From ‘broomsmaids’ to choice of wedding planner, newlyweds Hal Wallace and Johnathon DeJarnett made their nuptials their own
By Jef tingley
A straight friend of mine once said, “I am totally against gay weddings. I’ve seen the extravagant lengths the gays go to for theme parties and Halloween, and, quite frankly, I think you’re going to raise the bar too high.”
Clearly she was speaking tongue-in-cheek, but there was also a kernel of truth in her statement: We gays do love to do it up for memorable occasions … or even simple Sunday brunches. Need proof? Look no further than the bearded bears wearing leather and lavish feather bonnets with LED lights at Easter in Lee Park. Or how about that couple who makes a custom Carmen Miranda outfit for their Jack Russell terrier? You know the type.
Yes, with great gayness comes great responsibility. And when Dallas couple Johnathon DeJarnett and Hal Wallace decided to get married, they made sure to keep up some time-honored traditions common to most straight unions … but added a touch of excess (and glitter) to mark it with a trace of fabulosity.
First was the proposal — an unlikely but successful stealth mission.
“Hal proposed to me on Dec. 19, 2009, at our friend’s holiday party,” says DeJarnett. “I was so surprised. He can’t do anything without me hearing about it, so for the entire party to know and me not to was absolutely phenomenal.”
The couple has been together five years, but has known each other much longer. They grew up in the same small town; Wallace was in the same grade as DeJarnett’s older sister.
They cleaved to tradition with a legal, official wedding ceremony in Boston on Aug. 13, but the real fête came on Nov. 20, when they hosted a Dallas wedding dinner and reception for 135 of their closest family and friends.
In keeping with the uniqueness of the event, DeJarnett’s first step was to establish a new member of the wedding party: the “broom.”
“The ‘broom’ started out as a joke,” he explains. “Since I am the obviously more, umm, colorful of the pair, people were playfully calling me the bride. That would be fine if I were a woman. Instead, I started calling myself a hybrid of the bride and groom. I was the ‘broom.’”
Finding a venue was easy — DeJarnett’s has worked for the InterContinental Hotel in Addison for four years. But finding time to plan the affair was another issue — even the best of “brooms” can get overloaded. DeJarnett’s boss, Tamara, served as interim wedding coordinator and assistant to the “broom,” tackling details ranging from cake toppers to toasting flutes.
“Hal works full-time and is a part-time student. I am the exact opposite, working only part-time and I’m a full-time student. Our wedding was right in the middle of my semester. I would receive phone calls with [wedding] questions, and I would just say, ‘ask Tamara,’” laughs DeJarnett.
When not employing the services of Tamara, the couple worked together on the details of their wedding, even designing their own invitations. As DeJarnett tells it, “Hal actually recovered from our duel bachelor party by arranging our flowers with our friends Don and Judy.”
In keeping with their theme of unique combinations, the duo also had a mixture of men and women in their bridal party. “Hal and I had our best friends Kit and Jeff, respectively, as our best men, and they accompanied each other down the aisle. Luckily, they are a couple so no one was uncomfortable,” says DeJarnett. “Then I had my best friends Holly, Vanessa, and Mytzi as my ‘broomsmaids.’ They where escorted through the ceremony by Hal’s groomsmen, Chris, Tim and Josh. And to round off the queen’s court, as it were, were our friends David and Don, who so graciously allowed their holiday party to be high-jacked for our engagement.”
With the wedding ceremony itself nearly five months passed, DeJarnett and Wallace still treasure the photos and memories of their friends and families at their side. But be it brides, grooms, or “brooms,” DeJarnett is quick to point out one common theme lifelong commitment:
“Marriage is not easy. We didn’t start out as Ward and June Cleaver. And we kinda, foolishly, thought that we would just ride off into the sunset,” he says. “Even though the horse left without us, we are still very much committed to our relationship and still very much in love.”
When kids ParTAKE in SAME-SEX weddings
I love children’s books, especially those with an affirming message for alternative families, and Leslea Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies is one of my favorites. Whenever friends have babies, I make sure it’s in their library. Heather and And Tango Makes Three — that’s the one about the gay penguins that made this year’s list of most complained-about book at libraries — are must-have literature for gay or lesbian parents.
Newman’s latest book, Donovan’s Big Day, is one more to add to the list. Not only does Donovan have two mommies, but they’re getting married.
Donovan is taking his role as ring bearer very seriously. He can’t oversleep. He has to remember to wash and dress in his new clothes. And he can’t forget that white satin box. At the church, he must walk down the aisle very seriously. And he can’t fidget while that poem is being read or the piano is played.
His grandfather wakes him. His aunt meets him at the church. His cousin will be there. Of course the entire family is attending. It’s a wedding — why wouldn’t the whole family be proudly involved?
These are subtle touches, to be sure, but Newman is a master of telling children a simple story and making them feel included. We don’t know that it’s two moms who are getting married until the last few pages when Donovan kisses the brides. The story could have ended with a husband and wife. After all, illustrator Mike Dutton is married — to a woman.
That’s Newman’s point. It’s all about families and it’s all the same.
— David Taffet
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.