On a warm November night last year in Puerto Rico, Dan Hendrick slipped a silver ring from his pocket, descended on one knee and proposed to long-time partner Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
Thoughts of marriage had lingered in Hendrick’s mind for some time, but busy schedules always intervened. They talked about it on and off, delaying concrete plans until it was lawful for them to marry in New York.
Now, the timing was perfect. Nervously, excitedly, Hendrick popped the question.
The pair met at a fundraiser for Queens Pride House in 1999. Van Bramer recalled standing at the bar, ordering a glass of wine as Hendrick entered the room.
“I don’t know if I believe in love at first site but I certainly noticed him the moment he walked in the door,” said Van Bramer.
He asked a mutual friend about the man with the red hair. Hendrick inquired the same friend about the man in the suit. They knew they needed to talk.
Almost 13 years later, they were engaged.
With 225 friends and family invited, the pair plans to dance to their favorite music from the 70s, 80s and 90s at the summery, rooftop affair, to be held at Studio Square in Long Island City.
To them, the most meaningful part of their wedding is sharing it with the loved ones witnessing their union. The couple said their families couldn’t be more excited.
“My mother cried tears of joy,” said Van Bramer. “She was very happy for us and she adores Dan. I think everyone in the family was thrilled.”
Planning their upcoming nuptials has been a team effort, each responsible for a different task. They selected local vendors to assist with the wedding, supplying everything from the flowers in blue and orange — their favorite colors — from Brooklyn Grange, to the beautiful, custom invitations by Big City Graphics, illustrating the couple’s story.
The grooms picked summer suits for the occasion – Hendrick’s from J. Crew and Van Bramer’s by Calvin Klein. They traded their silver rings for matching gold ones, engraved with their names and the date of their wedding, July 28, 2012.
The couple said the response from the community has been overwhelmingly and exclusively positive.
“The number of people who know we’re getting married surprises me,” said Van Bramer. “It’s rare I go through a full day without someone congratulating me and wishing me the best. People are very supportive and incredibly gracious. It’s been very heartwarming.
Hendrick believes the support they have received is indicative of increasing acceptance
“What’s interesting about this is how uncontroversial it is and how in the scheme of things, this is just two people getting up and having a wedding. That’s what’s exciting about it,” said Hendrick.
He said it’s what we’ll see from this point on.
“People fall in love,” he said.
The couple was present at City Hall, overseeing the inking of the budget agreement, when speaker Christine Quinn announced the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York in July of 2011.
“It was a really exciting moment,” said Hendrick. “Everyone’s BlackBerries went off and the shouts went up. It was an electric moment. Elation is not too strong a word here.”
Van Bramer, who was standing on the steps by the mayor when the news was released, immediately searched in the crowd for Hendrick.
“We have come so far so fast,” said Van Bramer. When I came out in 1989, I would have never thought that two men or two women would get married in my lifetime. It’s equality through its own sheer power of conviction. It’s so amazingly exhilarating to see so many people agreeing with us that this is a basic civil right and that two people loving and committing to each other is worthy of celebration, regardless of who those people are.”