These two interpreters for the deaf say their relationship began with their first date, a low-key picnic held indoors because of the August heat.
Wedding Date: August 11, 2012
Amy's story: Amy Lanasa, 37, grew up in the Catonsville area, and now lives in Ednor Gardens. She is a freelance sign language interpreter and part-time staff member at Gallaudet University. Her father, Francis "Fran" Lanasa is a retired U.S. probation officer. Her mother, Barbara Lanasa, is a child care aide at Grace Church Child Care Center.
Claire's story: Claire Klossner, 37, grew up in Manassas, Virginia, and now lives in Ednor Gardens. She is a freelance sign language interpreter. Her father, William Klossner, is a magistrate in Prince William County, Virginia. Her mother, Elaine Klossner, is the office manager for an orthodontist in the Manassas area.
Their story: They met in July 2009.
"We were both working at Galludet [University] on the same day. She was leaving a job and I was coming onto the job in the Ole Jim building [also known as the Alumni House] on campus. We said hi to each other. But, I wasn't single at the time," says Amy.
"At the exact same event one year later, a student orientation at the end of July, we met the second time," says Claire.
"It was about a week later that I asked her out," says Amy. "I told her I would come and pick her up at her house. She was living in D.C. on Capitol Hill. I thought I would do a picnic on the Smithsonian Mall. She invited me in and we just sat and talked. It was hot. So, she asked if I wanted to have the picnic inside.".
"I had been freaking out that it was August and a 100 degrees that day," says Claire. "So, I planned to offer to have the picnic in my living room. "I found out later she had had actually gone on my Facebook page where I said I liked chocolate and spicy food. So, she had gotten chocolate for dessert, and spicy hummus and salsa for part of the picnic."
"I had gone through a year of not wanting to date because of not being in the right relationships," says Amy. "So, I was excited about going out on a date again...We ended up talking until 2 in the morning. The thing I most remember is that we laughed a lot and that she was down to earth and really into her career. One thing that's really nice is that we're both interpreters and we don't have to educate each other about what we do. I had a good sense that she had a good head on her shoulders. I definitely had a feeling that I really wanted to get to know her better."
The feeling was mutual.
"I felt like we clicked on the first date," says Claire. "It was so easy. We didn't have an awkward moment. She is so fun. She has the most outgoing, fun personality." .
Both of them say, in retrospect, the relationship began on that first date.
"About a month later, I [wondered] if I needed to ask her if she officially wanted to be my girlfriend," says Amy. " We were in a friend's kitchen and I asked her. She gave me big smile, yeah, and then she asked me if I would be her girlfriend.
"Claire's very generous and very understanding. She's got a funny personality and we make each other laugh. She's probably got the biggest heart of anyone you'll ever meet."
"Amy is the kind of person who would do anything for you," says Claire. "She is so warm and friendly. She loves to laugh and she loves to make other people laugh. And when she's laughing, she gets this spark in her eye. She really cares about people."
The proposal, October 16, 2011: "We would mention that it would be nice to be together forever," Amy says. "We started looking for rings and we found one place online that caters to gay and lesbian couples — loveandpride.com. We both really liked this one ring that's described as a wedding ring."
But, because of their profession, the couple was restricted with the type of ring each could wear.
"Because we're both interpreters, we can't wear anything really distracting," says Amy. "You don't want to go for anything big or distracting, jewelry-wise because people's eyes get fatigued when there's something like that. It's too busy. So, we picked out one that's steel and has about 10 little diamonds inset into the ring.".
Amy and Claire had also agreed that each should propose to the other, so that each could experience being proposed to. Just like the first date, Amy was the initiator.
She went online and bought the ring. The weekend that the ring came in, Claire was on an interpreting trip. So, Amy decided to do a series of photographs of the ring, starting in with a tight shot, and moving the camera away a little for each successive photo, until it was far enough away to see that it was a photo of Amy offering the ring.
"The night she came home, we were both reading," Amy says. "And I said, Look, I found a picture of our ring online.' I started showing her the pictures on her phone [as if] I had found them online. The second to the last one was of the ring on my car. She said, 'That looks like your car.' Then I showed her the one with me holding it and I asked her to marry me and I pulled out the ring. She said yes."
Now, it would be Claire's turn.
"I thought, 'Great, how am I going to surprise her?' " says Claire.
She ordered Amy's ring to be sent to her parents' house. It was back ordered. But, on November 15, 2011, it arrived. It was a random Wednesday night, when each of them had jobs, but Claire's was canceled last minute. So, she drove to her parents to join them for dinner and get the ring. Now, the problem for Claire was how to surprise Amy.
"I was trying to think of somewhere to put it where she would find it," says Claire. " But I didn't want it to get lost. So, I thought, 'What if I put it where I put mine every night?' I put her ring next to mine in the medicine cabinet, kind of overlapping. She got home. I said, 'Hi!' And she said, 'Hi, what's wrong with you?' It took her 30 seconds and she knew something was up."
