Winter 2018 Gay Weddings & Marriage Magazine

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Engagement Edition

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haven riviera cancun your all-exclusive experience


from the editor


’ve learned to see trends in weddings and engagement sessions submitted to GWM over the years. In the beginning, almost every wedding incorporated beautiful rainbow colors into their décor to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage. While current wedding trends do not have rainbow colors as the main palette, there is usually some small homage in the form of colorful socks, napkins, or a guest gift. Engagement sessions are definitely becoming more popular. This is why I decided to dedicate an entire section just to engagements in this edition. Some things don’t change though. I read the stories of each couple. Tales of love, laughter, heart-break and joy are always there. It is another reason why I do what I do. Sharing your stories is a way for me to tell the world that we are all the same. We all love, stress, suffer, ache, laugh, cry and celebrate special moments. Thank you for reading my story, and I look forward to reading yours. Feel free to email me at renee@ to submit your love story to be featured in our next edition. HAVEN RIVIERA CANCUN RESORT & SPA We make it our goal to experience any products or venues before we feature them in GWM. These venues are usually located in the United States, so it was an amazing adventure to travel and visit Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa. This all-inclusive resort provides a plethora of amenities while maintaining the intimacy of a boutique hotel. It was a pleasure to partner with them for this exclusive sweepstakes offer! (cont. page 70)

ON THE COVER This engagement shoot was captured in Coachella and can be viewed on page 60. Photographer: Love and Elopement Photography



Scott Rogers


Donna Capodelupo, Todd Russell


Wendy Clancy, Erik Earl

COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS? Contact Renee at: Gay Weddings & Marriage Magazine is published twice a year. © 2018, all rights reserved. Reproduction or use of content in any manner without permission by the publisher is strictly prohibited. Opinions expressed in columns and articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

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In this issue Gay Weddings & Marriage Magazine / Winter 2018

6 26 16 34 90 46 76 94 / GWM 5

celebrate beginnings...


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Real engagements

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JAMES & BEN Eder Photo / GWM 9


Real engagements

Ben threw a surprise 30th birthday party for me in our favorite bar back in February. All of our best friends were present, and his whole family flew in from the opposite coast, which was a HUGE surprise. When it came time to open gifts, everyone gathered around and he handed me a little wooden box, which was full of cute hand drawings representing our various adventures together. At the very end, he was down on one knee and proposing. Ben proposed with a Legend of Zelda triforce ring, and had a matching one for himself. Their proposal went viral and was posted on many blogs with the sweet story. For the wedding day, they knew they wanted to get married in a brewery, as they do home brew beer, also ,and tying that in would be a great way to personalize the day. LA doesn’t have many spaces that could accommodate their wedding needs, so they turned their search to San Diego and hired a wedding planner to pull it all together bringing personal touches to the wedding, but keeping it casual enough to reflect them and ensure everyone will have a great time!

Location: Modern Times Brewery 10 GWM / Winter 2018

Photographer: Eder Photo / GWM 11

Real engagements

SAMANTHA & ENGLISH Jessica Hunt Photography

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HOW DID YOU MEET? We met on the lesbian dating app called Her. However it didn’t take long to figure out that we had basically been tiptoeing around each other our entire lives. We had tons of friends-of-friends in common, could name several concerts we both attended throughout the years, and we even had the same pediatrician growing up! WHAT WERE YOUR PLANS FOR THE BIG DAY? Our plan was to have no plan at all! The only thing we put any effort in were our outfits and even that was pretty simple. We didn’t want there to be anything to stress over or anything to ruin, and it was perfect! WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER THE WEDDING? Part of the reason that we got married when we did was because we were moving to Colorado in June and we wanted to get our family together to celebrate with us while we had the chance. DO YOU PLAN TO START A FAMILY? Yes! We want anywhere from 2-6 babies (Samantha says 2, English says 6). We would be pregnant right this second if babies didn’t cost money. As soon as we get financially stable and settled in our jobs here we plan to get the ball rolling on the whole baby thing, so hopefully within the next few years!

Photographer: Jessica Hunt Photography / GWM 13

Real engagements

KATIE & STORMIE Paul Douda Photography

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HOW DID YOU MEET? Tinder. HOW DID SHE PROPOSE? Stormie proposed at the Encinitas Botanical Gardens during its “Garden of Lights” Christmas setup. Katie had planned the botanical garden night because she LOVES gardens and Stormie LOVES lights. Katie thought she was surprising Stormie by secretly inviting Stormie’s lifelong best friend and her husband. Little did Katie know that Stormie was planning on proposing that night and was trying to figure out how she was doing it. Stormie was talking to her best friend about it when her best friend had to spill the beans that Katie had invited them to come to surprise Stormie. Turns out the surprise was on Katie when everyone was in on it and had their cameras ready for the big moment. Stormie wrote Katie’s parents a letter asking for their blessing before proposing. Stormie wrote Katie a letter, read it to her, and got down on one knee and proposed.

Photographer: Paul Douda Photography Location: Felicita County Park / GWM 15

Real engagements

BRYAN & JUSTIN Lisa Siva Photography

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Brian and Justin held their engagement session at Vilano Beach and then St. Augustine. They chose sunrise for beautiful soft light. Photographer: Lisa Siva Photography / GWM 17

Real engagements


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FROM XSIGHT PRODUCTIONS: What better way for a couple to remember their time together before their wedding than an engagement session to look back on? One of our most recent sessions this summer with Keonia and Courtney accomplishes just this, and we’d like to share with you some of these photos before their upcoming wedding this fall. Our photographer took them for a stroll around Downtown Sacramento, and these wonderful people were a delight to work with. We especially loved how much their personalities showed through both as individuals and a couple, through their complimentary styles and charming smiles.

Photographer: XSIGHT Productions / GWM 19

Real engagements

JUSTIN & MICHAEL Moment Clicks Photography Location: Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

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Real engagements

From the couple: Both of us currently live in Toronto, Justin lived in Brampton at the time we met, we met through an online dating application. After several weeks of chatting back and forth we decided to get together for coffee. Meeting at a local Starbucks, we immediately had a deep and emotional connection and spent the day together. The first date wasn’t just your typical first date - instead of grabbing coffee and going for a walk, we grabbed coffee and Justin went with Michael to his condo by the airport to help prepare for some new patio furniture that was arriving in the next few days. We ended up spending the morning, day and evening together - coffee in the morning, lunch and dinner at what is now our home. After parting ways in the evening, we couldn’t help but to continue to see each other - the rest is now a blissful history. In a lot of ways we are very similar in nature - open minded, loving, caring for others, nurturing, responsible and futuristic. However, we do have a lot of opposite qualities as well. What comes with the good also comes with the down falls as well, nobody is perfect. As long as you respect each other and understand each other you will overcome and supersede everything else. Our ability to connect and collaborate in our everyday activities brings us closer and closer together. Having just been engaged recently and Justin having focus on his schooling (he is completing a nursing degree currently), we have yet to set any concrete plans. However, we have been discussing an outdoor

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wedding which would include our very close family and friends. Our reception however, would be much larger. A wedding is an intimate time between two people and although most people like a large gathering of people to witness such an event, we believe that the most nearest and dearest people in our lives should be included and our acquaintances and extended friends should be more than welcomed to celebrate our special day after the “I Do’s”. We have already been to a Men Having Babies Conference - the first one in Toronto this year! The both of us love little people! Michael currently has a 7 year old sister, Iris and a 3 year old brother, Iain. Justin’s nieces and nephews are in an array of ages and both of us love spending time with them. After the discovery of Men Having Babies, we have given further consideration, but believe that we should be somewhat traditional (as traditional as we could be) in this matter. We believe that marriage first, home purchase together and then raising a family. Don’t let the thought of an engagement change the perspective of your relationship. The biggest mistake is considering that your proposal is going to change your life. If you are truly in love with one another, you will continue to treat each other and love each other the same you did before the engagement or even better. Getting lost in the smoke and mirrors is when you lose touch with your roots, stay well grounded. Photographer: Moment Clicks Location: Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa / GWM 23

Real engagements

HEATHER & MALLORY Katlyn Reilly Photography

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Heather and Mallory had their late summer engagement session at the Old Stone Church in West Boylston, MA. They even had their pup, Lou, along for some of the photos! Heather and Mallory will be marrying in an intimate ceremony at Larz Andersen Park in Brookline, MA in late September of 2018 with an intimate dinner to follow in Boston at the Bastille Kitchen.

