Could we ask two strangers to serve as witnesses for our same-sex wedding?

We are in the final days of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and in the spirit of hope and acceptance, I am sharing the following guest post with you.  May the Force Be With You as you follow your joy.

By Sherry

In October of 2011, Stacy and I had been together for 18 years. We occasionally talked about marriage, but the conversations were always short considering it wasn’t legally an option. Off and on there were glimmers of hope that someday our home state of Minnesota might actually legalize it, but all hopes were dashed—or so we thought—after the 2010 midterm elections when a Minnesota state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage seemed certain.

That was when we decided to marry in Toronto, Canada. However, we never actually made it to Toronto due to unpredictable surges in overtime for my job that made it difficult to plan vacation far in advance. Stacy, however, was determined to make it to Canada and get married. She did some rapid research and discovered that Winnipeg was hosting Central Canada Comic Con in a matter of days. She bought tickets, arranged a wedding officiant, completed paperwork, and we headed for Winnipeg.

I was extremely nervous about the prospects of asking two complete strangers to serve as witnesses for our same-sex wedding.  What if the people we asked were anti-LBGT? What if they were annoyed by our unusual request? Or what if our request to witness was an imposition but those we asked were too polite to decline? I’d feel terrible.

Stacy was far more relaxed and confident, saying things like, “Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find people. It won’t be that difficult.” We put the search for witnesses on hold and enjoyed the convention over the weekend, which culminated in a Q&A with William Shatner on Sunday.

A very affable woman named Tracey sat next to Stacy in the auditorium for William Shatner’s Q&A and immediately struck up a conversation.  Afterwards, Tracey invited us to a nearby restaurant for dinner to continue our discussion of all things science fiction or fantasy.  During the course of dinner, Tracey inquired about what brought us to Canada.

We explained that we were actually planning on getting married the next day and that we still needed to find two witnesses.  Without hesitation Tracey volunteered to be a witness and took up the cause of recruiting her friend, Mary, to act as the second witness.  Stacy and I were scheduled to meet our wedding officiant in our hotel lobby the following day, so Tracey said that she and Mary could meet us in the lobby over their lunch hour since they both worked in downtown Winnipeg.

Initially we thought we would just do the ceremony in the lobby, but Tracey suggested that we move it to the private lounge on our room’s floor where it would be quieter.  The lounge was separated into two sections by a partial wall.  I caught a glimpse of the back of the head of a woman sunk into her seat who appeared to be occupied with her phone.

I gravitated to the other section of the lounge to avoid being a nuisance.  Tracey took to clearing a spot for the ceremony with infectious enthusiasm.  Soon the officiant was reciting marital legalese, first directing it at Stacy, then me. After a few humorous faux pas referring to me as Cheryl, Shelly, and Sharon (before getting my name correct), I said “Yes, I do” and the ceremony was complete.

From the other section of the lounge, the woman’s head popped up through the partial wall.  Lo and behold, the woman was Star Trek actress Chase Masterson.  “Did that just happen? Was that for real?” she asked.  We assured her that, yes, we really did just get married…and that since she’d observed the wedding, she was very welcome to be a third witness.

Since we had put our wedding together so quickly, we never really thought about photos.  Thankfully, Chase didn’t hesitate to jump in and snap photos on her phone, too.  We are so lucky to have photos. They are dear to us and will only grow more so as the years progress.

Our three witnesses expressed contagious enthusiasm that far surpassed even our own!  They made our wedding so much more than we hoped it could be.  Though I tried to be cool and nonchalant, I was touched by the graciousness and warmth of our witnesses.  In the midst of the excitement, an irrepressible fleeting thought crossed my mind: This is what it feels like to be normal.

After everyone signed the marriage license, Stacy and I gave a brief summary of how we met, Chase emailed photos to us, and goodbyes were exchanged.  The entire wedding was completed in a matter of minutes.

Tracey and Mary ran to a nearby shop and left a delightful package of fine mint chocolates and gummy spiders with a card at the front desk for us.  Upon hearing the story of the rapid wedding, someone at the front desk sent a snack plate to our room. (And we think someone paid for our parking.)

In my opinion, our October 31st, 2011 wedding in Winnipeg was absolutely perfect.  I wouldn’t change a thing about it.  Thus far, it is one of my all-time favorite moments in life…for a multitude of reasons.  For our first wedding anniversary, we celebrated one of those reasons—the kindness of strangers.

This year, for our second year wedding anniversary, we are celebrating another reason—support of others.  The well wishes, congratulations, and support of others made our wedding so much sweeter and more joyful than it otherwise would have been.

Stacy and Sherry live in Moorhead, Minnesota with their cats Princess Leia, Anakin Skywalker, and Philip J. Fry. Stacy works as a network administrator, graphic designer, and IT support specialist at a local university’s alumni center. Sherry worked for more than sixteen years as a senior software engineer, lead developer, and development manager for Microsoft, Great Plains Software, and IBM. They are both members of the 501st Legion (Central Garrison, TIE Pilot and Darth Vader). Stacy is also a member of the Rebel Legion (Central Base, Jedi).

Thank you to Stacy and Sherry for making a donation to the Pop Culture Anti Bullying Coalition in honor of their anniversary!

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