Only eight months after they dispaired of ever getting to the altar, Reid Bordson and Paul Nolle, partners for 13 years and fathers of a 21-month-old daughter, said "I do" and were pronounced "legally married" at a midnight ceremony in St. Paul.
It was the Capitol city's first same-sex marriage, and the fragrance of the summer floral display in the Como Conservatory's sunken garden mingled with high emotions and a historic first.
"To know we got married, the first couple in the Capitol city, where all the political activisim happened, it's insane," said Bordson after the event. "We're part of history."
Bordson and Nolle, both 35, were certain last October that same-sex marriage would be prevented by a proposed constitutional amendment. Voters defeated that measure and elected at DFL-controlled Legislature, which legalized same-sex marriage.
Beginning at midnight Wednesday.
With their parents, daughter Anna, and siblings, the two grooms processed down the garden pathway promptly at midnight. Friends filled much of the paths of the garden, which was in full summertime bloom. Officiant Heather Fairbanks, performing the first of five services in 24 hours, spoke of the sacrifices activists had made over the years to arrive at this moment.
"Legal marriage has long been termed a civil right," Fairbanks said. She said the grooms wanted to thank all those who worked for gay rights, "not only for their family, but for generations to come."
The two men exchanged Irish wedding rings to go with commitment rings they exchanged at a non-binding ceremony 10 years ago this week, and will wear the wedding bands on the left hands and the commitment rings on the right.
The men responded to Fairbanks' vows of lifelong commitment with a hearty "I do," and involved a somewhat tired but placid Anna in the ceremony. When Fairbanks pronounced the men "legally married," and they sealed it with a kiss, the room burst into a lengthy ovation.
Bordson, Nolle and Anna -- who will all carry the name Bordson-Nolle -- danced to the recessional song, "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers. The group moved to a private reception and a Betty Crocker cake that bore a black bow tie around the middle layer and flowers, not two grooms, on top.
"We are just overjoyed," said Bordson's mother, Debby Bordson of Duluth. "I've been crying all day. Just full of joy. ... This state believes in the rights of people to marry who they want to. That's what makes me so proud to be from Minnesota."
"We're pretty numbed and thrilled right now," Bordson said. "We didn't know if this day would ever be coming in Minnesota ... Our hope is that this will happen federally."
The wedding was the first of 13 scheduled in the city on Thursday -- including one heterosexual couple who had picked the day and the same sunken garden venue long ago.
Bordson, originally from Duluth, and Nolle, of Green Bay, Wis., met at the University of Minnesota and have been partners for 13 years. Bordson is a 2nd grade teacher and Nolle is in sales. They are 35 and live in Bloomington. A colleague of Bordson's was married to a St. Paul official, which is how they were selected to be the city's "first couple."
Nolle joked that while he had no problem coming out as gay to his family, they would not have been so kind if he had converted to the Minnesota Vikings from the hometown Packers. "Certain things, we don't switch," he said.
Last year, they were resigned to living in a state where same-sex marriage was prohibited, as it is in Wisconsin. But the election result and legislative action changed all that. "To think that within a year it turned around, and it actually didn't get banned, but became legal, we were just kind of shocked," Bordson said.