Engaged: Kent Hansen and Mike Snyder
A D.C. wedding with be followed by a big celebration in the sculpture garden at the Baltimore Museum of Art
Kent Hanson, left, and Mike Snyder (John Kardys Photography, Baltimore Sun / July 10, 2012)
Kent's story: Kent Hansen, 30, grew up in Bradner, Ohio. He is a U.S. government technical recruit, and lives in the Patterson Park area. His mother, Deb Hansen, is a homemaker in Bradner.
Mike's story: Mike Snyder, 46, was an "Air Force brat," and spent most of his early years in the Midwest. His family eventually settled around the St. Louis, Mo. area. He is an AT&T senior program manager, and lives in the Patterson Park area. His father, Mike Snyder, is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. His mother, Linda Snyder, is a retired RN. They live in York, Penn.
How they met: "We met in 2005. We were both playing volleyball for Charm City Volleyball," Kent says. "I started dog-sitting for him, as he was traveling quite a bit for work. We went out on a couple of dates. But, I didn't think it would work out. Mike is 16 and half years older than I am, and we were at different stages in our lives at the time."
"I was past the point of my 20's and going to the bars," says Mike. "But, we still did a ton of things as friends. And gradually it became obvious we enjoyed hanging out." .
"About six months later, I realized that I was making a mistake and I wanted to try it out," says Kent.
"He just couldn't resist my charms. We came to [that realization] at about the same time," says Mike with a laugh.
"We decided to actually go on an official date... [November 27, 2006]," says Kent. "Mike came and picked me up around my place. We went to Peter's Inn. We had a good dinner. We talked about what we were looking for in a relationship and whether we could make it work, and decided to take it one step at a time with no expectations.
"It evolved into a really good friendship and relationship," he adds. "It was slow, We took time to get to know each other that first year. When we came up on our year anniversary, and started talking about moving in together, I thought this was going to work."
"I didn't get to know him on a personal level until we started dating and I saw how close he was to his family and how big a heart he had," says Mike. "I wanted it to be more serious. I wasn't sure how serious he wanted it to be...A little over a year after dating, I asked Kent if he would like to move in and he said yes."
The proposal, August 2009: "Every time we went on vacation, [Kent] would want to go look at rings" says Mike. "He always wanted to go into jewelry stores and look at rings. We took a trip to Provincetown on Cape Cod. We were walking along Main Street and went into a jewelry store and looked at rings. And then later — when he didn't know about it — I came back and ordered the pair of rings that we liked. At the end of the vacation, I gave him a card that said I had bought the rings and was looking forward to many more years together," he continues.
"I was shocked," says Kent. "When the rings came in, Mike said he had gotten steaks to grill on the rooftop deck, and when I came upstairs to eat, there were the rings on the table. We had dinner and then gave each other the rings and told each other what it meant to each of us...But, we wanted to move towards marriage because that was really important to me. We started to discuss it. Initially we talked about getting married in Provincetown, because it was legal up there and we really like it up there."
"In Maryland, if you get married in a state where it's legal, Maryland actually recognizes it," says Mike. "So, the plan was to get married in one of those states."
The wedding, Sept. 15, 2012: Since the issue of same sex marriage in Maryland won't have been settled by the couple's wedding date, Mike and Kent plan to go to Washington, D.C., for their legal marriage the week prior to the big event in Baltimore.
"It's really important to us to get married, so we can have the same rights and privileges as everyone else," says Kent. "Our love isn't any different than anyone else's...[But,] it's more important to us to have our family come to Maryland where we live and have the ceremony and big party in Baltimore...We want to share that with our family and our friends...It's really important to us to bring our families together. This is the first time they're ever going to meet each other."
"The biggest thing for us is we think it's important to cement the relationship and be public about it," says Mike. "And by doing that, it essentially asserts that our relationship is legitimate both in the eyes of our friends and family, and in the eyes of the law."
"We [also] tried to make sure all the people we hired are LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] or welcoming to the LGBT community," Mike says.
That started with Jean Wade Mayer, of Boutique Events, who helped the couple plan their wedding for 120 at Gertrude's at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
"They are a lot of fun; very easy going, laid back, and open minded," she says. "They have very classic tastes. They've been so much fun to work with."