By Steven Graham
When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed with Mary Lambert at the Grammys, there was a big surprise and it wasn’t just that Madonna was joining them on stage. Thirty-three couples of different race, age and sexual orientation walked into the crowd and were married on television by Queen Latifah.
It was a beautiful moment and many of the celebrities in the crowd wiped tears from their eyes as the couple exchanged vows.
The chance that one of the couples might reside in Everett is pretty low. The chance that two of the couples do is improbable.
The fact that two of the couples live across the street from each other in Everett is just insane.
When Everett residents Jake Parks and Melody Murray got engaged in July last year they had no idea they would actually end up getting married at the Grammys. Melody was a television producer in Los Angeles before she moved to Everett. Some old TV friends of hers were working on the Grammys and knew she was getting married. They asked if she and Jake would like to be part of a very special, very secret wedding.
“I said yes immediately,” said Melody. But Jake, who wanted a more traditional wedding, wasn’t sold on the idea just yet.
“I wanted all of my friends and family to be there. But this was a different sort of wedding and in a very different way they would all be able to watch but from the comfort of their homes,” Jake said.
They didn’t know who the talent was or what song would be performed during the wedding, but they were still sworn to secrecy and had to sign contracts saying they wouldn’t talk about what was going to happen.
“We didn’t know it was going to be Macklemore till we got there. We didn’t know it was Madonna till we were in the rehearsal and we heard her voice. Everybody turned around and saw her standing on stage,” Melody said.
They didn’t know any of the other couples until they got to rehearsal. That is when Melody and Jake met Brittany and Sally Pennington. As they talked, they learned they were both living in Everett. It didn’t take long for them to discover that they live across the street from each other.
Brittany and Sally moved to Everett in January of 2013. They moved here from Arizona because Sally had been injured in a bad motorcycle accident. The hospital didn’t make it easy for Brittany to visit Sally because they weren’t family. That was when they decided to move to Washington, a state that had legalized gay marriage.
Brittany and Sally took a different path to the Grammys. They were in the process of planning their wedding and were struggling with the fact that a member of Sally’s family wasn’t supportive of their decision to get married. One night Brittany was on the Internet and saw a casting call for couple that wanted to get married at a big event.
“Without telling Sally, I sent in our information and they called us right away and said they really wanted us and they sent us a contract. We sent it back and that’s when they told us it was going to be the Grammys,” Brittany said. “I didn’t want to have a wedding where her family wasn’t there and mine was. I said it’s about us anyways and if we want to do it lets just go do it in front of the world.”
Both couples told stories of their interactions with some of their favorite celebrities. They couldn’t believe that Sir Paul McCartney cried during their rehearsal and Melody saw Jennifer Lawrence weeping during the actual ceremony.
Brittany explained that Katy Perry, her idol, whose face she had tattooed on her arm, was standing inches from her as she got married and told Brittany that her dress was beautiful as she walked down the aisle.
Both couples are proud of the once-in-a-lifetime wedding they got to have and said they wouldn’t have done things any differently.
“A lot of people are saying our wedding was just a show. I am proud that we did it. When we walked down those aisles everybody stood up. The reaction we got from the celebrities was very heartfelt and when Queen Latifah told us to exchange our vows all I saw was Sally. It was a moment between us, it wasn’t a show. It was beautiful,” Brittany said.
“Everybody came from somewhere else, different stories and relationships, gay and straight and the one thing that everyone had in common was love and that we were going to get married on the same day,” Jake said.