Museum of Contemporary Art Engagement Photos | Chicago, Illinois

How long have you two been together?

We’ve been together since July of 2014. The exact date is under dispute (Ali says it was the 20th, Chris maintains it was earlier, we’ve compromised on July 17th as our anniversary date).


When did you meet? Don’t leave out any cute details.

We met as theatre students at Loyola University Chicago in September of 2010.

The first big theatre event of the year was a 24 hour theatre festival, an event where students write, cast, direct, and perform a series of new plays in 24 hours. Chris was a sophomore director and Ali was a freshman actor. Ali auditioned for the festival by reciting “The Nanny” theme song as a monologue. Needless to say, that audition piece won her the lead in The Notebook Part Two (nobody said the plays were supposed to be good). Chris thought she was very cute, a fact they did not tell their long-term girlfriend at the time.

They were fast friends, and stayed that way through all of college. Chris’s senior year, Ali and her roommates moved into the second floor of Chris’s building. With Chris and their three roommates on top, Ali and her three roommates in the middle, and a largely absent 1st floor landlady, Ali and Chris ran what has gone down in Loyola theatre history as a party and gathering space. That apartment space remains in the Loyola theatre family to this day.

It wasn’t until after both graduating (and many clueless missed encounters) that they got together for the first time at a going away party in, of all places, Wrigleyville. They’ve been dating ever since, and because of the origins of their relationship, consider “Wasted” by Tiesto (ft. Matthew Koma) to be their “Song.”


Who said I love you first? Tell me the story.

Chris did.

We don’t think it has a particularly good story, but it was in Ali’s bed in Andersonville sometime in either 2014 or early 2015.

From Ali: All I remember is that I wanted to say it but I wanted Chris to say it first and I knew it was coming so for the first and only time in my life I exercised patience and waited approximately 45 seconds until Chris said it.

What is something Ali has done to change your life Chris?

I wish I could pick just one thing! We’ll compromise and pick three.

Ali is the Earth sign to my Air–she grounds me in ways I can’t describe. A running joke in our relationship stems from a show she was producing, when she casually mentioned the need to reserve a dumpster for strike. It’s laughable, but that was one of many moments I remember falling madly in love with her practicality, her knowledge, her planning, and the way she was capable of caring for someone and something she loved.

When Ali discovered witchcraft and began to explore ritual and tarot, she helped me to contextualize and understand my own relationship to religion and the universe. It’s grounded and balanced what have always been wildly disparate thoughts and feelings, growing up in a Christian-ish household. I haven’t really told her this, but it’s been an integral part of my own growth as a spiritual person understanding how I relate to what we could never understand.

Beyond all that, the first dress I ever tried on was one of Ali’s. I ripped the shoulder seam a little, and still owe her a repair. Grappling with my gender identity as someone assigned male at birth and dating a woman has every right to be the most frightful, fraught, and difficult things any relationship goes through. At every turn, from trying out clothes to trying out labels to trying out identities, Ali has been a vocal and kind and wonderful partner. Trans people get the spotlight when it comes to their stories, but Ali is the reason I was at all confident enough to wear a dress to this shoot. Ali is the reason I’m brave enough to ask the hard questions about my gender. I would fundamentally not be myself if it weren’t for her support, love, and insistence that I not be allowed to leave the house unless I looked cute.

I am so grateful to her for so many reasons.

Ali, what has Chris done to shape your life?

Chris is the first person I’ve dated that’s really, truly, pushed me to do and be my best. I know that sounds horribly cliche, but I am VERY stubborn.

Chris has somehow convinced me that to acknowledge and embrace my shadow self – the parts of myself that I don’t love. The pieces that we all run from, have immense shame around, and do our best to hide from ourselves. I live with mental illness, and Chris leads with empathy and validation at every turn. They remind me that my shadows are just as deserving of love and care, and that only when I forgive these things in myself am I able to forgive these things in others.

Even when we fight (and I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we fight), our arguments always center around fighting FOR each other and FOR the relationship. There is no argument that is more important than the other person, and our pride is never bigger than our relationship. No matter what, Chris is my person. I pick them and I choose them.

But most importantly, they are very good at back, foot, and buttrubs.

 

How did Chris propose?

In a spooky cemetery!

Ali is a witch, a tarot reader, and a lover of all things murderous and mystical. Chris and Ali both are deeply invested in building communities and the love and ritual that comes with that.

So Chris bought a ring that they asked all of their closest friends and loved ones to bless. They took photos of each person with the ring as they blessed it, including their two pets (Dad the cat and Daisy the dog).

On the Fall Equinox in 2018, Chris brought Ali to an Atlas Obscura event called “Into the Veil” at Graceland Cemetery. It was an immersive performance with aerialists and dancers and musicians dancing in dusk light.

With a photographer friend and the full support of the event’s producers, Chris got down on one knee underneath a tree filled with twinkling lights. They drank champagne and wandered around the event together for the rest of the night before returning home. There, friends had hung the pictures of the blessed ring, and left cards and more champagne. The following day, Chris and Ali celebrated with friends at Ali’s favorite brunch spot.


What advice do you have for engaged couples?

Don’t listen to the lizard person that demands you feed it your rings and hair. It is a liar, and does this purely so that it may feed and clothe its evil lizard children.

  • Never go to bed angry. It’s cliche but it’s true!
  • When arguing (you will argue), always fight for each other and the relationship you’re building together. More often than not, the solution is “talk more” and “listen more.”
  • Don’t be embarrassed to talk about money early and often
  • Set up a joint email address for everything wedding related.
  • Find your venue first—it influences literally everything else.
  • It’s your party that you’re throwing that’s for you—don’t let anyone’s ideas besides your own impact what you want.
  • Have set times to have “wedding meetings.” Make dates out of it!
  • Take your time. A long engagement is okay!!
  • Pick a set amount of vendors to choose between. Visit three venues, then choose; email three caterers, then choose; etc. to avoid choice paralysis. You can research and Pinterest yourself into oblivion!

How was your shoot?

It was so much fun!

EZ is such a calm, collected, and friendly presence. They instantly put us at ease, which is a huge task being a visibly queer couple in a public space like a museum!

They provided just enough direction to inspire and guide us, and gave us plenty of space to just be ourselves. There was no pressure to be anyone but ourselves, and that’s all because of EZ’s presence and skill.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *