By KJ Philp, August 2018 Issue.
Vince Urban moved to Phoenix from Berea, Ohio, 12 years ago. Franklin Diaz moved to Phoenix from El Paso, Texas, after high school. Neither had any intention of staying, but fate intervened.
“I didn’t anticipate making as many great friends here as I’ve made, and it became a local family,” Urban recalled. “That was hard to leave.”
Diaz found himself in a similar situation, and eventually the two transplants crossed paths.
“… Phoenix has a way of keeping you,” Urban said, adding that he and Diaz both felt at home enough to put down roots and start their respective Valley-based businesses.
Realizing they shared so much in common, Urban and Diaz officially became an item in March 2014 and then lawfully wedded husbands Sept 27, 2017, in Roatan, Honduras.
“Back in 2016, I talked to Franklin’s best friend first to talk through my idea of proposing and then also had him do some recon to see how Franklin felt about marriage,” Vince recalled. “Once his best friend gave me the green light, I started planning.”
While Diaz noticed some of Urban’s moves – finger measurements, jeweler brochures and ring boxes popping up here and there – he had completely forgotten all about them at the music festival.
Perched at the top of Coachella’s iconic Ferris wheel, on April 15, 2016, Urban got down on one knee and popped the question, and Diaz said yes!
Diaz always wanted to get married in Ireland and said he had his heart set on a breathtaking view from a high cliff with tall green grass overlooking the ocean. But, he said, a Caribbean wedding was the next best thing.
"In life, we make compromises ... We were both on the same page about the Caribbean and, logistically, a Caribbean cruise seemed like the best option,” Diaz recalled. “It also gave some of our family members and friends, who’ve never been on a cruise, a reason to travel the open seas."
After researching cruise lines and islands they could legally married on, the grooms-to-be decided on St. Thomas. And after 16 months of destination wedding planning – including a cruise adventure with 61 guests – Diaz and Urban heard the news about a little storm called Irma.
“On Sept. 6, the Category 5 Hurricane devastated St. Thomas,” Diaz recalled. “Phone and power on the island were down, and we couldn’t contact the resort, photographer, baker or courthouse. On Sunday, Sept 10, I woke up at 6 a.m. and did my normal routine to check Facebook before making coffee. Our resort posted all weddings were canceled until December.”
With only a week until their departure, Diaz and Urban started evaluating new possibilities for their big day.
“Finally, two days before we were supposed to set sail, the cruise line updated the itinerary, and it was a completely different cruise,” Urban said. “They changed it from an Eastern Caribbean cruise to a Western Caribbean cruise … So now I had two days before we left to re-plan a wedding [in] Roatan, Honduras.
“The venue in Roatan, Honduras, Las Palmas Resort, was absolutely incredible to work with, especially given our short time frame,” Urban said. “They really went above and beyond to recreate everything we had planned for St. Thomas.”
Subsequently, the grooms learned that the venue had been sold to new owners two weeks before their wedding. So this marked the resort’s first wedding since the property was purchased.
“You would never have known we were their first though, as everything was stunningly beautiful,” Urban said.
The grooms opted for light tan pant and vest combinations, with a white button-up shirt. The only difference was Urban wore a blue tie, and Diaz wore a green bowtie to express unity as well as some personal uniqueness.
“We worked with The Fit Alternations, who we couldn’t be happier with,” Diaz said.
The Wedding Party
“We kept our wedding party small … We were blessed to have both chosen and related family join us.” Diaz shared. “Kevin Bushaw was our officiant. I’ve known him for five years, and he was an obvious choice. His strong, charismatic personality brought humor and traditional importance to our ceremony.”
Friends from college served as best men to the grooms.
“As a tip, definitely involve your family if possible,” Urban reflected. “Even if it’s not in any of the planning, just having them there will mean a lot.”
Diaz and Urban incorporated many elements of a traditional ceremony into their wedding, including the reading of the vows, the ring exchange and the first kiss.
“The one unique element we added was that instead of the traditional sand ceremony, we used wine instead,” Urban said. “Franklin likes white wines and like red wines. So, we thought it would be cool to combine our wines in a carafe and then drink from that as opposed to both pouring sand into a bottle …”
While the grooms did incorporate the traditional cake cutting (and exchanging the first pieces with each other) and first dance as a married couple, there was no throwing of flowers or anything.
As “good gays,” Urban and Diaz personalized the heck out of the entire affair. For our guests, we had custom wedding swag for each of them,” Diaz said. “The water bottles and drawstring backpack each had their personalized name printed. And how could we leave out the “Gay Zanax Wedding” bottles with custom printed M&Ms?"
The Biggest Lesson
“Even when you think you have everything planned and figured out, life will throw its curve balls,” Diaz said. “You have to take them and make the most of the situation. Marriage is also teamwork, and we had an early taste of teamwork because of these hurricanes.”
The only thing Urban would change, if he could, would be allowing more time for the wedding photo session before the ceremony, so the grooms could enjoy themselves with the guests longer before returning to the ship.
As these grooms approach their first anniversary, they have a few words of wisdom to pass along to other newlyweds.
“Continue to do all the things you’ve done before you got married,” Diaz said. “Like, always kiss too often, say “I love you,” and apologize when you’re wrong or cranky.”
The newlyweds agree that things don’t have to change just because you now have a piece of paper that says you’re married.
“Continue going on ‘dates’ and having the special time together that you’ve always enjoyed,” Urban offered. “Lastly, remember that people continue to grow and evolve throughout their life. Always ask questions and never stop trying to get to know your partner. This will help to make sure that you are growing together and not apart.”