Jennifer and Amanda Fetter-Matthys met through daughter Chloe—and made her a big part of their wedding.
by Henry V. Thiel
Jennifer and Amanda Fetter-Matthys first met when Jennifer was working at an ABA clinic with Amanda’s daughter, Chloe, who is on the autism spectrum.
Although they secretly had crushes on each other, neither acted on it due to the professional clinic setting.
Several years would pass before Jennifer and Amanda reconnected during the 2016 presidential campaign season. They were both members of the “Pantsuit Nation Houston” Facebook group for Hillary Clinton supporters, and they had both joined a section of the group that was created for singles who wanted to avoid dating Trump supporters.
“I was attracted to Jennifer because she is super-smart and interesting,” Amanda says. “We also have a lot in common, including a passion for volunteering and working with kids with special needs, so it was easy to be with her. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s super-adorable, too!”
Both women have degrees in childhood special education.
Jennifer, a 33-year-old native of Covington, Louisiana, teaches children with neurological issues. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and is working on her master’s degree in behavioral analysis. She will receive her special-education teaching certificate in January 2019. Amanda, a 38-year-old Houston native, earned her bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and her educational-specialist degree in counseling from the University of South Carolina. She works as a special-education teacher and holds certifications in special-education, English as a second language, and counseling.
The first time Jennifer and Amanda got together after reconnecting, they took Chloe to the Festival of Lights in Dickinson, where they picnicked on peanut-butter sandwiches without anything to drink. They confess that neither was sure whether it was an actual date.
“As we were walking back to the car from the festival, I noticed everyone was walking holding hands,” Jennifer says. “We were doing ‘one-two-threes’ swinging Chloe in the air. It felt like this was the way life had always been, and I wanted it to continue—always.”
“I really don’t believe in ‘happily-ever-after,’” Amanda says. “Real life is messy, and I am thankful that I have a true partner who isn’t afraid to get messy with me in the trenches. It’s really all about the little things that we do for each other every day that add up to a happy life—like making lunch for each other and for our daughter and tucking a little love note inside the bag, or making the other person’s favorite meals and drinks, or planning a surprise getaway.”
“It also doesn’t hurt that Amanda is a really good gift-giver,” Jennifer says. “She has given me really thoughtful gifts for different occasions over the years, such as a weekend in a tree house, a Boston Terrier painting, and Zentangles.”
It was Jennifer who proposed at one of their favorite places—on the beach in Port Aransas. Amanda was suspicious because one of their friends had been walking around with a camera all day, but she was still surprised when Jennifer got down on one knee in the surf. “I don’t remember what I said, because I was so nervous,” Jennifer says. “All that matters is that Amanda said yes.”
Jennifer got Chloe a necklace that says “To the moon and back” to symbolize her being part of the family, too.
They tied the knot on July 7, 2017, in Amanda’s church, the First Unitarian Universalist Church in the Museum District, with Rev. Angela Henderson officiating.
There were many special moments during the wedding that they will always cherish, such as Amanda’s gift to Jennifer: a belt for her father’s nautical belt buckle to complete her wedding suit. In addition to Amanda, Jennifer made vows to Chloe, who was included in the ceremony, saying that Jennifer would love Chloe as her own daughter. To this day, Chloe refers to the wedding as “our wedding” or “the day we got married.” They also had a sand ceremony, and they treasure a really neat frame memorializing that moment. There was even a rope-tying ceremony, since it was a nautical-themed wedding.
Friends who took part in the wedding included Paige Lewis playing live music during the ceremony and singing “I Choose You.” Jen Markey, their photographer, captured every amazing and heart-tugging moment.
They spent their wedding night downtown at the Marriott Marquis, where they enjoyed the rooftop Texas-shaped lazy-river pool before taking off on their “family-moon” with Chloe. Since Jennifer’s father is buried in Canada on her family’s island, they drove from Houston to Pointe Au Baril, Canada. Along the way, they visited as many national parks as possible, including Hot Springs, Arkansas; Hannibal, Missouri; and Pinery Park in Canada.
They want every couple to know that marriage is an amazing adventure. They recommend forgiving easily and laughing often. “Merging two lives into one is the most enriching challenge one can take on,” Jennifer says.
“Have a sense of humor, and choose each other every day,” Amanda adds.
The happy family lives in Seabrook, in a house overlooking Galveston Bay.
This article appears in the June 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.