We met in September 2014, in a manner that many could call “fate” or “destiny." I was vacationing in California with my cousin Margaret ("Mags"), and we decided to squeeze in a visit to San Diego.
Being a resourceful and adventurous traveler, I took to the internet to possibly meet someone that could give me a hometown tour of San Diego, or perhaps just meet up for a drink or coffee. Knowing that gay dating sites are typically transient, I knew it would be a challenge to meet someone that wasn’t expecting more than an innocent encounter.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Kevin was online “just checking things out.” Also skeptical of these internet dating sites, he never had any real expectations of meeting a person of real substance. But something intervened, and we began chatting online for most of the day. I asked Kevin to meet up later that evening.
With much trepidation and nervousness, we met up at a local bar in San Diego. After the initial chit-chat (and a tiny bit of liquid courage), we felt a sense of comfort and compatibility that neither of us had expected. We talked for hours, sharing our pasts, and discovering we had quite a bit in common. Before we knew it, the bar was making last call, and neither of us wanted the night to end.
The next day, Kevin met up with me and Mags for a quick lunch before we traveled back to the UK. When we all met up, it was as if we had known each other for years. There were no awkward moments, and the connection between Kevin and me was evident. Our “quick” lunch ended up being four and a half hours. Kevin and I decided we would stay in touch and reluctantly said farewell.
This is where the fairy tale begins.
Kevin and I texted each other every day for hours on end. We had a standing FaceTime or Skype session every day. Our bond and relationship was clearly forming, but we knew that the distance of living on separate continents was going to be a serious challenge.
We decided to “go with the flow” and let time do its thing. After a few weeks of constant communication, and an ever-building desire to see each other again, we planned a trip to meet in New York City. We were curious if the feelings we'd shared over the past several weeks would be the same once we reconnected.
It was worth the risk.
We were both nervous, but once we embraced, it all disappeared, and the beginning of an amazing week full of sight-seeing and fun began. There was an immediate sense of togetherness that neither of us had experienced before.
After New York, we decided to see each other every four to six weeks until we could figure out if our relationship was going to progress to the next level. We juggled calendars, work schedules, family life, and everyday living in order to find a way to make seeing each other a priority.
The New York trip was followed by Kevin and his mom Claudia spending Christmas 2014 in Paris. I joined them. Claudia is a fireball of energy and doesn’t typically hold back on her thoughts or words. She is one that you would say has “no filter.” Well, as soon as Claudia and I met, there was an immediate acceptance and love for each other.
The holiday trip was followed by Kevin planning his first trip to Manchester, England, to see me on my "home turf," giving him an opportunity to meet my friends and family and spend some time experiencing the life I had created for myself in England. After meeting Kevin, all of my loved ones quickly saw why we had fallen in love. They had never seen me so happy and understood why I was considering relocating to the United States in the near future.
I traveled back to San Diego to get a better sense of what Kevin’s life was like here. We spent about two weeks together and began to realize that we needed to begin discussing how we could make life together more of a reality. It was clear we both wanted to find a way to take our relationship to the next level by living on the same continent.
In June 2015 we again met in New York City to celebrate Kevin’s birthday. It was on this trip that we had very serious conversations about planning a timeline for when we could live together, and I started the process to relocate to San Diego.
July brought a trip for Kevin and Claudia to meet my family in Sicily. While on this trip visiting Palermo, Kevin and I both decided we wanted promise rings to symbolize our commitment to each other. As it happens, we were walking past a Bulgari store, and decided we would take the leap and exchange rings there and then.
After over two years of talking, travel, and adjusting each of our lives to the other, and our bond and love growing stronger day by day, we came to realize that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with one another.
Our wedding was held at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park on May 20th, 2017. We chose this venue because we felt that it told a story about who we are and how our lives have connected. My husband, Stefan, is originally from Sicily and grew up in England and moved over to San Diego two years ago to officially be with me and to grow our relationship, and now marriage. This was a huge endeavor considering that he had to quit his executive level job, sell his home, and leave all of his loved ones to start a new life with the man he loved. Not to mention in a new culture, country, and city that he never really knew.
Balboa Park's buildings, architecture and design have many similarities to those of Europe. Now that Stefan had moved his life to San Diego, we felt that having our wedding there would demonstrate his life in Europe brought to San Diego: a combination of our cultures and lives together.
We started our search for a wedding designer by interviewing some of the best talent California had to offer. When we met Jenny Minns of Luxe Events, it was evident right away that she is a true artist, with a love and passion for design. Moreover, Jenny is the most approachable and customer-focused service provider we have ever come across. After listening to her ideas, we were absolutely blown away and pretty much hired her right on the spot.
Jenny takes a lot of time to really understand her clients' needs, emotions and tastes. She has that unique ability to truly understand different people's ideas and visions and translate them into a single, top notch design.
Our photographer Derek Chad was instrumental in capturing the essence of our wedding and translating it in picture that will remain with us forever. He has the ability to make everyone feel at ease instantly, and he's committed to provide his client with the best possible friendly service. We can't recommend him enough.
Our main goal for our wedding was to not only celebrate our love for one another, but to also make our friends, family and loved ones the center of attention. So many people came from all over the world to share in our nuptials, and it was important to us that Stefan's friends and family connected and interacted with Kevin's loved ones.
Our wedding was a three-day event, and we made sure to "wine and dine" our friends and families and to create a fun, eventful weekend and wedding they would never forget.
Our wedding started with a cocktail hour inside the rotunda of the San Diego Museum of Art. From the rotunda, the guests went to the sculpture garden of the museum where champagne was passed to guests as they took their seats. Stefan's best friend, Jolene Catlin, flew in from Dubai to officiate our ceremony.
At the culmination of the nuptials, the guests entered a transformed draped outdoor space where we had farmhouse tables with a Mediterranean/tropical design. A gourmet Italian meal was served. We had candles lit everywhere and green plants and foliage, with no flowers present. There was a live band that entertained the guests, until we moved the party back inside the rotunda for our after-hours event. We surprised our guests with dueling pianos, taking song requests to get our guests singing, interacting, and dancing. In addition to our bar, we also featured a European coffee cart and Italian pastries. The entire evening went from 6pm to midnight and believe it or not, everyone wanted the evening to continue on.
Words by Stefan and Kevin, the grooms, as told to Amber Marlow.
Photos by Derek Chad.
Photographer | Derek Chad Photography
Videographer | ByDesign Films
Venue | The San Diego Museum of Art
Wedding Design | Luxe Events and Designs
Florals | Isari Flower Studio
Officiant | Jolene Catlin (friend of Stefan)
Transportation | Gold Coast Limos
Table Linens | La Tavola
Invitations and Stationery | Brightly Designed
Hair | Miranda Jean Irvin
Makeup | Kim Cruz
Stefan's Suit | Hugo Boss
Kevin's Suit | Bonobos
Rings | Bulgari
Derek Chad Photography—a fresh, artistic, documentary-style approach to wedding and portrait photography with a fine-art twist! I take a modern ad informal approach to photography. I like to capture all the special moments and emotions on your big day in a relaxed and artistic way. Contact me for more information!