We recently got married this autumn in Germany, surrounded by family and friends. Because of the pandemic, we had a small group in person while many of our loved ones joined over zoom. Our zoom call was a boisterous one, featuring friends and family from Brazil, China, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all speaking in four different languages. It was a bit chaotic and filled with so much love, just like the joining together of our lives and families.
We had been thinking about getting married for a while. After being separated for seven months due to the pandemic, we decided to finally make it official once Lily traveled to Germany and visited Maíra. We decided to get engaged in about two months, ordered our rings, introduced our parents to each other over video chat, and planned a small civil ceremony complete with a mini-honeymoon afterward.
What helped ground us through it all was the confidence we had in our love for one another and our shared commitment to make our marriage wholly our own. We reminded each other that as two women for whom this institution was not built, we had the power to make whatever we wanted it to be.
We first met in the United States in the summer of 2017 while Lily worked as a community organizer and Maíra was studying there for a year from Germany. We both ended up at the same Pride after-party of a mutual friend and were immediately drawn to each other.
Our first date was over late-night ice cream and a stroll by the River. We ended up spending a lot of time together that summer, going to the beach, watching movies, and even taking a weekend trip together to the Cape. While we had initially not planned to pursue a long distance relationship after Maíra returned to Germany, our connection was so strong that we decided to give it a try.
In the past three years, we’ve been there for each other from near and afar. Each year we hand wrap gifts and craft advent calendars for each other to open in the month leading up to Christmas. For Lily, that means writing poems, crafting collages, and painting watercolors for Maíra to flip through each day. For Maíra, that means wrapping little gifts like seeds, candles, and love notes for Lily to unwrap each day. When we’re able to be in the same place, we’ve planned surprise date days for each other filled with our partner’s favorite activities. Things like tickets for open air philharmonic performances, visiting second hand book stores, eating oysters and touring an old abandoned airport.
It has been so essential for us to make the most of the time we spend together because most of our relationship has been long distance. That has probably been the biggest challenge for us as a couple. Not only have we been living in two different countries for the past three years, but we have also grown up in entirely different cultures. Brazilian and German for Maíra and Chinese and US American for Lily. While learning about each other’s cultures has been an incredible blessing, it has also been hard to figure out what our life together will be like. After all, there aren’t too many models of the kind of family we are excited to build together. It has required us both to put in the hard work necessary to understand each other, whether through taking language courses or learning how to cook the cuisine that makes our partner feel the most at home.
Often, the world tends to romanticize multi-cultural relationships because it’s easy to believe that they represent a new, more peaceful globe. The truth is, building our life together has taken a lot of honest and difficult conversations about race, class, and nationality. Conversations that were not always fun but always necessary. We probably wouldn’t have been able to have those conversations without our shared commitment to social justice. One of the beautiful things about being in this partnership is that we each try to embody our values in different spheres.
With everything that went on in 2020, we wanted to get married to bring some love and joy to this moment. We’re excited to hopefully move in together next year, keep supporting each other, and keep creating new and exciting ways to be a family together.
Photography by Annika Eliane Krause
Catering Restaurant Lade
Ceremony Venue Cologne City Hall
Engagement Rings Ikonniko
Florist Botania Floral Studio
Shoes & Other Stories, COS
Suit Designer Massimo Dutti