NY couple Christopher and Carl commemorate 10 years by tying the knot

Editors' Note: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 marks the first anniversary of legal marriages between same-sex couples in New York. To celebrate, Freedom to Marry is sharing the stories of same-sex couples who tied the knot this year, celebrating their love and commitment with beautiful ceremonies and gatherings of their friends, family members, and other loved ones. Today, we're sharing the story of Christopher Boudewyns and Carl Byrd, who married on May 27, 2012. Read all of our stories about the first year of the freedom to marry in New York.

Last summer, on Friday, June 24, Christopher Boudewyns and Carl Byrd were flipping through the channels on television when they landed on a public access channel featuring New York state legislators discussing the freedom to marry.

"I thought that it just wasn't going to happen," Christopher said of the legislative push to approve the freedom to marry in the state. "But then when it did pass, we were freaking out. I looked at Carl and said, 'Oh wow, we can actually get married to each other on our ten-year anniversary.' We've always said it would be great to do it on our ten-year, and that night, as we celebrated quietly at home, we made up our minds that we were going to get married."

Christopher and Carl had started dating just over nine years prior to New York's passage of the marriage law - their anniversary is May 16, 2002. The couple met in Minneapolis, where Carl was working in advertising and Christopher was teaching in the city's public school system. In 2005, a job opportunity for Carl prompted the couple to move to New York City, where they've remained ever since. They adopted an adorable daughter, Harper, in 2010, and the family now lives together with their two dogs in Manhattan's financial district.

Although they unofficially decided to tie the knot while watching New York governor Andrew Cuomo sign the marriage bill into law in June, there wasn't an official proposal until October. "I kept telling Carl for those few months, 'If you like it...then you should really put a ring on it," Christopher joked.

The day after Christopher's birthday in October, Carl asked Christopher to meet him in City Hall Park with Harper. Christopher remembers, "We walked up to the fountain, and Carl had a ring and a whole plan to propose. He had gone to Chinatown and made two rings - one that said "Chris + Carl" and another that said "Carl + Chris." Those were like, our bling bling rings, and while that's not exactly my style, it was pretty fantastic. Carl proposed to me with one, and then he pulled the other ring out and said, 'OK, now you ask me.' We wore the rings from October to Memorial Day weekend in 2012, when we got married."

The couple's wedding on May 27, 2012 at the Broad Street Ballroom in lower Manhattan was truly a family-focused celebration. Christopher's brother got ordained online and officiated the ceremony, while Christopher's father, who works as a minister, gave a blessing for the occasion. Harper served as the flower girl, and the couple's dogs were a part of the ceremony in that they walked down the aisle with the ring bearers - who were Harper's cousins.

Christopher and Carl said that now that they're married, they can rest easy knowing that they enjoy the same protections that different-sex couples in New York do.

"For Harper's sake, our marriage makes us feel more secure," Christopher said. "Because we're now married, there's just no question that legally, we're a family. And there's no question about what would happen to Harper or our belongings or our space if something happened to either of us. It solidifies so many things that you might not even think about until after the fact."

There's also something more intangible that marriage has encouraged for Christopher and Carl - it has, in some ways, validated their commitment to each other.

"We've been together for ten years, so physically, not much has changed," Christopher said. "But there is a slight shift in how you perceive yourself in that you're married. For years and years now, I've called Carl my partner - but now I'm using the word 'husband,' and it makes a difference. It not only makes a difference for myself, but also for the people I'm talking to. When I say to strangers, 'My husband,' there's a difference. Now we're recognized as being 'married.'"

Check out more photos from Carl's and Chris' wedding, including pictures of Harper, their dogs, and their ceremony (Photo above by Ro Agents at Les Loups, some slideshow photos by Darren Lew):

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