Jonathan Blumenthal first proposed to his partner, Eric Cohen, after only dating for a year, with an engagement watch instead of a ring. It was too early in the relationship for Cohen.
“He didn’t say no, but he also didn’t say yes,” Blumenthal says with a chuckle. “He said, ‘Well, let’s think about this.’”
Now that the Marriage Equality Act has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the couple are planning a September wedding in New York.
Blumenthal, who turns 42 next week, and Cohen, 42, met about 11 years ago at a social event for a volunteer organization they were both a part of that preceded Burgundy Crescent Volunteers.
“We met and went out on a date shortly thereafter,” Blumenthal says.
Blumenthal and Cohen are now co-founders of BCV and serve on the board, Blumenthal as president and Cohen as vice president.
Blumenthal also runs GayParazzi, an LGBT photography group.
The couple had previously begun planning a commitment ceremony before same-sex marriage was an option anywhere and had even exchanged rings.
Cohen popped the question that time and they decided to wait.
“We thought, why do a commitment ceremony when we’re hoping to do a marriage,” Blumenthal said of the delay. “Of course it took longer than we hoped.”
The decision to get married in New York instead of locally was an easy one to make.
“We always wanted to do it around our family,” Blumenthal says of why they’re getting married in New York instead of D.C.
Cohen’s family is split between Michigan and Illinois, but Blumenthal grew up in New York and most of his family lives there. The couple and Blumenthal’s parents even appear in an ad released by the group, New Yorkers United for Marriage.
“A good marriage is thinking about and caring for the other person even more than you care about yourself, and we’ve seen this in [Blumenthal] and [Cohen]’s relationship to each other,” says Iris Blumenthal in the ad. “They’re a wonderful couple; they’re a caring couple. It would give us such great joy to walk them down the aisle and see them get married.”
The ad aired two weeks before the final vote and was played frequently according to Blumenthal, adding it was nice for him and Cohen because he heard from old friends and teachers giving their support.
The couple have only been planning their wedding for about two weeks. They really only have the guest list and location, Miller Inn, a restaurant Blumenthal’s family would go to for special occasions, figured out. It’ll be a Jewish ceremony officiated by Blumenthal’s cousin, a former cantor at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. The couple is still looking for photographers and other essentials to the ceremony.
“I’m obviously looking for photographers who are gay or have done gay weddings,” Blumenthal says. “I would do that with all of the vendors we use.”
After the ceremony, when the couple return home, they will be having a celebration in D.C. with their friends.
“We’re hoping to have a really big event with a lot of friends,” Blumenthal says. “I think they’ll be two different kinds of events. The D.C. one will be more of a party.”
Couples who want to get married in New York can visit health.state.ny.us/vital_records/married.htm to see the requirements and steps it takes to get a license in the state.
The application can be started online, but couples must appear in person to complete the process. Unless given a judicial waiver, couples must wait 24 hours before having their ceremony.
Marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples beginning July 21. The New York City Clerk will be offering extended hours that Sunday and into the following week to accommodate the expected increased demand for licenses.
If the license is issued in New York City, there is a fee of $35. If it’s issued anywhere else in the state, the fee is $40.
Blumenthal has some advice for couples, planning their wedding: Don’t let others make the decisions.
“What I’m learning is, it’s easy for a wedding to grow into a three-ring circus … so, just keep it focused on what you want the wedding to be,” Blumenthal says. “We know what’s important to us. What’s important to us is being surrounded by family.”