Cherese and I met on April 28th, 2016, exactly seven years ago, at a fitness event in Orlando, Florida. She is from New Jersey but at the time, was living in Puerto Rico. I’m originally from Venezuela, and at the time, I was living in South Florida. I accepted a job and took the drive from South Florida to Orlando because I needed to escape my situation. I was mentally and emotionally in a dark place, and a four-hour drive away from everything and everyone I knew felt like the most liberating thing I could do. So, I did it. Cherese, a corporate DJ, decided to accept a weekend gig after uprooting from NJ to Puerto Rico. A friend and my “boss” at the time introduced us at the hotel lobby before heading out to the event.
I can’t put into words how I felt the entire weekend. We talked and hung out the entire time. Any feelings of fear, self-doubt, or sadness completely left my body and brain for that weekend. Then came Monday morning. Cherese got on a plane and flew back to the island while I drove back to South Florida.
We stayed in touch through Snapchat and Instagram, then text messages, then FaceTime, and five months later, we moved in together.
Right before we moved in together though, my mom found out I had a relationship with another woman. I was not ready to tell her or anyone at the time. I was raised in Venezuela, South America, by catholic parents from Italian grandparents. No one in my family showed any support towards the LGBTQ + community. The day she found out Cherese, and I were talking, she sent me to a priest, a psychologist, and pretty much hell.
Against her wishes, I packed my bags, sold my car, and moved to Puerto Rico with Cherese. I had never visited the island and had no idea what to expect, but I was 100% SURE I wanted to be with Cherese. My mom cut all communication with me for almost a year. Then I started to tell my dad, siblings, and close friends and family about my relationship with Cherese. Cherese was patient with me. She understood where I was coming from. She loved me, and it was a love I didn’t know.
Fast forward to March 11th, 2023, and my dad is walking me down the aisle, my mom is dancing the night away with Cherese and my friends, and every morning I wake up, I ask myself, “Was that all a dream?” We had an intimate wedding here in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, many of our families didn’t attend for various reasons, but our friends who turned into family were all there. Our chosen family was there. That meant the world to us. It was the happiest day of our lives.
Photographer Nilka Gissell
Cake The Cupcake Gallery
Caterer & Venue Copamarina Beach Resort
DJ Cloud 9 Entertainment
Dress Boutique Lauderdale Bride
Dress Designer Calla Blanche
Engagement & Wedding Rings Tiffany & Co.
Suit Harry The Tailor
Videographer Pearl Memories