What's your proposal story? How long had you been dating before deciding to get married?
Andrea and I (Alyssa) had been dating 10 years before she proposed. However, we had discussed marriage many, many times and knew that was our path, we were just enjoying life together and knew that when the time was right, it would happen.
She proposed in the most magical, unique way....
It was September 2020 and pandemic fatigue had truly set in. Andrea is high risk due to severe asthma and lifelong lung issues, so we truly only left the house if absolutely necessary for the first year of the pandemic. Then her parents planned a family trip to Lake Anna in Mineral, Virginia and we got so excited to see family and finally get out of the house for a while. We all tested ourselves for COVID and off we went, headed from Pennsylvania to Virginia to meet up with her family. Andrea is 1 of 5 kids, so when we are all together there are 8 of us!
I find water to be pure relaxation for my soul, so I was looking forward to just sitting by the lake for a week and truly relaxing.
On the evening of Tuesday, September 1st, 2020, I was sitting in the gazebo near the water, and I heard her brother and sister walking down the gravel path. When they arrived at the gazebo, her brother, Don, handed me an envelope that said "TOP SECRET" on it, so I opened it. Out of the corner of my eye I can see her sister is recording me, so I am immediately intrigued as to what this envelope holds. Inside were instructions that I was now on a scavenger hunt, and "tokens" were hidden all over the property, with riddles to help me locate them. Once I collected all the "tokens" my final gift would be presented to me. The first riddle was in that envelope...
Ooooo, so fun! Off I went, up the long gravel path, with her brother and sister in tow, her sister still recording my every move. The first riddle was leading me to the TV. I enter the house and find a gift next to the TV, the rest of her family sitting around trying to not look suspicious. I collect my "token", read the next riddle, and off I went to find the next one. I was lead all over the house, collecting 7 "tokens". The final clue led me to our room where the final token was located. It was there I was told I was to be "quarantined" in the bedroom until further notice. Luckily the last "token" was a basket filled with snacks and treats, a camera, nail polish, and a fun message decoder game that Andrea made herself. So i made myself comfortable, did my nails and enjoyed some treats.
Each "token" had a time written on it, along with instructions that I was to open each gift at the time specified on the package. One by one I was able to open the "tokens":
The first was a walkie-talkie for me to communicate with Andrea and to let her know what I received.
The second was her original iPod from when we met, filled with the most beautiful love songs and photos for me to thumb through.
The following gifts were earrings, a matching bracelet, and a matching necklace. Those were followed by white shoes, with the final token being a choice of two white lace dresses and instructions to get dolled up for a surprise date.
Not knowing how much time I had, I quickly got myself all dolled up and then waited for further instruction. A little while later a note was slipped under the bedroom door that said "Are you ready? Come find me!" I make my way through the house and find her sister standing at the back door, still recording, holding a red rose and a photo of my sister and her husband. She handed me the rose and opened the door. As soon as I stepped foot out of the door, music began to play. I am then greeted by her other sister, who hands me a rose while holding a photo of my other sister and her family. The long gravel pathway was lit from beginning to end with luminaries, providing me a clearly lit path to walk.
Along the candle lit path were the other members of her family. Her two brothers, mother, and father all greeted me along my walk with roses, all holding different photos of my family members. At the end of the path was the gazebo, completely adorned with twinkle lights, ivy, balloons, candles, and Andrea standing there in a white lace dress, waiting for me.
She played me a video that she made. The video was a whole bunch of different Disney scenes edited together to create a love story (we are serious Disney fans). At the end of the video Andrea turned to me, got down on her knee, presented me with a ring, and asked me to marry her......and of course I SAID YES!
Little did I know, her family was all standing around, her sister still recording every minute, all cheering as she stood, placed the ring on my finger, and we kissed.
.......simply the most magical experience of my life!
Have you picked a Wedding Date? How did you make the choice??
Andrea loves Fall and her favorite holiday is Halloween. We decided that Fall weather wouldn't be too hot, or too cold, so we chose a few dates that we were okay with and set out venue hunting. However, 10/22/2022 was always our first choice.
How did your family and friends react to the engagement? Any insights, thoughts or feelings you'd like to share?
Having been together for so long, I'm sure our families expected it at some point. My family was totally cool with it. My sisters were so very excited! Andrea's siblings have always considered me their sister since they basically grew up with me always around. Her mom, however, was where we ran into a little friction. Andrea's mom is very religious and at one point flat out told us that she "could not accept our marriage out of her love for God." That broke Andrea for a little while. Andrea even contemplated uninviting her to the wedding since, but we agreed to give it some time.
We ended up finding a gay priest at a nearby church to sit down with and talk about the situation we found ourselves in. Those conversations shifted how we saw the whole thing. We even ended up electing to have our ceremony IN the church, with this particular priest performing our ceremony. We figured it was a way to bridge that rift between us and her mom. If she was worried about our marriage not being blessed, this was the solution, and I was truly so, so excited to be getting married in a church.
Since then, Andrea's mom has completely shifted her views toward our marriage and has been nothing but excited and involved. She even offered to throw us a Bridal Shower! My advice would be, don't settle and don't make any rash decisions in the midst of intense emotion. If we had, we would have made some decisions I believe we would have grown to regret, and with time and discussion all of those barriers have fallen. But in the end, remember that you are marrying your best friend and your relationship doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you.
Tell us some of the fun details about your engagement party! How did you decide to have a joint party? What were some of the most fun and surprising moments? Was there a theme? What was the decor like? Did you receive any particularly amazing gifts?
