Near Castle Ruins, a Wedding with a Dash of ‘Game of Thrones’


Kristen Sanders thought her possibilities of a relationship with April Hill had been fairly slim when she noticed Ms. Hill’s profile on the relationship app Bumble in January 2020.

“April’s 5-foot-10 and covered in tattoos; I’m 5-foot-2 and I look like a super goody two-shoes — clean cut, no visible tattoos, preppy dresser,” Ms. Sanders mentioned earlier than naming different variations between the 2 that stood out. “She’s atheist. I’m Christian. April is a vegetarian. I’m a meat eater.”

Although she figured Ms. Hill would “take one look at me and say, ‘No way,’” Ms. Sanders mentioned she swiped proper on Ms. Hill’s profile anyway as a result of “she was anyone unlike I had ever seen or dated.”

To her shock, they had been declared a match. Ms. Hill, after seeing Ms. Sanders’s photographs on Bumble, had swiped proper on her profile, too. “I’m just a sucker for long dark hair and light eyes, and Kristen has these piercing green-hazel eyes,” Ms. Hill mentioned.

On the time, Ms. Sanders was about two months away from finalizing her divorce from her ex spouse, whom she had married in September 2019. She mentioned that Ms. Hill “was my only match” on Bumble.

The identical was not true for Ms. Hill. She had matched with different folks on the app, however Ms. Sanders, 33, shortly grew to become “the only one that mattered,” she mentioned. “Once Kristen and I matched and we had our first conversation, I really felt no desire to talk to anyone else.”

Additionally divorced and 33, Ms. Hill wed her former husband when she was 18; their marriage lasted 18 months. Following her divorce, Ms. Hill continued thus far males, together with the daddy of her daughter Jaxyn, now 10. She got here out as homosexual at 27. “It took a long time to feel comfortable and to come out to my family,” she mentioned.

A few weeks after matching on Bumble, the ladies, who stay in Fort Price, had a primary date. It started at True Meals Kitchen, a restaurant in Dallas. “Kristen had hummus for dinner because it was the only thing she recognized,” Ms. Hill mentioned. Afterward, they joined just a few of Ms. Hill’s associates for a drag present on the homosexual dance membership Station 4 Dallas. “We sat and talked and had drinks before her friends came,” Ms. Sanders mentioned.

Eager to be fully upfront with one another from the beginning, each got here to the date ready to debate their previous relationships.

“I was nervous to talk to her about my divorce,” Ms. Sanders mentioned. “She asked if I still had any feelings for my ex and I said no.”

Mentioned Ms. Hill, “We were both ready for love.” She added, “It was a really good conversation for a first date.”

So good was their dialog {that a} second date got here the following day. After assembly for brunch, the 2 visited the Dallas Museum of Artwork, the place Ms. Hill’s nervous pleasure grew to become evident to Ms. Sanders when she took Ms. Hill’s hand in her personal. “She claimed the museum was hot,” Ms. Sanders mentioned, however her fingers “were clammy from being nervous.”

From then, their relationship shortly progressed. “We truly just never wanted to stop talking or getting attention from each other,” Ms. Hill mentioned.

As the 2 grew nearer, they found that their senses of humor meshed. “We find the same things hilarious and spend so much of our days together laughing a ton,” Ms. Sanders mentioned. In addition they launched each other to new hobbies. “April definitely reignited my love for the outdoors,” Ms. Sanders mentioned. “She took me on my first hike and camping trip since I was a small child.”

Inside a month of their first date, Ms. Hill launched Ms. Sanders to her daughter. “They played with kinetic sand together,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “I remember Kristen being pretty nervous to meet her. It was cute.”

The introduction “made it a lot easier to hang out,” Ms. Hill added. “She enjoyed and accepted my kiddo no questions asked and is extremely supportive of co-parenting with Jaxyn’s dad.”

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here.

Ms. Sanders, who was raised predominantly in Weatherford, Texas, and graduated from Sam Houston State College, is a deputy sheriff for Tarrant County, Texas. However when she met Ms. Hill, she was working as a particular agent for the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Police, after beforehand serving as an investigator within the human trafficking-child exploitation unit on the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Workplace.

It was whereas the 2 had been relationship that Ms. Sanders had the belief that “I wanted to go back to ‘real’ policing and get back into investigations,” she mentioned, including that she knew “it takes a very strong person to be a police spouse.”