Photographer: Katlyn Reilly Photography Location: Old Stone Church / GWM 25

Photo by John LaConte of 617 Weddings

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Kimpton Marlowe


very couple knows that a spectacular wedding venue and excellent service are must-haves for a successful event. Kimpton Marlowe hotel overlooking Boston raises both of these characteristics to a higher level. Our experience at the Marlowe was so unique that we insisted on sharing all it has to offer with our readers. Location: If you are at the beginning of your wedding plans, then location is a crucial first step to consider. We’ve attended hundreds of weddings, and we all agree hands-down that this hotel is perfectly situated for any wedding or event. It is a short walk to historic Boston, so your guests will have plenty to do during their stay. However, the venue is positioned just outside of the busiest areas. Guests will not have to fight tourists and traffic to arrive at your wedding. Kimpton Marlowe is placed between the Charles River and historic Boston; perfect for a variety of wedding photos you’ll want to capture. Service: Before we arrived, we knew it would be a vacation to remember. The hotel staff reached out to us to inquire about our food preferences, favorite drinks, and travel plans. They anticipated our arrival, had sweets and treats waiting for us in our room, and staff members greeted us by name. We couldn’t help but think that if this was the level of service offered for a regular guest stay, then how much better would the experience be on a couple’s wedding day? Charm: Décor and style are at the top of every couple’s list when planning the big day. Kimpton Marlowe’s engaging and intuitive beauty sets the scene for a decadent event. Very little décor needs to be added to this already luxurious location. I sat down with Nicola Dresser; the Area Director of Catering for Kimpton Hotels in Boston to talk about what the Kimpton Marlowe has to offer to our couples planning a wedding. GWM: What makes Kimpton Marlowe unique compared to other wedding venues in the area? / GWM 27

Photo by John LaConte of 617 Weddings

Nicola: For us it’s about flexibility. The flexibility of our space, our service, our packages, menu offerings and really the customization of a couple’s wedding to their specific needs is a priority. Our outdoor space, which other hotels do not offer, includes a beautiful park for ceremonies that has a view of the Charles river canal, weeping willows, and a beautiful grassy area. Then right within the walls of the hotel we have an outdoor courtyard space that’s fun. We can do ceremonies, cocktail receptions, and seated dinners here in the courtyard. Everything is completely customizable. We have options with our Pick Your Perks wedding packages, which based on your food and beverage minimum, you can select different perks or rewards. You can opt for two nights

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at any Kimpton hotel or resort. We have a great amenity where you can select the Kimpton bed as your wedding perk, complete with all the linens. GWM: What’s the Kimpton bed and linen perk?

Nicola: It’s a new Kimpton mattress complete with luxurious Frette linens. The same bed that our guests love to sleep on, we’re offering as a perk for couples that get married with us. GWM: Do they take them home? Nicola: We ship them a new set of everything. GWM: You do? That’s amazing! Nicola: We have a couple that’s taking advantage of it right now. They are moving to the west coast and instead of shipping their mattress and all their bedding there, they’re taking advantage of the Kimpton mattress. We’ll ship them the new mattress, the Frette linens, down comforter, pillows, and sheet sets in three different colors. You can only imagine how happy this couple is. One less thing for them to worry about as they start their newlywed life together. GWM: I slept fabulously last night by the way! The beds really are a dream. Nicola: Thanks! Our guests love the bed, and this is a fun way for guest to feel like they are taking a piece of Kimpton home with them, after they have had a wonderful wedding with us. GWM: I have never heard of that before! Nicola: We like to have fun! We like to think outside the box! For us, we want to be creative when it comes to hosting weddings. We love bringing couples that are madly in love and their friends and family together. In a relaxed and welcoming setting that they will remember for the rest of their lives. GWM: I walked the canal park next door where ceremonies can be held. I love the variety that Kimpton Marlowe offers of being able to have the outdoor and indoor space. Everything is right here. Nicola: Everything’s here. We can do rehearsal / GWM 29

Photo by John LaConte of 617 Weddings

dinners here in our restaurant, Bambara Kitchen & Bar. We can do bachelor parties in our Lobby Bar which features more than 100 types of brandies. We’ll do a post wedding brunch if you want. We can set up room block rates for couples to have their family call or book online. Guests can move from the beautiful grassy area outdoors to the courtyard for cocktails then come inside for dinner and dancing. You’re moving your guests through different spaces and experiences, and they tend to love that. GWM: Which keeps the evening interesting and fun. Nicola: Correct. You have to keep people engaged and entertained. It’s been a long day for everybody. You really want to keep guests excited, create great memories, and then, of course, guarantee that they will have amazing photos afterwards with all these unique spaces. GWM: When a couple is planning their wedding where would you suggest they start?

Photo by John LaConte of 617 Weddings

Nicola: I suggest they start with the venue, like us. I think it’s important for couples to have a good understanding of their budget as they start to look at venue options. We work with a lot of couples who are on a budget. And we want them to be comfortable talking about what their needs and wishes are, because again, going back to our flexibility, we can tweak and tailor things based on what a couple is comfortable spending. The first step is to build a relationship with your wedding planner, and we love priding ourselves on doing that. GWM: Budget can be a sensitive topic. 30 GWM / Winter 2018

Elin Photography Nicola: It is. We try to make it something where our couples are comfortable, and if you really want to get married here, we’ll do everything we can to make it happen. Communication is key from the beginning. Especially here at Kimpton Marlowe, where we work with you from start to finish. We don’t pass you off to a day-of planner and we’ll be fully staffed with seasoned professionals to ensure your wedding is flawless. Our main job, once the planning process is done, is to ensure that our couples have a fun time at their wedding, and creating positive memories that will last a lifetime. GWM: There’s no need to hire a separate day of coordinator? Nicola: Usually my suggestion with day of coordinators is to hire them if you have a large list of vendors. If you need someone to help pull together your guest list, or if your ceremony is off

site, and you need someone to assist you at the venue for your ceremony, then bring on a planner. We’ll help you as much as we can. We have all that knowledge and insight as well. We just can’t go to your offsite ceremony venue, if it’s not happening here at the Marlowe. But we’re always happy to work with a wedding planner. GWM: If a couple isn’t sure about their style or decor preferences. How do you help them design a theme? Nicola: We have couples walk into our ballroom and our function space and say “This is exactly our theme.” Or they’re going to say “I saw this awesome wedding that I’d like to recreate.” I’ve done a goth wedding, a Downton Abbey meets retro picnic themed wedding. A lot of our couples are here because they went to college nearby so maybe one’s going for a doctorate or law degree, and they like to tie those themes and ideas into their wedding. I’ve put together

Pinterest boards for couples, or I’ve said “You have to call this planner, because she’s got the best ideas ever and can help you with this theme and decor.” Linens and chairs are included in our packages, so we’ll bring all those in and walk you through what those look like and set them up in the space so you can see your vision coming to life. GWM: What about couples planning destination weddings? Do you help them plan the entire weekend and the events surrounding it? Nicola: We love to do that! I think one of the great things about the Marlowe is we have a lot of extracurricular activities that surprise and delight our guests such as bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, and jogging maps. We also have two other Kimpton Hotels in the greater Boston area so if guests wanted to do a rehearsal dinner at any of our other properties we can work with our colleagues to arrange / GWM 31

for that. We can provide guest room blocks for people to call in or book online. Our concierge is great at referring restaurants for large parties. We’re also located next to a mall so if a guest forgot something they can head next door and easily find it. We love the way our city location and connection to other Kimpton properties can easily translate into a destination wedding. GWM: I haven’t been to a wedding yet where someone didn’t forget something. Nicola: Exactly! There’s something for everyone. Whatever you might need can be found in the mall next door, and you don’t even have to go outside to shop. We’re connected to the shopping center. GWM: There’s even a customizing specialty wedding shop next door.

