Chris is a major nerd. On his days off from being a restaurant manager, he normally dorks around the house reading a book (favorite authors include Jay Bell, Stephen King, and H.P. Lovecraft), playing a video game (favorites include Zelda and Final Fantasy), or putting together the next level of his pathfinder campaign. He's recently gotten into Nerd Fitness and is trying to "level up his life." Marrying Simon was, in Chris' eyes, a major level up. It was finding the ultimate treasure. ""
Simon is a full time graduate student and a music intern for Highland Park UMC in Dallas. He is in his final semester of completing a Master of Sacred Music and upon completion will finish requirements for a Master of Music, both with a concentration in choral conducting. When he's not working on school or at the church, Simon enjoys taking ballet classes, baking, looking at old houses for sale, and watching musicals. Musicals are life. ""
As a couple, Simon and Chris enjoy working on Nerd Fitness quests together and challenging each other on their individual quests. They also challenge each other spiritually in working on their faith life together and discussing theology and their evolving beliefs with each other. They also enjoy a night at the theater, symphony, or ballet when they get the chance. Regardless of what happens during the day or schedules, every day includes a walk together. They are the proud parents of Betty, their kitty fur baby. ""
"Chris and Simon met online when Chris was trying to find more friends in Wichita, Kansas, as he was about to move up there permanently from Louisiana, and only knew a few people. Simon was looking for other people who took theology and sexuality seriously. They started talking and bonding over their shared experiences, especially how each of them felt about their place as Catholic gay men in the Catholic church (ironically, Chris now bets that in a year Simon will be Jewish). Neither of them was looking to date or start a relationship. They were both content being single and wanted to keep it that way. But eventually, through talking and Skype calls, they developed feelings for each other, and Chris asked Simon out the day he moved to Kansas. Simon said yes after he told Chris to ask him out the right way. It was too cheesy the first time. "
"For the proposal, Simon and Chris agreed that they would each have the opportunity to propose to the other person. Chris asked first (after asking permission from Simon's parent's and four older siblings), and he proposed to Simon on a trip to Louisiana. They went out walking on the railroad tracks in the bayou near Chris' hometown as the sun was setting and Chris told Simon he wanted to keep making new moments with him for the rest of his life. This was in the summer of 2015. Simon returned the favor on December 26, 2015 when they were home in Kansas over Christmas. They walked out to the pond in Simon's parents' pasture (also as the sun was setting) and Simon proposed. For both of them, they proposed at locations that had great significance to them and places they consider sacred. "
"No, not in regards to the date. The biggest issue we had to work through was finding a church for the wedding. We had the following requirements: the Christian denomination had to be more traditional in its liturgy and practice as we both prefer traditional forms and elements of worship. The church had to be pretty, it had to have a good organ, and it, of course, had to be in a denomination that performed same sex marriages. This led us to the denomination Presbyterian USA and St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth and it was a perfect fit. Their hospitality and genuine joy for us was truly a gift. "
We went with a more traditional approach to the wedding day. After finishing up decorating the church hall the night before, Chris and I went our separate ways until our first look moment the day of the wedding. Chris stayed at the night at his groom's maid's house and Simon went to the hotel with members of his party. For Chris, the morning of the wedding started out with breakfast from Chik-fil-a. And despite his usual disposition to become nervous about big events, he claims he was perfectly calm and collected the entire morning. This claim has been verified by Valerie, his groom's maid. For Simon, after brunch, he and his best man returned to the hotel room and watched Happy Feet until it was time to get ready. Neither Chris nor I were nervous or anxious. We were just ready to get married.
We arrived at the church separately and hung out in separate rooms with our party until it was time for our first look which was beautifully arranged by the photographer. After the first look, it was a picture frenzy. Our photographer was amazing and she made sure we had plenty of shots but we never felt rushed. It was just an enjoyable morning of pictures. The ceremony started at 2, and everything went off without a hitch. The day of the wedding, we just had to show up, and let the show run. It was perfect. ".
Almost everything in our wedding had some sort of symbolic value or meaning. Instead of having real flowers, the boutonnieres and bouquets were paper flowers made of paper symbolic to us. For Chris and his party, they each had flowers made from different books, specifically Chris' favorite love stories. These books were the Song of Songs, Something Like Summer, Pride and Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby. ?Chris' flower was from the book Almost Like Being in Love (a favorite LGBT book of his and one he shared with me which I also loved).
My flowers were made out of music which complemented the book flowers. The music was Set Me as a Seal (a choral setting of Song of Song text by Rene Clausen), True Colors, the movie score of Pride and Prejudice, and Gershwin's Embraceable You. My flower was made out of Almost Like Being in Love from the musical Brigadoon. ? ".
The wedding entrance began with the entry of the party down the center aisle. We entered, walking to Guilmant's organ sonata no. 1, the finale, separately from the transepts of the church. Chris entered from the east transept, I entered from the west. After the ceremony, we walked out together down the center aisle. We chose this manner of entry and exit to illustrate the idea that we entered the church as two separate individuals, but we left as one.
