Proud Houstonians Toni Marie Mascione and Jaclyn Nicole Madrid say they fell in love and built the relationship of their dreams by first loving themselves, and then by opening the lines of communication—and their hearts.
Mascione, 34, is the corporal of public affairs at the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office. She is also completing an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree program in public administration at Villanova University, where she is on the dean’s list. Madrid, 32, is the owner of Alchemy Salon Houston in EaDo, where she also works as a stylist. Their home is in that same neighborhood near downtown Houston.
The two met through mutual friends on October 4, 2020. “Meeting Jaclyn was a very surreal experience,” Mascione remembers. “From the moment we met, it felt as though she had been in my life before.”
Mascione knew on their very first date that Madrid was the one. “There was a moment when it felt as though time slowed for a moment. After Jaclyn kissed me, she leaned into my chest. It was a feeling of knowing my life is here in my arms.”
Madrid knew Mascione was the one because she made her feel safe when it came to being vulnerable and opening her heart. Madrid confessed her love after the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2021. “I knew in that moment Toni was my forever, and I wanted to spend every day of my life with her.”
Mascione had plans in the works to propose to Madrid after their one-year anniversary, but Madrid beat her to it. It was Halloween, and the couple was in Scottsdale, Arizona. As they walked in the mountain air among the succulents while returning to their room from dinner, Madrid announced, “Toni, I spoke to my mom before we left, and I told her I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, and I’m asking you, will you marry me?”
Mascione says that her understanding of love came after taking the time to work through the challenge of loving herself. “Each of us has our own history, and I know with an absolute certainty that everything in my life led me to this moment,” Toni says.
Finding love had been very difficult for Madrid. To her, love was all about giving your all to someone. “In my past relationships, I was never able to be myself 100 percent. When I met Toni, I was finally able to experience what love is by giving her my all, but also being accepted for who I was.”
“Learning healthy boundaries and loving yourself first will prepare you to love another person. We both show up every day wanting to better our lives—individually and collectively.”
Mascione and Madrid’s wedding ceremony will take place on August 8, 2022, near Breckenridge, Colorado, at the top of Sapphire Point Mountain. Mascione’s high-school pastor, Allen Strickland, is officiating, and this will be his first LGBTQ wedding. “It is a true testament to what Christianity means—loving all without judgment,” Madrid says.
Throughout their wedding planning, the couple has searched for LGBTQ and ally vendors to handle the many components of their wedding. “It was important to us to ensure that the [venue we’ve chosen] understands the dynamic of our relationship as two women,” Madrid notes.
The couple plans to honeymoon in Italy by traveling from Rome to the Amalfi Coast, where Mascione’s family is from. “With Toni’s family being from Italy, I want to experience her culture and her country,” Madrid says.
When asked what drew her to Mascione, Madrid explains how much she loves Mascione’s generosity. “She gives more than she receives, especially when it comes to her community. Mascione has selflessly given for the past 13 years as a police officer, but in the last year I have experienced her giving outside of that as a board member of the LGBTQ+ Political Caucus.”
And one of the things Mascione loves the most about Madrid is that she is so conscious and present. “Whether it’s in her business, how she cares for the environment, how she gives back to her community, or how she loves her family,” Toni says. “In everything she does, she considers others.”
When it comes to crafting a strong foundation that couples can build a relationship on, Madrid says the key is to work on yourself first. “Learning healthy boundaries and loving yourself first will prepare you to love another person. We both show up every day wanting to better our lives—individually and collectively,” Madrid says.
Mascione agrees wholeheartedly. The key to a happy, healthy relationship, she says, is “effective communication, and having someone who is complete on their own. We just show up to the relationship needing only love and respect, which creates a very peaceful and easy life.”
This article appears in the February 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.