GWM: Obviously the reception dinner is here, but do you provide dessert options as well? Nicola: Absolutely. Our packages do include a wedding cake. We work with two vendors, so couples can pick which one they want, and our vendors are super flexible. If they wanted to add in things to make it super special, they can work directly with our vendors on that opportunity. Our sales and catering managers are focused on the food and beverage component. They’re big foodies and can do customized menus. It’s also fine if couples have specific dietary restriction or allergies or are committed to a certain diet. We can accommodate any F&B request. GWM: Is there any other advice you’d give to a couple when planning their wedding in general?

rings! There’s going to be a solution for everything, and if anything, you’ll have a good laugh about it afterwards. I think you’re right, there’s so much pressure on the wedding having to be perfect. But really what is perfect?. As long as it’s perfect for you, that’s what matters most. Whatever happens during the day will happen. Just remember to relax, laugh and enjoy. Spend time with people who have traveled a long way to be with you. You can’t do that if you’re stressed out about the champagne toast or making sure you don’t run 20 minutes behind schedule. It’s all going to come together. We promise you! It’s about having a good time and celebrating with those you love. Find out more about all that Kimpton Marlowe can offer you on their site ***

Nicola: Which we’ve used! Kimpton has a great program called ‘Forgot it? We got it’. We really have all of the necessities for our guests; toothbrushes, razors, flat irons, curling irons, anything you can think of that you potentially forgot we have here. GWM: Do you have a preferred vendor list? Are couples allowed to hire outside vendors? Nicola: We welcome everybody and we love working with new partners in the wedding industry. We like to start with recommendations based on people that we’ve worked with in the past. We have a lot of great relationships with photographers, deejays, wedding planners, florists, and rental companies. We can also make recommendations based on the couple’s personalities, budget and preferences. 32 GWM / Winter 2018

Nicola: Yes. Take a deep breath, and gather some good resources early on. There’s a lot online. Talk to your friends or relatives who recently wed. Communicate what you want. Think of those weddings that you’ve really loved, or even weddings that you did not enjoy for one reason or another. Take notes. Pinterest is also a great resource. And when it comes time to meet you wedding partners, do not be afraid to ask any and all questions. Questions are key to our mutual success. GWM: I think couples are too worried about having the perfect day, but it’s really about having the perfect day for them. Nicola: Yes. Things always happen. Whether it’s vendors showing up late because they got lost, or having a hard time with the last few touches or even forgetting the

Locals and guests relish the flavors of the lively American restaurant that sits along the Cambridge riverfront in greater Boston. Bambara Kitchen & Bar can accommodate parties of all sizes— whether it’s a birthday party for 10 or a business dinner for 100, they have the perfect dining spaces for your next event. The restaurant invites diners into cozy booths, a chic cocktail lounge and onto their outdoor dining spaces; inside, enjoy the venue’s very cool open kitchen and a palette of cool blues and rich jewel tones. The result? A smart, urbane atmosphere, where local flavors shine and menus rotate according to the season. Chef David Bazirgan from Bambara (he also oversees the hotel kitchens) took some time to chat with us and give our readers advice about how

to plan the perfect menu for their wedding. GWM: What advice would you give couples when planning their wedding menu? Chef: Take your time. Get aligned before you move forward with the tasting. It’s important that the couple is on the same page before they even start the process. GWM: What are the benefits of a plated dinner compared to a buffet? Chef: Presentation, temperature, quality. You’re getting something plated and personalized compared to something that’s been sitting in a chaffing dish. Not that a buffet can’t be fresh, but when a meal hits the plate within minutes of being served the freshness and quality increase. It’s truly like dining at your favorite restaurant. GWM: I feel like a plated dinner elevates the quality and overall ambiance of an event. Chef: I couldn’t agree more. Again, it’s taking that restaurant experience that we all love - the cuisine, service and personal touches that make a restaurant standout - and applying it to one of the biggest days of your life. GWM: What’s your favorite meal to cook for a wedding?

Chef: I like both. I like the elaborate presentation of a traditional wedding cake, but I also like the variety you can get from doing a mixed platter and presentation of sweets.

Chef: I definitely like to cook pasta. Any nice proteins with seasonal produce is always a nice touch, and most guests love pasta with local influences.

GWM: Okay, so you’re at home. You’re alone. No one’s around. What do you cook for yourself?

GWM: Many couples are choosing a dessert buffet compared to a wedding cake. Which do you prefer?

GWM: Yep.

marinated beefsteak potatoes, some herbs from the garden. Something easy and simple but delicious. Check out www.hotelmarlowe. com or www.bambara-cambridge. com to find out more of what Chef Bazirgan has planned for Bambara and weddings overall.

Chef: For myself?

Chef: I really like a grilled steak,

Photo credit this page: Top (Squash & Ricotta Pansoti.)/ Morgan Ione Yeager Bottom/Kristin Teig / GWM 33

featured vendor

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featured vendor




The “Will You?” Ring is available in a traditional presentation box that opens to reveal the words, “The first of many things we’ll do together.” Nestled inside is a band with the inscription, “This is a ring, not the ring.” There is also a small pamphlet that says, “I love you more than I trust myself to pick something you’re going to wear on your hand. Every day. For eternity.” Inside, it shares suggestions for presenting the ring, such as, “You’re the one. But this ring isn’t. Let’s pick one out together.”


“The ‘Will You?’ Ring is a ring before ‘the’ ring,” said Beryl Raff, chairwoman and chief executive of Helzberg Diamonds. “The old rules of engagement simply don’t resonate with many of today’s couples, who are seeking ways to create new traditions that celebrate their love and bring them closer together.”


Many couples dream of that moment when one partner gets on bended knee and asks the big question with a small box – but what if their partner doesn’t love the ring inside? Enter Helzberg Diamonds and The “Will You?” Ring – a new way to get engaged that preserves a romantic surprise while celebrating the partnership of today’s relationships.



he “Will You?” ring from Helzberg Diamonds is breaking all the rules of engagement... And we love it! / GWM

Real engagements


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HOW DID YOU MEET? TELL US ABOUT THE PROPOSAL. We met through friends in common. Kevin proposed to Bobby the morning of Bobby’s birthday on October 30, 2013. WHAT WAS THE MOST ANTICIPATED OR SPECIAL MOMENT OF YOUR WEDDING DAY? My most anticipated moment was watching the faces of our friends and family when the bagpiper came down the isle. It was worth every dollar we spent on him. DO YOU HAVE ANY WEDDING PLANNING OR MARRIAGE ADVICE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER COUPLES PLANNING THEIR DAY? Patience and constant apologizing. It is not knowing what to say, it is knowing what NOT to say. Learn to listen more than speaking. An argument will always end well with that rule of thumb.

Reception Venue: San Diego Zoo Global Photographer: Eder Photo / GWM 37

Real engagements

ALICIA & MONIQUE Images by Amber Robinson

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HOW DID YOU MEET? We met on OK Cupid, we have been dating for Three Years WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DATE LIKE? We actually went to Target for our first date, Alicia helped Me pick out curtains for my place. It was a good icebreaker for the both of us. (we are very shy individuals) We sipped on Starbucks as we walked around the store. After our trip to Target, we went to Dinner at PF Changs. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL MoniqueWe had planned our anniversary trip to NYC and I knew that was were I wanted to propose. Because Alicia was from Brooklyn, so I wanted to tie the location into the proposal spot. I choose Brooklyn Bridge Park-the spot where you are able to see the NYC skyline and add a lock of love to the gate of the park. I got a lock specially made that was engraved with our names and the date I was planning to propose. I also, hired a photographer to capture the moment. Once we made it to the park, I showed her the other locks that other couples had left and ask her if it would be cool if we had one. She said yes, and I pulled the engraved one out of my bag. She was suprised and instantly starting taking pictures and I told her to find a spot for us to lock it. While she was doing and had turned around, I was down on my name with the ring waiting for her to turn back around and see me. It was a very special moment and everything went exactly as planned-minus the crazy expensive taxi ride to the correct ferry on time because I originally had us on the wrong ferry to get there. WHAT IS THE MOST ANTICIPATED PART OF YOUR WEDDING CELEBRATIONS? GOING TO HAWAII! We are so ready to be in one of the worlds most beautiful islands and say our I do’s.

Event Venue: J C Raulston Arboretum Photographer: Images by Amber Robinson / GWM 39

Real engagements

JESSA & BECKY Danielle Christine Photography

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HOW THEY MET: We met in a class at the University of Memphis where we were both graduate students in the Psychology Department. We were both assigned to the same discussion group, so we got to know each other a bit throughout the semester. We started to talk outside of class later on after I commented on a Pokémon Go video she shared on her Facebook page. She commented back saying we should go Pokémon Go hunting together. We never did, but that got us talking more, and I invited her to come out with me and a group of my friends who were planning on going to Zoo Brew. This was our first date, so the event of course now holds a special place in our hearts.

