Our Couples: Spring, 2023

Marilou & Janine Photo by The Backyard Studios
Marilou & Janine Photo by The Backyard Studios


How did you both meet?

We met back in college of 2008. We were both taking the same course in the Philippines and were in the same circle of friends. Eventually, we became the best of friends. Until it became more than that. But we didn’t really know how to navigate the world if we were to become a couple so we started dating other guys. You know as best friends, we didn’t want to risk having to break up and then become strangers. Until we just couldn’t help seeing and keep on missing each other. So after 10 years of reassessing, in 2018, we decided to finally become official.

Talk about the highlights of your life journey together.

In 2019, I (Marilou) was presented the opportunity to work and live in Minnesota. That meant having to leave Janine and my family behind. But with the thought of having a chance to start our own family in a place where same sex couples can get married, I decided to take the opportunity. So before flying to the US, I planned a weekend getaway as a going away party. Never did Janine know that there was actually a marriage proposal that I planned together with our closest friends to surprise Janine. It was a very romantic and memorable proposal. And so after the proposal, we embarked on this long distance relationship that was not only challenged by distance and time zones, but also by the pandemic. Luckily, after months of the crazy lockdowns (which seemed like forever, btw), Janine followed me in Minnesota and we got to plan our micro wedding arranged by The Little Wedding Co. It was a very intimate and lovely wedding that we will forever cherish. Just last year, we came home to the Philippines to celebrate the holidays with our families as a married couple. We also used this chance to have another wedding celebration that our families and friends got to witness. It was supposed to be our dream boho beach wedding but we were blessed with rainfall and partied indoors instead. It was fun and many core memories were created. 

Talk about your present and future as a couple.

Right now, we are at a stage of enjoying traveling with our fur baby Milo. Currently saving for our home and exploring places we want to settle in. Eventually, we want to live somewhere near the beach, have babies, and another dog. 

Eric Dana Hagemann. Photo courtesy of Eric Hagemann


How did you both meet?

We met in 2007 through Eric’s cousin who was also Dana’s high school friend. Acquaintances for several years, we were always aware of what was happening in each other’s lives but never really dug deeper. As these things sometimes go, we listened to our hearts (and the universe) and reconnected years later. There was an instant attraction and we soon started dating.

Now the story of our first date? That’s a hotly contested debate in our household. Dana believes the night we met for drinks and appetizers was a date. Eric, on the other hand, doesn’t see it that way—especially since Dana kept tabs on the Twins game playing over Eric’s shoulder the entire time. We still don’t know who’s right, but we do agree that something special happened that night, and soon we were going on real dates: dinners, movies, getting caught in the rain at an outdoor concert (seriously!)—all the typical stuff.

Dating led to moving in together and eventually getting engaged. We were married on a picture-perfect day in 2017, surrounded by our closest family and friends.

Talk about the highlights of your life journey together.

We feel lucky to have each other to lean on during life’s ups and downs—and perhaps nothing has encapsulated that more than our road to fatherhood.

Becoming dads was a dream of ours for as long as we can both remember. Our adoption journey was long and winding, full of highs and lows and tears and even a little bit of heartache. After two potential adoptive matches that didn’t work out, followed by nearly a year of silence, our lives changed overnight. This January, we were elevated to dad status—times two! It’s a story we still can’t quite believe ourselves, but here we are: proud fathers of Lila and Levi, our healthy, beautiful twin babies.

Adoption changed our lives forever. And while sleep has been hard to come by lately, we feel extremely blessed to be on this journey together. Kindness, inclusion, empathy, joy and love are the values that guide us every day—and those that will shape how we raise our children. It’s going to be a fun ride, and we’re documenting our journey as dads over on Instagram (@mn_dads). Follow along if you’d like!

Talk about your present and future as a couple.

We are so excited to settle into our new roles as Lila and Levi’s dads. Our goal for the rest of this year is to live with purpose and soak up every moment with our kids. We can’t get this time back, so we want to make the most of it!

Aside from rocking parenthood together, we also know the importance of prioritizing our marriage. We’ve been a couple for a long time—and have been friends even longer—and we value time spent together. Whether it’s a downtown Minneapolis staycation, grabbing beers and cheering on the Wild, or cozying up with pizza and reality TV at home, we want to be intentional about growing our relationship as husbands and best friends. 

