Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Steve Blanchard and Jay Dilley

By : Jeremy Williams
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It’s a tale as old as time, in the digital age, for this Disney-loving dynamic duo.

Steve and Jay first connected like many do these days, through a dating app. A relationship can’t be sustained through a data plan, so after chatting for a bit they agreed to meet.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Maria and Andrea Ruiz-Hays

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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The universe brought together these two women who share a passion for social justice, travel and their dogs.

When Maria saw Andrea, a tall, striking blonde, from across the ballroom at the MBA Gala, she says, “it felt like I had been hit by lightning.” The two women ended up sitting together at the gala dinner and chatted throughout the night. After the gala, they exchanged business cards.

A few weeks later, Andrea asked Maria if she would be interested in participating in an executive panel hosted by Out and Equal. Maria agreed and the pair met for dinner at the Greek Corner to discuss the details. “It was as if the universe was conspiring to bring us into each other’s orbit,” says Maria. After dinner, they walked across the street to the Lucky Lure and continued connecting. “I was mesmerized by her and found myself wanting to know everything about her,” says Andrea. “We talked all night long and shared stories, just laughing and flirting.”

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Carla McKnight & LaVonda Walker

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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Early in their relationship, these two classmates knew they’d trade being study partners for being life partners.

It’s not often that a mutual love of Cajun-style boiled peanuts brings two people together in holy matrimony, but here we are. Carla and LaVonda met in the fall of 2008 while they were both graduate students in a Master’s program at the University of Central Florida. LaVonda (who also goes by Von) was in her last year, and Carla had just started. “Von had been where I wanted to go, so I’d often pick her brain for insights about the classes and professors,” says Carla. One night, the two women ended up talking in the parking garage for hours, trading “relationship war stories.”

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Max and Christopher Freestone

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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When Max and Christopher met in college, they had no idea they’d walk down the aisle five years later.

“He was just instantly engaging,” says Max of his new husband, Christopher. “What I didn’t know is that we’d ever get engaged,” he says. Max and Christopher met at the University of South Florida in October of 2009. Max was studying finance and Christopher was undecided. Christopher was at The Local Draught House with friends. “I saw Max walk in and knew I had to talk to him,” says Christopher. He’d been told by his friend, Megan, that a guy was coming she wanted him to meet. “I didn’t know this was the guy, but you can’t imagine how excited I was when I found out it was him.”

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Wedding Bells: Christine Dance and Karen Schultz

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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On Earth Day of 2012, Karen Schultz decided to try out a new spiritual home. “I had been going through a rough time and was overwhelmed by all the love and acceptance at First Unitarian Church of Orlando,” she says. “I cried through the whole service.” She and Christine Dance had some mutual friends, and Karen came over to say hello.

“She had the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen,” says Christine. The following week, their mutual friends were going out of town and had asked Christine if she would sit with Karen at church. “I thought I was just being friendly and welcoming, but I decided to ask her out to lunch afterward.” Christine had been divorced for more than two years, but had decided not to start dating again until her oldest son went to college in August 2012.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Lucas Wehle and Rachyl Carey

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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“It seemed the universe was intent upon us meeting,” says Rachyl Carey of her fiancé, Lucas. They met through Instagram, where Lucas was featured on a profile called “Barbells and FTMs.” Lucas told Rachyl she was pretty. Rachyl told Lucas she thought he was fine. It worked out.

Lucas says, “After a couple of days of conversing on Instagram, we learned that we had a few mutual friends, which was really random considering she was in the area – home from college for the summer – for the first time in seven years!” According to Lucas, there were probably a few times when the pair could have met otherwise, but they ended up coming together via social media.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Melanie Gagne and Joy Belding

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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Joy Belding was an improv comedy show host at the Nickelodeon Hotel, and Melanie was her manager. “We obviously got to know each other very well as we worked five days a week together,” says Melanie, who was in a downhill straight marriage at the time. “Joy opened my eyes and allowed me to just be me and be open to the possibilities.”

Melanie, who is French-Canadian, instantly sparked Joy’s interest. She noticed that Melanie was becoming more and more flirty with her as their friendship progressed. “It was a no brainer. She already had my attention with her beauty and personality. She just made everyone’s day better,” says Joy. They went on a date and their relationship began.

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Wedding Bells: Reunited childhood friends Nicole and Adrian married in a sunflower-strewn August lakeside wedding

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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The way Nicole and Adrian first met might be a little unconventional for a lesbian couple. They were friends as kids while Nicole played the drums and Adrian sang in their church’s youth choir. Their families went to the same church when they were children, but eventually they both stopped attending.

After several years, they saw each other again at a different church and have been together ever since. “From that first Sunday since we reunited, I haven’t been able to take my eyes off her,” says Nicole.

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Wedding Bells: NJ and Eric Holtz

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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After 20 years, these two lovebirds will tie the knot in a sweet September ceremony.

Often, wonderful things are born from tragedy. This is especially true for NJ Holtz, who, after spending many years alone after his partner was killed in a car accident, found his husband, Eric.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Omar & Edwin Archila-Vela

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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When professional drag queen Edwin and event planner Omar proposed to each other, there was only one possible answer.

Like many modern couples, Omar and Edwin met online. Unlike most couples who meet that way, however, they weren’t looking for love – just a hang-out. “I was done dating. Edwin initiated the conversation on the app and we agreed to go out for a few drinks and to share a ride,” says Omar, an event planner with Dandy Details Events. “We had a great night, a lot of things in common. It was so much fun to be around [Edwin].”

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Watermark Wedding Bells: Ryan and Wade Williams-Jent

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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It wasn’t love at first sight for Ryan and Wade, but four years later, they walked down the aisle together.

When Ryan, a Cincinnati native, first met Wade from Port Charlotte, sparks didn’t fly immediately. They were in the same friend group for about a year and a half before dating, but were never involved romantically.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Kellie & Sarah Evans

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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They’ll never agree about who “winked” first, but their first e-mails sent through Match.com — which they refer to as the “mini People’s Choice Awards” — led to their last first date. The messages they began exchanging are now referred to as chapters in their love story. Cue the “awwww.”

Sarah was just trying to figure out how to be a single mom to her son, Gavin, when she and Kellie started chatting. “The bar and club scene was just not me. I’m not the kind to just go up to someone and start a conversation,” she says. “I couldn’t believe [Kellie] started a conversation with me. I mean, have you seen her? I definitely freaked out a little.”

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