Although Ms. Hill, who grew up in Waco, Texas, supported Ms. Sanders in her profession, she admitted to it inflicting some anxiousness. “The not knowing what can happen on a daily basis can be scary,” mentioned Ms. Hill, who works as a make-up artist and in addition sells handmade sterling silver and gemstone jewellery on Instagram. “I had reservations about it when I first met Kristen and learned she was a police officer, but she genuinely has a servant’s heart and wants to help people.”

Any reservations Ms. Hill may need felt weren’t robust sufficient to cease her from falling in love with Ms. Sanders just some months after their courtship started. “I couldn’t picture my life without her,” she mentioned.

Ms. Sanders fell for Ms. Hill simply as quick. “I remember pretty early on a moment in April’s living room,” she recalled. “We were sitting on the couch holding hands, and I had just met Jaxyn not long before. She was playing with kinetic sand on the table, and I just remember being in that moment and thinking, ‘This is all I’ve ever wanted.’”

A 12 months after they met on Bumble, in January 2021, Ms. Sanders moved into Ms. Hill’s house in Fort Price. Two months later, Ms. Sanders proposed whereas the couple and Ms. Hill’s greatest pal had been tenting at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, Texas.

“I told Kristen that she had to propose to me on a mountain or not at all, and she definitely delivered,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “We hiked a total of nine miles that day and she proposed to me at the Lighthouse,” a well-known rock formation within the park.

On June 18, they married cliffside on the grounds of a non-public property that they had rented in Bushmills, Northern Eire, close to the ruins of Dunluce Fort. Emma Bailie, a marriage celebrant with Humanists UK, officiated earlier than 5 friends, who included Jaxyn and Ms. Hill’s mom, Kathy Hill.

After seeing photographs on-line of different weddings close to the citadel ruins, which date to the late Center Ages, the couple mentioned they knew that they wished to get married there, too. However they quickly discovered that the property can’t be rented as a result of it’s a public area, and that many occasions as an alternative happen on close by farmland. With assist from a videographer that they had discovered on-line, the couple contacted the proprietor of that land, Sean McKinley, and had a marriage date booked days later.

Ms. Sanders mentioned that the situation, which was additionally chosen as a nod to her Irish heritage, “was giving off the ‘Game of Thrones’ vibes, and we’re super into ‘Game of Thrones.’” (Dunluce Fort, actually, was used as Castle Greyjoy in the HBO series.)

“It felt fitting for us with all of the lush green landscape and castle ruins,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “We say our love is like a fairy tale and Ireland looks like a fairy tale.”

Each brides wore clothes by the designer Maggie Sottero. Ms. Sanders donned a black lace ball robe, whereas Ms. Hill had on a fitted white gown with a halter neckline. Every revealed their ensemble to the opposite at a “first look” on a rock that jutted out over the North Atlantic, accessible solely by a bridge.

Ms. Bailie then led the couple in a ceremony that included a conventional Celtic handfasting, through which their fingers had been wrapped in a hand-crafted wire with a Celtic coronary heart within the center. “A traditional handfasting ceremony symbolizes entering into the bonds of marriage,” she mentioned. “Two partners join hands and their wrists would be tied, symbolizing the binding together of their individual lives.”

“It is from this practice we get the term ‘tying the knot,’” she added.

The brides ended the ceremony by each ingesting from a quaich, “a silver cup with two handles that represents love and friendship,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “It was perfect.”

Afterward got here extra drinks, this time with Mr. McKinley, the proprietor of the land they had been married on, close to the citadel ruins. “He had glasses of Jameson for us,” Ms. Sanders mentioned. “We stood at the castle and soaked it all in.”

Later, they headed to the Central Bar, a close-by pub. “We ordered Guinness,” Ms. Sanders mentioned. However after a waiter took their order and went to the bar, he shortly returned to their desk.

“The waiter told us that the manager said, ‘You can come behind the bar and pour your own,’” Ms. Hill mentioned. And they also did.

When June 18, 2022

The place A personal property in Bushmills, Northern Eire, close to the ruins of Dunluce Fort.

Needle Wants The day earlier than the marriage, Ms. Hill’s veil nonetheless wanted to be completed. However the couple misplaced the needle that they had packed for the duty. With the native stitching retailer closed, they visited a thrift retailer, the place they discovered what they had been on the lookout for. The shop staff “insisted on knowing why,” Ms. Sanders mentioned. “‘One thing about the Irish,’ the ladies at the store told us, ‘We’re nosy.’”

Irish Inclusiveness The brides had been delighted by the welcome they acquired as a same-sex couple. “The people of Ireland are so nice,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “Everyone was toasting us, even the old ladies that you think might be hesitant said, ‘Oh how lovely. So romantic.’”


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