matt, interior designer & dennis, lawyer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A nonstop celebration uniting all different types of family and friends.

Planned budget: $30,000
Actual budget: $45,000
Number of guests: 113
LOCATION: San Francisco, California


The largest allocation by far was to the venue—the University Club in San Francisco. The largest part of that bill was the bar tab. “Your friends are drunks,” we each said to each other simultaneously as we looked at the final bill. We made the decision the bar would be open. Our friends and family mean everything to us and they took the time from their lives and many traveled to be with us for this night, so if they wanted a drink, or four, who are we to say no? Plus, the wedding took place in San Francisco, and the drinks flow here like nowhere else. When in Rome…

We had a very emotional component to this wedding, one we had not anticipated when we planned the date. First, unlike in any wedding we’ve been to, we were blessed that almost a dozen friends and family stood and toasted us. This including Matt’s dad, who made the last-minute decision to stand and toast us with a simple yet beautiful speech. That meant more than one would think, given his parents’ religious beliefs and our not knowing whether they would even attend.

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As if folks didn’t need a drink to recover from all that, Dennis’s twenty-year-old son, Henry, was experiencing a near-fatal blood infection at the time, and we did not know until a couple of days before the wedding whether he would be in the hospital, or even whether we would need to postpone the wedding. Everyone in attendance knew about the illness and could see he was very sick, and that he could barely stand straight walking his sister down the aisle. Then, during dinner, surprising a room of over 120 people—he stood and spoke. This brought the house down, tears to all eyes… and the need for immediate drinks en mass to steel some nerves.


Wedding bands, though we did not plan it that way. Because of Henry’s illness and almost three months of hospitalization, our wedding band budget was consumed by housing and food costs for our temporary relocation to live in Palo Alto to be at Henry’s bedside for heart surgery and prolonged recovery at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He went in for emergency surgery two days after the wedding, so we spent a honeymoon night on a hospital lobby couch. Talk about a sexy honeymoon. We plan to have the bands before the first anniversary in February, however, and are working with the amazing Thomas Montgomery Ortega-Stern.


Being able to stand up in front of our family and friends and proclaim what we each already knew—not only are we in love but we are equal. Remember, just a few years earlier the fate of same-sex marriage was unknown. Though it has been legal in California for a number of years now, it was only a few years ago that the U.S. Supreme Court held that we as a gay couple officially had the same rights to marriage as a straight couple under the Constitution. This ceremony was also a particularly poignant moment for us, particularly given Matt’s journey. An only child raised by evangelical parents, Matt was taught being gay was an aberration—that something was wrong with him. He was sent to conversion therapy. We can all see that failed spectacularly, thankfully. Standing in front of all of our friends—and his parents (who were wonderful to Dennis and his children and at the ceremony, by the way)—he took that last step of the journey and was able to fully embrace who he is.

Wedding Warriors TC

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