brother married his husband in 2006. In 2007 the couple had to move to LA for work, so they postponed their wedding until 2008. Adrián and Jason always knew they wanted to get married in Spain, especially because Adrian’s


Adrián & Jason

whole family is still in Alicante, Spain. The couple started to make all the arrangements, such as looking at venues, the summer before. They ruled out a castle, a rural torre (a fortified medieval villa) and a couple of luxury waterfront hotels before finally settling on Hostal San Juan, a slightly rundown hotel right across the street from the beach. Jason says, “both of us wanted to keep things simple and unfussy – once I’d divorced myself from the idea of getting married in a real castle – and our choice was famous for excellent, traditional Spanish food, which we knew was what would most appeal to both the Spanish and American guests. Of course, it had a lovely terrace overlooking the Mediterranean and it was also a bonus that the price tag was much less than other places we’d seen. For the after party, we decided on renting out a chiringuito, a type of beach-side bar hut that’s a fixture of Spanish Mediterranean beaches

– there were no real dancers at the wedding so we figured people would more appreciate continuing alcohol.” The cost of the actual ceremony at Alicante’s uber-atmospheric 18th century city hall was free. They paid about 5,000 euros for the reception, covering a four-course dinner for 65 people (embutidos, salad, lamb or fish and wedding cake). The best surprise: Spaniards give cash, not presents, at weddings, so their gifts covered the cost of the reception and their honeymoon! In 2012, the couple adopted their twin daughters, Clara and Olivia, who were born in India. Note: When in doubt, think - alcohol and food! Also, check what is required from foreign countries. For example, Spain requires one of the parties getting married to be either a Spanish citizen or a legal resident.


I’m in a Platonic “Marriage” With My Straight Best Friend by David Duran

Written and Photos by: David Duran


es, you read that title right, and I’m most likely dooming what’s left of our potential dating years left by writing this, but it’s the truth. I’m a gay man and my soul mate is my straight, female, best friend. It’s hard to explain what we have because it goes beyond the best friend relationship so many have and experience within their lifetime. We are practically the same person, in many respects, and maybe that’s why we love one another so much…because in our world, we are number one. Maybe it’s our shared love of travel or our obsession with politics, or maybe it’s our passion for mindless reality television, which we tell everyone that we don’t watch. We even joke about having our own reality show titled, “Even She’s Got A Man,” in which we are the lonely stars of our own reality, coming together, because we just can’t catch

and keep men in our lives…but everybody else, can. Roxana and I have been battling the world for decades, even though we would never openly admit that in public as to maintain a mystery around our ageless beauty. For the second half of the last decade, there hasn’t been a major holiday where we weren’t together. Our families have come to accept our awkwardly wonderful relationship, including her aunts finally giving up on the notion that I might not be gay and there might be hope. My mother, who doesn’t really know the names of any of my friends, finally has someone she could ask about each time we talk. Two years ago, our relationship somehow became stronger, when Roxana gave birth to the love of our life, Tatiana. Now I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll just go ahead and explain it gently in the next sentence. Although Tatiana is not biologically mine, she is mine. I’ve held her and bonded with


Roxana & David: Platonic Marriage

her from the moment she was born and in my world, she is mine and I am hers. Her Baba Beard to be exact. Roxana and I had to amend our motto of, “it’s you and me against the world,” and have now included Tati within.

Recently, we’ve tried our hardest to expand our tight circle by dating, but that typically ends with us coming to realize that it might just be us for a while, or ever…and that’s ok with us, at least for now. We try to encourage each other to date and at least try. Hell, I’ve even been on first dates with her for moral support, although we know better now. In the end, for me, no man stacks up to my soul mate. She’s kind of perfect, and she makes me happy. We’ve somehow created this alternate universe where two people, who are not romantically involved, can co-exist and love one another as if they were in love with each other. I can’t really explain it, and I’m not sure if she could either. We’ve tried, mostly to eye rolls or disingenuous replies, and that’s ok with us, because

we really don’t expect anyone to fully understand, because I’m not sure we fully understand. In a few months we will be taking yet another trip together, this time leaving the little one at home, and we’ve dubbed it our friendmoon. We are headed to a couple’s only resort and will be staying in a honeymoon suite, so I guess this is the extremity of our relationship now – parading ourselves around other couples, casually explaining how we are actually just friends. For years, the two of us always joked about growing old together, living in a retirement village. We imagined ourselves driving our golf carts around the neighborhood after a few too many glasses of wine. Roxana would be the aerobics instructor for the community while I would be the editor of the retirement village newsletter. Once Tatiana came along, we changed our scenario to following our kid to college, moving into her dorm, and later her basement, never really ever letting go. And they way things are going…one of the two scenarios will most likely come true.