Claire proceeded to dig herself deeper into a hole with her less-than-adept lying skills.
"Amy asked me how my job went that evening. I said fine. Then, I said, 'Well, actually, I lied. It was canceled and I went to my parents' house.' Now, she's asking me why I would lie about going to my parents' house for dinner! So, then I just asked her to get my ring. And she's like, 'You want it now?' I was listening to her footsteps going upstairs. I heard her walk into our room and a cabinet drawer open. Then I heard it close. Then I heard her go in the bathroom. And — finally — I heard the medicine door open, and I heard this little giggle. So, I ran up the stairs and got down on one knee and said, 'Will you marry me?' "
The wedding: It will take place at Gallaudet University, in Washington D.C., where same sex marriage is legal. The ceremony will be outside, in Homestead Field, and the reception in the building where they first met, the Peikoff Alumni Center. About 130 people will attend.
The officiant is a friend who is also an interpreter, Juniper Sussman.
"She's married a couple of friends of ours, but we're her first gay wedding," says Amy. For some of the vendors, it is also a first, like the on-campus caterer, Bon Appétit.
"This is the caterer's first time doing a same sex marriage, but they're excited about it," says Claire.
"It can still be a little awkward when we say this is a same-sex wedding," says Claire. "There is just a moment when they say, 'Okay, what's your husband's name?' It's like a moment of coming out to them. There is this assumption. They have to have this moment of explanation...Gay marriage is like saying 'female doctor' or 'male nurse.' There's still a level of something not normal...I'm just happy that my mom is treating this like a real wedding. I wasn't sure what my family would do. But, I think they're really great."
The couple is keeping the ceremony simple, with no additional wedding party.
"We're both writing our own vows and keeping them secret from each other," says Amy. "I think I'm going to sign my vows — it's a beautiful visual language — and she will say hers."
Each time those vows will be interpreted, either in sign language or spoken.
"With deaf friends coming, it's a nice way to do it," Amy says.
Amy is hoping to find a white pantsuit to wear. And Claire is looking for a dress that isn't a wedding gown.
"It feels a little too traditional for me to wear a wedding dress," says Claire. "It's not been long that we've been allowed to marry legally. My mom's going crazy because I haven't gotten it yet. It'll probably be a shorter dress; probably some kind of light color. I don't need to have an all-white dress."
Claire will carry a lavender bouquet, while Amy will have a lavender boutonniere.
"My mom and my aunt, Joan Gonsoulin, are going to do all the flowers," says Claire. "They just did all the flowers for my cousin's wedding."
The couple is going for a more rustic theme that will go nicely with the Ole Jim's interior of exposed beams, hardwood floors and some stained-glass windows. Tables will have white cloths with burlap runners, on top of which will be centerpieces that will probably be Mason jars filled with lavender and other herbs. The wedding favors have both a rustic and personal touch. The couple has been taking beekeeping classes, and is now hosting someone else's honeybee hive in their backyard while they save up for their own. So, they found a website of a honeybee keeper in Ohio — eBeeHoney.com — where they ordered 140 little jars of all natural honey with labels that have "Amy & Claire" and the wedding date printed on them with yellow and black striped hearts and the saying, "Life is Sweet."
The weather is being taken into consideration, as well, with the wedding programs possibly being printed on fans for the guests to use.
Before dinner, guests will be treated to a slide show about the couple put together by Amy's brother, John Lanasa.
The dinner buffet will feature mostly food that is organic and produced locally, with a choice of three entrees: a crabcake with remoulade salad, grilled chicken with ancho chile-corn salsa, and grilled baby eggplant with a chimichurri sauce.
Claire's mother and aunt are also making the wedding cake.
"My whole family is kind of a do-it-yourself kind of family," she says.
Because they are dealing with a limited budget, there will be an open bar with beer and wine until 9:30 p.m. Then, it will become a cash bar.
They're also putting together a playlist on their iPod that will be set up on a speaker system to provide both background and dance music for their guests.
"I have to take it to Ole Jim and make the sure [the system is] loud enough so guests [who are deaf] can feel the vibrations,' Amy explains. "Otherwise we'll get a larger speaker."
Patrick Howard of Bethesda will be the photographer.
The web is playing an important role in the wedding. It's where they've designed their own wedding website, amyandclaire.ourwedding.com. The couple also found their invitations online — at weddingpaperdivas.com — where they found something made from recycled paper, important to Amy.
They are also using depositagift.com, an online cash gift registry that allows people to contribute to a larger project or gift.
"The Huffington Post had an article on non-traditional wedding registry websites, and we picked this one from the front page of their website," says Amy. "They had a same-sex wedding example. So, we said, 'Oh, gay friendly.' We registered to build a deck. And for the beehives we want to get next year."