Edward Garry and Peter Lammers
Aug. 17, 2019 in Villanova, Pa.
“Please tell me he’s the guy in the pink shirt,” Ed whispered hopefully to his friend Marjorie.
Their friendship, launched when she rented a Florida beach property he once owned, had grown so close that she invited him to Wayne for a 2014 Mother’s Day picnic in her honor.
Marjorie was determined to match Ed with Peter — another almost-son who is friends with her actual son, Todd, and his now-husband, Stephen.
Peter was absolutely not looking for love.
“Make sure he knows about my situation,” Peter told Marjorie before the party. Peter’s love and life partner of 20 years, Terry, had died in 2013 after an extended illness. “I’m glad to meet a new friend, but I’m not ready for anything else,” Peter said. “No, no, and hell, no.”
Ed had hoped to find a partner in the past, but, then 45, he had mostly given up. Yet he followed Marjorie across the party to meet Peter, who was indeed the handsome man in pink. Thus began a three-hour conversation that ended when the picnic did. Then Peter, who is now 54 and is a senior vice president for Iron Shore Pharmaceuticals, returned to his home in Villanova and Ed, who is now 49 and builds customer relationship management technology for Cognizant Technology Solutions, to his place in Harlem, N.Y.
As soon as he parked his car, Ed sent a “Nice to meet you” Facebook message. Peter agreed it was nice, but gently reminded Ed that he was not ready to date. Ed welcomed his friendship. Two weeks and many long phone calls later, Peter went to New York for business and joined Ed for wine on his rooftop deck and dinner. They awkwardly kissed, nearly chipping teeth in the process, which they both found hilarious.
When Ed visited Peter, they toured the area in Peter’s convertible and Ed met dogs Bernice and Barkley. But by the time Peter dropped him off at 30th Street Station, Ed was convinced he’d never see him again. Peter didn’t seem that interested.
Peter was interested. He was also conflicted. This was dating! Was he ready? Was he disrespecting Terry’s memory? Still, they kept talking.
Peter joined Ed on Fire Island for the July 4 weekend and they left smitten. A few weeks later, when Ed learned his father, Jack, was dying, he went to Peter’s house for comfort and support.
Back on Fire Island in mid-August, they declared themselves exclusive. To Ed, the fireworks that late summer night felt like a celebration of the milestone.
Being with Ed was so easy, said Peter. “He is incredibly genuine, very grounded, and very sincere. And he made me laugh every single day,” he said.
To be with Peter was to be with someone who "shared the same values — the same dedication to work, the same definition of what relationship means, the same love of friends and family,” Ed said. “And he is so funny!”
That holiday season, Ed discovered the tree they decorated for his apartment had six light settings, including one that took the lights from colorful to white. “Oh, cool!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t know it could do that!”
“You didn’t know?” Peter laughed. “You bought it that way! That’s why I love you.”
“I’m not going to let that slide,” Ed said. “And I love you, too.” That Christmas, he brought Peter home to the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, to meet his mother, Joanna, and the rest of the family. It was the first time he’d ever brought anyone home.
The couple was soon splitting their time be
tween Villanova and Harlem. Thanks to based-at-home jobs, they and their dogs still do. When talk of marriage began, Ed said that considering Peter’s history, he should be the one to propose, when he was ready.
In June 2017, Peter got Ed’s mother’s blessing and began planning for Christmas Eve in Ohio. In December, Peter’s father, Henry, died. (His mother, Mimi, had died more than 20 years earlier.) This shook him, but knowing how much Henry had loved Ed, Peter continued with his plan.
He had a ring, but the gift that was to be his proposal prop did not arrive in time. Ed’s brother-in-law Michael helped procure a local replacement. The huge family made their way through heaps of gifts and when most people thought gift-giving was done, Peter spoke. “Eddie, there’s one more gift I have for you,” he said. Ed loves all cuff links, but these two were engraved with a question: “Will you/marry me?”
Peter knelt, and Ed, who never cries, was overcome with emotion. Michael and Ed’s sister, who is also named Joanna, gave Peter some cuff links of his own, engraved with a beautiful statement: He said/yes.
It was so them
The couple wed in the yard of the Villanova home they had spent the past two years renovating together. They used a self-uniting license so the ceremony could be led by one of Ed’s former professors from St. Bonaventure University, a former priest named Jason who is now himself married.
The vows they wrote to each other were not shared until the ceremony, yet each quoted Ed’s favorite singer.
Ed, who thought he would never find the right person, spoke words from a Stevie Nicks’ “Songbird":
When you took my hand, a transformation began...Your hands, I will never let them go.
Peter, who didn’t think it was possible to love so deeply again, spoke from Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy":
Lighting strikes, maybe once, maybe twice.
Ed’s mother read the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized marriage equality.
The couple wanted their reception for 175 to be an all-out riot of fun. That stage was set immediately upon arrival, when "Joan Rivers” interviewed them as they walked a red carpet into the cocktail hour.
Guests posed for pictures with life-sized cardboard images of Madonna, Cher, and naturally, Stevie Nicks. They were seated at tables bearing “autographed” head shots of those three plus Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, and Britney Spears.
Marjorie, the mutual friend who introduced them, said a prayer before dinner.
In homage to Ed and his family’s achievements in Irish step dancing — Ed competed nationally! — four members of Riverdance performed, and Ed joined them. There was a hora in appreciation of all the Jewish holidays they’d had the privilege to celebrate with friends.
All three of the couple’s families came together to celebrate: the Garrys, the Lammers, and the Gasners — Terry’s parents Joan and Fred, his sister Kelly, niece Kaitlyn, and nephew Kyle. During the mother-son dance, Ed danced with his mother and Peter danced with Joan.
After the vows, duo Dana and Bruce serenaded the couple with Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.” They looked out on guests’ smiling and crying faces. “We nodded to so many of our friends, to say thank you, and the applause went on forever,” Peter said. “The wedding had brought this whole circle of old and new friends and family together, and I was so grateful.”
Instead of a first dance, the couple led their guests in a first song: “I Got You Babe.” To Ed, words like “You’ve been there to hold my hand / You’ve been there to understand” applied not just to him and Peter, but to their family and friends. “We really are all in this together, and to have our whole circle singing that with us was a highlight.”
The budget crunch
A bargain: “I Got You Babe” cost less than $200 for the lyric sheets.
The splurge: Continuing the party after the reception with a piano bar at the on-site Montrose Mansion.
Honeymooning in four parts
A weekend of theater after the wedding, to be followed by a September weekend in Asbury Park, a February week of tennis in St. Croix, and a big trip to South Africa sometime in 2021.
Behind the scenes
Officiant: The couple used a self-uniting license. Friend and former priest Jason Miskuky of Lowell, Mass., led the ceremony.
Venues: The couple’s home in Villanova and the Inn at Villanova.
Food: The Inn at Villanova.
Dancer: Declan Crowley
Joan Rivers Impersonator: Helene A. Masiko
Photography and videography: Jordan Cassway Photography, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Flowers: Flowers by Jena Paige, Downingtown, Pa.
Grooms’ attire: Custom-made by Lucky, Ed’s tailor in Thailand
Planner: Alexandria Kochinsky of Alexandria Catherine Events
Transportation: Jack Kemery, Krapf Transportation
Stationery: Lindsay Liebman, Paper & Posh Wedding Invitations and Stationery, Media, Pa.