But then, something I had never pictured in the countless times I played through the proposal in my head, instead of coming toward me so I could give her the ring, she started moving away from me. I was laughing at how surprised she was, but underneath I was confused about what she was doing. She was starting to make me nervous. You can imagine my surprise (and relief) when she grabbed her purse and pulled out the engagement ring that she was planning to give me! I later found out that it wasn’t until that morning that she’d thought of proposing to me (can you tell she’s the spontaneous one and I’m the planner?). Other Location: Shelby Farms Park Photographer: Danielle Christine Photography

HOW THEY ASKED: When the next year rolled around, Jessa and I kept our eyes out for another Zoo Brew, but for some reason the zoo decided not to hold it that year. When finally, two years after our first date at Zoo Brew, the Memphis Zoo announced the return of the event, I knew immediately thought that was where I wanted to propose to her. I spent the next two or so weeks planning how it would all go down with one of my best friends, Erica. I wanted to catch it on video, but I knew it would tip Jessa off if someone randomly started filming us, so we planned for Erica to pretend to be taking a picture but actually be taking a video. Erica also carried the ring for me in her purse so that Jessa wouldn’t see it in my pocket on the way to the zoo. Once at the zoo, we set up to take a “picture” out front. I turned to Jessa, saying how the first time we went to Zoo Brew, she was going as the cute girl who I had a huge crush on and had been flirting with. Then I asked her if this time she would go as my fiancé. Before I even finished the first sentence, I could see the realization on her face. I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She started to cry with the overwhelming surprise and happiness, which I had imagined would probably happen. / GWM 41

Real engagements

JASON & BRIAN Mary Fosky Photography

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Jason and I met on an online dating site. We both worked for Walt Disney World at the time and had our first date at EPCOT. I knew he was the one immediately. We ended up returning to the same restaurant for our first anniversary. We are both big kids at heart with a passion for life and adventure. Jason’s birthday was approaching in August 2017, so I lured him on an all-inclusive “birthday” trip to Cabo San Lucas. I told him there was a highly recommended restaurant that I wanted to go to for his birthday, but they were booked on his actual birthday so we had to go two days prior. Little did he know that the restaurant beach was meant for the proposal location with a photographer (Anna Gomes Photography- images not pictured) standing by and the restaurant reservation was for our engagement dinner. Thankfully, he said yes! We had a cheering crowd from the resort guests overlooking the beach and the rest is history. We ended up going horseback riding on the beach and swimming with dolphins for his birthday present. With our love for Disney still in our hearts, we decided to have a second engagement photo shoot in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. (Mary Fosky Photography) The wedding was held in Orlando, FL October 21st, 2018 at the Orlando Science Center and also photographed by Mary Fosky Photography. Photographer: Mary Fosky Photography / GWM 43

Real engagements

KAELIE & NIKKI Dugan Imaging

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FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I met Kaelie and Nikki at a LGBTQ wedding show in January. They had won an engagement session and were both so excited for it. We met to discuss the session and wedding package options and that is where I learned they will be doing a full DIY wedding! From the cake to the alter everything they do will be done together. The love, patience, and all around glow radiating off of them when they are together is just incredible. They are the two friends you love to be around because they will always bring a smile to your face!

Location: Holliday Park Photographer: Dugan Imaging / GWM 45



inding the right surrogate is one of the most important steps and biggest decisions you can make in the entire surrogacy process. Some intended parents choose to work with a surrogate they already know, such as a close friend or family member. For others, the task of finding a surrogate takes considerable time and effort. If you’re considering surrogacy for your family, you may be overwhelmed at the thought of finding a surrogate who fits your plans and wants to carry a pregnancy for you.

• your desire for contact and involvement throughout the process • her experience • and more. Before you can officially begin the wait to be matched, you will also need to complete your agency’s screening requirements. Throughout this process, you will receive additional information about surrogacy and ensure you are ready for the exciting steps ahead.

Once you have completed your surrogacy plan and satisfied all of your agency’s requirements, The first step is to decide whether you will be able to view you want to do it on your own or prospective surrogate profiles. with the help of an agency. Your agency will also present your intended parent profile FINDING A SURROGATE to surrogate candidates whose WITH AN AGENCY goals fit yours. If you and a surrogate reciprocate interest If you do not already know a in one another, you will have surrogate, a surrogacy agency an opportunity to get to know can help you find women each other better and discuss who have been screened and the surrogacy in more detail. approved to carry surrogate When both parties are ready to pregnancies. A surrogacy move forward, an official match specialist will work with you will be made, and the intended to discuss your goals and find parents and surrogate can begin a surrogate who fits into your the process of drafting legal plans. contracts. Your agency will identify possible surrogate candidates based on: • your budget 46 GWM / Winter 2018

The time between going active with a surrogacy agency and matching with a prospective

surrogate is known as your wait time. Your wait time will vary based on a number of factors. However, there are some things you can do to help minimize how long you wait: • Be open-minded when viewing surrogate profiles and selecting prospective surrogates. • Be as flexible as possible in your surrogacy planning and budget so you will have a wider pool of prospective matches to choose from. • Carefully prepare your intended parent profile to make a good first impression on prospective surrogates FINDING A SURROGATE WITHOUT AN AGENCY Many couples and individuals choose to work with an identified surrogate in an independent surrogacy arrangement. These women are often close friends or family members of the intended parents. However, if you are pursuing surrogacy without an agency and still need to find a surrogate, there are some things to keep in mind. If you choose to pursue surrogacy without an agency, you will be responsible for many steps of the matching and planning process that would / GWM 47 otherwise be handled by the agency. Generally, you will need to: • Find a prospective surrogate • Screen the surrogate and ensure you are a good match • Find an attorney to complete the necessary legal work • Coordinate with a fertility clinic to perform the necessary medical procedures • Find counseling and support



The actual process of finding a surrogate can look different depending on each family’s situation. However, you may be able to find a surrogate using methods such as:

• • • • •

Personal connections Social networks Surrogate finder websites “Surrogate wanted” print ads Attorney referrals WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Whether you choose to work independently or with an agency, finding a prospective surrogate can be challenging at times. An experienced surrogacy professional may be able to help you overcome those challenges and provide the matching services you need, reducing your wait time and ensuring you are matched only to surrogacy opportunities with which you are comfortable.


However, it is also possible to find a surrogate and complete the surrogacy process without an agency. You should be prepared for all of the challenges of the surrogate matching process before deciding to find a surrogate independently. Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Do you need help searching for a gestational surrogate? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now. WWW.SURROGATE.COM


• Agencies can match based on each party’s • Costs may be higher criteria, surrogacy goals and more • Less of a “hands-on” matching process for • Prospective surrogates are thoroughly intended parents screened • Not all agencies are created equal • Agencies offer most or all of the surrogacy services, education and support needed

• Costs may be lower without agency fees • More opportunity for contact with surrogate without professional’s mediation • Legal and medical professionals may be the only professionals you need

48 GWM / Winter 2018

• Longer wait times for the perfect match • Higher advertising fees • No pre-screening requirement in independent surrogacy • No counseling, education or mediation services • Identifying information must be shared during your search • You have more responsibility finding and coordinating services • You will be responsible for answering ads, screening surrogates and making a final decision on your own We are all at different stages of our relationships. GWM provides tools and tips for success during each of them.




Find LGBTQ experienced vendors and tips for your big day.

Experience real weddings from real couples and their stories.

Find family planning, adoption stores and marriage counseling advice from the best. vendors real-weddings marriage---family / GWM 49

Real engagements

SARAH & BIANCA Kimberly Santana Photography

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HOW DID YOU TWO FIRST MEET? Our story starts back in 2010 at UCF. Bianca and I were both in different sororities and we played against each other in Floor Hockey weekly. During one game, I got highly competitive as always and wasn’t forgotten by Bianca after taking her out, chipping her tooth, and leaving her with some bruises. Since that day, Bianca had remembered me as that “b*tch(girl) in yellow shorts” Flash forward to 2016 and connect us to Tinder. As Bianca was scrolling through tinder, she thought she recognized me from college and she was not wrong at all. Luckily for me she wanted to meet me and see who I really am. Once she told me how she knew me, I immediately went to explaining how I am a very caring and kind person. Now we are two years in, engaged, buying a house, and excited to say “I Do” on March 30, 2019.

Photographer: Kimberly Santana Photography / GWM 51


PICK A LOCATION YOU LOVE OVER THE PRETTIEST OR MOST POPULAR ONE IN TOWN. Perfectly manicured parks or rustic barns isn’t everyone’s jam. Think of a place you two like to go, or a new place you’d like to go, that plays up something you enjoy. For an antique shopping couple, we did a session in their favorite antique store. For couples who like to hike, I’ll take them to some new hiking trails!



52 GWM / Winter 2018

by We Choose the Moon Photography


TRY TO INCLUDE SOMETHING YOU LOVE TO DO TOGETHER. I find I get the best photos of my couples when they’re doing something they love over just being cuddling in front of the camera the whole session. So whether you’re craft beer connoisseurs and taste some flights during your session or pinball masters and hit up an arcade during your session, including something you love to do is a great option for your engagement photos.


WEAR SOMETHING YOU’RE COMFORTABLE IN. Dressing up to the nines isn’t something you’re all comfortable doing and it’s ok to not get super fancy for your photos. I’m not by any means recommending you show up in your comfiest sweatpants and crocs, just something your comfortable with wearing and goes with the vibe of your session. Hiking? Go ahead and wear that cozy flannel and your favorite hiking boots. You kinda like getting dressed up? Great opportunity to do so!


