How We Met
Kim and I met in June of 2019 . We had seen one another on Bumble but Kim didn’t swipe right haha. We met a few weeks later at a LGBTQ+ social mixer for Stonewall Sports Cleveland. Kim was new to Cleveland having recently moved from Philadelphia. She missed the deadline for kickball and decided to still come to the mixer to meet new people. I’m on the board of the non profit and was there with my team. I recognized her from Bumble and struck up a conversation and the rest is history.
How They Asked
Kim’s Proposal: Melissa and I had discussed how we each felt about marriage and planned to spend our lives together. But she had no clue that I was planning to propose. Melissa’s cousin Mika and her family were coming from Texas to Ohio to her dad’s for Christmas. I messaged Mika and we sneakily figured out what kind of ring Melissa might like. Mika’s dad (also in on the secret) invited us to join them for what Melissa thought was just Christmas dinner. Little did she know that an even greater surprise was waiting for her underneath the Christmas tree!
After deciding I wanted to propose, and reflecting on our mutual love of Harry Potter, I chose to incorporate that into the proposal. I purchased Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and spent a full day (while Melissa was out of town) hollowing out the book. The package was wrapped like a parcel from Hogwarts. I made it so the book would open to the ring and the chapter, The Unbreakable Vow. Melissa didn’t notice that everyone in the room was taking pictures or that I had been down on bended knee behind her as she opened it waiting for her answer. She was so surprised she forgot to answer! Finally she answered with a very emphatic, resounding YES!
Right after Christmas I ordered the custom ring I’d chosen for Kim and thought about how I wanted to propose. In January, Kim and I were flying home from a short business trip to Vegas. While we were waiting to board our flight, I scrolled across something on my Facebook timeline that said Ohio Wedding Giveaway. I thought for sure that it had to be fake or spam, but on the off chance that it wasn’t, I saved it. The post had been made by a non profit called Rai of Love that was donating an entire wedding to a couple in need. That evening back home, I noticed that among the other photos, their page also had an engagement photograph of two women and thought to myself, “So there’s a chance!” On January 16th, I sent in a video submission, telling our story. I poured my heart into describing our unsupportive families who won’t come to the wedding, Kim having gone back to nursing school to save lives, and how if we were chosen, I’d like to make the whole thing a surprise and propose to Kim.
Unbeknownst to me, my close friends I had told about my secret submission also submitted essays nominating us to win. Jodi Hutton (our wedding photographer and founder of Rai of Love) chose us to win! She contacted my cousin in Texas, who worked with our best friends in Ohio and set a plan in motion to surprise both Kim and I in February. That evening our friends convinced us to go to our local gay bar, Twist, for a post dodgeball drink. What we didn’t know was that Jodi and her amazing team of vendors wanted to surprise us with the news, just like I’d planned to surprise Kim. The entire Stonewall Sports league was in on it and our best friends had brought Kim’s engagement ring with them. Rai of Love announced to everyone that we had won a free wedding and I was able to give the love of my life a ring that promised her forever. We were surrounded by excitement, happiness and more importantly the love of all of our close friends.