Shannon and Marrisa, to me, are the definition of true love! I am so honored to have met these two gorgeous ladies and to have been a part of their special day! I was so moved by their amazing love story that I asked Shannon to write out their love story from her perspective for you all to read! It’s simply amazing. Enjoy! :)
“Shannon and I met the day after the military repealed their Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in 2011. I was deployed at the time and Shannon had just returned from her third deployment. We met online using a dating website. I was very skeptical about starting a relationship from over 7,000 miles away, but I was just so drawn to her and chatting back and forth with her just came so naturally. During the remaining six weeks of my deployment we sent emails multiple times a day and I would get butterflies every time I opened my computer hoping she had sent me another email.
When I returned home from deployment I received five days of liberty so I packed my bags and I began the eight-hour drive to meet this incredible woman. I had never been so bold to do such a thing before. But Shannon had captured my eye and I couldn’t resist meeting her and learning more about her. The week went great and it was more than I had expected. As I left, I sheepishly ask if I could call her my girlfriend now, which she chuckled and said yes. That was the quickest eight-hour drive I have ever taken, I think in part to being the only driver traveling on cloud 9.
Over the next few months we would have nightly dinner dates over FaceTime and every other weekend someone would make the eight-hour drive for a visit. Then that dreaded time came… time to change duty stations, which meant potentially being worlds apart. We both racked our brains to figure out how we could get this Air Force and Navy pair closer together and avoid getting any further apart. Because of our specific jobs it was going to be very difficult to find anywhere in the world where we could be together. We discovered there are only five places in the world where we can be stationed together; four of them were unavailable to us and the fifth was somewhere we would both have to do a job outside of our specialty and get away from the jobs we loved. With many long night conversations we finally decided we would rather take a job that we didn’t want over being separated from one another. So off we went to this little island in the Pacific called Okinawa.
Since being in Okinawa, Japan we have traveled the Pacific and fallen in love with the culture. When I was contemplating on a way to propose it was an easy choice to pick the summit of Mt. Fuji as the place I would ask Shannon to marry me. In the weeks before the trip I made 8”x10” cards spelling out “Will you marry me?”, a Mt. Fuji banner to commemorate our trip, and a sign that said “She said YES!”. I packed all these things along with Shannon’s favorite champagne into my friend’s pack and off we went. After months of anticipation and a seven and a half hour hike up the volcano, the moment came where I asked the woman who captured my heart to be my one and only until my last breath. On my cue, eight strangers held up my “Will you marry me” cards at the top of the volcano and I pulled out the ring. Before I could even get it on her finger she had me pulled into an embrace that I will never forget. I don’t recall her ever actually saying “yes”, but the confirmation was clearly noted.
Six days after the proposal, the Supreme Court declared section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, making same sex marriages eligible for the same federal benefits allocated to heterosexual marriages. Then on September 3rd, the military officially recognized same sex marriages, opening up hundreds of benefits that were never available before. Shannon and I gave a huge sigh of relief knowing that on our wedding day the military would officially recognize us as a family, which would open up so many opportunities including assigning us to the same bases. Everything was working out better than ever imagined! Now just to set the date…
Because Japan does not recognize same sex marriages we could not get married here in Okinawa, we would have to choose one of the 17 states (at the time) in the USA that could perform the ceremony. We chose San Francisco’s City Hall to be the location of our wedding. A friend on one of my forums recommended Tanya because she had done a great job with her best friend’s wedding. So I contacted her with our tentative plans. I could not have imagined that a stranger could be so thrilled and genuinely excited about our wedding as Tanya was! She is not only a fantastic photographer as you can see, but the lady behind the camera is one of those people that can come into your life for a brief moment but leave a lasting impression for a lifetime. We got more than a great photographer on our wedding day; we made a wonderful friend.
Shannon and I are now back in Okinawa beginning our new lives as married women. We have been blessed with so many good friends here that have made our homecoming extra special. There is nowhere else on earth that I would want to spend our first few years of marriage. We are just beginning our happily ever after…”