A Wedding Story: Ben Meents & Chet Ritchie
By Emma Meents
It is a beautiful evening in June, and I am standing in the back of a crowded room at The Bachelor Farmer next to my dad, Ben. I am holding his hand really tight. It feels kind of sweaty. My little sister Sophia is next to us, too. She is holding his other hand.
This moment feels like the right place to start my story, with sweaty hands and all. You see, we are at a wedding. But it is not your typical wedding. This is our wedding. Sophia and I are about to walk my dad down the aisle to meet Chet and his son Dominic, and I want to start my story here because we are about to become a family…officially.
Before we get to the sappy part, I should stop here to tell you some important details first. Like what I am wearing. This is a wedding, after all. I am wearing a white dress. It’s very simple but elegant, with just a little bit of detailed silver beading on it. My shoes are sparkly silver with a little heel. My dad approves of my outfit. He says it is very “age appropriate.” I am almost 13, so this comment normally annoys me, but tonight I don’t care because I actually feel so pretty and everyone has been saying such nice things to me. My sister is nine and she is wearing the cutest light, flowing, soft-pink dress. Dominic is five and looking like a doll in a seersucker suit. Everyone is calling them “beautiful,” “handsome,” and “smart-looking,” and tonight I agree.
Oh, and my dad and Chet are wearing tuxes—midnight blue with black lapels. They look very handsome, of course. There are white and gold paper lanterns all over. Candles fill the room with light. There are white and gold painted tree branches that seem to be floating in the air. The flowers filling the room are all white and lush. Our friend Larry arranged them all and my sister and I even got to help him pick some of them out. He made my sister and I each our own little bouquet. Everything in my view right now looks and feels magical.
So, to be honest these are the things I am thinking about standing here in the back of the room when I look up at my dad as we are waiting. I guess that’s what I am supposed to think about at a wedding, right? How beautiful everyone looks and how special it feels to be here right now.
For a long time before we got to this moment I have heard people talk about “gay weddings.” But if you ask me, this looks and feels just like any wedding where people come to celebrate love and the commitment of two people. Everyone in this room looks filled with happiness and love. They came here to celebrate my new family and my dad and Chet’s love for each other. I don’t know if I expected it to feel any different as a “gay wedding,” but at this moment it just feels like the best wedding in the world.
My friend Tess’ dad is talking in the front of the room now, doing a reading. It is hard to focus. I am a mix of nervous and excited. I hear him say something about when you find your soul mate you can be loved and accepted for who you truly are. I understand what this means. I feel really proud of my dad and Chet and everything they have been through.
Great, I feel like I am starting to cry already and I have to get my dad to the front of the room. The music starts and everyone in the room turn their heads all at once. It looks like a wave.
We are walking now and music fills the room. I see a lot of smiles and some tears. Oh my gosh, is this actually happening? My heart feels warm as I walk by everyone in my dad’s family. My grandma and grandpa smile at me. I see my Aunt Gretchen and Uncle Joey and give them a little wave. I walk by friends that have been a part of our lives since my dad and Chet met. Some of dad and Chet’s friends have kids here tonight that have become some of our best friends. It feels like the room is filled with one big family.
As I look at all the faces in the room, I start thinking about Chet’s parents and others who have chosen to not come to our wedding. I know there are a lot of people in the world still who think it is wrong to be gay. We are here to celebrate love and family, and I feel bad for those who don’t get to experience this moment with us. I wish they would want to see Chet and my dad make a commitment to each other. I feel sad because they are missing this important moment in their son’s life. I wish they could find it in their hearts to meet me and my sister. They are still my new family even if I never get to meet them. They are a part of Chet so I still will love them either way, because I love Chet.
I am at the front of the room now with my dad and sister. Chet and Dominic walk up the aisle on the other side to meet us here. We are all finally standing in front of everyone. There are so many people in the world who have waited so long for a moment like this. I almost can’t believe this is happening.
Stacy is officiating. She is one of Chet’s best friends. Dom calls her “Auntie Stacy.” She looks so pretty. She is standing between my dad and Chet talking about love.
Maybe this is a strange feeling to have at a wedding, but suddenly I think to myself, wow they are brave to stand up here. They seem excited, emotional and nervous. I am, too. I don’t want to look at my Auntie Lori and Uncle Mike because I am starting to cry now. Stacy is saying something but I am thinking about how long it took for my dad and Chet to find each other and all of the things each of them have been through in their lives to get here.
I think everyone at this moment must be able to feel how very important they are to each other. Chet says his vows. He promises to be my dad’s “navigator, best friend, and husband. To honor, to love, and to cherish” him through all of life’s adventures.
My mind wanders. I think about how lucky I am that Chet came into my dad’s life. Most couples go on dates to fancy dinners when they start dating. Not my dad and Chet. They took us to the Water Park of America. I think we will have a lot of adventures like that ahead of us. That is the day Sophia and I met Dom for the first time. It’s funny how much life changes in those moments.
Now my dad looks at Chet. “I promise to believe in you, to honor our commitment to each other, and make our family my priority always.” Wow. How many kids get to experience a feeling like this? I am crying. A little embarrassed, I cry anyway because I am so happy.
Maybe there isn’t a dry eye in the room. I have known for a long time that my dad and Chet loved each other, but it suddenly feels different. We are standing in front of our closest friends and family, and my dad and Chet are looking into each other’s eyes making this commitment. But it is not only to each other, it is to me and Sophia and Dominic, too. Their vows confirm their commitment to our family.
I wish the whole world could see how beautiful it is for these two people who are committed to each other to be recognized legally. Some people may still disagree, but I am grateful because my dads’ marriage gives our family a kind of security that they will always be there for each other, and for us, no matter what. Whatever anyone else choses to accept or believe, I know in my heart we have as much love as any other family, and that now no one can take that away from us.
My dad always tells me we are each born unique and that we are happiest in life when we can celebrate however it is that we were made. This moment is a celebration of who my two dads are. It is a celebration of love. It is a celebration of our family. And at this moment the world feels like a better place because of it.
Photography by Jay Kelly Images (www.jaykellyimages.com)
Cake by Angel Food Bakery (www.angelfoodmn.com)
Chet’s Ring: JB Hudson custom diamond band (www.jbhudson.com),
Ben’s Ring: David Yurman (www.davidyurman.com)
Grooms’ Tuxes by Black Tie (www.blacktie.com)
Emma’s Dress by Zara www.zara.com
Sophia’s Dress and Dominic’s Suit by JCrew, Crew Cuts ( www.jcrew.com)
Girls’ Hair and Makeup by Blush Salon + Spa (www.blushasalon.com)
Invitations by Minted (www.minted.com)
Flowers by Larry Pfarr
Reception at The Bachelor Farmer
Custom “Dunny Grooms” created by Ben Meents
Photography by Jay Kelly Images (www.jaykellyimages.com)