On March 13, 2015, Bethany Minor proposed marriage to Alissa Pagels and she said "yes." On March 13, 2016, Pagels asked Minor the same question at the Chicago Field Museum. The twist in this re-proposal? The "yes" was shortly followed by an "I do" in a surprise wedding ceremony.
Minor, originally from Mississippi, works in product development for a media agency, primarily in software development. Pagels, hails from Lockport, IL and works at an ad agency on the social media team, making creative visual content. She is also a freelance photographer.
The two met on the dating site OKCupid. They described their first date as an accidental first date. Over a message, Pagels asked Minor about attending a particular event at a bar. They met up at that event, but were not feeling well. Not in the mood to mingle with others, they sat in the corner together. Minor remembered Pagels was hungry, and so they fed her. Pagels chimes in joking that that's the story of their relationship. Minor jokes back that the date "ended in the most awkward hug ever."
After one year of dating, Minor proposed to Pagels in a restaurant on top of a hill, overlooking Los Angeles.
Pagels described Minor as a paper work-person, explaining she kept throwing out the idea of going to the courthouse to get married. Pagels said "no way" and had other ideas.
"Almost every single day after our two-month anniversary, I would ask Alissa to marry me; It's been a thing," said Minor. "In 2015, I finally got her to agree to marry me. Every single day, after I got her to do that, I've basically been asking her to just go to the courthouse."
"I was definitely open to the fact," said Pagels. "Bethany likes to get everything done right now and I'm a procrastinator, so I was like 'some day.'"
For the one-year anniversary of their engagement, they planned a staycation in Chicago. Pagels filled the staycation with surprises, including a trip to get marriage licenses and Minor's first trip to the Field Museum on the anniversary of the first proposal.
"It was a whirlwind," Pagels explained of orchestrating the surprise. "Bethany loves history and has never been to the Field Museum. So, one: it was a cool cover and two: [with photographer-brain] I needed an indoor space with natural light that a photographer could photograph us, while being concealed."
Pagels not only surprised Minor by getting down on one knee at the museum under Sue the T. rex, but capped off the big question with "right now." About 11 friends and family members in attendance for the surprise wedding. Minor's best friend officiated the wedding. Gold Grid Studios captured the whole thing.
Minor humorously added, "Sue the T. rex was my Best Woman."
"I was completely shocked," said Minor, specifically mentioning how Pagels bought the ring without them knowing. "If my mouth could detach itself, it would've hit the ground, basically. It was this ultimate act of caring and love for me. There was never a question of whether she loved me, but I think that when you have your roles in the family, it's so cool when someone kind of shirks that and goes 'I'm going to do something over the top to make you feel super special.'"
"The ring showed up online for me again [in an ad], and I was like, 'So I have to get it and then I just worked on enlisting people," Pagels said. "I told them I'm going to do this big surprise, I want you to be there, here's the plan.'"
The couple is planning an intimate, destination wedding in Greece on March 13, 2017. Although intimate in numbers, they plan to celebrate big.
"Even though we live in a world that is much better about recognizing the fact that when two people who are same-sex and in love, I told her over and over again that we need to make sure that we secure that and that no one can come between if something were to happen to us," Minor said. "So for me, the surprise engagement was cool because one: it was Alissa being like 'I planned all of this to show you that I'm 100 percent invested and we're 100 percent a team and I'm going to have all of our friends and family there, specifically your best friends, because I want them to see how much I love you."
When asked what advice they have for other newlyweds, they both are able to answer with ease.
"I think what helps us, is to keep coming back to the thought that you don't just get married and then everything's done and now we can just sit back," said Pagels. "You have to work on it everyday."
"The best advice we got from some newlyweds is that you have to actively choose each other each day," Minor said. "This isn't something where you have just settled in and you get to be complacent. When you actively choose each other, you're actually trying to work and grow."
To learn more about the engagement, visit: goldgridstudios.com/blog/.