The ceremony followed the form of the Liturgy of the Word as it is in the Catholic Mass (both Chris and I have strong Catholic backgrounds which played heavily into who we are today). We had a first reading from Song of Songs (chp. 2:3-17, 8:6-7a, the latter part of the reading is the text of Set Me as a Seal), followed by a singing of Psalm 95, then a reading from Romans 12:9-21. The readings concluded with a short reading from the Gospel of John (13:12-15, the foot washing scene). After the readings, was the exchange of vows and rings, after which Chris and I had our own foot washing where we washed each others feet as a sign of humility, service, and gift of self to the other. We did this while the hymn "Let Love Be Real" was sung by the cantor. ".
" At the entry of the reception, we had our guest book. But instead of a traditional sign in book, we used the book, "Almost Like Being in love" (the same book that Chris' Boutonnière was made of). Our decorations continued with the idea of combining books and music. Each table had a particular love theme (tragic love, comedic love, food love, fairytale love, etc.) and each table had a set of books which fit with the theme. The books were set on top of music which also fit the theme and complemented the books. The table either had a blue bottle or a green bottle (our wedding colors were dark blue and dark green) and the bottles had a string of LED lights in them. The books on the table doubled as wedding favors. People could take a book home with them. We had a brief yet elegant explanation of the centerpieces and wedding favors on the table. Some people opted not to take one and others waited for people to leave so they could take multiple. The books seemed to be a big hit. "
?"We had the traditional wedding toasts given by our best men, and then six toasts after by various family members. We also did the traditional cake cutting. But instead of washing the cake down with a champaign toast, we followed in the footsteps of my (Simon's) older siblings and each did a shot of Irish whiskey (specifically, Jameson). The use of "Almost Like Being in Love" culminated in our first dance. After using the book by the same title and the song it's named after for our flowers, and then using the book for our guest book, our first dance was an Almost Like Being in Love/This Can't Be Love medley sung by Judy Garland at her Carnegie Hall performance. After this, we danced and partied the night away. The celebration ended with Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" as our last dance."
I liked the act of foot washing better than more traditional options (such as a unity candle, sand, etc.). Not saying those other options are bad, but for us, the foot washing was a better fit. Throughout our engagement and wedding planning, many times we tried to put the wants and needs of the other first. This is a practice that began even before the engagement and something we try to do in our entire relationship. Neither of us wants to be selfish and the vows we made were not to encourage and inward focus, but a gift of self to the other. The foot washing showed this idea of mutual selflessness. Not to mention the cake! The cake was goooooood (flavors were chocolate, almond vanilla, and s'more). Not to mention perfectly beautiful. Of course, the best part of the day was the fact that we got married.
One of my favorite moments during the wedding was our groom's entry. The music, the space it filled, walking in to meet Chris, and walking up into the sanctuary, it was all better than I imagined it. Our entry was when it felt like the wedding was finally here and it was finally happening. And I could not have been happier. A very special moment for me occurred during the wedding toasts. My parents were the last to give a toast (save the best for last). They gave an Irish blessing toast that has become a tradition in my family. It has been said at every major life event, including each of my older sibling's weddings. Even though my parents and I may have some disagreements as to what a gay marriage is, hearing them give that toast at my wedding was their outward sign of support for our life together and their blessing on our commitment to each other. In my family, we are allowed to have our disagreements, and we are encouraged to speak openly and honestly, but ultimately we are to love each other unconditionally. My parents are the embodiment of that unconditional love. One of the major highlights of the dance was seeing my dad dance to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Another memorable part was swing dancing with one of my sister's. It's become a tradition of ours to do one swing dance at weddings. We did one at her wedding and we made sure to do it at mine. One of the major highlights of the dance was seeing my dad dance to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Another memorable part was swing dancing with one of my sister's. It's become a tradition of ours to do one swing dance at weddings. We did one at her wedding and we made sure to do it at mine.
Because we got married so close to Christmas, and Christmas is a busy and inescapable time for both of us and our work, we set the honeymoon for almost a month after the wedding. We are taking a January honeymoon to Cannon Beach, Oregon. We both love the rain and colder weather so the Pacific North West was a perfect region for us.
I told Chris I would either be keeping my last name or hyphenating, but I wasn't getting rid of it. Family is incredibly important to me and I am proud of the family I am from. I left it entirely up to Chris what he would like to do with his name. We both agreed we would like to have the same last name, whatever it ended up being. It came down to a decision between Pleasant-Hill and just Hill. In the end, Chris made the decision to take my name. He told me he feels more a part of my family than he ever has felt in his and he sees in my family what he wants our family to be like. That is, one that loves unconditionally and supports each other. He is changing his middle name to his maiden name of Pleasant, and taking my name as his last. We are Misters Simon and Christopher Hill. (Fun fact: my full name is Simon Christopher Hill, and my dad is Christopher Hill. Funny how that all worked out).