We threw ourselves an engagement party and invited all of our closest friends. It was held in our backyard with lots of food, drinks, yard games, and a fire pit. We both basically have the same friends, so we knew it was going to be a joint party to maximize fun. We chose to have the party exactly 1 year from our wedding date, so that would have been 10/22/2021. With the significance of that date, I (Alyssa), decided it was time for ME to get on MY KNEE and ask Andrea to marry me. So, as we gathered around the fire, with all of our friends there to witness, I made a toast to our love, our friends, and to my fiancée, and I proceeded to surprise the heck out of her and got down on my knee to ask for her hand. She. Was. Stunned.
Our Bridal Shower was also a joint party. Andrea's mom hosted the shower for us, this past weekend, 8/13/2022. There wasn't necessarily a theme, but the decor was pink and gold and white. We had a photo station with a background adorned with floral garland and ivy. There were floral rings hanging behind our head table, rose garland woven around wooden beams, and balloons filling all the extra space. We had a game table set up with photo boards for "How old were they" and "Where were they" guessing games for our guests. Andrea and I put together prizes for the winners! There was also a large container of Hershey kisses and guests were instructed to guess how many there were, with the winner getting to keep them all! We did have a "wishing well" and asked for scratch off lottery tickets as well as a bottle of whatever the guests wanted to bring (alcohol wise). Almost all the guests participated in the wishing well, which made us so happy!
My absolute favorite part was when we broke the guests into teams, handed them rolls of toilet paper, and had each team "dress a bride" and make a wedding dress out of toilet paper. -Hands down the most fun part of the day! It got everyone out of their seats and interacting. There were so many laughs and THE BEST photo opportunities. Andrea and I inspected all the "dresses" and chose a winner.
We also did the shoe game, where the couple sits back-to-back and lifts the shoe of who they think best suits the question. This got EVERYONE laughing!
When it came time for gifts, we were blown away with the generosity of our friends and family. Some made contributions to our honeymoon and others got us stuff. -My favorite being a personalized doormat for when we get married, as well as a Kitchenaid blender. Since we are huge Disney fans, a lot of our guests got us Disney household items and I am so excited about using them!
All our guests kept saying how it was the most fun Bridal Shower they had ever been to, and I am so happy that our love of fun came across and our guests felt it.
What type of wedding are you envisioning? Ceremony colors? Any theme? Are you planning to include particular rituals or traditions? Are you including any Rainbow themed items? Any wonderful moments with extremely supportive wedding vendors?
Our wedding is Disney themed. I, Alyssa, originally envisioned a truly white wedding with some sparkle. Andrea envisioned an explosion of color and creativity. So, we are meeting in the middle and doing something both of us love. Since it is Disney themed, anything is possible. Every color will be represented and there are no rules. We are hand making most of our decor and are able to infuse our personalities into everything!
For the ceremony we will be opting out of most of the overly religious traditions and opting for a ceremony about Love. We will be doing a hand fasting ceremony that Andrea is so excited about.
We plan to do a "grand exit" from the church and will be providing mini-Rainbow flags as well as Rainbow ribbon wands for all our guests to wave as we make our way out of the church. I am so excited to see the photos from this moment!
Our priest has been absolutely wonderful through this entire process, almost a 2-year engagement. He has been nothing but a cheerleader for us and always brings us back to the real reason we are marrying...because we love each other.
Our photographer has also been an absolute dream. We went with Tolman Media Pennsylvania, and they assigned us a photographer, Kristina Gorma. We met for our engagement shoot and we instantly felt comfortable with her and she felt comfortable enough with us to tell us she was also a part of the lgbtq+ community. Being from North Central Pennsylvania, it hasn't always been easy to find inclusive vendors, so the fact that we feel so comfortable with the person who will be documenting our day, was such a giant weight lifted.
Any other details about your Wedding/Reception/Honeymoon Plans that you'd like to share? We love reading all the wonderful nuances and exciting ideas, so tell us as much as you like!!
Andrea and I have built in extra time for photos into our timeline so that way we can actually attend our cocktail hour. We plan to actually do our grand entrance into cocktail hour and go straight into our first dance. That way there isn't that awkward "everyone standing there and watching us dance" moment, and instead all have a beverage and food to gather and enjoy our dance. Then we can go and chat with them before the party really starts. We will be dancing to Happily Ever After, the song from the fireworks show at Disney World.
We will also be having a "crazy hour" with props and light-up gadgets for our guests to really bring out the party! And of course, a photo booth to capture the shenanigans, haha!
We will be honeymooning in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at The Royalton Chic all-inclusive resort. My (Alyssa) mom is a travel agent with AAA and we asked her to find a resort that is lgbtq+ friendly, and she delivered! We chose to go on our honeymoon the weekend after the wedding to come down from the wedding high and truly be present for our honeymoon. Also, to give our jobs a little buffer in-between days off for the wedding, and a week off for the honeymoon. Plus, we will be on our honeymoon for Halloween, and we could not have asked for a better way to celebrate Andrea's favorite holiday!
What is it about your future together that is most exciting for you?
What I am most excited for is to experience the way she loves me. Andrea and I love fiercely, and I truly love the way she loves me.
I am excited to travel with my best friend. We don't plan to have any children, so we plan to travel as much as we can, and to have as many experiences as we can.
Favorite Quote you'd like to share?
We have a few favorite quotes:
•When I look at you, I can feel it, when I look at you, I am home.
•A true hero isn't measured by the size of her strength, but by the strength of her heart.
•Hakuna Matata (it means no worries?)