On April 19, 2003, David Usdan was singing a song from The Sound of Music at Marie's Crisis in New York City. "I turned to my left and saw and heard this cute man singing just next to me and he smiled openly acknowledging what we were singing," David explains. "We struck up a conversation and he started speaking in this adorable British accent." David was immediately charmed. "I loved the sound of his name right away. Howard Brenner sounded special to me." Howard, a producer from BBC and resident of London, and David, a psychologist, exchanged email addresses.
The following weekend, Howard found himself back in New York City, and that's when Howard and David fell in love. During their 11 years together, Howard opted for short-term contracts in London, which allowed him to spend substantial periods of time in New York. Since meeting, Howard and David have been crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean, re-arranging their lives in order to be together. When same-sex marriage became legal in New York, it still didn't confer the right for David to sponsor Howie for a "fiance visa."
David's son Aaron was eight years old when Howie and he met, and he shared custody with Aaron's mother (the two divorced in 1998). In June 2013, the couple was together in London when DOMA was found unconstitutional. "That day, we decided that we would get married," David explains. In late July 2013 they applied for a visa for David, and it was delivered on January 31, 2014. "As happy as we were to decide on getting married, I felt like it was not quite the romantic proposal that I had in mind since it was the Supreme Court's decision that made it possible for us," David says. "When Howie was next in New York, I decided to surprise him with a proposal during Alice Ripley's cabaret show at 54 Below, our new favorite spot to hear Broadway music. Thanks to the wonderful staff at 54 Below, mid-show there was suddenly a spotlight on us, and applause and champagne followed!"
On the anniversary of when they met, April 19, 2014, Howard, 45, and David, 51, were married at 54 Below during a lunchtime, where they were serenaded by Broadway's own Liz Callaway. Chef Andre Marrero catered the event and the cake was by Sugar Flower Cake Shop. The couple popped a bottle of Paul Georg champagne on stage and exchanged "simple" 18-carat white gold wedding bands (5mm, to be exact) that they purchased at a shop called Joule in Hampstead Village in North West London. David wore a Ted Baker suit and Howard surprised the crowd by wearing a bejeweled traditional Indian tunic.
On May 19, 54 Below will also host a reception for the winners of the American Civil Liberties Union's "My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding" contest. The event, which will be emceed by Orange Is the New Black star Lea DeLaria, will see five same-sex couples who reside in U.S. states without marriage equality legislation tying the knot.
Photos courtesy of 54 Below
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