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Christina and Harmony Franco were the first same-sex couple to marry in the UH chapel.

By Henry V. Thiel

Christina Rene Franco met her future bride, Harmony Star Grim, in January 2014 at Hughes Hangar on Washington Avenue, while attending a mutual friend’s birthday party.

A year later, Harmony would confess to Christina that the first time she laid eyes on her, she knew they would marry. “There was a full moon that night, which was so beautiful,” Christina says. “I had to take a photo, which I printed and framed as a birthday present for Harmony a month later.”

Christina, a native Houstonian who works as an insurance claims analyst, proposed to Harmony, a front server at B&B Butchers and Restaurant, in December 2015. Harmony was born in San Bernardino, California, but grew up in Long Island, New York.

Because Harmony loves Christmas lights, Christina took her to Bayou Bend Gardens before driving to the trees in front of River Oaks Country Club. They stood between two of the trees and shared a romantic moment. “Harmony asked me to sing ‘La Vie en Rose,’ which she loves, and we slow-danced together before I got down on one knee with the ring (which I had been nervously carrying all night in the camera bag) and asked her to marry me,” Christina says. “She cried. Then she said yes.”

The couple then went to JR’s Bar & Grill to meet one of Harmony’s best friends who had invited them for karaoke. “Unbeknownst to her, I had invited our close friends and family to surprise her and to celebrate our engagement with us,” Christina says.

Christina began planning her proposal after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality in June 2015. “It made it so much more meaningful knowing that our marriage would be legally recognized throughout the country,” Christina says. “And that I could legally marry in my home city.”

As a proud University of Houston graduate, Christina wanted to marry Harmony at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center on the school’s main campus. When they reserved the chapel, they were told they would be the first same-sex couple to marry there. “That made our special day extra-special,” Christina says. “I am proud to be a part of LGBTQ history at my alma mater, and want to let all LGBTQ students and alumni know that our school openly supports us and our marriages. They should consider the chapel for their weddings in the future.”

They were married on March 19, 2017, by close friend Antonio Sunko, who was ordained just to perform the ceremony.

Harmony’s stepfather walked her down the aisle, while Christina’s mother did the honors for her. Together they lit the unity candle, jumped the broom, and exchanged vows and rings. They each had a best man (though Harmony’s was a best woman) and a matron of honor, and the wedding party wore suits with lavender bow ties and lavender rose boutonnieres.

The couple says their favorite moment from the ceremony was the coin toss. Throughout their relationship, they’d often leave it up to a coin toss to direct their decisions.

When they met with Antonio before the wedding, he asked who would read their vows first, and they both said, “I will.” Antonio mentioned that traditionally the groom goes first, but since there was no groom, they could flip
a coin.

They both thought it was a great idea, and Christina ordered a special coin for the ceremony. Antonio explained to those gathered why he was flipping the coin.

As always, Harmony chose “heads.” Unbeknownst to her, Christina had ordered a double-headed coin. When Christina told her about the coin the next day, Harmony cried. Harmony loves telling the story when people ask about their wedding.

For their reception, the couple picked Nouveau Antique Art Bar on Main Street, because they loved its character, charm, and its large collection of Tiffany-style lamps—and because Clark, the owner, was very accommodating.

The couple hired Julie Christine Photography, a well-known photographer in the LGBTQ community. Niko Niko’s in Montrose catered the reception, while flowers and Harmony’s bouquet were made by Barbara at the Kroger store in Montrose. Jody Stevens of Jodycakes made their wedding cake.

For their honeymoon, the newlyweds spent two weeks in Amsterdam and Paris. They reside in Houston.

This article appears in the August 2017 issue of OutSmart Magazine.

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Henry Thiel

Henry V. Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist, a boutique public relations company which works exclusively with chefs and restauranteurs. He loves weddings.

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