Bridal Bliss: The Gift of Love
Groom: Derek Gavin Simms, 31, Sports Agent
Married Since: October 9th, 2011
Wedding Location: St. Celia’s Catholic Church, Baltimore, MD
Wedding Theme: Classic
Denise and Derek share an incredible love story that began their freshman year of high school. Their bond strengthened fast and was built on an incredible friendship. “Our fondness for each other blossomed throughout high school,” says Denise. “He was captain of the soccer team and I captain of the cheerleading squad.” Everywhere you saw one, you saw the other. They were prom dates, and they even got married with a little tin ring during their Sadie Hawkins dance. Even though many people thought their love would fade away after graduation, the lovebirds stayed happily inseparable throughout their college and graduate school years. “Our love matured through life’s joys and pains,” says Denise.
The Perfect Match
In 2006 Denise was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure and their lives were forever changed. Her kidneys were only functioning at 30 percent and the medication wasn’t working. She was going to need a kidney, fast. Her close friends and family were tested to see if they’d be a good match, but each option fell through. Then she found her miracle in Derek. “Derek, who had been standing by me and encouraging me all along, moved through all the testing, questions, poking, and prodding and became my ‘magic kidney’ donor,” Denise shares. Just like that, Derek had given her the ultimate gift -- life -- and she would be forever thankful for it.
On Memorial Day 2009, Derek asked Denise to spend a low-key day with him at the park. While on their way, Denise noticed that Derek was carrying a suspicious bag of things, but wouldn’t really tell her what was inside. They were visiting Haines Point at Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., and Derek asked Denise if she remembered the first time they went there together. He pulled out an old photo album with photos from some of their favorite memories together. Denise flipped to the last page to find a photo of the Seychelle Islands, an island they’d always dreamed of honeymooning on. Denise knew he was up to something, but she hadn’t figured it out just yet.
Just Like Old Times
Inside the album Denise also found the little tin wedding ring Derek had given her back in high school at their Sadie Hawkins dance, and their “marriage certificate” they had from their faux ceremony that night. “I laughed and laughed and was so tickled that he’d kept it for all those years,” says Denise. “He then took the book from me, put it on the picnic table and started talking.” What he said was music to her ears. “Denise, I love you so much. We got married as teenagers at the Sadie Hawkins dance, but I think we should do it for real as adults. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Denise’s eyes filled with tears as Derek got down on one knee and presented her with a little black box with “the most beautiful ring ever” inside. She agreed and the two went on to marry in the same church where most of Derek’s family members have said “I do."
Photos by A Little Bit of Whimsy Photography