Chicago Firehouse Wedding: Stephen & James
June 27, 2015
Stephen and James met online in 2004. After an exchange of online messages and phone calls, they had their first date at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, and saw “From Here to Eternity.” They wouldn’t recommend seeing a nearly three-hour black and white, WWII movie for a first date, but somehow they got through it and agreed to meet again.
The couple decided to have a civil union for legal and insurance purposes after being together for nine years. There was no proposal, per se; they never considered getting married in a state that they didn’t live in, so once marriage became legal in Illinois, they asked each other, ‘so, should we do it?’ and they did.
Stephen and James wanted a venue with character, and a place that reflected their sensibilities and tastes – who they are. The Firehouse Chicago was that place. A former working Chicago firehouse, it has a utilitarian, hard-nosed feeling, but also a simple grace. It looks quite elegant when dressed up with lighting, flowers, and other accents.
Both grooms are pretty careful, deliberate guys who like to have a plan, which is how they approached their wedding planning. Even through it was not large or especially elaborate, there were times, the closer they got to the date, that they just wanted to get to the big day and be done with the planning and other little details that kept popping up for attention.
That being said, one big piece of advice they have for other couples is to invest in a wedding planner, even if you bring in the planner after you’ve done much of the planning yourselves. Stephen and James brought in a planner a couple months before their wedding day, to be the intermediary between them and the other vendors. The planner also helped tie up all the loose ends and ensure that the only things they had to worry about on their wedding day was showing up, getting dressed, and remembering their dance steps. Their planner was worth every penny for giving them that peace of mind on their wedding day.
The newlyweds’ first dance was to Kacey Musgraves’ Follow Your Arrow. They loved the sound, the music, but most of all, the message: “love who you love.” It was probably a little different for their guests seeing two guys in a Chicago wedding dancing to a “country” song, but in the end it was what appealed to them most.
James’ Favorite Memory
“My favorite memory was about 10pm, an hour or so before the party ended, I was in the garden next to the venue, which the door to the dance floor opened to. The door was open, and I just looked in and saw a few of our gay and lesbian couples – some friends, some family – just dancing with their other halves. Even as laws change and society gets more accepting, I still believe that for many gay and lesbian couples, something simple like getting on the dance floor in a mixed setting is something they still might have second thoughts about. But on this night, no one had to worry at all or look over their shoulder, or anything like that, if they wanted to dance with their date or their loved one. I loved that we were able to provide such a fun, safe, and welcoming setting for everyone, and I loved that all our guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and told us so on their way out. It was also just really heart-warming to be the recipients of so much love and well wishes from friends and family.”
Stephen’s Favorite Memory
“We adopted a boxer named Romeo from a rescue shelter about nine months before the wedding. It was very important to us that he be involved in the ceremony somehow. So we bought him a little black tie collar and walked down the aisle with him, handing him off to Jim’s niece before proceeding to the altar. Several times during the ceremony I would look back at him, sitting in the aisle, watching the proceedings and accepting pats and belly rubs. And it felt wonderful knowing that this was the life we could provide for him, that we were part of his life and that he was part of ours. It made the day complete, to be able to say “this is our family.”
Their LGBTQ-Friendly Vendors
Photographer: Candice C. Cusic Photography // Ring Designer: DaValle Jewelers // Location: Firehouse Chicago // Favors and Gifts: Fishs Eddy // Other: Found Chicago (Dog Boarding) // Specialty Foods: In Fine Spirits Bottleshop // Floral Designer: Larkspur // Shoes: Magnanni // Tuxedo and Mens Attire: Nordstrom // Other: Paws In Motion // Calligrapher: Penned & Inked Calligraphy // Transportation: Tim Juliusson Livery Service // Lighting: Art of Imagination // Specialty Foods: Black Dog Gelato // Event Venue: Firehouse Chicago // Caterer: Hearty Boys // Event Planner: Liven It Up Events // DJ: Style Matters DJs //
Submitted via Two Bright Lights