Written by Towana Bacchus-Yates
My wife Jonette and I met in college, but it wasn’t love at first sight. As we got to know each other, things changed. For our first date, we went to a Mexican restaurant. It was also my birthday so she made them sing to me as I stood in a chair with a huge sombrero on.
Over the years, we’ve collected many special memories and grown more in love. I love that we like to travel, that we can laugh at and with each other. I love that we are the strength for the other when one is weak and that we truly are best friends.
One of my favorite memories was when we got married after being together for 16 years! We went on vacation with Olivia Travel to the Dominican Republic where our friends from England met us. I was turning 40 the next year and each month, J would give me a gift. The month was May and on the last night of the trip, J asked me if I wanted to open my May gift. Of course I said, yes! She had made me a photo book with pictures of our different travels. On the last page was a picture of the Statue of Liberty and it read: “I look forward to taking you to my birthplace tomorrow.” (J was born in Manhattan). I was dumbfounded.
J’s birthday is May 20, so I had taken the day off as I always do, but this year we were going to New York. Unbeknownst to me, she arranged with my bosses to give me a few extra days off. New York was the first state we had visited since marriage became legal in some states. “Sooo,” J asked. “[While] we are there, do you want to get married?”
That was all she had to say. As soon as we landed in New York, we started our journey of picking out a dress, registering for a marriage license, and looking for flowers. On May 21, 2014 we were officially married!
What made this day special is that it was just us. I know that sounds crazy, but it was intimate. We had 100 percent of each other’s attention. The day before we married, (J’s birthday) her mom called to wish her happy birthday and when J told her we were getting married, she gave us her blessings and wished she was there to share it with us. After we married, we went to Central Park and enjoyed the park.
The only wedding tradition that we kept is we both wore white. A southern girl with dreams of a spectacular wedding was thrown out the window. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
As of January 6, 2015, Towana and Jonette’s marriage was legally recognized in their home state of Florida and as of June 26, 2015, their marriage is recognized nationwide.