Who: Jackie and Beth
Where: Grand Center Arts District, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Photographer: Tawny Ballard Photography
Jackie and Beth met on a dating app in August, 2016. They'd been on a string of bad dates beforehand and had low expectations about meeting for the first time in person. Suffice to say, the connected instantly and after on countless dates started seeing each other every day. They got engaged on their second anniversary, and they've been kind enough to share their engagement photo shoot and their love storywith us. Jackie and Beth tells us in their own words...
Beth:We met for drinks at a local brewery in Saint Louis, and to both of our surprises, we connected immediately. We bonded over loving our brothers (who will actually be the best men at our wedding!), our favourite bakeries and cocktail bars in the city, and our love of being outside. From there, we went on hammocking dates, hiking dates, fancy cocktail dates, and eventually we stopped counting dates and started seeing each other every day. We both remember first realising we were reallyin love while camping together for the first time, and we've been in love ever since. We got engaged on our second anniversary, we just celebrated our third anniversary, and we're getting married a few days after our fourth anniversary next year.
Beth: Jackie and I talked in advance and decided that we each wanted to propose to the otherwe each wanted the experience of planning a proposal event for the other. But in having that conversation, we had no idea that we would be proposing within 24 hours of one another. Below are the proposal stories from each of our perspectives.
Jackie: I'd been planning for months to propose to Beth on our anniversary in Tower Grove Parkwhere we'd gone for several of our first dates. I planned every detail to be as personal and sentimental as possible I coordinated a group of her closest friends and family, flew in her best friends from out of town, gathered branches from the park to have turned into a wooden engagement ring for her. And when the date rolled around, I hung string lights from our go-to hammocking trees and rolled out our favourite vintage rug from my grandma.
I told Beth I wanted to have an anniversary picnic in the park (which, bless her heart, she agreed to, even though it had been cold and rainy all day). As soon as we turned the corner and Beth saw the string lights, she started crying. She said yes, and all of our friends came out from behind the bushes to surprise Beth (again) and celebrate with us.
Beth: What Jackie didn't know was that I was planning on proposing to her the very next morning at our favourite farmers market, in the same park where she had proposed to me. I went to the market early, talked to all our favourite vendors, and set up a scavenger hunt through the market for her. I left notes, pictures and our favourite market foods at each booth. My last note asked her to meet me at the stone ruins in the park, just outside the market.
As soon as I saw her walking towards me with tears in her eyes and arms full of herbs and veggies, I completely forgot everything I had planned to say it became the happiest blur that ended with a ring on Jackie's finger and a celebratory breakfast with friends, featuring all the food Jackie had gathered on her scavenger hunt. It was as close to a perfect weekend as I could imagine. We each got to show the other how deeply known and loved we are, and we celebrated that love surrounded by our friends, family and queer community.
For us, marriage is a public acknowledgement of our love and commitment to one another. It's an opportunity for us to bring together the people that we love deeply, to celebrate the merging of our individual communities and families, and to celebrate the creation of a family of our own. It's an opportunity to make a personal, heartfelt, and joyful commitment to one another. And we're both incredibly sentimental, so the idea of getting to spend a whole event declaring our love for one another sounds like a pretty fantastic plan ?!
Marriage equality is just one small piece of the puzzle of queer liberation, but it's an incredibly important one. It's a public and systemic acknowledgement of the value and validity of queer relationships, and the right of queer folks to love who they love. It's painful to know that many people (and governments) don't recognise our love as valid and real, when our queer love makes us feel more valid and understood than we could ever feel in straight relationships. Marriage equality makes a big difference in acknowledging that queer people's relationships can be just as loving, supportive, and strong as straight relationships (if not more,).