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Wedding Announcement: Donna Hay and Valerie Jones

Valerie Jones and Donna Hay, Engagement

(Photo by Nini Jin)

Names: Donna Hay and Valerie Jones

Ages: Donna is 41 and Valerie is 36.

Professions: Donna is a college administrator and Valerie is a government contractor.

City, State: Washington, D.C.

Date of Wedding: June 26, 2016

The Big Day: The wedding will be at the Dominion Valley Country Club in Haymarket, VA. We wanted one place that would take care of all the details and the only venues that seemed to offer that option are D.C. hotels and Virginia country clubs. We liked the greenery so opted for Virginia. We’ll have about a hundred guests, most of who will be coming from out of town, and will incorporate some traditions that are important to us. The bridal party totals thirteen and includes sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, nieces and nephews.

We’re so much alike in all the right ways and so very different in all the right ones so our wedding fits us perfectly because it’s a little bit of everything rolled into one: a little jazz, blues, rap, reggae, the electric slide and a lot of laughing and smiling. It’s a wedding gumbo! My favorite aspect of the wedding is hearing the words “You’re now married.” What’s really going to wow my guests is me actually saying “I DO.” Like WOW, Val’s married. I’m so excited that my friends and family get to see me marry Donna and get to see us celebrate our love together.

The Firsts:

First Meeting:
Donna – We met on January 24, 2015 at a lesbian singles masquerade party hosted by Lisa Gomes of LesbiFriends. It was a great party that had a variety of people I’d never met. Val was a bit rowdy and raunchy in the large-group discussions but she was intelligent and brought up a lot of good discussion points when we chatted one-to-one. When she gave me her card as I was leaving, I texted her my number and thought, “Why not?” She was great on the follow-up, texting to make sure I got home safely, checking in during the week to see how I was doing, etc.

Val – My friend Latoya talked me into going to a lesbian masquerade party hosted by Lisa Gomes. Lisa said “Bring a bottle of wine” and me. Being me, I brought a liter of Hennessy that I just HAD to finish that night! Donna talked to me but she was also talking to other people and I didn’t like that so, I decided to make a dirty joke and I figured hey, if she doesn’t completely stop talking to me after this, she’s a keeper! Donna was leaving and I wanted to continue talking but didn’t want to seem like a total stalker, so I gave her my card in hopes she’d use it. She did!

First Date:
Donna – The first date was a week later. We had Sunday brunch at Acadiana in D.C. She talked a lot but was really sweet and endearing…almost shy. I thought to myself that we’d be friends.
Val – Our first date was at Acadiana in D.C. I had no idea what her last name was and came in and asked “I’m waiting for Donna and wanted to know has she checked in and been seated.” Donna is a very common name and yeah, so, embarrassed, I had to call her and ask her what her last name was.

First Kiss:
Donna – We went on dates pretty regularly for a few weeks and kissed on our third or fourth date when we were heading to Georgetown to a restaurant. I knew by then that I liked her and that we’d probably become a couple so I planted one on her. Pre-relationship, I’m stingy on the kisses. I’ve lived in the DMV for two years and, though I went on a lot of dates, I’d only kissed one other person during that time because kisses are kind of sacred to me. I know it’s corny but it worked for me; it kept my emotional radar clutter-free.

Val – Our first kiss happened after not seeing her for about three days. We talked on the phone every single day for hours, but she traveled a lot with her job when we first met. So, I made an excuse to come pick her up and we ended up going to dinner at Paper Moon in Georgetown. I picked her up and she jumped in the car and just planted one on me. I was happy and shocked at the same time.

(Photo by Nini Jin)

(Photo by Nini Jin)

When They Knew:
Donna – I knew I wanted to date her after about a month. I knew I wanted to marry her after about four months. We didn’t want to rush anything though so we followed the process: met family and friends, had extensive talks, interacted in a variety of situations, and did pre-marital counseling. (Shout out to Emily Rizzo for pre-marital counseling sessions. Tip – if you’re thinking of spending the rest of your life with someone, make the financial investment to get good counseling.)  All the things we did reaffirmed what we already felt, which was that we had compatible values, perspectives, priorities and goals. We’re very different personality-wise but, at the core, about things that matter, we’re very similar.

Val – She’ll say I’m telling a white lie but, to be honest, I knew from the moment I saw her. I knew she’d be in my life for a very long time.

The Proposal:
Donna – We’d already discussed marriage and decided on it when Val surprised me with a proposal in the restaurant of the Ritz Carlton one random weekday evening. A mutual friend who is now in our wedding party texted me at work that afternoon to see if I was free for dinner so I met her. She and I were an hour into our meal when she excused herself to go to the restroom and Val appeared. I was emotional and speechless. She got down on her knee and did the whole thing. Then, friends appeared out of the background and we celebrated with Moet and dessert. It was beautiful.

Val – I asked my sorority sister, Christal, and one of my best friends Aria to help me. I asked Christal to pretend she had a life-altering problem at work that needed Donna’s assistance and asked her to tell Donna to meet her at the Ritz Carlton in West End in D.C. to discuss it. Aria was on standby to take pics. My thought process was to start an argument with her and tell her that “something was missing” meaning a RING. Well, the argument never happened cause she didn’t take the bait! So, I decided on a more heartfelt approach and pulled out the ring and said hey, I have a question. She said YES!

The Rings:
Donna – She got me a rock. It’s nicer than anything I’d shown her and now I basically feel naked without it. After she proposed, I asked if she’d like a ring now, too, but she said she’d prefer to wait until the wedding.

Val – I actually picked a different ring than she originally liked but I felt the one I picked looked better. I’m simple and slightly afraid I’ll lose my own ring, so I decided to get a white gold band for the wedding.

Honeymoon: We went back and forth on this a thousand times. Now, we’re going to stay in town immediately after the wedding to spend time with family and friends who are coming to town – and recuperate. We’ve planned several days of activities for guests before and after the wedding, and most of us are staying at the wedding hotel, so we think we’ll be ecstatic but tired. We plan to do a multi-week trip to Europe later in the year. Work is hectic so, we’ve actually just started making plans. It looks like it’s a toss-up between Hawaii and Paris for New Year’s.

Looking into the Future:
Donna – We’re excited. We’d like to have kids, by one or both of us giving birth and/or adopting. Right now, our one-year old Shih-Poo runs the house and thinks she’s an actual baby. We’re pretty laid back though and will see where life takes us. Right now, we’re just happy.

Val – Babies, Babies and more babies! No, but seriously we want BABIES!

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