P r i d e W e d d i n g s 2010
For Travis Brewer and Dirk Armstrong, the ceremonies were small affairs, but the significance monumental
Weddings usually have flair: flowers, harp music, billowy dresses and horse-drawn carriages. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, it’s just a justice of the peace with a small party exchanging vows.
But don’t think the absence of flash was a compromise — or worse, a disappointment — for Travis Brewer and Dirk Armstrong. Although they had already celebrated their commitment, they ventured to Canada for a no-frills wedding … mostly because they could.
But that came later. First, they had to meet.
Brewer remembers Sept. 17, 2000, as the day he met his future husband. In a seemingly non-romantic way, the couple met via online chat at Gay.com. Brewer admits what he was looking for and Armstrong was just figuring things out.
"I’m not very technical so I didn’t know how to do anything," Armstrong says. "I picked him to send a message and we started chatting. The next morning, he called and we were meeting for lunch. I was running late so he already knew what he was getting into."
After a slew of dates that sound disastrous — Brewer fell asleep at a play on their first; Armstrong was not keen on a dinner Brewer cooked — they found a groove. Three months later, it led to a personal commitment ceremony at Brewer’s home. Armstrong’s dog Mitzi had already moved into Brewer’s Oak Lawn condo.
"Maybe six weeks of being together, Mitzi went to his house and he would never let her leave. That was his trick to get me to move in," Armstrong says.
The private ceremony was small with just a few friends. The whole event was a self-proclamation of their love. And it was sweet, too.
"He was the one who wanted to shop for rings and brought up the ceremony," Armstrong says. "That was very romantic."
"I was getting old. I didn’t want to wait," Brewer says with a laugh (he was 35).
Fast forward two years. By now, same-sex marriage was legal in Canada and they wanted to take advantage of the recognition. They weren’t going to plan much more than getting the certificate and a quick exchange of vows.
The specifics fell into place. They had friends to visit in Vancouver, who in turn knew a woman who could perform the ceremony. In a romantic gesture, they scheduled the wedding to occur on the anniversary of their first ring exchange.
"We got there on a Saturday," Brewer recalls. But it didn’t matter that the courthouse was closed for the weekend. "In Canada, you can get your marriage certificate at the drugstore. We paid our fee, showed our IDs and we were set.
There were no tuxes. We had some friends come in and then we all went to dinner after."
The couple posted their marriage announcement in Dallas Voice. They considered the trip also their honeymoon and flew back before Christmas to be back with the family.
But being low-key to begin with, why did they go through the hassle of the traveling and planning when they had already declared their union? To them, it added validity.
"We knew it wasn’t legal here but nice it was validated in some country," Brewer says, "We wanted that just for our own sake."
"Even though we had our ceremony already, this was just to make that little extra commitment," Armstrong says.
And 10 years later, it looks like it worked.
This article appeared in the Pride Weddings 2010 special section in the Dallas Voice print edition May 7, 2010.