By L'Oreal Thompson, The Baltimore Sun
9:11 AM EST, February 11, 2013
Wayne's story: Wayne Gooch, 58, grew up in Cleveland. He is retired from Verizon and regularly volunteers at food banks in Rehoboth Beach, Del. His father, James, and his mother, Julia, are both deceased.
Russell's story: Russell Keys, 50, grew up in Baltimore. He is a communications representative for Verizon. His father, William, is deceased, and his mother, Carrie, is retired.
Their story: Wayne and Russell met at a club in Washington on Jan. 13, 1989. The couple dated for five years on and off while Russell lived in Baltimore and Wayne lived in D.C. Eventually, the couple bought a home together in D.C., and they currently live in Baltimore with their 6-year-old mixed-breed rescue dog, Sasha.
The proposal: Russell proposed to Wayne during the couple's trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at sunset on Nov. 7, 2012 — one day after Question 6 passed and legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland.
"We were in Mexico celebrating my 50th birthday when it came up for voting during the election," says Russell. "Knowing that it passed was the best birthday present I could've asked for because it meant I'd get to marry the man who means the world to me."
The venue: About 75 guests attended the ceremony and reception at Gertrude's, John Shields' restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
"What better way to celebrate our 24th anniversary?" asks Russell.
Alexandra Epstein of Max Ellis Design in Baltimore coordinated the event along with Emily Villarreal and Jean Wade Mayer of Boutique Events in Baltimore.
"John [Shields] was so warm and welcoming, and the ladies created a very magical experience for us and our guests," says Russell.
The apparel: Wayne and Russell wore black Calvin Klein tuxedos from Mens Wearhouse; Wayne wore a white tie and vest and Russell wore a black tie and vest.
Wayne's attendant, Vivian Scott Chew, wore a pewter-colored gown by Caroline Herrera and Jimmy Choo shoes. Russell's attendant, Mike Mitt, wore a black tuxedo.
Flowers: Russell designed all of the flower arrangements for the wedding using white roses, white orchids, white lilies and wintergreen.
The ceremony: Wayne and Russell wrote their own vows and exchanged white gold wedding bands from Smyth Jewelers in Timonium. Wayne carried his father's top hat down the aisle.
"My dad passed away two years ago, and he wanted us to get married," Wayne says. "He was a very strong supporter of gay rights. He wanted to walk me down the aisle."
The reception: The menu included hors d'oeuvres, such as tempura-fried shrimp, lemongrass beef skewers and grilled salmon teriyaki, and various stations, such as a Chesapeake Station with Gertie's crab cakes and sweet potato fries; a Chef's Station with carved herb-crusted roast beef and red roasted potatoes; as well as a Mediterranean Fusion table with butternut squash ravioli and an Italian chopped salad.
Dessert: The couple selected a traditional three-tiered cake from SugarBakers Cakes in Catonsville. The bottom layer was lemon with lemon mousse filling and the top two layers were yellow cake with European raspberry preserve and white German buttercream and orchid sugar flowers on top.
Music: Wayne's brother, Delray Gooch, was the DJ for the evening. After the toasts, Wayne serenaded Russell with Whitney Houston's ballad "I Believe in You and Me" from "The Preacher's Wife," which is one of Russell's favorite movies.
"We're just happy now that everyone can get married," says Wayne. "We kiss our rings every morning."
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