Sometimes, love takes a little stick-to-itiveness. Luckily, Leonardo Dicova has it. “After our first date, I got stood up by Michael close to three times,” he says. “Apparently he had some ‘important’ exam or other. But I persevered.”
It’s a good thing he did, too, because his relationship with Michael Collins went from being stood up to standing up in front of their friends and family on their wedding day. Leonardo, a fiction writer working on his first novel, took Michael, a financial analyst and yoga practitioner, to the Central Park Zoo to get engaged. He proposed in the aviary because it reminded him of the jungles of his native country, Brazil, where the couple lives today.
But, when it came time for the wedding, there was no choice but the Hudson Valley. They originally wanted to get married at a friends’ farm, but couldn’t because of zoning laws. They ended up choosing the Circa 1799 Barn in Ancramdale, NY instead, attracted to its history and structure, with its “vaulted ceiling, notched logs for rafters, and worn planks of wood along the floor.”
The couple chose the Circa 1799 Barn for its rustic charm.
“Marriage is a totally new experience for the gay community,” says Michael. ”None of us grew up imagining what our weddings would be like. So we approached the whole thing with little preparation. We did know, however, that we wanted certain things: an informal atmosphere, as little attention on ourselves as possible, and a focus on friends and family. Susan Caruso worked with us to craft our initial and very sketchy ideas, and turn them into something that felt both organized and whimsical.”
The couple did find ways of making their wedding entirely their own. “Originally we thought of having no ceremony—just a dinner and dancing,” says Leonardo. “But, after talking through it with Susan and our families, we decided we had to have some moment, some indication, that this was more than just a party. Not wanting to use any of the traditional symbols often associated with weddings, we thought of coming up with our own ritual for the occasion: Michael’s father, the emcee, would tie both our ties together and our mothers would be called up to cut off both ends—with giant ribbon-cutting scissors—thereby preserving the knot, which we kept it in a small silver box.”
Michael and Leonardo’s ties became an important part of their wedding ceremony. Their suits were made by a tailor in Brazil.
Sol Flower Farm designed simple centerpieces.
Coffee beans doubled as favors and escort cards.
Guests dined on grilled lamb, fish, a veggie pasta dish, and a selection of mini-desserts (which the couple was too busy dancing to enjoy). The evening ended with a bonfire, where a friend of the couple serenaded the crowd on a fiddle.
A friend played fiddle as guests gathered around a bonfire.
And, though Michael and Leonardo tried their hardest not to be the center of attention, there was one moment where they couldn’t avoid the spotlight: a friend bought them a ride in a horse-drawn buggy. “It was a total surprise gift from our friend,” Leonardo says. “We tried and tried to have as little attention on ourselves as possible, and lo and behold she goes and gets us a buggy ride—with chalices!—in front of everybody. But it was fun to drive away from our wedding and see it from a distance, like an out-of-body experience.”
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