By Henry V. Thiel
Photo by Emily Rene (emilyrene.com)
Claire and Tiffany met in College Station in 2010 while attending Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (affectionately referred to as Texas A&M). It was Claire’s smile that Tiffany noticed first. They were each in long-term relationships when they met, so in the beginning (as with most perfect unions) they began their relationship as friends. The two couples double-dated, hanging out together with easy frequency. When their respective relationships ended shortly thereafter, they would meet, bonding as they comforted and supported each other through those breakups. They took their time getting to know each other, and connected through music, friends, and playing guitar. Tiffany found Claire both comforting and genuine. Four years later, Claire would reveal herself to be quite surprising as well.
On Valentine’s Day in 2014, Claire invited Tiffany to a beautiful park where they hiked through the picturesque scenery. Later in the day, Claire gave Tiffany a box. Inside was a video of Claire’s rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.” The video was filled with various images of the two of them, a photographic chronology of their four-year relationship. When the video ended, Claire was beside Tiffany, down on one knee. Tiffany, of course, said yes.
A few months later, in an equally (if not more) surprising scenario, Tiffany evened up the score by proposing to Claire. (Yes, it seems that two heads and two proposals actually are better than one.) Tiffany’s location was outdoors as well, with the added gravitas of being under the canopy of the famed Century Tree at Texas A&M, their alma mater. While they have both been teased mercilessly about needing to get engaged not just once but twice, they believe this double proposal shows their relationship is a two-way street, and they are equals.
This duet of proposals is a fantastic example of the revisionist aesthetic that the LGBT community can bring to the marriage ritual. After fighting so long and hard to get the right to marry, the queer community seems to be giving ancient customs a new spin, making the entire process a uniquely tailored experience. It shows both a respect for the tradition and an interest in adapting it for the 21st century—each wedding branded, so to speak, to be both time-honored and of-the-moment, but most of all a reflection of that couple’s unique experience.
Claire and Tiffany chose to get married at the Zilker Clubhouse in Austin. The state capital was the place where they first said “I love you,” and where they return every year with friends to Austin City Limits. They eventually hope to call Austin home, as they are still enamored with the city’s skyline and its outdoorsy feeling.
When it came to planning the wedding itself, Claire and Tiffany knew they wanted to ensure that they were using vendors who were not only comfortable with, but happy about doing a wedding for two women. For their officiant, they chose one of LGBT’s own, actor and musician Kenny Peters. Peters was selected due to his enthusiasm, understanding, and excitement about the prospect of same-sex marriages becoming legal in Texas.
“Choosing Kenny Peters as our officiant was an amazing decision, and the ceremony reflected the deeper bond we had with him because of our shared identity,” states Tiffany. “We got so many compliments about Kenny after the ceremony, and I know that was because he was family, and understood how amazing it is that we could get married legally,” Claire adds.
The independent women threw a few traditional details by the wayside for their wedding. Claire and Tiffany paid for it, planned it, and set up the wedding venue without the use of a wedding planner. However, they could not have done it without their amazing family and friends who worked incredibly hard throughout the morning of their special day to ensure that the venue looked exactly as they dreamed it would.
“Doing it ourselves gave our wedding a very personal and ‘us’ feel,” explains Tiffany.
Adds Claire, “Every single decoration was picked out by both of us, and every second of the wedding was planned by both of us. We chose to leave out things that we’ve found to be boring at weddings. We wanted it to be a fun, relaxing, and happy celebration. We did use Tiffany’s mom’s ring pillow, and my mom insisted that we cut a cake, but other than that we wanted to be original and start our own traditions.”
“Both of our parents had church weddings,” Tiffany recalls. “And we were constantly told, ‘Back when I got married, nobody did all this stuff!’ ”
And in case you were wondering, yes, the Aggie War Hymn was sung at the reception!
Henry V. Thiel is a principal at The Epicurean Publicist