TAKE THE POSES OR PROMPTS YOU’RE GIVEN AND MAKE THEM YOUR OWN. Not every pose or prompt is going to fit you; they are not “one size fits all”. If your photographer asks you sit down, make yourself comfortable in the position. Whether you need to lean to the side and rest on one hand or sit criss cross applesauce, make it your own. Photographer tells you to wrap your arms around each other? Do so and reposition your arms (whether it be around their waist or their neck) until it feels comfortable and natural.


TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER AND ENJOY EACH OTHER’S COMPANY. Don’t try to figure out what the photographer is doing and go with it. Just be with the love of your life and enjoy each other’s company while you’re away from the stresses of work, and worries of life. They know what they’re doing even if they’re asking you to lay down on some random sun spot on the floor and stand over you. / GWM 53

Real engagements

SUSIE & KIM Meraki Portrait

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FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Susie and Kim met dancing in Old Orchard Beach, ME. Susie and Kim’s eyes connected and they have been inseparable ever since. Susie owns her own business and is a massage therapist. They are very spiritual individuals and love rock/crystal energy. Their wedding is in September, and it is nothing short of bohemian vibes. It only seemed appropriate to incorporate some of thing into their engagement session. The day was full of laughs and oohing-and-ahhing over the gorgeousness that Snug Harbor Farm provides.

Photographer: Meraki Portrait Location: Snug Harbor Farm / GWM 55

Real engagements


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Heather and Mallory had their late summer engagement session at the Old Stone Church in West Boylston, MA. They even had their pup, Lou, along for some of the photos! Heather and Mallory will be marrying in an intimate ceremony at Larz Andersen Park in Brookline, MA in late September of 2018 with an intimate dinner to follow in Boston at the Bastille Kitchen.

Photographer: Katlyn Reilly Photography Location: Old Stone Church / GWM 57

Real engagements

LINDSEY & MOLLY C. Baron Photography

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HOW DID YOU TWO FIRST MEET? Molly: We met through a mutual friend who thought we would be a good fit. WHAT MAKES YOUR RELATIONSHIP SPECIAL? Molly: We make each other better people and continue to grow together every day. Lindsey: I love that Molly is always up to try new things with me...and she makes every situation fun! Nobody can make me laugh like Mo. Our favorite thing to do is try new restaurants and/or cook new recipes. HOW DID YOU KNOW YOUR PARTNER WAS THE ONE? Molly: I just was a feeling that never went away. Lindsey: I knew Molly was different right away. I can’t pick the exact moment. Every moment I spent with her was just confirmation that she was the one. GIVE US ALL THE DETAILS ABOUT THE PROPOSAL. Molly proposed at a beautiful lake right before sunset. We had been on dates to the lake before so I was not expecting it. It was a few weeks before Christmas and I thought we were going there for a date night/ exchanging gifts. Molly had a playlist of all of my favorite songs - we danced for a bit (not unusual for us, so I still was not expecting anything) and after the last song played she proposed. I was shocked!

Museum: Museum of Fine Arts Houston Photographer: C. Baron Photography / GWM 59

featured vendor

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LOVE IS LOVE a desert elopement / GWM 61

Featured vendor

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This breathtaking photo session was shot by Love and Elopement Photography at Coachella, thirty minutes outside the Anza Desert.

Photographer: Love and Elopement Photography / GWM 63

Real Weddings

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DANIEL & BEN September 2, 2017 / Michael Bennett Kress Photography / GWM 65

Real Weddings

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THE PROPOSAL Danny had gone to

NYC for the weekend with his sister and niece, they planned to return early the morning of June 26. Ben had secretly been planning to pop the question when the trio returned home. Danny is a huge Beyonce fan, so Ben had purchased a Feyonce shirt to be used as part of the proposal. When Danny walked into the couples apartment Ben had laid out on the kitchen counter, the T shirt, Roses, and a Bottle of prosecco, and he immediately started to cry. Repeating “Stop it right now, stop it right now” Obviously shocked. Ben was hiding in the bedroom, and came out and dropped to one knee and said “Daniel Thomas Tippett, you make me happier than anyone else - will you make me happy for the rest of my life?” Through tears Danny said Yes, Ben slipped the ring onto Dannys finger and the couple sealed it with a kiss. Even though it was 9am they toasted with the prosecco. It was a day filled with surprises, after spending the afternoon at a Baltimore Orioles game celebrating a friends birthday, they returned to their apartments rooftop where Ben had another surprise planned. They stepped off the elevator to a party with their closest friends gathered to celebrate the engagement. Hot dogs, hamburgers

and of course champagne to celebrate! There would be no way to top this, but Danny tried to surprise Ben a little bit as well. Unbeknownst to Ben, Danny purchased an engagement ring for him as well in the days following the original engagement. With the help of his Mom and Godmother, surprised Ben with it at the families beach house in DE.

THE VENUE Guests arrived to the

ceremony to a drink fridge with the message “Sip Champagne When We Thirsty� filled with splits of champagne and Miller High Life - the Champagne of Beers. The couple felt very strongly about the importance of their Union and wanted to incorporate aspects that celebrated the exciting nature of their wedding. For the ceremony set up, the couple stood on a round white platform with Gary at the center of their guests, they wanted to be surrounded by the love and support of their families and friends as they joined their lives. As part of the ceremony decor they had a selection of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage on a chalkboard with a gold frame as their backdrop. To begin the ceremony each member of their wedding party read a line from the selection of Justice Kennedys statement- “ No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners / GWM 67

Real Weddings

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in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” The couple wanted the guests to really be a part of the ceremony - so they did a candle lighting, but each guest received a candle and as Dannys best friend Priscilla belted out “Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls, guests lit their candles started at the back of the gathering, passing the flame forward to the Grooms mothers, who then lit the Grooms candles and they then lit one unity candle. This signified their guests sharing their love and support for the union. The couple wrote their own vows which they read to each other from matching notebooks. The couple wore matching suits they purchased from Macys - Maroon Alfani Suit jackets,

Black Silk Elie Tahari patterned pants, and matching Dita Eyewear - Gold for Danny, Silver for Ben. Once the boys had sealed their marriage with a kiss - they were surprised to find a 3 piece trio hidden just beyond the ceremony space. A secret flash mob had been orchestrated to top off the dramatics of the ceremony. The Couples friends popped up and serenaded them with the song Rather Be.

THE PARTY Ben and Danny wanted

their reception to be non stop fun, so they opted for more outside the box elements at the party. Guests enjoyed a Mac n Cheese Bar with two styles of Mac n Cheese, chicken, beef or shrimp and a plethora of toppings to choose from, and a Taco Bar with chicken and fish tacos and all the fixing you could dream of. The couple wanted to try and keep the line at the bar down so they had a beer wall with 4 beer taps that guests could help themselves to the beer of their choice in a branded cup - Miller High Life (as a nod to Dannys Grandfather) Blue Moon, Bud Light and Heavy Seas. Ben is a huge music fan so throughout the decor were little nods to

songs - The buffets were branded - Baby got Mac, and Something to TACO bout - the bar said Poppin Bottles and the Beer wall said - “Life Looks Good Good Good with my Beer Goggles On” as well as the Beer Fridge message mentioned earlier. The evening ended with an Ice Cream Sundae bar and cookies from Birmingham Alabama (Bens hometown) and no evening of dancing and partying would be complete without breakfast sandwiches! The Reception decor was masculine and natural with a little bit of glam. If they had their druthers the couple would have been married outdoors, but dealing with mother nature would have been too stressful for Danny - they opted to bring some elements that brought the outdoors in. The couple refers to themselves as The TippMasters (Tippett/LaMaster Mash up) so for the DJ backdrop they had a 22’ Hedge wall with their moniker routed out in large gold letters. The Bar was a huge wooden bar with hedge bar fronts. The couple wanted to have their relatives who have passed represented, so they incorporated photos of their grandparents in the Back bar decor along with other elements that had some meaning to the couple. Guests were able to lounge in leather lounge furniture and maroon sequin linens gave a pop of color to the space. Danny and Ben are lucky to have many talented friends, including Gene Shepard who made their wedding cake for them Gene was able to take the Grooms suits and create a beautiful and delicious cake for the pair that was a wow piece at the event.

