You might say Brett Ximenes and Kevin Nichols give special meaning to United Airlines’ “Fly the Friendly Skies” motto. The two United Airlines flight attendants met two years ago while working the same flight to Chicago O’Hare, and it wasn’t long before the two became more than just friends.
Despite both living in Houston for over 23 years, the two had never flown together before. “I was the purser on the flight, and Kevin was working in the back. We had three legs that day,” Brett recalls.
On the first leg, they had a medical emergency that demanded the crew’s full attention. But by the second leg, Brett says the sparks began to fly. “By the third leg, it was on. We pretty much never looked back after that.”
Their first date was lunch right around Kevin’s birthday. “The next day after our date, he was the first thing I thought of when I woke up,” Brett admits. “I knew I was in trouble. I knew I was falling for him already.”
Brett (53) hails from Colorado Springs, and Kevin (47) is from Baltimore, though they both now call Houston home. Brett says he knew right away that Kevin was the man for him. “I dropped him off from a lunch date. As he walked away, I said out loud, ‘I’m going to marry that man.’” That was only three months into their relationship. “Sure enough! I realized that no one would ever love me more. He was the one!”
It was Kevin who proposed, and he chose Brenner’s on the Bayou as the venue. As far as Brett knew, they were simply there with their mothers (who were in town for Mother’s Day). It would be the first time their moms would meet. “Of course I said yes!” Brett explains. “My mother has to tell me what he said after he went down on one knee. All I saw was his handsome face after that point.” Then, on March 31, 2019, the two were married in Houston at The Bell Tower on 34th.
Brett says one of the most wonderful moments of their big day was waiting to walk down the aisle. “I was sitting in the back room with my niece, who was the flower girl. She was getting nervous, and I was just so excited to walk down and wait for Kevin. I went out and looked through the crack in the giant wooden doors. I could see the room was full of friends and family, and so much love. I could see our officiant waiting for me up there as the violinist was playing. No one could see me, but I could see all of them. It was very exciting. It was a moment that I will carry with me forever.”
That moment is forever etched in Kevin’s mind as well, as one of the high points of the day. “I saw all my family and friends there for us on our wedding day. I knew how much we were loved. Everyone turned around as they opened the doors, and I came out with my mom to see everyone there surrounding us.”
That special moment was made all the more grand by the gorgeous venue and glorious florals designed by Chad Cornwall, founder and owner of Flower Power Productions. “We wanted only white flowers, so we made his job a little hard,” Brett jokes. “He came through, and in such a big way. They were just very special and elaborate, and we got so many compliments afterwards and everyone wanted to take one home.” Using as many LGBTQ vendors as possible was important to both Brett and Kevin as a way of supporting the community. And having someone who was both gay and married as their officiant was particularly important to the pair as well. So they asked their friend Rick Dickson to do the honors.
“It was not long ago when same-sex couples could not get married in the State of Texas. So to have the same rights as every other person in love was not lost on us on our day. We were very grateful to both Rick Dickson and his husband, Luis Morales Lopez, for being there and for being a part of it.”
The day had a special twist, as March 31, 2019, was Brett’s father’s 81st birthday. The wedding reception included a special cake and song, and his father could not have been any more thrilled. Pulling off those two surprises was really the only challenge the two faced when it came to the day of the wedding. “Everything went very smoothly,” Brett says, “and everything looked fantastic.” That goes double for the cake—or rather, cakes. The grooms opted for one small square cake with a sweet topper alongside a tower made of individual square white cakes with tiny black bows for each guest. The effect was stunning.
Brett says that if he had to pick just one special thing to share about his husband, it would be “just how much Kevin makes me a better man every day. He always looks out for me. He always looks out for us, even when I don’t realize it initially. I adore him, and loved him almost from day one. There is a quiet to him, a stillness about him, even though his mind is going a million miles a minute.”
Brett adds that he is forever grateful that Cupid came his way, and hit him hard. “I had to wait almost a lifetime for the man of my dreams. He finally showed up, and he’s never disappointed me.” Since the big day, Brett says that being married has given him a sense of peacefulness, “a comfort knowing that someone you love to your core loves you back, and is there every day you wake up and start the day.”
Kevin’s love for Brett is equally apparent, saying that he truly appreciates “the way Brett looks out for us. It’s a way of showing his love. It’s a way of showing me how much he cares about me and thinks about me all the time. I have never felt this much love. I have never been loved so much before. I am a very lucky man.”
True love is as simple to see as it is rare to find. Brett and Kevin are lucky men indeed. They met in the friendly skies and found a love that is clearly destined to soar.
This article appears in the November 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.