By KJ Philp, August 2015 Issue.

This love story starts in the late ‘90s in El Paso, Texas, where two students of Magoffin Middle School lived about a mile from each other.

That’s not actually a chapter in the love story of Desi Rubio and Vanessa Montes, more like a prequel, but who doesn’t appreciate a little dose of fate or sense of humor from the universe?

Their love story actually began nine years ago in Arizona. Rubio moved to Tempe to attend Arizona State University and, just months later, Montes moved to Phoenix to live with her sister and enroll in community college.

“We were both homesick so we met up because we shared that familiarity of ‘home,’” Rubio recalled of their first interaction on MySpace. “We fell madly in love.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

In October 2013, Montes proposed to Rubio in Hawaii. She said yes, and the couple started planning their wedding the following summer, which included a trip to the second annual Pride Guide Wedding & Honeymoon Expo last fall.

Still, there were significant legal roadblocks between them and the marriage they were preparing for.

Vanessa Montes (left) and Desi Rubio. Photos by DePoy Studios.

“When we chose our date for July 2015 we didn’t think [our marriage] would be legal in Arizona,” Rubio said. “We kept our fingers crossed … but we had a backup plan to marry, legally, out of state.”

When Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriages was overturned Oct. 17, 2014, Rubio said, the couple was ecstatic.

“It took everything in us to not run to the court house to ‘just do it,’” Rubio said. “But we learned that in Arizona a marriage license is good for a year, so we went to get our marriage license to celebrate the moment.”

They decided to have a ceremony and reception here in Arizona, with their closest family and friends.

“Vanessa made such an important point about how supportive both of our families are and how other same-sex couples may not have that,” Rubio said. “It was important to her to celebrate our love with everyone.”

Next came the task of choosing what traditions to incorporate in their big day, and which to omit. Having only been to two same-sex weddings previously, the couple let their culture and their family guide them.

“A lot of the Mexican traditions were important [for us] to keep,” Montes said. “I wanted our wedding to reflect exactly who we are.”

They opted to skip the garter in favor of tossing two bouquets; they substituted the father/daughter dance with the traditional dollar dance; and hired an all-female mariachi ensemble and DJ with Latin roots to keep the celebration going.

Instead of explaining that this was a same-sex wedding to each vendor Montes contacted, she turned to Pride Guide as a resource (gayarizona.com).

The couple skipped hiring a wedding planner, but credits word of mouth, Pinterest and their well-networked photographer Cristina DePoy with most of the their vendor decisions and creative inspiration.

“This year of wedding planning and preparing for marriage has been entirely blissful,” Rubio said, an important distinction considering the couple had to select two dresses, two bouquets and so on. “We ended up with an amazing wedding team.”

In preparation for their big day, the brides welcomed the majority of their guests into town from Texas. And, especially for those who couldn’t attend, they launched the hashtag #VanesiWedding, allowing anyone to view all the photos and posts with just one click.

“I wanted to leave a lasting impression … so having a hashtag was very important to me,” Rubio said, adding that this also served as a way for the brides to review all the posts and photos after their big day concluded.

Then, exactly one week before the #VanesiWedding took place, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality nationwide.

“That day was so emotional,” Rubio said. “It just kicked off our wedding week to perfection. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this day … everyone deserves that feeling.”

The couple agreed that full equality was the only thing than could have made their special day any more perfect, and consider the timing a wedding gift from the  Supreme Court.

“We always wondered when marriage equality would happen and I’m so thankful for how it all played out,” Montes said. “We [got] to commit to one another on such a monumental year in American history.”

The couple hopes their relationship, love and commitment serve as an example of why same-sex couples are deserving of all the rights that accompany full and equal marriage.

“Marriage is about love and the commitment and not giving up on one another,” Montes said. “We need to prove to society why this fight mattered. And perhaps our community can help re-establish the fundamentals of marriage in this country again.”

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