Since proposing to one another at Monsieur Benjamin in April (2016) and both of us saying “sure, why not?” we’ve been talking about THE WEDDING.
Unfortunately, the two of us couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed when it came to what kind of wedding celebration we wanted. Jonathan wanted something small, really small, just immediate family—parents and siblings only. I on the other hand wanted the fairytale. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, childhood friends, college friends, coworkers, first cousins, second cousins, the cousins that are somehow once-removed from other cousins, the people I run into when walking the dog, Tommy the old guy from the assisted living facility up the street who I say “hi” to on my way to the farmers market, and the Hispanic family who owns the La Bonita taqueria where they refer to me as Felipé guapo, because I eat their chile relleno burritos for lunch four days a week.
At the ceremony I envisioned loads of flowers, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra alternating between Celine Dion’s greatest hits and the soundtrack of Funny Girl while my parents walk me down the isle. We’d release doves into the sky at the exact moment we smash monogrammed Waterford highballs.
So it goes without saying that we went back and forth on logistics for months.
Jonathan – “Do you know how much weddings cost? We could renovate our bathrooms with that money.”
Philip – “So we don’t go overboard on the wedding and we do the bathrooms later.”
Jonathan – “I just don’t want to be the center of attention at some big thing.”
Philip – “That’s totally fine. Because I’m going to be the center of attention for both of us.”
Jonathan – “I just don’t value spending that kind of money on a party.”
Philip – “We wont….our parents will. They want to. It’s an excuse for a family reunion and parents love that shit.”
Jonathan – “No, I personally don’t like the idea of anyone spending that kind of money on a big party for me, whether they want to do it for us or not.”
Philip – “Think of it as our own personal economic stimulus!”
Jonathan – “I just don’t think how much we spend has any impact on how memorable our wedding will be. If it’s you and me and the commitment we’re making to one another, that’s enough—and I’ll remember it for the rest of our lives….or until you annoy me to death in our old age and I accidentally switch your Tuesday pills with Thursday’s.”
And that’s when something clicked—Jonathan was right! [See Jonathan. I can say it!] About us renovating the bathrooms…..oh, and the marriage.
The ‘we’re getting married’ part is supposed to be about us. About the two of us and the commitment we’re making. A promise that we will be there for each other in sickness and in health, during good times and bad. It’s about agreeing to play the role of the shoulder when the other needs a good cry. It’s about loving one another in all ways possible, and finding opportunities to grow, as a unit, bound and whole, while maintaining appreciation and offering support for our respective independent evolutions.
Our wedding rings: symbols of an eternal love and empathy that leads to friendship and passion. The ring, a circular emblem for the covenant we’ve made with one another. We wanted the moment we get married to be personal, and it was feeling like no matter what we agreed our wedding would become, it would have to be about the two of us first and foremost making this promise.
Eventually we gave up, exhausted and tired of trying to figure out the perfect balance between a wedding that’s quaint and small or one that’s gloriously ostentatious. But the one thing we could agree on is that more than all the mishegoss—we wanted to marry one another.
So, much like our proposal; in a very commonplace way, we were walking Eddie one night and we just asked ourselves if it would be so bad if we just went to City Hall? If we got married at City Hall would we have to worry about drawing an arbitrary line through our communities of friends and family and deal with the anxiety of not knowing who we may have offended. And we both gave a resounding, “YES!”
Gay Marriage at San Francisco’s City Hall
We got married on a Tuesday. We both took the day off from work.
We walked the dog together in the early morning, with mugs of coffee to get the engines going. We talked about how today was the big day and if we felt nervous at all. Neither of us did.
In our blue suits we hurried to City Hall for our marriage license application appointment and filing. That’s where we met the female Yoda who would be our justice of the peace. She was surprised we turned down the option of getting married in front of the giant Christmas tree at the top of the main staircase, but we explained that we’re Jewish and she offered the fourth floor. Then she flipped us off and said she’d meet us upstairs.
Our photographer suggested we use the rotunda on the fourth floor where there’s great natural light.
This is where we got married. The two of us holding hands. Me crying, and Jonathan smiling, because he has a black heart and thinks it’s funny when I cry.
She opened her three-ring binder with the text for the service, and she looked down from time to time, but she was definitely delivering it with all the sentiment of a memorized dissertation on fourth-dimensional quantum physics.
