Wedding Guide

Love Against the Odds

Amanda Nicole Smith and Valerie Leigh Smith’s unconventional path to a perfect wedding.

Photos by Shannon Fullbright

Thirty-nine-year-old Amanda Nicole Smith says she’d always wanted to be a wife, but after her divorce, she was leery of even talking about marriage again. Then, in 2017, a mutual friend connected her, through Facebook, to Valerie Leigh Smith, a woman just six years younger than she, who was also suffering through an unhappy and unhealthy marriage.

Both were on the verge of leaving their marriages. Neither was looking to start something new.

They had been chatting occasionally via social media for several months, when Amanda found herself lying in bed one night thinking about Valerie. She reached out again on Facebook, and the two began talking daily.

“I finally decided that I would go visit her,” Amanda says. “I went to see her in Fort Worth, and from there that was it!”

The two dated long distance for almost three years, attempting to keep it casual. “But it just didn’t work out. We had already fallen for each other and knew we wanted to be together. It really has been one of those whirlwind, fairy-tale romance stories that sounds way too good to be true.”

Having finally yielded to their true feelings, Valerie moved to be with Amanda and her children. Valerie says that Amanda came into her life when she herself didn’t realize how much she needed her.

“Going through a rough first marriage,” Valerie says, “I always told myself I would never find someone who could treat me the way I deserve to be treated. Well, I was wrong. Amanda walked into my life and showed me how to be loved, cared for, and taken care of like a woman should be. She has opened my eyes to so much, and I am so incredibly grateful for her.”

Both women feel as if they have won the love lottery. Amanda says that Valerie is beyond anything she could have ever imagined. “I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mom,” explains Amanda, “but after my first marriage I was just burned. Val came along and was just always there—for me, for us—no ulterior motive. She just wants us to know she loves us, and she shows us every single day in so many ways.”

Amanda is a special education paraprofessional from Mont Belvieu, Texas. Valerie, a Fort Worth native, is a project manager for a sign company. The two currently live in Northeast Houston.

For her proposal, Amanda planned a private tour to the top of the Pensacola lighthouse in July. “We climbed 177 steps to the top of the lighthouse,” Amanda says. “It was absolutely gorgeous.”

Amanda had already discussed the plan with the lighthouse keeper and had given him her phone so he could capture the moment. “I took the ring out of my pocket and told her I had a question,” says Amanda. But Valerie reached into her pocket at that very moment and took out a ring as well. “I have a question, too,” Valerie had said.

The couple knew from the start that they wanted to get married on the beach. They chose Navarre Beach in Destin, Florida. “We didn’t want a huge wedding, so we only invited our closest friends and family.”

Their small group of wedding guests helped them set up the reception and the couple were thrilled with the results. “It looked beautiful,” Amanda says. “We planned and put everything together ourselves, and I was really proud of how it all turned out.”

The two were wed October 21, 2023. Valerie’s sister Samantha officiated. “We actually discussed her doing this years before and had her ordained on the internet. We knew we wanted her to be part of our day,” Amanda says.

And just as one would hope, their storybook romance led to a fairy-tale wedding day. “We had a short and sweet ceremony and a fun little reception afterwards in Fort Walton.” They wanted to add a special touch to show their LGBTQ community pride, so they included a rainbow smoke bomb exit.

“Our entire day was absolutely perfect,” Amanda said. “Everything went amazingly well. We had tons of help and genuinely good and loving people surrounding us.”

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Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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