Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Joshua Alex Cruz and Richard Mahoney Jr.

By : Aaron Drake
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“We were in New York at a rooftop bar and I remember looking at Rick and realizing that there wasn’t anyone else that I would want to be next to there or anywhere else,” Joshua Alex Cruz says about his now husband, Richard Mahoney Jr.

“I had spent 5 years living in NYC and I never had a sense of calm in the city with anyone that I had met, so for me it was a bit of revisiting a place where I had only really known without him, and feeling a sense of peace with someone in a place where I never knew any, that made me realize he was the one.”The couple first met in New York, but reconnected in Connecticut, where they both grew up. It seems the connection was very strong for both of them right from the start.
“It sounds trite, but I knew right when I met Josh that he was the one,” Mahoney says. “The chemistry was enigmatic. I still feel the same butterflies when I look into his big, beautiful brown eyes each day, eight years later.”

Mahoney was the one to pop the question to Cruz—while the pair was on vacation in Florence in 2016. Flash forward to June of this year, the two exchanged vows on Treasure Island in St. Pete.
“Our ceremony felt very intimate,” Mahoney says. “We held hands and looked very deeply into one another’s eyes for the entirety of the ceremony. Even though it was insanely warm outside with around 80 of our family and friends watching us get married, it truly felt like we were the only ones there. I’ll never forget that.”

Cruz shares the most special moment for him during their wedding day.

“For me, being on Florida’s Gulf coast, at what may be considered to be a traditionally conservative wedding venue and having an outdoor LGBT wedding ceremony was amazingly surreal,” he says. “Coming from the progressive Northeast I never expected to find such an inviting and active LGBT community here, but have been even more pleasantly surprised at the inclusion and support of allies in the Tampa Bay metro area, even if they wouldn’t think of themselves as ‘allies.’”

Cruz continues to discuss the powerful moment he experienced standing with Mahoney. “All of our vendors treated us just like any other couple and most were so excited to be a part of a LGBT wedding because it allowed them to ‘do it differently’ and ‘break tradition,’” he says. “Those phrases stick out in my mind because I never expected such open arms in an area not typically associated with being progressive or inclusive. The tireless work of Equality Florida and the ACLU kept popping into my mind, because it resonated with me that without the work of vigilant activists that we would not have been able to stand there together and become legally married. It was humbling to stand on the marina with my partner and our family and friends feeling a bit like,

‘We’ve come a long way, baby.’”

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