Wedding Bells at Watermark: Dean Dover and Les Chittenden

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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“We were watching something on TV, and we both have recliners. He slid down off his recliner, got down on his knee and said ‘Will you marry me?’And I went, ‘If you can get back up, I will,’” Dean jokes.

With a 19 year age difference, Dean Dover, a 65-year-old retired chef and dietary manager, and Les Chittenden, a 84-year-old retired businessman, say that is something that never phases them —even their doctor says that Les is as healthy as an 18-year-old man.

“We have a lot in common —everything I would say,”Les says. “We’re close that way. We have a lot of the same ideas, like the same things and we are both creative.”

The couple met in 2001 through Dean’s need for a roommate back when the two lived in Maryland, but their history goes back before that year —all the way to the 1960s, without the two even knowing it.

Les&Dean_WB“I was looking for a person to have as a roommate in Colombia, Maryland,”Dean says. “Les was No. 97 that answered my ad, which [seven] is my lucky number. I went out to meet him, and he lived in a senior home apartment. He said he wanted to get a nicer apartment, like a two-bedroom apartment in the same area. As we were speaking, he then told me his full name; he said ‘My name is Les Chittenden.’I went, ‘Why do I know his name, Chittenden?’”

Turns out Dean remembered Les because of his wife Mary. When he and his friend used to deliver their papers, she was very kind and sweet to them all the time.

Previous to his relationship with Dean, Les was married for 36 years to Mary, who happened to pass away three years before his reuniting with Dean.

“I lost my wife in ’98, and for three years, I lived in a senior apartment building. I had thought about the idea [of meeting someone], but I really didn’t know if I wanted to get married again,”Les says. “No one would replace Mary, but I didn’t want to live by myself forever, either.”

And while Les was married to a woman for 36 years, he explains how he had thought about his sexuality and being with men but never did anything about it, because he was married to his wife, and he loved Mary very much.

“In the 1960s and the 1970s, it wasn’t noticeable or recognized to go with a male …it was not acceptable,”Dean says.“He had thought prior to it in his high school and college years but he met Mary through the college ideas and they just fell in love.”

Dean eventually agreed to have Les as his roommate in 2001, and throughout the years, they slowly became closer and developed affection toward each other, which developed into the budding relationship and love they hold today.

After same-sex marriage became legal in Florida on January 6, Les proposed to Dean on January 9, and the two started to plan their wedding, which would happen only a couple of weeks later.

Because they are both creative individuals, they both contributed greatly to putting together their wedding. They picked the theme “At Last,”because it represented howat last people across the country could legally get married in all 50 states. Dean wrote out the invitations, and “At Last”was monogrammed on them and other wedding decorations. Dean even made his own cummerbund.

The couple kept the wedding small with only 26 guests in attendance. Using his years of experience as a chef, Dean prepared the meals and cake. And while both men were excited to vow to each other to spend the rest of their lives together, Dean admits he was nervous the day of the ceremony.

“I thought to myself, this is my dream I’ve always wanted,”Dean says. “When my friend Donna said ‘Are you ready for this?’I said ‘Yeah, but do you think it’s going to change things, now that we’re married? I always felt that when people get married, they drift a part.’And she said, ‘Not y’all. That will never happen.’”

“In a way, I was kind of nervous but I wasn’t. I knew I was moving in the right direction with the right person.”

A group of friends got together to give them a honeymoon gift after the reception, which was a night’s stay at the Inn on the Gulf on Hudson Beach.

The couple says the theme song to their relationship, describing how they feel about one and other, is “Wind Beneath my Wings.”Dean says Les has always been there to uplift him.

“My favorite thing about Les is his wisdom, and that he’s so angelic,”Dean says. “He’s an angel.”

He compared Les to Nicholas Cage in “City of Angels,”where Les was the angel sent down to see what it was like to be human —because he’s perfect in every way to Dean.

YEARS TOGETHER: 14 years

ENGAGEMENT DATE: January 9, 2015

WEDDING DATE: February 7, 2015

WEDDING VENUE: The clubhouse at Sunnybrook Condo where the couple lives

WEDDING PLANNER: Dean and their friend Debbie Palmer

WEDDING CATERERS: Dean, seeing that he was a chef for many years

WEDDING THEME/COLORS: The theme was “At Last,” and the colors they used were red and white.

INTERESTING FACT: Dean used to be Les’ paperboy in 1962 and 1963.

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