Portland Oregon Gay Wedding: Sentinel Hotel & the Old Church
John Mead & Ray Drlik, Portland, Oregon, June 3, 2017
Photography by Danae Jones Photography
NAMES John Mead & Ray Drlik
LIVE IN Kalama, WA (about 40 miles north of Portland, on the Columbia River)
OCCUPATIONS After retiring, they started a real estate investment company, DM Capital, Inc. They buy depressed properties, have their crews rehab them, and then flip them. They’ve also started a nonprofit foundation, Rainbow Housing Coalition.
HOW THEY MET John: “In late April 2014, I was referred by a friend to see Ray for massage therapy at his bodywork practice. Yes, we get the ‘raised eyebrow’ when we tell folks that. Ray was very professional. It was after several therapy sessions, that we had a talk where we both expressed how we were feeling toward each other. We decided to start dating, ending our professional relationship.”
HOW THEY BECAME ENGAGED When the two met, John had been single for some time following a 15-year, same-sex domestic partnership, and Ray had been in a 40-year marriage to his wife and had struggled with his sexual orientation for years. John: “Neither of us were necessarily looking for a relationship. But as we grew closer, we felt we were the missing links in each other’s lives.” After two years of dating, John proposed to Ray at his massage studio on July 4, 2016. John: “For the two of us to finally be able to wed legally was monumental.”
HOW RAY’S COMING OUT AND THEIR DECISION TO MARRY HAS BEEN RECEIVED The couple feels blessed by how well their relationship has been accepted. Since coming out to his family, Ray has been fully embraced by all, including his two grown, married children, Michael and Cassandra, and their four grandchildren. John: “All of them were very involved in our wedding. Michael and Cassandra stood up on Ray’s side. My brother Richard and best friend Forrest stood on my side. Our two granddaughters, Tory and Autumn, lighted the altar candles. And our two grandsons, Michael and London, were our ring bearers. From day one, Ray’s ex-wife has been very supportive of Ray and me. We’ve developed an everlasting friendship with her.
REHEARSAL DINNER They gathered in a private waterfront room at Portland’s Old Spaghetti Factory with close family and friends.
WEDDING DAY WEATHER A perfect, clear early-summer Portland day
NUMBER OF GUESTS 235
WEDDING COLORS Black, antique gold, and cream
THEME “Love Is Love.”
FLOWERS Event designer Kevin Cox and floral designer Red Williams captured their vision of bringing the Pacific Northwest’s gorgeous outside in. A dozen 7-foot-tall live Japanese cedar trees were placed in groupings with spiral trimmed topiaries around the Sentinel Hotel‘s Grand Ballroom and accented with soft up-lighting. Tall glass hurricane vases were set on the outer-perimeter tables and filled with glass beads, remote underwater LED lights, curly willow branches, sword ferns. The interior table arrangements consisted of driftwood and ghost manzanita branches, reindeer moss, gold lotus pods, leather-leaf fern, and vendela cream roses.
DIY HIGHLIGHTS They made 250 placement guest party favors comprising gloss-black boxes filled with Skittles (John’s favorite), topped with a Ferrero Rocher truffles (Ray’s favorite), and inscribed with “Love is Love” on the front and their names on the back in gold Sharpie. John: “We lost track how many days it took, but we know we used 45 pounds of skittles!”
THE MENU Guests enjoyed several passed hors d’oeuvres, including Thai chicken brochettes with spicy peanut sauce, pistachio-crusted goat cheese and red grape, and smoked-salmon tartare with lemon crème fraîche and Belgian endive. Highlights from the expansive dinner buffet included frisée salad with roasted beets, hazelnuts, and Rogue River blue cheese; roasted chicken breast with smoked bacon, foraged mushrooms, and caramelized onions; cedar-plank salmon topped with smoked-tomato marmalade and grilled leeks, and carved flank steak with brandied five-peppercorn demi-glace. There was an open bar, and wines from Oregon’s St. Josef’s Winery were served, along with sparkling cider.
DESSERT The couple designed a five-tier, double-layer 6-foot wedding cake, each layer featuring a different type of cake: German chocolate, Champagne, carrot, spice, and banana. A 5-lb. iceberg-crystal cake topper featured a laser-etching of their engagement picture. The cake was accented with florals and remote LED lighting. Additionally, at dinner guests enjoyed fresh-fruit brochettes, caramel apple crisp, and chocolate truffle cake martinis.
MUSIC The couple’s dear friend, Portland’s inimitable Poison Waters, emceed the dinner reception and introduced the couple, who entered to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling.” The first dance was to “Now and Forever,” by Richard Marx, and the couple danced to “A Whole New World” with their daughter Cassandra.
IF THEY HAD TO DO IT OVER They would have had someone stationed outside the ballroom, encouraging guests to sign the polished black stones that they’d provided but that some guests overlooked.
IF THEY COULD HAVE SPENT THEIR MONEY DIFFERENTLY John jokes that perhaps they’d have hired Celine Dion to sing their song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” He continues: “We admittedly went beyond our initial budget for our special day. However, we both felt, having waited our whole lives for this, it was worth every cent.”
FAVORITE DETAILS For John, it was surprising their guests by having their grandson bring him a step-stool onto the stage following their vows, and then looking into Ray’s eyes before they kissed. Ray: “Walking down the aisle, seeing the church full of our friends and family, and hearing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” on the antique Wurlitzer pipe organ.
UNIQUE ELEMENTS OF THE DAY Having the designer of their wedding rings, Udi Behr, speak at their wedding. John: “It meant so much to both Ray and me that he flew in from New York.”
UNEXPECTED EVENT Ray was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love the couple received from everyone. John: “Prior to walking us down the aisle, My 88-year-old father stood between Ray and me, holding our arms. He looked up to me and said, ‘I never thought I’d live to see the day I’d be walking my son down the aisle on his wedding day. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.'”
ADVICE FOR OTHERS This is your special day. So, make it your own and be true to yourselves. Make it a celebration that reflects the two of you.
THE DAY IN THREE WORDS Exhilarating, emotional, joyous
The Old Church, Portland, OR
Sentinel Hotel, Portland, OR
Rev. Nathan Meckley
Wedding Paper Divas
Udi Behr, New York
You can find more resources for planning an LGBTQ wedding in our Wedding Vendor Guide.