A 14-photo journey through Corianton and Keith’s beautiful wedding in Washington

December has always been a big month for Corianton Hale and Keith Bacon, a same-sex couple living in Seattle, WA. It's the month that they had their first date and their first kiss - in December 2006 at a holiday-themed rock concert. It's the month that they got engaged while vacationing in Palm Springs. And it will be the month that their six-year relationship finally receives the respect it deserves when they get married in Washington state.

Tomorrow, December 6, Corianton and Keith will join hundreds of other same-sex couples in applying for marriage licenses - and three days later, on December 9, they'll be among the first same-sex couples in the state to get married. The amazing day comes a month after the approval of Referendum 74, which extends the freedom to marry to all loving and committed same-sex couples in the state.

Cori and Keith held a wedding ceremony in August 2012, but they're excited to see their state now grant them the legal respect and recognition - and all of the protections, responsibilities, and dignity that comes with that - that they and so many other loving same-sex couples deserve.

Here, Cori and Keith shared their story with Freedom to Marry using photos from their August wedding ceremony. Read on to learn all about Cori, Keith, and why marriage matters to them. All photos are courtesy of the amazing photographer Kristen Marie Parker.  

In December 2009, on the three-year anniversary of their first kiss, Keith proposed to Corianton with a family heirloom ring - the ring that belonged to Keith's mother. They had a long engagement, and then in the summer of 2011, they decided to plan their ceremony for the summer of 2012. They knew that marriages between same-sex couples weren't respected in Washington at the time, but they said they didn't want to let that get in the way. "Marriage is about professing your intentions to your community, and sharing the commitment in a meaningful, celebratory way," Corianton said. "For me, the legality is important and validating, but it's not the point." Even throughout their 2-year engagement, they didn't become domestic partners because, Keith said, "We wanted to hold out for the real deal."

The men were overjoyed when the freedom to marry passed out of both houses of the Washington legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire in February 2012. "It was thrilling," Cori said. "It felt like we'd chosen the right time to get hitched, and that our awesome state was propelling us forward. It gave us a lot of optimism that the ceremony would be fully legal."

Corianton and Keith celebrated their wedding from August 10-12, 2012 at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, Washington. "The resort looks and feels like an upscale summer camp, so we did everything there we could in the outdoors to enjoy the beautiful mountain-y setting," Keith said. "Our goal was to throw the best, most immersive three-day party ever," Cori added.

The guest list was rather short: immediate family only, and friends who were close with both grooms. (Later in the month, Cori and Keith had two larger receptions - one for Keith's extended family and other friends in Washington, and one for Cori's extended family and friends in Phoenix, Arizona, where Cori grew up.)

Cori and Keith went all-out with their "upscale summer camp" theme. Their invitations were merit badge handbooks - for which you could earn stamps by seeing the sunrise or going on a nature hike - and the food throughout much of the weekend was barbecue style. "Our dress code for men was 'lumberjack chic,' and 'cocktail party in the woods' for women, and it was amazing to see how people interpreted them," Keith said.

The actual ceremony was performed in a beautiful theatre space, complete with a wall of windows that looked out over the mountains and trees of the resort. Cori and Keith took their vows, said "I Do," and kissed, marking the next step on their lifelong journey.

After their wedding ceremony, the guests stuck with the summer camp vibe and participated in a talent show and dance party - "22 mind-blowing acts!," Keith bragged. Keith and Cori kicked off the show with "All I Want Is You," by Barry Louis Polisar. The talent show was a reference to the couple's love for music - as an Arizona native, Corianton said he was shaped by the state's hardcore punk scene, and through the years, music has always been an important part of both his and Keith's life. "I still don't like Cher, and he still doesn't like Carcass," Cori joked. "But we have a lot of fun exploring the middle ground and seeing live music together." In fact, their very first date - on December 8, 2006, was at a holiday-themed rock show at Seattle's historic Crocodile Cafe. "We watched some bands, posed for photos on the lap of 'Indie Rock Santa,' held hands, and eventually started smooching," Cori recalled.

As they were planning the wedding, Keith and Cori came across an old Bavarian tradition where newlyweds saw through a log to symbolize the future hardships that can be solved with teamwork. "We thought it was a powerful metaphor," Cori said. "Plus, it fit perfectly with our 'lumberjack/summer camp' vibe."

The wedding weekend was full of fun bonding events for the family and friends. On the last day, Keith and Cori rented two giant school buses, which took the party guests to a nearby river, drop them into innertubes, and let them float down the river. "We highly recommend it for future newlyweds," Keith said.

In the months following their wedding, Cori and Keith used their wedding photos to gather support for Referendum 74 on Facebook. And during the actual wedding, they asked guests to make contributions to Washington United for Marriage, the coalition to uphold the freedom to marry in the state.

On Election Night, as the results rolled in and started looking optimistic, Keith and Cori braced themselves for the final tally, which wasn't expected until later that week, since Washington's election functions solely on mail-in ballots. "I was severely cautious," Cori said. "We toasted, danced, and celebrated Obama's victory, but I held out on R-74 for a whole nail-biting day. When Washington United made the call on their website, I finally exhaled and accepted the good news."

Now, Corianton and Keith plan to join couples across Washington in filing for a marriage license tomorrow, on December 6, when the freedom to marry takes effect. They already have an appointment to get married at City Hall on the morning of December 9 - just one day after the six-year anniversary of their first kiss. "The timing couldn't be more perfect," Keith said. "After three separate wedding celebrations, this time we're just going to show up ourselves, without friends or family. We're really excited to share this occasion with all of the other people who will be making history." 

Being legally married is important to Cori and Keith - because they understand that words matter. "I love the word 'husband,'" Cori said. "There is no other word that better conveys the dedication, depth, and quality of my relationship with Keith. I'm honored on every level." Keith also reflected that the freedom to marry represents so many important steps forward for the citizens of Washington and other states moving forward on marriage. "We're really proud of our state," he said, adding, "I'm excited that the tide is finally turning away from intolerance."  

You can help Freedom to Marry win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide by giving to our newly announced matching grant from Freedom to Marry board member Jordan Roth and his husband Richie Jackson. CLICK HERE to find out how you can be on the right side of history with Jordan, Richie, and Freedom to Marry. 

Photos by Kristen Marie Parker.