Thirty-three gay and straight couples got married at the Grammy Awards on Sunday in a public ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah and soundtracked, appropriately, by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ same-sex marriage anthem “Same Love.”
The ceremony was, depending on your politics and tolerance for public affection, either wonderfully moving or kind of gimmicky. But in either case, it begged the questions: Who exactly are these people, and how did they end up on the Staples Center stage?
The second question is easy: Most of the couples responded to casting calls on social media or in advertisements, which asked only for engaged couples willing to marry “publicly.” They found out the exact venue only later and were sworn to keep it a secret, even from close friends and family, until shortly before the awards.
The first question is, however, the more interesting one: of the dozen or so Grammy couples who have gone public, no two are exactly alike. In fact, many of the couples have incredibly unique stories. We rounded up the ones that have been made public. (Got another? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Caroline Martin and Sharon Chrust (Indianapolis): Martin and Chrust, ages 71 and 69, have been together for 20 years and have raised four kids. But since same-sex marriage is illegal in Indiana, they didn’t plan to get married until one of their daughter’s distant acquaintances hooked them up with the Grammys. They also didn’t know who Macklemore was until a couple weeks ago. Martin is “not a pop person,” she told USA Today.
Seth Grabel and Tammy Shaw (Las Vegas): Shaw bought her white-feathered wedding dress on impulse even before she and Grabel officially got engaged in the Grenadine Islands last year. The two make an interesting couple: Shaw, an effusive and frequent Facebook poster, is the publisher of Las Vegas Woman magazine; Grabel is a local magician and repeat reality-TV contestant who has appeared on “America’s Got Talent” and “Millionaire Matchmaker.” They’re reportedly inviting 1,000 people to a private reception. “Life is full of surprises & serendipity,” Shaw posted on Facebook on the way to the Grammys. “Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success.”
Kevin Masek and Brandon Styles (San Francisco): Masek, a medical resident at Stanford University, and Styles, a sales manager, have been engaged since August and weren’t planning to marry until after Masek finished his residency in 2015. But when they got the call from a casting agent, they moved up their plans. Styles told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that he bawled through part of the ceremony. They’re still planning a private event next year — “this time, Madonna will not be at our wedding,” Styles said.
Brittany Pennington and Sally Beaver (Seattle): Pennington and Beaver met almost three years ago as high schoolers in Mesa, Ariz., before moving to Seattle. While same-sex marriage is legal in Washington state, it isn’t in Arizona. Pennington told local radio station KTAR that she hoped her marriage showed gay Arizonans “if they want rights, then they have hope.”
Sean Bishop and Taylor Knuth (Ogden, Utah): Bishop, 27, and Knuth, 31, both musical theater actors, were vacationing in Hawaii when a casting agent called about the Grammys. After a year-long engagement, they had a whirlwind 10 days to get home, get suits and fly to L.A. “We found this company that makes custom suits in New York,” Bishop joked to Cosmo, “but they needed 14 days.” The two wore Nordstrom and Banana Republic, instead.
Spencer Stout and Dustin Reeser (Salt Lake): You may actually know a bit about Stout and Reeser already — their flash mob proposal video went viral in September, scoring the couple 11 million YouTube views and a spot on Ellen. They had planned to make their wedding a bit more private. Per the Salt Lake Tribune, the two were actually in California, scouting locations for a “small civil wedding,” when a casting agent called.
Jason Miller and Yawar Charlie (Los Angeles): Miller and Charlie had planned to marry in August — they had a wedding Web site and everything. Then a friend approached them about the Grammys. “Thank you for visiting our site,” their wedding page says now. “We will be updating it soon, please check back after January 15, 2014 for more information.”
Patricia and Christine Garcia: Patricia and Christine Garcia, both 26, had two things to celebrate at the Grammys: their official, legal marriage, a year after the two had a commitment ceremony in California, and Patricia’s recovery from a rare cancer. They’ve been together for five years.
Quincy and Deandray Gossfield (Los Angeles): The Gossfields, who are L.A.-based television directors and long-time LGBT advocates, have been together 18 years. They’ve planned a second, private ceremony for August. “After 18 years together we finally made honest men out of each other,” they joke on their wedding registry, “not that we were dishonest to begin with.”
Robyn Monks and Adam Gropman (Los Angeles): Robyn Monks, a country musician, and Adam Gropman, a comedian, heard about the casting call from a friend in the comedy scene. “They were looking for all different kinds of couples,” Monk told her hometown paper, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. “We’re seven months pregnant so we sort of got picked as the pregnant couple.”
Jeff Moore and Jaime Miles (San Diego): Moore, a radio producer, and Miles, a teacher-in-training, met at the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Their parents were, per the San Diego Union-Tribune, “a little upset” not to be included in the wedding prep.
Jesse Greika and Anthony Rollar (San Diego): Greika, a make-up artist, and Rollar, a leather craftsman, had been together for 10 years and had planned to get married on April 6 — but the couple couldn’t afford a large ceremony. They responded to a casting call on Facebook and were accepted on Christmas. “I’m still pinching myself,” Greika told Us Weekly.
Laura Lewis and Alex: Macklemore collaborator Ryan Lewis announced that his older sister Laura was among the couples getting married, but Laura’s husband Alex was only identified by his first name. The Lewises — a “tight-knit, middle-class, conservative Christian family” — are from Washington state.
Update: This post originally referred to Kevin Masek as a medical student. He’s a medical resident.