Michele Arrieta and Aisling Curran met at Amorina — a pizza place in Prospect Heights where Arrieta worked as a waitress. It was a busy night and there was a long wait, but when Curran and six of her good-looking girlfriends walked into the small pizzeria, Arrieta was feeling pretty saucy.
“I was like ‘If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to get them seated in this restaurant!’ ” says Arrieta. So she crammed them, sardine-style, into a table of four. Yet her big-cheese bravado quickly melted away.
“I was telling them the specials when I got flustered and said, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m a little bit nervous. Everyone at this table is so handsome!’ ” says Arrieta.
It was a crusty come-on, but it got the ladies’ attention.
“After that, the whole table sat there trying to figure out exactly who this waitress was flirting with,” says Curran. “I thought she was just working her tip. I mean, let’s get real here.”
The women — tipsy on cocktails and the prospect of flirting with the pretty purveyor of Parmesan cheese — lingered in front of the restaurant after dinner, trying to figure out how to ask Arrieta out for a drink. They eventually baked up a brilliant plan and sent the one straight girl in the group, who just happened to be a regular, back into Amorina to ask if Arrieta to meet them at Ginger’s, a gay bar in Park Slope.
“I remember asking: ‘They asked you to ask me? What is this sixth grade?’ ” says Arrieta. “And she was like, ‘I guess so. Whatever. It is so stupid out there right now.’ ”
Despite the lackluster sales pitch, Arrieta showed up to Ginger’s after her shift. The group of seven ladies was whittled down to three, including Curran, who at that point in the night sounded like a seadog three sheets to the wind on grog.
“I found Aisling attractive, but she sounds like a pirate when she drinks,” says Arrieta. “So, I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first.”
Arrieta soon learned that Curran’s scallywag-speak was due to her slight Irish accent that becomes more pronounced when she’s had a few pints.
Upon the discovery that Curran was Irish, Arrieta mentioned that that particular day was Beltane, the Gaelic May Day.
“It’s a celebration of spring, renewed fertility, and sexuality. The Pagans in Ireland would build big bon fires and jump over it for two reasons: one, to bring up the past of your last year, and the other was to reignite your loins for fertility,” says Arrieta. “So, Aisling stands up and starts ripping trash out of her wallet and purse and running around the bar, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what that weird pirate lady is doing.’ ”
Then, Curran got a huge glass ashtray and started putting napkins and all the trash she gathered from her purse and pockets in it. Arrieta, confused, asked what Curran was doing.
“She’s like ‘I’m going to make a bon fire right here!’ ” says Arrieta.
But they were at a bar.
“So she says ‘But we need to reignite our loins!’ ” laughs Arrieta.
The women ended up lighting a fire in the back of Ginger’s.
“And we all jumped over it a few times,” says Arrieta. “The funniest part is that Aisling was burning her business cards from a law firm. She’s a lawyer. And what we were doing was definitely illegal.”
Curran and Arrieta were smittened by one another and exchanged numbers. Not long after, they were dating.
Three years later Arrieta was thinking about marriage and decided to tell Curran’s family that she planned to propose during Memorial Day weekend 2012 at Curran’s parent’s home in Pine Island, New York. It is a rural area in upstate New York that is near a lot of beautiful onion fields.
Arrieta’s plan was to pop the question while walking with Curran and her family’s 11-year-old dog, Harvest, near some pretty and private roads along an onion field. Yet, the day ended up being really hot, and the elderly dog was not handling the heat very well.
“I forgot how far away the onion field was, so we’re walking and walking and the dog is overheating,” says Arrieta. “So we finally get to this onion field and we need to walk about a mile to get to this really pretty spot, and there’s steam rising from the street, the dog’s panting, and Aisling’s like ‘Do you really want to do this? Do you really want to walk this road? Because I’ll do it but it’s really going to take a commitment.’ ”
Perhaps it was the heat. Or Arrieta’s anxiety. Or a combo of both, but she took Curran’s comment to heart.
