By L'Oreal Thompson, Baltimore Sun Media Group
1:58 PM EDT, October 19, 2012
Wedding day: Sept. 29, 2012
Thomas' story: Thomas Roberts, 40, grew up in Towson and is a news anchor for MSNBC. His mother, Michelle Roberts, is retired and worked in the finance department for Sheppard Pratt Health System. His father, Albert "Rob" Roberts Jr., is a real estate appraiser.
Patrick's story: Patrick Abner, 39, grew up in Richmond, Ky. He works for the pharmaceutical company Merck as a community liaison for the HIV division. His mother, Patricia Abner, is retired and was formerly a social worker for a hospital in Berea, Ky. His father, Dale Abner, is retired from the Army.
Their story: On Sept. 29, 2000, Thomas and Patrick met each other at a mutual friend's party outside Charlotte, N.C. Patrick had just been promoted to a position in Philadelphia and Thomas was working for an NBC affiliate in Virginia.
"There was definitely a connection when we first met," says Patrick. "But I was starting a new job and moving. I was a bit overwhelmed, and a relationship was the last thing on my mind."
A month later, they met again at a Halloween party in New Orleans. They exchanged numbers and "the rest is history," according to Patrick.
The couple endured a long-distance relationship for about a year and a half between Philadelphia and Virginia, visiting each other every weekend. Throughout the years, Thomas and Patrick have lived in various states — sometimes together and sometimes not. In May 2010, Thomas received an opportunity to work for MSNBC in New York, where the couple has lived for the last two years.
The place: Twelve years after meeting, Thomas and Patrick said "I do" in front of nearly 180 family members and friends on the rooftop of the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel in Manhattan with the Empire State Building in the background. Their friend, Gavin Newsom, who is the lieutenant governor of California, officiated at the ceremony.
The rings: While Thomas and Patrick were living in Atlanta, they exchanged rings for their five-year anniversary and they exchanged the same white gold bands during their wedding ceremony in New York.
"At that time, there was no marriage equality on the horizon, so we gave each other rings to honor our commitment to each other," says Thomas. "They're a little banged up, but they've been all over the country with us, and they're special to us."
Their apparel: Thomas and Patrick wore midnight blue and navy blue Ted Baker London suits, respectively. Patrick opted for a three-piece suit, while Thomas wore a two-button, two-piece suit. Both men wore Black Label Ralph Lauren ties and Cole Haan shoes.
The reception: The cocktail reception took place in the hotel's penthouse lounge. DJ Ryan Kenney of Los Angeles played throughout the party.
Notable guests included CNN anchor Don Lemon; "Real Housewives of New York City" cast member Aviva Drescher; U.S. Sen. John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain; and MSNBC President Phil Griffin, among others.
The dessert: Baked by Melissa provided bite-size cupcakes for the guests, while Schmackary's Cookies in Hell's Kitchen supplied cookies with a shot of milk.
Special touch: Country singer Chely Wright performed "I Am Yours Forever" with a string quartet during the ceremony.
"She was fantastic, and it got everybody crying," says Thomas. "It's a song she had written when she married her wife, Lauren, in summer 2011. She hasn't recorded it yet, but she agreed to sing it special for us."
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