An Unlikely Proposal

For many guys, wedding planning doesn't start until a proposal is on that table.


I have many girlfriends who have detailed how they, as young girls, imagined their wedding day. Many of them knew exactly what they wanted: the type of venue (inside or out?), colors, cake details, and—of course—the dress. Not surprisingly, their actual weddings often closely matched those dreams.

As a gay man in the age of marriage equality, people often ask me if I dreamt of my own wedding as a youth. The short answer: No.

First, I’m a guy, and we generally don’t start the wedding planning until a proposal is on the table. Second, having grown up in an evangelical Christian family in East Texas, I didn’t start questioning sexuality until my late teens and didn’t come out until I was about 20. And finally, even after I was firmly out to friends and family (which wasn’t long after I acknowledged it myself in the early 1990s), I never imagined marriage would become an option.

Even after Massachusetts broke ground for gay marriage in America, I still never gave it much thought as a Texan rooted here for family and professional reasons. My partner, Jack, is not the wedding-dreamer kind of guy either. Same-sex friends got hitched in other states, but we had never seriously talked about it. We thought, why get married in another state if it meant we wouldn’t have the rights afforded opposite-sex spouses back home?

Then came June 26, 2015. Suddenly all those excuses were gone. The nagging of friends and more open-minded family members began, often in the vein of a Jewish mom whose daughter is dating a handsome doctor. It was no longer about if we would get married, but when. Our friends wanted to see two people they love experience the same kind of wedding-day bliss they had witnessed in their friends’ and families’ lives—or their own. Turns out, so did I.

Happy tears all around. 

Those wedding dreams I never had as a kid suddenly flooded every aspect of my life. Seeing or hearing about matrimony on TV or on stage (I am a longtime North Texas theater critic) instantly took me to visions of the wedding we might have. No, scratch that. The one we will have.

Those wedding dreams I never had as a kid suddenly flooded every aspect of my life.

The proposal happened about three months after the SCOTUS decision, and it was not during our long-planned trip to Rome, where I had imagined popping the question in front of the Trevi Fountain after riding there on the back of a scooter, à la Audrey Hepburn. A few weeks before the trip, our good friend Melinda visited our Oak Cliff house for the first time, and Jack asked her if she would be coming to our wedding. The question came as a surprise to me and her, considering there had not yet been a marriage proposal. Then it awkwardly turned into a “well, let’s do this thang” situation. But somebody actually has to ask the actual question, right? I suggested we both go on the count of 3. Jack did it after 2. He’s a romantic.

Much more memorable than some cliché Roman Holiday proposal.

We already knew where the ceremony would take place: the expansive wooded backyard of a friend with a beautiful home in DeSoto. We have a May date (outdoors in May in Texas—yes, we’re a little worried, too), a color scheme that goes with Jack’s love of black-and-white films, with some theater references related to my adoration of an important 20th-century Irish playwright. The cakes—what do we call the groom’s cake since we’re both grooms?—reflect all that. In fact, we met with the baker, a dear friend of mine, before we knew the date.

All of that seems less significant than the fact that I will marry the man with whom I’ve shared my life for eight years.

There are still looming questions.

How do we handle parking? How much of my conservative family will attend? Where do we register? When will I tell my parents, a preacher and his devout wife, who treat Jack like a son but still think we’re living in sin in more ways than one? Will our “children”—yellow lab mixes who are Facebook stars—be involved? Can I narrow the guest list to under 200? Oh, and the rings. Haven’t even gotten there yet.

All of that seems less significant than the fact that I will marry the man with whom I’ve shared my life for eight years.

Still, you know the actual event will look just like what I’ve had in my head since the wedding daydreams began.

Mark Lowry is freelance writer based in Dallas. He is also the founder of the online North Texas performing arts magazine