Location: Revolution Event Design and Production Floral Designer: EDGE Floral Event Designers Equipment Rentals: Revolution Event Design and Production Photographer: Michael Bennett Kress Photography / GWM 69


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Enter to win an all-inclusive stay at Haven Riviera by following the link below:


Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is one of the romantic, tranquil and secluded venues in the Mexican Caribbean – the perfect setting for your destination wedding. Your guests will be enchanted by our sophisticated design and mesmerized by our sweeping ocean views. Celebrating your wedding at Haven will guarantee you will experience an unparalleled level of hospitality and impeccable, personalized service. You will be guided by our certified on-site planner, exclusive group rates, and a luxurious, private bridal suite. Beyond anything you can imagine and exceeding your every expectation, a wedding at Haven Riviera Cancun will enchant and delight any couple with our unique all exclusive experience.



n oceanfront sanctuary of luxury and sophistication awaits you at Haven Riviera Cancun, an adults-only, 333room, all suite, all-inclusive resort located between Cancun and Riviera Maya, just 15 minutes south of Cancun International Airport. Escape to an exclusive realm of style, glamour and seclusion, where you will feel as if a tiny sliver of Mexico coastline has been reserved just for you. / GWM 71

Real Weddings

KASEY & ANDRIA August 30, 2018 / Derek Chad Photography

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Real Weddings

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HOW DID YOU TWO MEET? Kasey: Andria and I met in high school. I still remember the first time I laid eyes on her. It was at the talent show, she performed a salsa dance and I was immediately crushing on this girl. We talked for a short period during that time but ended up going our separate ways. After that, no matter how much time passed she still crossed my mind. We always kept up with each other from brief conversations through social media, and I’ll admit - I continued to have feelings for her through the years. Almost ten years later we were able to reconnect through Instagram. We instantly had this spark - I knew this was different than anything else I had ever felt. After a few weeks of texting,

she made the drive to Raleigh to spend the weekend with me. I’ll tell you soon as she came around the corner with that beautiful smile I was certain that I was in love with this woman. And little did I know she was feeling the same way. Since that night we have been inseparable. She is the best part of me. Andria: I definitely kept up with Kasey’s life after highschool via Facebook and Instagram, and consistently found myself thinking “Wow. I’d really love to find someone like that...” Kasey is the epitome of selfless love, and the light that emanates around her is so infectious. Although not sure of my sexuality and definitely not out of the closet, I took a leap of faith and decided to message her after I graduated college. She captivated me immediately (after I stopped playing hard-toget), and after our official first date, I was hooked. The light that attracted me in the beginning is now the light that warms me each morning and night, and I can’t effectively articulate how much I adore this life we’re living together!

eremony Location: San Francisco City Hall Photographer: Derek Chad Photography / GWM 75

Real Weddings

BRADLEY & MICHAEL September 1, 2018 / Carly Bish Photography

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Real Weddings

HOW DID YOU MEET? It all began in NYC at a local LGBT charity event that Bradley was hosting and where Michael was attending as a guest. Michael noticed Bradley’s dashing looks and suave demeanor and immediately walked over to the sign-up booth where Bradley was collecting phone numbers. Bradley saw a handsome, tall guy approach him and knew he better not screw this up! Michael happily obliged by offering his phone number (yet had no intention of joining the charity hint hint). Six months later, they found themselves moving into their first apartment together in Hell’s Kitchen. Almost nine years later, after living in two continents and experiencing more than 30

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countries together, Michael and Bradley were ready to take on their biggest adventure ever: marriage! WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE? Bradley: I love Michael’s creativity, zest for life and ability to make me feel so loved Michael: Bradley’s selflessness, patience, kindness, charm, charisma and adventurous spirit DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING DAY: We actually had a wedding weekend. Being on Labor Day weekend we had our entire family and friends staying on site in rustic cabins tucked into the forest. Friday was the welcome dinner, Saturday was the wedding day and Sunday was a beautiful Sunday Funday where we had brunch under a tent outside, lawn games, volleyball, drinks and music. The wedding day itself was nothing short of magical. We were surrounded by our closest friends and family in the middle of an enchanted forest enclosed by green moss and lights peeking through trees that were as tall as the eye can see. The air was perfectly crisp and filled with love. The ceremony was encircled by huge trees deep in the forest, we stood on a stone alter. Natural wood benches were designed and nailed into the forest floor for our guest. The dinner snaked endlessly down an exquisite nature trail, the lights from the candelabra’s twinkled on the dinner table that was canopied by the natural / GWM 79

Real weddings

branches of the forest. Our reception was also centered in the woods where we wrapped string lights from tree-to-trees. The evening was a stunning and classy wedding amongst the natural beauty of the forest. Our wedding partied performed a lip sync battled to kick off our wedding reception. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART? It’s really hard to say. The dinner table took our breath away. But the true beauty of the wedding was seeing all our friends and family whom has support us for 9 years, come 80 GWM / Winter 2018

together and celebrate our love and commitment. Highlight of the wedding: • One groom’s vows referenced how he came so far from being a gay man feeling lost in his teens with NO role models on successful gay relationships or weddings, sneaking peeks at his mother’s magazines, to having his dreams come true. • We had two co-officiants: Bradley’s bro (devout Catholic with 5 kids), and Michael’s sis (devout Mormon with 5 kids). • Guests included a broad political spectrum. Michael’s dad is a former police chief from Florida and proud Trump supporter. All put their political/ religious views aside to celebrate our love. • Instead of throwing a bouquet, we threw a boa...naturally! • We were introduced to guests after the ceremony while Rupaul’s “Covergirl” played and worked with our DJ to edit a mock Rupaul’s Drag Race lip sync battle between our wedding parties (clearly HUGE Rupaul’s Drag Race fans). NOW THAT THE WEDDING IS OVER, WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS OR FUTURE PLANS AS A MARRIED COUPLE? After dating for over 9 years, the last two being in Singapore, we are excited to start the surrogacy process right way and expand our family.

Photographer: Carly Bish Photography Videographer: Driftwood Stories Wedding Design & Planning: Wonderstruck Event, Design & Planning Floral: bash & bloom Venue: Copper Creek Inn / GWM 81

Real weddings

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ALICIA & MONIQUE June 27, 2018 / Images by Amber Robinson / GWM 83

Real weddings

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DATE LIKE? We actually went to Target for our first date, Alicia helped Me pick out curtains for my place. It was a good icebreaker for the both of us. (we are very shy individuals) We sipped on Starbucks as we walked around the store. After our trip to Target, we went to Dinner at PF Changs. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO TOGETHER? We enjoy traveling together, seeing new and exciting places. We often go to the movies and love a good sushi restaurant. We 84 GWM / Winter 2018

absolutely love finding different wine festivals throughout NC and VA and tasting different types of wines. DO YOU HAVE EVERYTHING IN COMMON OR DO YOU HAVE THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T AGREE ON BUT POKE FUN ABOUT? Monique is an avid Mickey fanatic!! She has an extensive and GROWING Mickey collection that I often poke fun at but still contribute to. WHAT IS YOUR “SPARK”? WHAT KEEPS YOU IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER? We keep each other laughing and we love spending time together. We are each others best friend.

Second Shooter: Alvea Studios Cinema and Video: Alvea Studios Location: Sherwood Forest Beach Event Planner: Weddings of Hawaii Photographer: Images by Amber Robinson / GWM 85






hristina is the Weddings and Events Manager at Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa. In this role, Christina serves as the liaison between the client and the resort, working hand-in-hand with all customers to plan all aspects of their weddings, honeymoons, vow renewals and other romantic occasions. In this feature, she gives some great advice on how to plan the perfect destination wedding.

CONSIDER THE WEATHER. For example, in Cancun everyone thinks it’s paradise all year long. Let’s be realistic… you’re going to sweat all through summer! If you are thinking of a formal destination wedding in Riviera Maya or Cancun, I suggest November or any winter or spring month. The weather is perfect then.


SET A REALISTIC BUDGET. A Pinterest perfect wedding can still be achieve when you’re on a budget. Always try to stay on track, but be prepared to spend maybe 10% to 15% above the initial budget. LOOK FOR THE UNIQUE DESTINATION THAT FITS BOTH OF YOU. Think of how you see yourself saying your vows, whether your toes are in the sand or on top of a mountain.

people think planning their own destination wedding will be easy. TRUST ME, it is not. You have your own life that comes with your regular responsibilities, job, etc. Explore the option and consider it in your budget. When planning abroad it gets very stressful, because of the language barrier and logistics. This person you are investing in will make a million times easier, your life and it will also help you enjoy was Christina Parker your wedding day.


of Cancun, where early o

CREATE A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR BOTH YOU AND YOUR world ofenjoy hospitality an GUESTS. the A good way to a destination wedding and make passion for organizing ev it a lot more memorable is to create a complete experience. friends and acquaintance Learn about the area where you are hosting your event, and plan & Wales Univer a trip to Johnson explore the surrounding monuments and villages. Tip: shedays graduated wit Plan onewhere or two extra of activities for your guests or hot Management and Events spots to visit in the area.

firstDESTINATION position as a weddin VISIT YOUR PICK THE RIGHT DATE. When LOCATION BEFORE THE THE RIGHT VENUE IS SUPER you plan a destination wedding Rocky Mountain smallMany weddings to corporat WEDDING! resorts offer IMPORTANT. When looking for Catering, organizing events from your guests have to arrange their a special discounted price on the venue at your destination own liveswas to be called a part of back your to sunny decade Christina Cancun and nights when a couple hasjoined chosen the Mo don’t just go for what abroad, is least wonderful moment. Try to book their hotel as their venue. Take expensive. Less money means anything near a holiday or time events team in 2014. In this role, Christina worked directly the resort’s cli advantage of thiswith opportunity. MORE STRESS. You should you know most of your guests All you need is a two night get find the perfect venue that keen ability to empathize with newlyweds, understanding their frustrations, pa can extend a weekend. Also, let away, and you can pick events, understands you and your vision, them know at least eight months taste some delicious menu items, also that can offer exactly what create the wedding During her time atwill Moon Pala inthey’ve advance.always dreamed of. and meet the people that you have in mind for the right be helping you plan the perfect price. supported and organized more than 500Many events. In 2016, Christina joined Hya HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER.