The Photographer’s Portrait

Your What, When & Where For NYC LGBTQ Events, Arts, Entertainment, Culture & More!


Wouldn’tThe it be fun Photographer’s Portrait to stop keeping it all together?


Written by

ISOBEL MAHON (“Glenroe,” “Fair City”)

Directed by


(“Married…With Children”)



(Pollyanna, The Parent Trap)




A STORY BEHIND EACH BOTTLE Equality Vines is the world’s first cause wine portfolio dedicated to equality for all people. For every bottle of wine sold, Equality Vines makes a donation to an organization dedicated to the fight for equality, with each line of wine supporting a different equality cause. The Love Wins line of wines supports LGBTQ non-profits, the Suffrage Series supports women’s rights, and future series will support other equality causes. The portfolio is inspired by Dr. Marilyn Shultz, the aunt of Equality Vines co-founder Matt Grove, who in 1971 led the class action sexual discrimination lawsuit against NBC and its affiliates that ultimately re-shaped the company. Equality Vines will release special Dr. Marilyn Schulz Tribute Wines that honor individuals involved in the fight for equality. The first wine in this special series, Love Wins Cuvee, honors Equality Vines Co-Founder Jim Obergefell and his late husband John Arthur for their legal fight that ended with the 2015 landmark Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, bringing marriage equality to the entire United States. For more information visit: 120

Connextions Magazine


United by Love


January 2018

EQUALITY VINES Love Wins Cuvee: This is a wine worthy of its name. Comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, Love Wins Cuvee is the first wine to celebrate gay marriage. It is dedicated to Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, the first recipients of the Dr. Marilyn Shultz Tribute Wine honor. “Accordingtothe19thAmendment, the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” said Jim Obergefell, Co-Founder. “The Equality Vines team celebrates this simple yet powerful statement giving women an equal voice in our government, leading to efforts for gender equality in pay, opportunity, healthcare, and more. We are proud to include women winemakers and support organizations fighting for gender equality as our portfolio grows.” Sauvignon Blanc — Complex nose of white peach, tropical mango fruit, and light jasmine and passionfruit notes came from the Patient Terrier vineyard, and its crisp dry entry and long persistent finish show light musque and ripe pineapple flavors. Sauvignon Blanc can make many different styles of wine, but we love the sense of place this wine evokes year after year. The Sauvignon Blanc has a big luscious nose with casaba melon, nectarine, vanilla, and lychee. Satiny palate with green gage plum and more casaba melon and vanilla wafer flavors. Though the wine is dry, the finish has a silky texture and lingering Babcock peach flavors. Pinot Noir — Like a close friend, this is an immediately comfortable wine, offering a scent of vine ripe strawberries and bright cherries that give way to blackberries and a hint of sandalwood. On the palate the 19th Amendment is elegant, complex and above all balanced. It finishes with the signature minerality of the soils from which these grapes were harvested by hand at night, in pre-dawn hours. The Decision: Aged 16 months in French Oak, this is a full-bodied wine with a purity of concentrated fruit. It’s layered, with a textured personality, and presents an exotic and enticing bouquet of cinnamon, raspberry and blackberry along with baked cherry pie.


The Photographer’s Portrait

LET’S STAND WITH AMERICA’S NEXT GENERATION, SO THEY CAN STAND ON THEIR OWN. In America, it is estimated that up to 1.6 million youth are homeless each year. Up to 40% of them identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Yet, just 7% of the general youth population identifies as LGBT. The True Colors Fund is working to reduce that disproportionate percentage from 40% to none. Visit to learn how you can make a difference.


Profile for Connextions Magazine

United by Love: The Wedding Issue  

Connextions Magazine issue #24: United by Love: The Wedding Issue takes a closer look at the entire process of creating the perfect wedding,...

United by Love: The Wedding Issue  

Connextions Magazine issue #24: United by Love: The Wedding Issue takes a closer look at the entire process of creating the perfect wedding,...