“Do you Jonathan take Philip….” She said, looking at me and then at Jonathan.
We told her she had our names wrong, and she tried it again. A few more times throughout the service we had to correct her when she mixed us up, but we couldn’t really understand half of what she was saying with her strong Filipino accent mumbled gently under her breath.
We knew she was done when she stopped talking and just smiled blankly at the two of us and gestured for us to embrace. I wasn’t sure if she was waiting for a tip or something, but eventually she walked away.
We did a photo shoot in and around City Hall because it’s really one of the most beautiful historic buildings in San Francisco.
Post Wedding Food Crawl through the Mission Dolores
You all know that Jonathan gets the hangries if he doesn’t eat. So we planned to build food into our wedding day. From City Hall we drove with the photographer to some of our favorite food spots in the neighborhood where we first met and where we’ve had some of our favorite moments.
We started at the women’s building in the Mission and took some photos next to some awesome murals that we’ve always loved and admired. Figured it would make for some kickass backdrops.
Then we walked over to Tartine Bakery on 18th and Guerrero. It’s one of our favorite bakeries in the city, and early in our relationship, we used to walk the dog from Jonathan’s old apartment just a few blocks away to get our coffee and morning buns before the lines were too long.
Guests and staff were wondering why two men in blue suits were being photographed at Tartine, and of course I told them “we just got married” and then everyone congratulated us.
From there we went to pick out some flowers from Bi-Rite market while on our way to Bi-Rite creamery to share a scoop of their delicious ice cream.
It was the middle of the day so we didn’t want to over do it Bi-Rite creamery.
The clerk was so excited to give us tastes of all their new flavors and he punched my scoops club card a bunch of extra times. We ended up sharing the black sesame ice cream and it was delicious.
From there we walked through Dolores Park, which was part of Jonathan’s and my first date.
We tried taking photos in a few different places and were having fun the entire time.
The goal was to get to the bench at the top of Dolores Park where we could sit and enjoy the view with our baked goods from Tartine.
At the same spot where it all began, we did what we love to do most…enjoy each others company and eat.
After a few more pics in the park…
We went to the playground and ran to each other across this bridge….
Until we finally embraced……
Then we did our best Evita impersonations…..
And then we went down a giant slide with the local kids….
And took a few more…
By then we were through with our modeling careers and headed home. There Jonathan surprised me by having a friend come into our apartment while we were out, and setup a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice surrounded by an assortment of my favorite little overpriced Japanese desserts on our bed. Oh, and she walked the dog for us too. “Thanks Shauna!”
We spent the afternoon sipping champagne, enjoying the fact that we were finally married, and having a couples massage in our living room.
Wedding Food Crawl Ends with Dinner at Gary Danko
For our special dinner we went to Gary Danko, one of San Francisco’s iconic restaurants. It was one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed in the eight years we’ve been together—and that’s saying a lot.
The service is always so impeccable I almost think that’s what makes the experience so enjoyable. Fortunately the food is top notch too. We brought a 2006 Turnbull Black Label Napa Valley cabernet that Jonathan bought us for our second anniversary. We’d been waiting (six years) for a special occasion to enjoy it so this seemed apropos.
Once settled in our seats we noticed a large gold card on the table with the restaurant’s logo on the front. It contained a note from Bobbi, Debra and Ben, wishing us a lifetime of happiness together. This was the cherry on top of what was already the most amazing day and the meal hadn’t even started.
The dinner was as delicious as can be, and we hope to go back every year on our anniversary.
One of our favorite dishes was the salt cured foie gras Torchon with poached pears, chestnut puree, black peppered almonds and toasted country bread.
And then we took an Uber home. Our hands adorned with rings clutched as we gleamed with happiness at one another and the shadows cast by the streetlights passing by. When we walked through the door, we saw Eddie standing in the middle of the living room with a sad disapproving look on his face. It was if he wanted us to know that he didn’t appreciate being left at home all day. It’s either that, or, he’s homophobic and finally realized that his two male roommates are actually lovers—it’s been an adjustment, but we’re working through it.
A lot of people have asked who our photographer was for our wedding and the food crawl that came after. We worked with Steven Gregory Photography and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Steven was awesome to spend the day with. He understood that we were looking for some “unconventional” photos and also learned how to adapt with our mixed interests in being in front of the camera. He made us feel comfortable and I think it’s clear he has a really good eye for telling a story through still images.