Wedding Department Manager where she developed leadership and project m

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day. Trust me, this really helps you feel much more at ease and enjoy every second of this great moment. CHOOSE THE RIGHT VENDORS. Sometimes hotels have set vendors that they have contracts with and offer those to you first. There are times when the vendors capture your vision, but sometimes you just do not click. In this case, you should outsource. All resorts charge a vendor fee, but paying the fee and working with a vendor that captures your vision is worth it. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A NEGATIVE RESPONSE FROM GUESTS. You hope they can attend, but it’s not always possible. This can affect your decision on whether to have a destination wedding or not. If your dream is to have a beach party in the turquoise Mexican Caribbean, then send them a lot of pictures or maybe a video so they can be part of your special moment as well. Talk with Christina about planning your destination wedding at Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa by contacting her HERE. (

Photography by Moment Clicks, a preferred vendor at Haven Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa. See more of their work HERE. ( / GWM 87

Real Weddings

ANNE & JULIANNE July 22, 2018 / Derek Chad Photography

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HOW DID YOU TWO MEET? Anne and I (Julianne) met as freshmen in college at Saint Mary’s College of California, we both lived in the same dorm on the same floor. We actually first met during one of the dreaded beginning-of-the-year-everyonemust-get-to-know-each-other ice breakers, in which we had to act out something and find someone else acting out the same thing. We had a brief conversation then, but it took a couple months for us to become friends. It took off from there as we got to know each other and our friendship turned into something more. We were dating by the end of our freshman year/beginning of the summer when Anne asked me to be her girlfriend on the same beach we’re now going to get married next to!

Event Planner: Events Inspired Event Designer: Bridal Artist Agency Bakery: Baby Cakes San Diego DJ: Dancing DJ Productions Floral Designer: Isari Flower Studio Linens and Coverings: Concepts Event Design Caterer: Continental Catering Reception Venue: Scripps Seaside Forum Photographer: Derek Chad Photography / GWM 89

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What better location to celebrate your love on an adventure-filled honeymoon for adventurous newlyweds than in Iceland, one of the most LGBT-friendly countries worldwide. From the thrill of hiking on a glacier to a romantic night at a local farm gazing at the northern lights, the possibilities are endless for newlyweds who seek a once in a lifetime postnuptial experience. For thrill-seeking couples, hiking on Falljökull, a glacier tongue flowing from Europe’s largest glacier, the mighty Vatnajökull, is an unmatched way of experiencing the great outdoors. Marvel at the majestic ice sculptures of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and always keep an eye out for cuddly creatures, seals. Or perhaps would you prefer hiking to the top of a newly created volcanic crater and taking a scenic boat ride within an archipelago of 15 volcanic islands on the Westman Islands? A more laid-back but no less sensational option would be a visit to the famous Golden Circle region, which hosts some of Iceland’s most spectacular attractions. From regularly erupting geysers, the thunderous Gullfoss waterfall, to Friðheimar greenhouse tomato farm where you can make a stop for a delicious lunch amongst the plants of Iceland. On your way there, cozy up as newlyweds in the natural hot springs of the Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s oldest natural swimming pool. For the adventurous couples, exploring the picturesque Westfjords, one of the wildest and most remote regions of Iceland where time seems to stand still. Enjoy adventures on the edge of the world with your new partner. / GWM 91

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Among others, this peninsula is home to the dramatic Dynjandi waterfall (also known as the Bridal Veil falls!), but is also home to Låtrabjarg, a 1200 feet high sea cliff where you will be able to gaze at more than 70 species of birds, including the puffin, Iceland’s incredibly cute mascot.

Hidden Iceland provides tours ranging from day trips to 10-day excursions, helping travelers go off the beaten path and discover the magic of Iceland. To book a standard tour or private trip for your honeymoon, visit / GWM 93






NOt So newlywed

Kathy left, Jean right.

GWM: How did you meet?

happened until years later.

Kathy: I was playing softball at the time on a co-ed team with my ex, and so was Jean. We were in mixed leagues, and Jean was the scorekeeper for her ex’s team. We were in a huge social group, and we did a lot together.

GWM: How long did you date before things got serious?


GWM: Was it love at first site? Kathy: We were with other people at the time, and I arrived with my ex at the softball field, Jean saw the children of some of our friends run up to greet me, and it was the first time she saw me, and she felt that she knew me. Something struck her when she (Jean) saw that. I had no idea that that had

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Kathy: Here’s the other twist to our story. The twist of fate that seemed to bring us together was that our exes left us for each other. GWM: No! Really? Kathy: We were completely blindsided by it. We were devastated, because we were happy, and unbeknownst to us, they were having an affair behind our backs. They broke up with each of us in the same

not so newlywed what was happening? We started dating and lived apart for two and a half years, and then we moved in together. We bought our first home a year later! Jean: It was that way, yeah. GWM: What are some suggestions you would give to other couples when they first move in? Jean: You’ve got to do it correctly. So many couples break up too quickly. Go slow and take your time. GWM: So what advice are you going to give to couples who are just starting off their marriage? Kathy and Jean: Wow, yeah.

week, and that’s when we got suspicious. What we felt was the worst thing in the world had to happen to bring us together. It took us awhile to process. Through that grieving process we turned to each other. A few months later, our close friend said to Jean “Do you know that your voice changes when you talk about Kathy?” And my friends said “Wouldn’t that be poetic justice if you two got together?”. I thought “No… she’s my best friend!” We’d always had fun together, but it hadn’t occurred to me. I was like a deer caught in the headlights, but then I realized maybe that is

Kathy: That’s a good question. Just starting out I think it’s clear communication, making sure that your goals are on the same page. I think take it slow. People joked that we’ve had a very long engagement, because we were together 17 years before we got married, only because we couldn’t get married, but just be sure, don’t jump into it. GWM: Now, what about kids. You both came to the relationship with kids? Kathy: No, Jean just had Heather. GWM: How old was Heather when you started dating? Kathy: She was nine when we met, and 11 when we started dating. Jean: She loved you from the

beginning! Kathy: She’s loved both of us, but it was great. In fact when we told her that our relationship had changed from friends to more, and she was like “Duh”. She was so excited though, and there was a period when we were still living apart, but my biological clock was ticking, and I’d always wanted children. Jean: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. GWM: What are some of the biggest challenges that you had to overcome in marriage? Kathy: I would say, the biggest challenge has been… not challenge as far as anything between us, but things that have happened is Jean’s diagnosis. (Jean has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.) Jean: Yeah, but, although I didn’t really pay attention to it, so… Kathy: But it definitely changed our life, and thinking about the future, you know Jean was looking forward to her retirement on her own, not having to be kind of forced retirement, and we were looking at like food trucks, and cooking. We had always had great ideas, and just really kind of shifted everything and are more present, because nobody’s guaranteed tomorrow. So you plan for tomorrow, but you live for today, and it’s how we’ve always lived. It’s really emphasized that more so, and I don’t know if we shared this with you, but after we told Heather, she said, “Mom, you’re too young / GWM 95

not so newlywed for a bucket list, you need a Fuck It List” and so, we did that, and that’s why we went on that 3000 mile RV trip last summer, that was… GWM: I didn’t know you did that! Kathy: That was at the top of her list, she said she wanted to go on a trip and see the world, and see the country first. So we started with the US. We rented an RV, went on a three-week trip, hit the road, went out to Zion, Utah, Idaho…

the table first, and we had the designs made, they were custom, and everything, and I was like, “Holy Moly that’s big”. So, she was there and I said, “Tony, can I make mine a little smaller, and she’s like “WHY?” and he was like “WHY?” so then, I got on the table, after she’s jumped down, and she sees mine all stenciled out, and she was like “WOAH!” See what I mean? But that’s done… Jean: But you were kind of nervous, and…

Jean: We met a teacher friend, from a long time ago, we went to see them too. Kathy: It was Jean’s freshman English teacher. She stayed friends with them all these years Jean: It was fate, because when I was young, they always helped me. Kathy: And then we stayed three nights with our daughter. And that was like, check, check, that was part of the Fuck It List. We got tattoos… GWM: Oh, let me see. That’s a big ass tattoo! It’s beautiful! Kathy: Wait till you see Jean’s. That’s Jean’s first and only tattoo. And the tattoo artist was like “That’s your first tattoo?” GWM: And it’s a serious tattoo! Jean: You couldn’t believe that I was doing it! Kathy: Oh yeah, so she went on 96 GWM / Winter 2018

Kathy: This is my fourth tattoo, but this one was the longest I was at the table. We had our passports, and we just started checking things off of our list. It’s more about living fully, and living more presently, and being grateful. GWM: What’s next on your list? Kathy: We’re trying to do more trips to see France, and go to the beach, she’s really missed the beach, so we did that a couple of weeks ago, stayed with some friends, and went to Disneyland when her sister came down.

