812 Reasons and Counting
A rustically elegant wedding honors the growing love of a Missouri couple.
Mallory: We met while I was working toward my master’s degree in journalism at Mizzou, and Katie was beginning her doctoral degree in physical therapy. I worked with Katie’s roommate at a TV station in Columbia, and she introduced us.
Katie: We dated for two and a half years before the engagement.
Mal: I knew I was going to propose long before I actually did it—mostly because it took me about a year to put together. Two years before, for our first Valentine’s Day, I’d written down one reason I liked her for every day I had known her on red pieces of paper and attached them to the walls of my room. By the day of the planned proposal, we had known each other for 812 days. Even with the occasional tiff or cloudy moment thrown in there, I can honestly say she gave me a new reason to love her every day. I went through about 10 black sharpies and 11 bottles of wine in the process of writing them down. I was with Katie and her family all day while our friends set the scene at home. When we returned, there were 811 reasons I loved her on the walls—and the plan was that I would tell her we had known each other for 812 days, as of that day, and the 812th reason was in the ring box. I have no clue if any of that actually made it into the proposal speech. I’m almost positive I didn’t ask, “Will you marry me?” I think I said something super cheeseball, like, “Will you spend forever with me?” But Katie said “Absolutely,” before I had even asked her anything.
We revealed her answer to our friends, took some pictures, popped the bubbly, and headed off to an engagement party with our friends and family. The whole night was perfect, but maybe the best part was the next day, when Katie helped take all the reasons off the walls and got to read each one. The ring is valuable, but I think to her, those reasons are priceless.
AFTER THE PROPOSAL
Mal: We always referred to the wedding as our “love party.” This was the first same-sex wedding for most of our guests (and us, actually), so we really wanted to emphasize what the day was about: having a blast and celebrating love. And we really did want it to be a party. We had dueling pianos so that even if some people didn’t want to dance, they could still have fun singing along to the music. We didn’t necessarily want our guests to remember the day because it featured two brides—we wanted them to remember it because it was a beautiful and fun experience.
Katie: But we were also shooting for a certain level of sophistication. We had the ceremony and the reception at Alpine Park & Gardens in Columbia. We called it, “Downton Abbey meets the woods.” We mixed some more sophisticated elements (e.g., chandeliers) with the greenery and raw wood elements our venue already featured. We wanted to take a venue that seemed perfect for mason jars and fill it instead with chic elements more suited to a ballroom. Mal: We served a true Southern dinner: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and an assortment of pies. Everything was served family-style, a nod to my family’s favorite restaurant in my hometown in Arkansas. We also DIY’d a lot. We hunted at garage sales and Habitat for Humanity ReStore for those old brass chandeliers. We paid about $20 for each and ended up with nine of them! I did a crash course in InDesign and we had signs printed on nice paper at a print shop. This saved us a ton of money, but cost a lot of time and sanity.
OUR BIG DAY
Mal: One of our closest friends, Cara, officiated our ceremony. When the courts legalized same-sex marriage in Wisconsin a few months later, she came up to Madison and signed our marriage license. That was incredibly meaningful.
Katie: Mal’s dad also did something really sweet: He handmade a wooden box that was a part of our ceremony. We wrote letters to each other and put them in the box, and we’re going to add letters every year on our anniversary. Someday, we’ll read them all. Mallory wrote the whole ceremony. It was definitely a romantic gesture. She shared it online afterward and now hundreds of people are using parts of it in their own ceremonies.
Mal: My favorite part was this: “You don’t have to have a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of weird, right? You’re standing on a stage, looking fancy, holding flowers—and being stared at by pretty much everyone who has meant anything to you in the past 27 years. So why do we do it? We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives—but this one is regarded as one so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others. Why this moment? Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It’s the great unifier—our one universal truth. That no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe—we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right. We have all loved in our lifetimes—and in this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity.”
At the reception, we only had one speech, from our friend Chance. It was an incredibly moving toast about love and equality. I’ll never forget how he ended it: “I hope you feel more love every single day than you ever imagined. Many thought this was not possible yesterday; now I can’t even imagine what’s possible tomorrow. Cheers!”
Photo credit: Keith Lee Studios