Corrine Petrushonis and Stephanie Walpoleare are in it for the long haul. So, they like to say they are the other’s penguin — an animal that is famously known to mate for life.
Before they were each other’s adorable, waddling, aquatic bird, the two were just neighbors. They lived next door to each other while freshmen at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY. Then, thanks to mutual friends, they too became friends and grew close over the next two years. Eventually, they realized they were more than that.
“We couldn’t really explain it,” says Corrine. “We just felt drawn to each other.”
Both had never dated a woman before but it became clear to Stephanie that she was falling in love. She told Corrine how she felt during their junior year, though Corrine was a little hesitant at first.
“I had a difficult time accepting it,” says Corrine. “It was probably related to the stigma of being in a same-sex relationship.”
But Corrine couldn’t deny it either, and the two started dating.
“We didn’t have a name for it,” says Corrine. “We were just going off our feelings at that point.”
Telling their parents was one hurdle they thought they would have trouble crossing, but both were relieved to find that their moms and dads were happy with the burgeoning relationship.
Soon, the two were moving in together and helping each other as they launched into their careers – nursing for Corrine, mental health therapy for Stephanie. They were also planning for a life together. They bought engagement rings, deciding that they both wanted an opportunity to propose, so that each could experience the excitement and anticipation.
On Feb. 13, 2011, Corrine was up. She planned a day at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Conn., with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend on hand to capture the moment. In front of the penguin exhibition, Corrine proposed to her “penguin” while singing the song “6 Months” by Hey Monday. Stephanie, of course, said yes.
Two weeks later, Stephanie had her own special proposal in motion. On Feb. 26, she and Corrine took the train from their Stamford, Conn., apartment into New York City. They walked the Brooklyn Bridge, where Stephanie initially planned to propose during the sunset, but the timing was off. Determined to make it happen, though, Stephanie came up with a back-up plan at Grand Central Terminal and proposed through the Whispering Gallery. Corrine, of course, accepted.
Over the next year and a half, the two planned their wedding. They decided to get married in New York, since it would be a good middle ground for their families – Stephanie hailing from upstate New York and Corrine from Connecticut.
“New York was also always our city,” says Stephanie. “We have had memorable dates there.”
They set the date for Oct. 13, 2012, at the Midtown Loft and Terrace, for an autumn wedding that could still be held outdoors on the roof, with a reception to follow inside.
“When we started planning our wedding, we had just gotten back from Paris, and we wanted an autumn-Paris theme,” says Stephanie. “It was like a fancy Victorian Paris autumn wedding.”
The loft space meant the two were coordinating a lot of the details themselves and were given full reign – something they at first wanted.
“When we started out, we were very ambitious,” says Corrine. “We wanted to have the wedding be very intimately ours.”
But having to pick every vendor ended up being a stressful challenge, and the two decided to hire a wedding coordinator – a friend of Corrine’s sister – to pull everything — the caterer, flowers, tables, and dinnerware — together.
It was important to both Stephanie, a vegan, and Corrine, a vegetarian, to keep things eco- and animal-friendly. They used hand-painted paper flowers made out of coffee filters and planned a vegetarian menu with caterer The Raging Skillet, and for dessert served vegan cupcakes from BabyCakes NYC.
A wedding planner came in handy on the big day and the two brides didn’t have to worry about coordinating all of their vendors.
“It definitely took a lot of stress off of us, as well as our parents, who we at first thought would play that role,” says Corrine. “[The planner] was an invaluable person.”
The wedding planner was even able to coordinate a dog walker for Madison, the couple’s boxer, who was in the wedding ceremony.
“We made a pearl necklace for her, and her harness and collar matched our colors,” says Stephanie.
Not every wedding is without its little bumps, and looking back the two wished they had done more research on some of their venue-preferred vendors before selecting them. But they also know what worked.
“Having that year and a half to plan, you get that time to enjoy being engaged,” says Stephanie. “We’ve have a lot of friends who got engaged and married in six months – I don’t know how they did it.”
Corrine also found it helpful to get recommendations from friends and family.
“You have so many decisions to make, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” says Corrine. “People like to be involved.”
Taking dance classes before their first dance together, to Straylight Run’s “Existentialism on Prom Night,” was also worthwhile.
“We didn’t want boy-and-girl prom dancing at our wedding,” says Stephanie.
The two honeymooned in Costa Rica and in the year-plus since getting married, they’ve added a second dog to their family as well as moved across the country to San Francisco, where Stephanie is pursuing a degree in arts therapy and Corrine works as a trauma nurse.
Beyond those big developments, though, not much has changed in their relationship.
“We had such a strong foundation for our relationship to begin with,” says Stephanie. “It was a nice transition.”
Photos by Erica Camille.
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not WeddingPrideNY.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to WeddingPrideNY.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.