Wedding Guide

Love Knows No Distance

Carrie McManus and Ashley Campbell grew closer during their long-distance courtship.

Carrie McManus (l) and Ashley Campbell (Photos by Charlie Ewing)

Newlyweds Ashley Campbell, 32, and Carrie McManus, 38, reside in Houston’s South Acres. After sharing about eight and a half years together, they got married on February 17 in the intimate Parlor Hideaway space at Houston’s C. Baldwin Hotel. The luxe hotel, named after visionary and “Mother of Houston” Charlotte Baldwin, exists as a tribute to female tenacity.

Ashley met Carrie online in March of 2015. “I had just graduated and moved to San Diego,” explains Friendswood native Ashley, who came out shortly after her big move. “I had changed my profile preference to women. And then, of course, that’s when Carrie appeared in my life.”

Despite meeting online, the spark was instantaneous. “Her personality really did shine through for me,” states Carrie, who grew up in Southern California. “She seemed pretty easygoing and laid back, and then when I got to meet her in person, I first noticed her smile.”

“Carrie’s eyes—they’re very green, especially if she’s tired or sleepy. They’re beautiful, and they really sparkle a lot,” Ashley adds. “That was the first thing I noticed about her.”

When it comes to who made the first move, they both try to take credit. “Technically, online, I made the first move,” Ashley elaborates. “Carrie always laughs at me, saying that I gave a dry ‘Hey,’ but I was so nervous. I thought she was so beautiful. I didn’t want to mess anything up.”

After their first date, Carrie made her move. “We had been chit-chatting for hours, and I was really not sure if she was feeling me or if she was trying to be my friend,” Carrie admits. “She drove me up to my front door area, I got out of the car, and then I thought, ‘I need to go for it!’ I quickly opened the car door, leaned in, and gave her a kiss.”

Carrie and Ashley surrounded by their wedding party.

The couple wisely had a meet-cute in Los Angeles to make sure neither was being catfished before committing to an actual date. “After we had met, I texted her and said I’d like to take her on a proper date,’” says Carrie.

Their first date was at the now-shuttered Anaheim restaurant Roxy’z by Zov’s. “It was pouring rain, but luckily we both got there safely and had a really nice dinner and a long chat,” Carrie recalls.

“We started out having dinner, and then, of course, I’m lingering because I’m nervous,” Ashley adds. “I lingered some more when I took her back home, and that’s when she kissed me.”

Beaming with palpable love for one another, the couple acknowledges that the beginning of their relationship wasn’t easy. “I was living in Costa Mesa, Ashley was living in San Diego, and that’s about two hours apart,” says Carrie. “We did long-distance commuting to see one another, switching off weekends for four years while we were working our respective jobs.”

A heartfelt toast for the happy couple.

Carrie moved to San Diego to test out living with Ashley, but still commuted back up to Costa Mesa for work. “That was a tough time in our lives, because we had very demanding jobs,” Ashley says. “I was working for a congresswoman, Representative Susan Davis, and Carrie was a manager. I find it so amazing that we always made sure we had time for one another. We just put each other first. So that’s how we were able to make it work.”

“I know it kind of sounds cliché and some people may not believe in it, but I really do feel like I knew she was the one the moment that I met Ashley,” gushes Carrie. “I just had this deep sense of knowing within my soul that I had met her before, and she just felt very familiar and comforting to me.”

Looking back, Ashley also feels she knew Carrie was the one for her the first time they met. But it was Carrie’s 30th birthday trip to Costa Rica that made this tangible for her. “I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I think I love her.’ I missed her way more than I think I had with any other previous relationship. I was coming out while we we’re dating, and I wanted to prove to Carrie how much I loved her,” Ashley says, referring to the way she decided to propose at their hotel. “We took a surprise trip to New York City with her brother and his girlfriend. They were so instrumental in helping me work with the hotel staff.”

“I was so shocked, and I couldn’t believe it,” exclaims Carrie. “It took me a good minute to take everything in, because I was looking at all the decorations and everything around the room. I heard the music playing and it felt like a whole minute later when I finally turned around and I saw that Ashley was down on one knee and holding a ring up to me.”

As for their wedding itself, they originally planned to do something simple at the courthouse. “When we came across the C. Baldwin hotel, saw the speakeasy, and dealt with their amazing sales team, it just felt like it was really right,” says Carrie. “On our wedding day, it was surreal when Ashley and I were sharing our vows with one another. I had that moment where all I saw was her.”

Ashley and Carrie with their wedding officiant—and friend—Cherrelle Duncan.

Ashley and Carrie’s wedding superheroes were their officiant and friend, Cherrelle Duncan, their photographer, Charlie Ewing, their baker and friend, Laquita Jenkins, the staff at C. Baldwin, and Earl and Debbie McManus, Carrie’s father and stepmother who made their wedding possible. Each played a special part in their wedding, and their guests bowled them over with heartfelt toasts. “It was so beautiful hearing how much of an impact we make on people’s lives,” says Ashley. “Hearing that during my wedding was so moving.”

The next big adventure for Ashley and Carrie will be motherhood. Carrie is due in April, and both women are excited to begin that new chapter of their lives together.

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David Clarke

David Clarke is a freelance writer contributing arts, entertainment, and culture stories to OutSmart.
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