Doing life with your soulmate is pretty special. But sharing this journey with your best friend? That takes it to a whole new level. We feel very blessed to have found each other and cannot wait for all that’s in store for us as husbands and dads.

Jill & Deb Pavlak. Photo courtesy of Jill and Deb Pavlak


How did you both meet?

We met online through match.com 16 years ago. Our first date was at a craft beer bar. Foreshadowing at its finest wouldn’t you say?

Talk about the highlights of your life journey together:


We learned early on in our relationship that we shared an entrepreneurial spirit. We had fun dreaming about opening a business together. We spent 6 years learning about and working in the beer industry which included moving to Davis, California in 2011 so Deb could get her Masters in Brewing at UC Davis.

We were married in 2013 in our home – it was a memorable party thanks to lots of love from family and friends.

We opened Urban Growler in 2014! AGAIN, with a lot of help and support from family, friends, and complete strangers (that are now dear friends.)

In 2017, we adopted a little rescue pup- Frankie- a chiweenie! We love her to pieces!


COVID days took a huge toll on our business and our emotional well-being. We lost my mom and both of Deb’s parents in the last 2 years. I don’t want to spend a lot of time rehashing these days, but I will say, trying to run a hospitality business, at the same time grieving the loss of dear loved ones that were our #1 fans and sources of respite has been very difficult. There’s a theme here, family, friends, and community helped us through some very dark days. (We know everyone suffered tremendous losses during this global pandemic so we hesitate to mention our struggles.)

Why do I think we work well together as a couple?

We don’t! LOL! And that’s ok. Sometimes we argue, but I think that’s healthy. All relationships require the ability to compromise and apologize. I’m glad Deb is so good at it! 😉

We are very different from each other. Deb is the oldest in her family and is very practical and independent. She is an engineer and project manager. She’s not easily rattled. She lives in the here and now. I’m the youngest of five, a people person, a collaborator; I’m always looking ahead and wanting more… for us, our business, and our community.

Talk about your present and future as a couple?

Presently, we are working a lot, but actively building a strong leadership team of people that value inclusion and Get S*** Done! Urban Growler is our baby, and you don’t leave your baby with just anyone. Thankfully, we have a team of warm welcoming folx we trust completely.

Our future as a couple is to keep growing Urban Growler. We want to be one of the top 10 breweries in the state- not necessarily by volume, but by reputation. We are optimistic about our future and grateful for our family, friends, and community. COVID times really drove home the importance and power of community.

Chazz & Shane Raddatz. Photo by Christopher Smith. Captured by Chris www.capturedbychris.org


How did you both meet?

In October 2019 we happened to meet only by chance via Facebook Dating. Chazz was out of state with family.  Shane who had never logged into a dating app on a whim created a profile. Shane liked Chazz’s profile first. Chazz saw it almost right away and taken back by his handlebar mustache. We talked often either by text or phone for a month. It was like we always knew each other; it was easy. In an instance we both knew we had made a powerful connection. It was love at first, um type. We knew even before we met, we had met our forever partner. Our first date was November 1st and w really have not been apart from each other since.  

Talk about the highlights of your life journey together.

We are usually out exploring, always matching everything we wear down to the underwear, and often something Chazz created. We shine now in this world and people notice our happiness. We get stopped often by many people who love our outfits. On our free time we are renovating our 100-year-old home in St. Paul ourselves one room at a time. We love any holiday and decorate our home especially Halloween and Christmas. We had 15 Christmas trees one year and will grow even bigger in 2023. In the summer we enjoy our three tier waterfall pond and multiple gardens. Through the year we attend many craft shows selling Shane’s custom stained glass, teaching art classes at Smith and Trade Mercantile in Stillwater. Chazz is always creating something with the sewing machine, rhinestones and chainmail. Shane asked Chazz to marry him December 20th, 2019, in Duluth at Bentleyville. We were married January 12, 2023. It was just us. We wanted to share this experience with each other and focus only on each other. We got married on the bridge in front of Hogwarts Castle at Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando. It was perfect, beautiful and magical. Now, we are more than best friends, lovers, we are husbands!

Talk about your present and future as a couple.