“Everything she was saying felt symbolic and I’m like ‘Yes, let’s commit! Let’s barrel through this!’ ”
Curran was confused by Arrieta’s enthusiasm; Arrieta, feeling nervous, began to ramble; and the dog, overheated, relived itself by the side of the road. Arrieta cleaned it up and put it in her bag where she was hiding a necklace she was going to present to Aisling during the proposal.
Panicky, and still babbling about love and commitment, Arrieta finally got down on one knee and suddenly, everything clicked for Curran and she began to cry from happiness.
Then the dog fainted from heat exhaustion.
“So we called Aisling’s mom,” says Arrieta. “She races over in her car — and remember, the whole family knew that I had taken Aisling out to propose to her. So, when we got back to the house, we walk in holding this passed-out dog to people blowing celebratory horns,” Arrieta laughs.
Fortunately, the dog was fine.
And their wedding in April of 2013 went a lot smoother than Arrieta’s proposal.
The women decided to have a home-grown, outdoor wedding in the Curran’s backyard.
“The best part of the wedding was that it did feel supported by our whole community,” says Curran. “The caterer was a good friend and the tent was from another friend in the area.”
The women even planted tulip and daffodil bulbs in the autumn before their wedding — which bloomed right before their big day.
“And our parting gift was beef jerky my dad had made himself!” says Arrieta.
Curran’s mom, Patricia, even made both women’s wedding outfits, which initially was a source of stress for Curran.
“Even though my mom’s a seamstress, I was hesitant to ask her to make me something because I knew since the day I was born, she couldn’t wait to make me a wedding gown.”
And when Curran came out, the one thing her mother lamented was that she would never get to make her daughter a wedding dress.
“Since the day I could walk, every dress she made for me, which were a lot, I would tear off very quickly and instead, I would put on a pair of shorts,” admits Curran. “It was one of those ‘bang-your-head-against-the-wall’ situations for her.”
But Curran was having a similar bang-your-head-against-the-wall situation herself while trying to find a feminine and white wedding outfit with pants that made her feel the way she wanted to feel on her big day.
“When people ask you if you want to feel sexy or beautiful in your outfit, my goal was to feel cool and be able to dance all night,” says Curran.
But she couldn’t seem to find what she was looking for in stores. So, frustrated, she finally asked her mom for help and was surprised by her support.
“I think she always wanted to make it for me,” admits Curran. “She was just waiting for me to ask.”
The result was guests at the women’s wedding fawning over how great Curran looked, which made her mother extremely proud and broadened her perspective on femininity.
“People loved her shoes, her outfit, her hair,” says Arrieta. “And I’d be like ‘Do you like my hair? I spent $80 on it.’ And they’d be like ‘Oh yeah, it’s nice, but where did Aisling get ‘hers’ done?’ And I’d be like ‘She just did it herself, five minutes ago … over the sink.’ ”
Curran also believes that wearing an outfit that represented who she was and her comfort in it helped guests — especially those who traveled from Ireland for the big event — feel more at east.
“There were a lot of people there who aren’t that exposed to gay culture or people,” says Curran. “So the fact that I felt so comfortable in what I was wearing helped other people relax.”
Yet, the tranquil vibe created by Curran’s outfit was soon flipped for the two brides when they discovered, while walking to their ceremony, the Curran’s mother had secretly hired a bag piper to play as Curran walked down the aisle.
“I freaked out,” admits Arrieta. “But in retrospect, it was really awesome that it happened, because there were a lot of Irish people there.”
The ceremony also included the Curran’s old dog, Harvest, acting as a ring barer and in lieu of a flower girl, and Arrieta, who went to the Buddhist Naropa University, had a friend offer juniper smoke, an offering to the spirits, and let out a warrior cry that everyone at the wedding chanted.
And the reception was celebrated Irish-style — with dancing that lasted until 3:30 am.
“The important thing to remember is that your wedding can look any way you want,” says Arrieta.
And Curran, who had previously been a big supporter of the idea of elopement, changed her tune.
“The experience of the wedding, though time-consuming and expensive, was the most amazing day of my life,” says Curran. “I’ve thought about it every day since I got married. Honestly, it lights your soul up.”
©2013 Community News Group
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