When Christi Brown worked with Diana Balbaugh and Danielle Beauregard during their wedding preparations she “saw a love between them that you don’t see too often. These two are the epitome of true love and we’re so excited to share their journey with them.”
The Waterford couple met Brown, business marketing coordinator at Waterfall Jewelers, while working out at the Powerhouse Gym in Clarkston.
“We told her we were looking for a band for Danielle,” said Balbaugh, 36. “From the moment we walked into the store it was a friendly, open atmosphere. We got along with the staff, chatting and laughing.”
Brown said that’s because “We are an extremely welcoming, family-owned business. Our goal is to make people happy, no matter what their sexual orientation might be.”
Both Balbaugh and Beauregard took a chance and entered the Waterfall Jewelers Couple of the Year contest on Facebook. They were invited with the top 40 couples to a VIP party where Waterfall Jewelers gave away prizes, special discounts and revealed the winner.
“We got 1,401 votes. Second place got 807,” said Beauregard, 36. “So not only were we the first same sex couple to win, but we got the most votes ever.”
In addition to a $1,000 Waterfall shopping spree, they received a free nights stay at the Royal Park Hotel, a free Cadillac car rental for a weekend, and their picture on the Waterfall Jewelers 2018 billboard.
Beauregard said, “At the end of the night I said to Christi, ‘I just want to say thank you. Never once have I felt not welcome or different.”
While playing softball in college – Balbaugh at Saginaw Valley State and Beauregard at Northwood University in Midland – the couple’s athletic teams hung out together. They met during these social gatherings and their paths continued to cross at various sporting events over the years. They eventually ended up on the same slow pitch softball team.
“The timing wasn’t right though,” said Balbaugh. “We were both always involved with other people. But we promised each other that if we were one day 60 and single, we would get married.”
As fate would have it, both women ended up being single in their early 30s in 2012 and started dating.
“We talked about getting married when it became legal,” said Balbaugh. “We said what the heck, why not? This is something we want to do and we get to do it. We said let’s make it happen.”
Their journey toward lifelong commitment began during a trip to Pictured Rocks in Munising. Beauregard surprised Balbaugh with a proposal at Sand Point Beach.
She said it was a challenge to get Balbaugh to sit on a six-foot piece of washed up driftwood so she could take her picture, but once she gave in, Beauregard snapped the photo then asked Balbaugh to approve them.
“While she was looking through the pictures, I knelt down in front of her and pulled the ring out of my pocket,” said Beauregard, adding it was a ring from the Hearts on Fire Collection from Waterfall Jewelers. “After I popped the question to Balbaugh she did tell me ‘Thank you for not waiting until we were 60.”
When asked what they love about each other, Balbaugh said, “Danielle is a very funny person. I love her humor. She is quick-witted in all types of situations, but also very heartfelt … she is kind and generous.”
During their last six years together, Beauregard said she has learned a lot about herself.
“Diana has taught me to accept myself for who I am. I’m enough. I didn’t have a very accepting upbringing, but with Diana, I have learned how to be loved.”
Making It Happen
The couple said they were nervous about what would happen after Donald Trump was elected president so they planned a vow exchange on Dec. 5, 2016. An intimate ceremony officiated by the couple’s friend Tom Klee was held at The Inn on Ferry Street in Detroit. Photographer Meghan Melia captured their special day before lunch at The HopCat in Detroit.
Despite the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBT rhetoric following the election, the couple finally planned the destination wedding of their dreams on June 28, 2017 to include 45 of their family members and friends. Their marriage, officiated by Balbaugh’s sister Angela Korte, was celebrated at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
During the ceremony, Beauregard shared an anecdote about Balbaugh – a self-proclaimed “nerd” – who used flash cards to study in college, even while hanging out at the bar.
“The first time I saw her at the bar I was like, ‘Who’s the pretty girl in the corner with flash cards?’ said Beauregard. “So I found it only appropriate that I read my vows on flash cards.”
Balbaugh chose to wear a dress from the The Wedding Shoppe in Berkley. Beauregard purchased her wedding attire at Express.
“I never thought I was going to get married. I never had flowers and colors and all that crap picked out,” said Beauregard. So it worked out perfectly, she said, that the Hard Rock Hotel offered specially crafted wedding and honeymoon packages designed by Colin Cowie. They chose the $3,500 Elegant Ivory package complete with flowers, a boutonniere, a cake and table toppers, a beach wedding setup, a reception and food. The package included an $1,800 limitless resort credit (per room) for time together at the spa, excursions, upgrades and activities like swimming with the dolphins.
“They were so inclusive. A section of their website is dedicated to LGBTQ couples. During our pre-wedding visit in March they showed us brochures and picture packages, all of which had same sex couples on them,” said Balbaugh, adding that they did all their wedding planning in the U.S. through Ruby’s Travel out of Boston for their 12-day stay. Three weeks before the wedding all of their plans were turned over to a wedding planner in Mexico.
“We never got snubbed one time there,” said Beauregard. “We were the third or fourth same-sex couple at that resort when we got married. We are so glad we did this.”
As newlyweds, it’s not easy to give advice to other LGBTQ couples, but the two suggest making time for counseling. “We call it our ‘Power hour,’” said Beauregard. “We spend a lot of time on preventative maintenance. We have a gym membership. Our health is important. We invest in ourselves. I think it has really helped us grow. It helps us to communicate and understand each other. Our motto is ‘Don’t fight to win, fight to understand.’”