For the first time in our lives, we went from surviving to thriving. Life is not easy, but it’s easier just going through it together. As we are both Pisces and it is amazing as we often know what the other is thinking without words, we have an unspoken connection. We bring balance to one another.  Disagreements, we find we are often saying the same thing and on the same side just using different words. In the future we look forward to traveling together with dreams of future Disney trips and a European vacation. We are excited to open our home to new friends. It is our goal to inspire others. We can learn from each other and create change in ourselves and eventually the world. We look forward to continuing working with the NOH8 campaign whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest. It is important to for us in our own lives to bring awareness and promote diversity and inclusion.  I was asked, “what happens now that this adventure is over.” This adventure is far from over, we have only finished a chapter. Turn the page and there will be something else exciting. We share our adventure as 2Dudes1Dream on Instagram and Facebook. You can follow us on our socials and even watch our wedding video https://linktr.ee/2dudes1dream

All photos by Christopher Smith/ Captured by Chris www.capturedbychris.org

Daniel & Alicia. Photo by Tiffany J. Lor


How did you both meet?

Alicia & I met on the TikTok app. Alicia was scrolling through the app and saw me and duetted my video. When I received this duet I duetted her back, and then we started duetting each other’s videos a lot. I then messaged her, and we started chatting a little bit and starting facetiming on snapchat every day, and that led to talking on the phone from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. We were best friends. We would even call each other in the middle of the night if we couldn’t sleep. Alicia had no idea I was transgender when she duetted me, but when she got to know me more, we talked about a lot more. The best thing about this is she would look up videos and follow other creators on TikTok just to learn about what it’s like to be trans. At this point, she and another friend were planning to come to New York to meet me in person. When Alicia got to New York and got out of the car I instantly fell in love. She was beautiful and she had this sparkle in her eye and I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. We hung out for about 4 days, and we could not get enough of each other. The day Alicia left New York I was heartbroken; we both were. All we wanted was each other. Once Alicia got back to Minnesota, we talked about me coming to visit her, I was terrified because I had never been on a plane before and I was going to be doing it alone with no friend was coming with me. Alicia and I got a $80 plane ticket and I got myself on that plane and got to Minnesota. I was only supposed to be here for 5 days, doing an interview and finding jobs. But then I knew I couldn’t go back to New York and be without her. I asked her around early December if she would take a trip to New York with me in her car. She was 100% on board with anything I wanted to do. We got in that car and traveled to New York and back to Minnesota in a weekend. We barely slept and barely ate; we packed my entire life in her car and I moved here. Started my life completely over. I knew then that no matter what we would make it. I mean we dealt with each other for 48 hours in a car with no sleep! 

Talk about the highlights of your life journey together

I have never traveled until meeting Alicia, she started taking me all over the place, We went to South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, and Montana. She loves to travel as do I, I just never really had the courage to do so. But with her I feel like I can do anything, We have date nights out at least once a week just to make sure we keep this candle burning. We went to a drag show one night and she had never been to one, but we walked through that door and sat down to watch the show and never got up for hours. She loved every minute of it, she was amazed by it! She wanted to continue going when they had the shows. She was never introduced to my world until now and she loved it. Our biggest highlight is right after we got back from our honeymoon, we wanted to try for a baby, and with being trans this is something that is really hard. I knew I couldn’t give her a baby, I felt like I was going to let her down, but we found a clinic that could help us and now we are expecting a beautiful baby girl. 

Talk about your present and future as a couple

For our future plans, we plan on buying a new house that has a beautiful big backyard for our 3 children and 3 dogs. Alicia owns a boutique called Tangled Up In teal, she wants her business to grow and expand. I will continue to run my board & train facility and just make sure my family is well taken care of. 

I’m always proud to say how Alicia loved me through my entire transition, when I met her, I just came out as being trans and she loved me for me no matter what, she didn’t care that I used to be a woman. She was my best friend and loved me. Transitioning is not easy. My body and mind changes every day, and the fact that she can stand by me through the ups and the downs of this transition has been amazing. 

We reached out to so many different people about marrying us, we didn’t care about getting married in a church, we just wanted a wedding that would fit us. We reached out to many different people, they would talk to me about everything and then as soon as I mentioned I was transgender, they wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore. We had this one person we were talking with and thought about going with them but then they started asking me way too many personal questions and it just got weird, and they started acting weird with me, so I just stopped. It was a breath of fresh air when we met The Little Wedding Co., we felt welcomed and not judged at all. They gave us the best wedding and it was a night we will never forget. 

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