GWM: I saw those pictures! The Disneyland pictures were great. Kathy: So we’re going to see our daughter Heather for ten days, and help her. Jean: Well she follows all that I have in my garden, that’s why she wants to know how it all works. Kathy: It’s like “Mom, I’m gonna put you to work!” But I think that’s important too, for us. We’ve always been committed to each other. Then when I think a diagnosis like this, and when you realize how more meaningful those vows really are. You know people say, “It’s just a piece of paper” or “What’s the importance of that” it means so much more to us than that, and that in sickness and in health, I mean really, realizing what those vows mean. But we have a lot of fun! I would say, regardless, we have joy in our life every single day, and we laugh, we get silly, you got to have fun. Jean: Yeah, this whole area is just so great, I’m so glad that we got this place, and everything around here is quiet, it’s just amazing every time you go out, where every time I go out in the front yard, it’s like I can feel it. Kathy: We have a great community. Jean: Yeah, we do.

Thank you Jean and Kathy for sharing your love story with GWM. / GWM 97

Family planning



or decades, there has been a rise in the number of women having children in their 30s and 40s. Some driven by their careers or education, and taking a back-seat approach to motherhood, others simply have not met the right partner, and in unforeseen cases, women battling cancer or medical issues choose to freeze their eggs in hopes of having children after recovery. Whatever the life circumstance might be for conceiving late in life, now more than ever, the advances in egg freezing can offer women all over the world a chance to slow their reproductive time clock, and take control of their reproductive choices. Most women can’t escape the message that it’s harder to get pregnant after age 35. And yet, it’s not a conversation patients are having with the doctors they talk to about their most intimate issues – their OBGYN – unless they bring up the topic first. OBGYN’s routinely ask patients during their annual exams about their sexual histories and need for contraception, but often missing from the list is, “Do you plan to have a family?” Now, egg freezing has been removed from the experimental labeling, and has gained credibility as an option for

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fertility preservation. Many OBGYN’s have learned that the success rates are increasing, and more and more are referring women to a respected fertility doctor who can offer this service. Between the ages of 16 and 28, a woman’s egg quality is at its prime. At age 29, the quality begins to decline. A women’s age is an important factor when she chooses to freeze her eggs, as it can affect her outcome of having a successful pregnancy. This is why, fertility doctors all over the world stress that the time is now to take control of your reproduction and meet with a Fertility Doctor, or more professionally known as a Reproductive Endocrinologist to discuss your options. Its best to freeze eggs before 40 years old as a woman’s fertility begins to decline. The average age seen is 37 years old. Prior to treatment, a Reproductive Endocrinologist can run hormone testing to better understand your current fertility and what treatment plan will work best for your preservation success. Egg freezing offers the possibility of having a baby at a later time. Yes, that’s right! A possibility! Egg freezing is an opportunity to control a woman’s reproductive potential. With success rates rising, in 10 years egg freezing

will be as common as the birth control pill and with decades of technological improvements, there has been a fast rise in live births from frozen eggs. Oocyte Cryopreservation, commonly known as egg freezing, is accomplished through an egg retrieval process, which involves taking hormone medications for roughly 10 days to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Once the eggs have reached maturity, they are extracted vaginally during a minor outpatient surgical procedure. On average about 10-15 eggs are extracted and immediately dehydrated and frozen through a process called vitrification. The eggs are then stored in tanks at -196 degrees Celsius. Recovery time is minimal, and patients are back to normal shortly after. Egg Freezing can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, and cryo-preservation is anywhere from $700-$1000 per year. There are companies like Apple and Facebook that offer egg freezing to their female employees that desire this opportunity to preserve their fertility. There are hopes that insurance companies will consider this a valid medical procedure and offer coverage to their policy holders, but there has yet to be any discussion about it. It is common for patients to wait

a number of years before taking advantage of their preserved eggs. It is recommended no more than 10 years to ensure a successful creation of embryos, but there have been cases where frozen eggs past 10 years have resulted in successful creation of embryos and implantation, creating beautiful, healthy babies. When a women is ready to create embryo’s and start a family, she would come back to the clinic for a followup appointment and discuss her treatment plan. Depending on her needs, her eggs could be thawed and fertilized with her partner’s sperm or donor sperm. Thereafter embryos are made, testing for any chromosome abnormalities are recommended and the healthiest embryo is transferred to either herself or if needed, by a gestational carrier - better known as a Surrogate. Thereafter, any surviving embryos can then be cryo-preserved, donated to another recipient or science, or discarded if the intended parents choose to do so. Couples are urged to freeze their remaining embryos until after their children are born.

It is important to choose a clinic and Fertility Doctor that is right for you. Research their success rates at . SART is an organization dedicated to Assisted Reproductive Technologies and its practices. On their website, you can research the success rate of

any fertility clinic in the United State. In addition to researching SART, also research the clinic; have a consultation with the Fertility Specialist to review your medical history, plans for treatment and future needs. At your consultation, ask to tour the clinic, and meet staff. Feeling

comfortable and confident with the clinic of your choice is beneficial during your treatment offering less stress and giving you peace of mind. Over the years fertility treatment has broadened its practice and is on the cutting edge of science and technology offering many forms of treatment and options for people all over the world to have the family they have always dreamed of in the time that is right for them. From Egg and embryo freezing to gestational carriers to genetic testing and gender selection for family balancing, the list continues, but it all starts with the eggs, and preserving before it’s too late.

Practicing in California since 1990, Dr. Jane Frederick is an internationally noted specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. She is the medical director of HRC Fertility in Orange County, where she developed a diverse clinical practice in reproductive surgery, IVF and the genetic screening of embryos. / GWM 99

featured vendor

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featured vendor

Aside from their number one rated Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises’ vessels also serve as a private venue for special events such as wedding ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners and engagement parties. Aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, guests are immersed in the beauty of the world-class city – an unforgettable experience where nature and urban collide. Imagine your outdoor wedding ceremony, reception or rehearsal dinner unfolding before a magical Chicago skyline and sunset views, then dancing the night away on a floating rooftop as gleaming skyscrapers glide by and summer fireworks illuminate the sky over Lake Michigan. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises offers a truly personalized experience, allowing couples to choose any of their six 20th century-styled luxury yachts, which can accommodate groups of two to 250. Couples also have their choice of entertainment, bar service, departure times and customizable routes along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Each of the vessels feature climatecontrolled interior salons, tables

and chairs for the ceremony and reception, 360-degree open-air upper decks, staffed full-service bars, as well as marble and granite restrooms. Additionally, guests will never share a yacht with strangers as Chicago’s First Lady Cruises offers a truly private wedding experience. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises’ premiere event staff can also help connect couples to diverse, fivestar dining experiences celebrated with Chicago catering partners including Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!, Mon Ami Gabi, Summer House Santa Monica, Entertaining Company and Harry Caray’s Catering & Events. To complete your unforgettable night, Chicago Architecture Centercertified docents are available to lead the private cruise, due to their partnership for the official Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady. Sail into your new life together aboard one of the private yachts from Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. Their experienced staff and crew are at your service to help create a welcoming, memorable and unique voyage.

If you’re interested in learning more or would like to connect with a representative, go to or call 847-358-1330. Photo credit counter clockwise: Denver Smith Photography and George Street Photo.



veryone wants their wedding to feel unique and special. And in an age where barnyard weddings are all too familiar and destination weddings seem to be the new norm, it can be difficult to find a venue that stands on its own. For couples looking for a one-of-akind venue located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises offers just that with its fleet of classic yachts. / GWM 101

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