Many people grow up dreaming of the Cinderella–Prince Charming wedding. And last September, one couple got to see their dream come true during their Prince Charming–Prince Charming ceremony.
Dr. Theodore Carson Baker, II (57) and Richard William Thomas, Jr. (60) are, in Baker’s words, “nontraditional.” They met in 1999 at an HIV retreat and, despite challenges over the years, have remained together.
Both Baker and Thomas are disabled veterans. While Thomas was a computer technician who joined the navy to enter computer repair, Baker joined the army around 1978 and stayed for 10 years as an army medic and surgeon technician. Afterward, he went to medical school in 1991, left in 1996 and became a counselor.
While their future wedding would become a dream come true, their proposal was in less ideal circumstances.
“I got into a very tragic car accident,” Baker said. “They took me to the hospital, and I was DOA but went into cardiac arrest on the table for 11 minutes.”
They managed to revive him, but he was in a coma for three days.
“I don’t remember anything for that whole week. I don’t remember getting into the accident.”
And that’s when Thomas proposed to him, right there in the hospital.
“We would have gotten married years ago, but, due to the laws, we thought about it, but we didn’t have legal marriage.”
He accepted the proposal in September 2015. They had their wedding two years later. The couple was married at the Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church in Ferndale (Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit). Their reception was held at DeCarlo’s Banquet & Convention Center in Warren.
“I had two years to get ready,” Baker said.
But he was already a different person. He had a traumatic brain injury due to the accident. While it did not affect his memory, multiple visits to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor revealed there were issues with how he processed information.
“I had to literally relearn how to walk, talk, use the phone, keyboard, computer … When I got out, I couldn’t play video games like I could when I was a kid. I could only do one task at a time.”
Managing all of that trauma along with a wedding was a difficult task.
Even with these struggles though, Baker and Thomas wanted a big wedding with all the trimmings.
“It was a Cinderella and Prince Charming thing … well, a Prince Charming and Prince Charming,” Baker said with a laugh. “The number of people, how big it was, how long it was, we did it with all the pomp and circumstance. We did the chauffeurs and everything.”
When it came to planning, Thomas handled the money, while Baker handled more of the management tasks.
“With each thing that was done,” Baker said, “I had to do it or find somebody to do it. The person I found to do it had to check with me, and I had to check back on them. It was a nightmare. The preparation was atrocious, yet, for some reason, it was the grandest time of my life.”
Coming from the 60s, the two are still amazed at their marriage.
“I was allowed,” Baker said, “to be married in a church, and we’re going to church and getting married in front of God and everyone. The fact that we were able to do this and present to people, ‘Look at this. We’re going to do this just like when my sister got married!’ We literally did it.”
If given the chance to do it over again, Baker said he would have second thoughts about the planning, “but I’d still marry him!”
For people with wedding plans as big as Baker and Thomas’ (BATO’s, as the pair loves to be called), Baker has very specific advice: “If you have a handful of people, maybe four or five that you can absolutely trust to do a thing and know what they’re doing and you trust them to do it, and you have a lot of money to pay for things, do it.” Otherwise, he said, don’t aim for a wedding like his.
Their wedding had the title of “Diamonds and Pearls.” And they focused intensely on the fashion, giving all the women pearls for the occasion. For Thomas’ suit, they went to Men’s Wearhouse for Tuxedos, and for Baker’s tailoring, they went to Saginaw Suits and Alterations.
Now, a year later, they live happily together with Thomas’ mother and their three dogs.