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Madison and Maddie

Madison (left) and Maddie (right)
Photo courtesy Will Simpson Photography

We met at the University of Mississippi and at first, we were just friends both in separate relationships. It wasn't until a few months after those relationships ended that we began to explore a relationship together. Because we were friends for so long, it was easy to realize very quickly how much we loved each other as a couple. It was only two months after dating for me (Madison) to know she was my soulmate.

Have you picked a Wedding Date? How did you make the choice??

We actually just got married! We were married on May 14, 2022, on the beautiful Sand Key Beach in Florida. We had been together for 9 years and decided we did not want to wait any longer.

Tell us the story of your engagement! Details, details!!

I wanted to surprise Maddie with the engagement, so I knew I had to make the day as normal as possible (she is impossible to surprise). I knew that everything I planned had to in some way include our normal weekend routine: brunch, walk around, drinks, home (in that order). I let her choose a brunch spot in Winter Park on the Avenue. After brunch, I told her I wanted to check out this beautiful building on the Avenue called Casa Feliz. Throughout the morning, some of our friends were setting up the house for an engagement party while others were setting up a champagne picnic at Casa Feliz. Once we walked through the archway and around the back to the courtyard, she saw the picnic and turned to me saying "Awe this is a cute little set up babe" (she still had no idea). It wasn't until we got closer that she noticed the "Mrs" sign hanging from the champagne bottle. She then noticed our friends hiding behind a stone wall who were there to record the proposal and take pictures. After she asked me "Is this really happening right now?" I totally froze. I had my entire speech completely perfect in my head, but I said none of it. She could see how nervous I was and could tell I had frozen, so she put her hand on her hip and said "you should get on one knee now and then I'll say yes". I got down on one knee, slipped the ring on her finger and the rest is history.

What are some of your favorite qualities about each other?

Maddie is so loyal to those she loves and her integrity has taught me to be true to myself and to others. She balances me so well and keeps me grounded.

Madison's empathy is my favorite thing about her. Her kindness and compassion for others are such beautiful things.

What type of wedding did you plan? Did you include particular rituals or traditions? Any particular theme? Did you write your own vows?

We planned our wedding pretty quickly. We were married on Sand Key Beach in Clearwater Beach, FL with our family and a few close friends. My cousin was our wedding officiant and she did such an amazing job capturing our relationship and making the ceremony lighthearted and fun. One fun thing we did after exchanging the rings and before the kiss was inviting everyone to take a unity shot with us. Maddie and I love bourbon, so we wanted to incorporate something we loved into the ceremony.

Maddie's Vows:

I can’t believe that you made me write my own vows and had me stand in front of people to read them, but for you, I would do anything just to see you smile. The past nine years with you have been some of the best of my life and something I wouldn’t trade for the world. We have had our ups and downs but we have always managed to make it through and it has only made us that much stronger.

Our story isn’t the most traditional but anyone who knows us knows that we are far from the traditional couple, and I’m not just saying that because we are gay! I mean who else would wait eight years to get engaged and then throw a wedding together in two months? All jokes aside, life with you is something I will forever cherish and wouldn’t trade for the world.

We both know I am not the most decisive person and not romantic in the slightest, but one thing I know with complete certainty is that you are the person I want to spend my life with. As for the romance…I will leave that up to you!

Although today marks the start of the rest of our lives, I know it will not be enough time with you. I promise to not take our time together for granted. And because words cannot do it, I promise to show you, for the rest of my life, how much I love you. I promise to encourage you to follow your dreams. I promise to always be there for you, even during sickness because we all know you are never short of those. Today, I take all of you for exactly who you are, and for always.

Madison's Vows:

If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would be standing here, on a beach about to marry Maddie Cunningham I would have thought they were absolutely crazy. I think back to when we first started exploring the idea of progressing our friendship into a relationship and how frustratingly indecisive you were about taking that leap with me. There was a letter I wrote to you before we started dating that you saved and I want to quote a small part of it now “I know you’re scared to take this chance, but I promise you we are worth the leap.”

Today, I want to thank you for taking that chance on me and I hope that I have kept that promise to you. Because of that chance you took on me, you have given me a life and a love I could have never imagined for myself. Your fierce loyalty and integrity have taught me to be true to myself and to others. You challenge me, support me and love me in everything I do. You have shown me that love does not come to us when we find the perfect person, it comes to us by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. You are the only person I have ever met who sees me perfectly.

For the last nine years, you have been my best friend, my constant, my travel partner and so much more. Today, I promise to share my life in its entirety with you, to cherish your straight-up weirdness, to be faithful and honest, to make you laugh, to hold your hand during both good and bad times, and to love you with all of me.

From this day forward, like I promised you then and I promise you now, you will never be alone and that is my vow to you.

Are you going on a honeymoon? How did you pick the destination?

We will be going on our honeymoon next year (2023). Because we decided to do a small wedding, we wanted to still have a celebration with our friends and extended family. In May 2023, to celebrate our one-year anniversary we are going to be throwing a marriage celebration (similar to an after wedding reception) as a send-off to our honeymoon. We plan to go to Ubud, Indonesia to explore the beautiful jungles and culture there.


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