Anyone who has lived in New York City knows that summers usually consist of picnics in Sheep’s Meadow, summer Fridays, and rooftop parties. In July 2009, Blake’s friend-of-a-friend happened to bring Dan to one of those rooftop parties at Blake’s apartment. It was one of Blake’s epic parties, and he was in true form. Dan was thinking, “This guy really knows how to have a good time,” but wasn’t exactly interested in that way. Blake had other plans, and asked Dan out to dinner that week. After hours of effortless conversation, we both knew we would be more than friends.
Flash forward and we are living in Miami: Blake with an exciting opportunity to work in Marketing at Carnival Cruise Lines, and Dan getting promoted within the US Department of Health and Human Services. Settled in and enjoying life, we planned our first “big vacation” together for May 2012 – and a cruise through France and Italy. At the end of a romantic evening, Blake surprised Dan with a ring. After several months, we finally picked a date: November 8, 2014. Picking a location was not quite as easy, but after seeing the W South Beach, we were hooked. The ceremony would be on the lawn under lights, cocktails in the Grove, and the reception in the Great Room. For us, the W had it all: impeccable service, refined touches, and had just enough of a Miami vibe without being cliché. As with any wedding, the most important thing is attention to detail. Enter Barbara Amitrano of PCS Events. Barbara was our details person. From decoration to lighting, sound to setups, they did all the “little things” that actually aren’t so little. And of course, there were lots of other little things we had to manage too! We both wanted custom tuxes – Dan working with Black Lapel (online) and Blake with Artigiano (Coral Gables). Our stationery had to reflect our black tie wedding (Wedding Paper Divas, online); and Blake’s mom designed 14 one-of-a-kind centerpieces.
Pulling together a same-sex wedding couldn’t have been much easier than in Miami. Quite frankly, we expected some odd looks or pushback from vendors. What we received was totally the opposite. There were even some fun moments: While working with Ana Paz cakes, Blake was viewing cake toppers. The rep was saying (imagine your favorite Cuban-American accent), “No, you definitely don’t want THAT one! No, these all have women, hah! Ok, let’s keep looking, we will find something!” Likewise, when we first met with photographer Brett Harker. He nonchalantly brought up the fact that he just didn’t understand anyone who would be against gay marriage.
Of course there were some difficult decisions to make. How would we walk into the ceremony? How would we be announced? Would there be a first dance? We were appreciative to walk through these decisions with Pastor Megan Smith from Coral Gables Congregational UCC. She reminded us that same-sex marriage is a recent phenomenon, and there aren’t yet agreed upon liturgies, pronouns, and words. But that meant we didn’t have a fit in a mold, and that felt good.
At least two-thirds of our guests were from out of town, so we wanted to make sure the entire weekend was spectacular. Miami couldn’t have been a better backdrop. Whether it was the welcome party at Townhouse Hotel or at the Boulan Hotel where we held a block of rooms, Miami delivered. The night of the wedding didn’t disappoint. Surrounded by the people who mean the most to us, we said, “I do.” We ate, we drank, we gave speeches, we danced. It was the end of one era of our lives, and the beginning of another, but we’ll probably remember it most as one epic party.