7 photos and a video from Kevin and Tony’s gorgeous Lake Tahoe ceremony

"Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart," Kevin Dowell read from a slip of paper, glancing up every few words to look his soon-to-be husband, Tony Ring, in the eyes. "Like why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it's so hard?" With the gorgeous Lake Tahoe behind them, and all of their friends and family members in front of them, Kevin continued: "Sometimes life can be deceiving. But I'll tell you one thing - it's always better when we're together."

Kevin was reading lyrics from a Jack Johnson song - and just moments before, Tony had finished sharing an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, an excerpt where the protagonist talks about the importance of his loved ones - that "their presence was his courage, and the reason he was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other." Watch video from their beautiful day, including the readings, here (by Ipomoea Films):

It was August 4, 2012, and Tony and Kevin invited all of their loved ones to celebrate their union - their domestic partnership ceremony, since same-sex couples in California do not have the freedom to marry. The beautiful day was a landmark event for Tony and Kevin, who have now been together for nearly five years.

The couple met while studying at the University of Southern California in 2007. Tony was a sophomore from Incline Village, Nevada, and Kevin was a senior from just north of San Diego, preparing himself for law school the next year at Berkeley. In February 2008, both men realized they were going solo for Valentine's Day, and on a whim, they decided to take each other out for drinks. "Our new friendship quickly developed into a full-blown relationship," Tony explained. "Outside of our classes, we spent nearly every hour together watching movies, going to the beach, and taking far too many trips to the frozen yogurt store down the street - we even spent a few hours together when we probably should have been in class," Tony joked.

When Kevin graduated from USC that May, he and Tony decided to try a long-distance relationship - "We realized this was something special and that we should try to make it work," they explained. After two years of long-distance, Tony finally graduated, and shortly after, he and Kevin moved in together in Berkeley. In 2010, Tony won 15 minutes of fame when he won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right, earning him and Kevin a trip to London. During the trip, Tony made the experience even more special by extending their trip with a stay in Scotland, climbing up to Arthur's Seat - a rocky volcano in Edinburgh - and asking Kevin to marry him. "After hiking to the top, Tony got down on one knee, professed his love, and proposed to me," Kevin said, adding, "Tony cried a lot."

Two years later, they hosted their beautiful ceremony on Lake Tahoe in California. "The wedding day was perfect," they said. "We surrendered control to the fates - and to our wedding coordinator - and enjoyed the day." Kevin's uncle officiated the ceremony, and afterward, the couple basked in their celebration with all of their friends. "It felt amazing to be surrounded by over 100 friends and family members - young, old, Democrat, Republican - as we made our commitment to each other," they said.

Kevin and Tony now live together in San Bruno, California, where Kevin works as a lawyer and Tony works as a teacher. They're one of thousands of same-sex couples in California waiting for the end of Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that anti-gay activists pushed through at the ballot in 2008 to strip same-sex couples of the freedom to marry. The Proposition 8 case will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, but until then, loving couples like Kevin and Tony will continue to be excluded from marriage in the state. "To have the freedom to marry restored in California would provide the legal recognition that validates our relationship in the public's eye," the couple said. "This is our marriage - our love, our commitment, and our promise. Our relationship is real. Our commitment is permanent."

Kevin and Tony are thrilled that they were able to host a happy ceremony in August - and that their first date nearly five years ago represented the last Valentine's Day they'd spend alone. But they know that marriage matters - and that Proposition 8 must be overturned so that same-sex couples can stop seeing their relationships relegated to a lesser status than marriage. "Our marriage represents our commitment to one another," Tony said. "It symbolizes our promise to build our lives together and stay true to one another until the very end. It acknowledges that we have found the one. That this is something special."

Read more stories of same-sex couples in California HERE, and learn more about the freedom to marry in California HERE.

Photos by the amazing photographers at Memoire StudioVideo by Ipomoea Films.