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A Toronto Wedding The Tale of Keith & David's WEDDING WEEKEND | June 2006

It began in the car.

The Thanksgiving 2005 drive from DC to North Carolina was made much more entertaining by Dan Savage's book, The Commitment. Keith and I took turns reading this aloud to one another on the long I-95 drive. The book tells the journey of Dan and his husband Terry (and their adopted son DJ) as they got married in Canada. Their story inspired us to explore this for ourselves.

Because it wasn't yet legal in the United States, we decided to go to Toronto where Canada had recently legalized same-sex marriage. We knew that our marriage wouldn't yet be recognized in the United States, but in our eyes, we were making that commitment just the same.

In April 2006, we bought matching rings and exchanged them on a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon in the gardens of the Washington National Cathedral.

As we looked at the calendar to pick a weekend to go to Toronto, we decided to go during Toronto's annual Pride celebration, which would add another layer of fun to the weekend.

A week before we left, we were reviewing the details provided by Toronto's marriage office and noticed a line that we had overlooked previously. "Do not expect to find witnesses at City Hall. Please bring your own."

Because we had not invited anyone to go with us, we didn't quite know where to turn. How do you find someone willing to give up a few hours on a Friday morning for complete strangers? Remember, this is 2006. Before Facebook.

Why, Craigslist, of course!

We posted a simple message, a little background about us, and a photo with our need for two people to serve as witnesses. Within 24 hours, we had 10 responses... All from straight people! And each person who responded took time to share a little about themselves and some included photos! We ultimately chose three, just to be safe. Each had an interesting story about why they wanted to be part of our big day.

We arrived in Toronto, checked into our bed and breakfast, Toronto Townhouse, in the Cabbagetown neighborhood, and then set off to City Hall to get our license. After filing our paperwork, we would have to return the following day for the ceremony.

Keith posing with Nancy, the registrar at Toronto CIty Hall who accepted our license application..
Toronto Townhouse

On Friday morning, June 23, 2006, the day of our marriage, we went downstairs for breakfast. The owners of the B&B made a big deal about the fact that we were off to City Hall to get married that morning.

Little did we know that the owners and other guests were beginning to plot something special for us.

We arrived at City Hall well ahead of our appointment and watched a large wedding party gather to celebrate their own special day.

Keith with our three Craigslist witnesses.
We were so overwhelmed with emotion.
We read our vows from The Book of Common Prayer that we'd brought with us from home.
And our officiant, George.

After the ceremony, we took our witnesses out for lunch, took commemorative photos, and hugged them with hearts full of gratitude for their love and kindness.

On our way back to the B&B, we walked through the Eaton Center Mall and were surprised at all of the window displays that celebrated Toronto Pride. Even Sears had rainbow flags hanging throughout the store.

When we got back to the guesthouse, we were greeted with a note on our door. The other guests had organized a small champagne and cheese happy hour in the back courtyard for that evening. And when we opened the door to our room, we found the bed covered in rose petals!

We stayed in Toronto through the weekend, being tourists, taking in museums, the CN Tower and in particular, the massive Toronto Pride parade. The newspaper the next morning estimated that over 1 million people participated in and watched the parade.

What a celebration!

And it wasn't over.

After a fun long weekend, we had one more surprise waiting for us. When we landed at Washington National Airport, we were greeted by members of our church (Dumbarton UMC) with flowers, balloons, signs and even leis fashioned from hand-folded peace cranes.

One month later, Dumbarton held a pot luck dinner in our honor to continue the celebration. How blessed we are.

In 2016, 10 years later, we returned to City Hall to celebrate our anniversary.

Credits:

Photos taken by David Rice, Keith Cogdill, and our wedding witnesses.

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