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.
At the International Fringe Festival, just a few weeks later, the women met again. They had a blast together. “We agreed to set up an exploratory committee to ‘consider the possibility of maybe, possibly dating someday.’” Later that night – well, at 4 a.m. – Karen kissed Christine. Christine was hooked. They’ve been together ever since.
Karen and Christine had both decided to propose, and had both bought rings. Karen recalls, “Our poor friends carried the burden of knowing both secrets. Christine felt that it was important, given her previous opposition to marriage, that she propose first. She did at Fringe on their third anniversary.
Instead of taking their time, Karen and Christine decided to sit down and plan their wedding right away. “We planned the timing, the location, most of the guest list and the elements of the wedding,” says Christine.
After the 2016 election, the couple felt it was important to get married as soon as possible, as they were unsure what was going to happen after the new administration took office. “We had a little ceremony on the Winter Solstice in Dickson-Azalea park to make it legal,” says Christine. “We wish we didn’t have to do that, but we felt much better having that protection.”
The couple decided to have their full wedding at 1U, but had to wait a year and a half until the church’s renovations were complete. On October 21, the two women said “I do” with Rev. Kathy Schmidt presiding over the service. “There were so many emotional moments during the ceremony,” says Karen. “We kept wanting to kiss each other before it was time, but Rev. Kathy told us ‘not yet!’”
Before the ceremony, the couple participated in a “grounding ritual” with two of their matriarchs. “They helped us breath, connect with the earth and made us feel much more in touch with ourselves and each other before the ceremony,” says Christine.
Being married has made the pair feel more connected.
“The act of writing our vows made us really think about what we were covenanting with each other.”
CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Maitland, Florida
ENGAGEMENT DATE: May 18 and May 28, 2016
WEDDING DATE: December 21, 2016 and October 21, 2017
VENUE: First Unitarian Church of Orlando
FLOWERS: Julia Hournbuckle and Jean Conant
WEDDING SONG and ARTIST: “One” by Mary J. Blige & Bono
DJ or BAND NAME: DJ Lucy Blu
CATERER: Andrea Lister, Curbside Chef, Waco Taco
OFFICIANT: Reverend Kathy Schmidt, First Unitarian Church of Orlando
PHOTOGRAPHER/VIDEOGRAPHER: Kathryn Cooper Weddings