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Warm Hearts at an Icy Elopement

At their self-uniting ceremony in Frisco, Colo., on Jan. 6, the first thing Sarah Bishop and Kacey Harris did was play a round of rock-paper …

At their self-uniting ceremony in Frisco, Colo., on Jan. 6, the first thing Sarah Bishop and Kacey Harris did was play a round of rock-paper-scissors. That was their way of deciding who should say their vows first. The couple were standing beside Dillon Reservoir, which was frozen, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, covered by new snow and crisscrossed with animal tracks. The sun had just risen, but not the temperature. It was zero degrees. Ms. Harris won, so she began.

The couple played a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would read their vows first. Ms. Harris won.Credit…Larissa Welch and Bailey Boggs/We, The Light Photography

This was the third wedding the couple had planned, with each one getting smaller and smaller. First, they sent out save-the-date cards for a wedding they had hoped to have this year in Hawaii on March 5, the 10th anniversary of the day they decided to date each other exclusively. Last fall, they gave up on that idea as the pandemic worsened. Undaunted, they moved the date to Oct. 22, 2020 and organized a low-key ceremony by a remote lake in Granby, Colo. They canceled that wedding days beforehand when the East Troublesome Fire, one of Colorado’s largest wildfires, overwhelmed the area.

So, although they’d always wanted to get married next to water, they settled for ice. There were no guests, just their two miniature schnauzers shivering at their feet. The couple chose to get married there partly because the state allows paw prints (as well as the handprints of young children) on marriage licenses. “We’ve been fixated on getting married in Colorado because we love our dogs,” Ms. Bishop said.

In a way, this wedding was perfect for the brides whose relationship has been long, adventurous and full of challenges that they have clambered over like so many snowbanks.

The couple live in San Antonio, where Ms. Harris, 34, is a bookkeeper for a wealth management firm and Ms. Bishop, also 34, is a senior operations analyst for Medtronic, a medical device company. When they met, on the dating site eHarmony, Ms. Bishop had recently graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio while Ms. Harris was living in Austin, working various jobs and taking courses part-time at Austin Community College. On Feb. 19, 2011, Ms. Bishop pulled up outside her home to pick her up for their first date.

Ms. Bishop’s mother, Margarita Bishop, who was in the hospital on the wedding day, shared the moment by phone.Credit…Larissa Welch and Bailey Boggs/We, The Light Photography

“She was wearing tight jeans and these black boots she still has,” Ms. Bishop said. “She has the most beautiful hazel-green eyes and of course her hair was curled and I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be a good night.’” Ms. Bishop’s own hair is always blow-dried and thoughtfully styled (her mother, Margarita Bishop, is a hairdresser).

Although Ms. Bishop thought Ms. Harris was beautiful, she wasn’t sure they’d have good chemistry. “She was nothing like my type,” Ms. Bishop said. “No. 1, I’d never dated a white person. I’m Hispanic, even though my last name is ‘Bishop.’ I come from a huge family. My mom has 13 siblings. My dad had eight siblings.”

Over dinner, Ms. Bishop said she was charmed by Ms. Harris’s “little twang accent.” Ms. Harris grew up in small towns in Texas and Louisiana and sounds like a country singer when she talks. Ms. Harris liked Ms. Bishop’s dimples. “She just seemed so kindhearted,” Ms. Harris said. “I could tell she had a strong work ethic and she was very funny.”

Before they met, Ms. Harris had only dated women. Ms. Bishop, who grew up in San Antonio, dated guys until she found herself attracted to female classmates as a teenager, feelings she hid from her parents. “I actually came out to my brother in high school,” Ms. Bishop said. “I was like, ‘I have something to tell you.’ He said, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘Just don’t tell Mom. I like girls.’ And he said, ‘Oh Sarah, you made me think you were pregnant.’”

That night, Ms. Bishop ended up staying at Ms Harris’s place. “I had a king-size bed,” Ms. Harris said. “I was like, ‘I’ll sleep on this side, you sleep on that side. I promise, I’ll be a lady.’”

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The couples’ only guests were their two miniature Schnauzers, who also gave a stamp of approval on the day.Credit…Larissa Welch and Bailey Boggs/We, The Light Photography

They soon declared themselves girlfriends although Ms. Bishop was more reticent about the relationship especially after Ms. Harris revealed she was creating a scrapbook documenting the music festivals, wine tastings and road trips that made up their early dates. “It scared me,” Ms. Bishop said. “I thought she was going to be a stage five clinger.”

Those fears dissolved at the end of their first year together when Ms. Harris’s grandfather and Ms. Bishop’s father both died. Ms. Bishop, who describes herself as someone who hates to show emotions, found herself openly grieving with Ms. Harris. “I never let anyone in, at all,” she said. “I don’t know what it was about Kacey. Actually, yes I do. She loved so easily.”

After two years, Ms. Harris transferred to the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she graduated, and moved in with Ms. Bishop, not an easy transition. They argued about little things like Ms. Harris’s daily run to Starbucks. (“I was like, ‘Babe, that adds up!’” Ms. Bishop said.) And, more serious things like the fact that Ms. Bishop often seemed more like a mentor or a parent than an equal, always encouraging Ms. Harris to work hard and get good grades. “She hated that I was mothering her,” Ms. Bishop said. “She wanted a partner. I didn’t see that until we almost broke up.”

They sought advice from song lyrics and the Sunday sermons at Oak Hills Church, a nondenominational church in their neighborhood. “What brought us closer together was going to church,” Ms. Bishop said.

In 2017, the couple moved in with Ms. Bishop’s mother in San Antonio, which brought them even closer together, in every way. “Her house was a little over 1,000 square feet,” Ms. Bishop said. “Imagine that with three women and five dogs. I don’t know how we survived.”

The couple recently bought their own house and often spend weekends working on it. “ I’m very handy,” Ms. Bishop said. “I got my daddy’s tools after he died. I installed our ceiling fans. I installed a storm door. I installed our chandelier.”

Ms. Harris said, “We fight over who gets to mow the lawn, we love it so much.” They began talking about getting married mainly because they want to have children, soon.

Ms. Bishop said she grew even more confident about spending her life with Ms. Harris in the weeks before their wedding when Ms. Bishop’s mother became sick and was in and out of the hospital with liver disease. Ms. Harris visited her often. “She helped my mom shower, washed her hair and body, helped her dry off, rubbed lotion on her feet and legs and brushed her hair,” Ms. Bishop wrote in an email. “I don’t know many people who would do this.”

Ms. Harris said she was acting out of gratitude. “Sarah and her family have always made me feel loved,” she said. “They showed me what love is supposed to feel like.”

Still, over the years, Ms. Bishop’s mother and large family had never openly acknowledged that Ms. Bishop and Ms. Harris were gay, partly because Ms. Bishop never voiced it herself. “I don’t know if it’s a Hispanic-Catholic thing that you don’t talk about it,” she said. She added, “For the longest time, it was, ‘Her friend, Kacey.’”

Days before the wedding, Ms. Bishop finally came out to her mother. “I cried and told her, ‘I’m getting married,’” Ms. Bishop said. “She said, ‘It’s OK. I’m so happy.’”

While saying their vows, the brides wore olive green bomber jackets over gowns they chose when they thought they’d be getting married in warmer weather. Ms. Bishop’s sleeveless lace dress appeared about as protective against the elements as tissue paper while Ms. Harris wore a semi-sheer gown with an open back (she stuffed hand warmers down the front and cappuccino-colored leggings were visible underneath).

After their brief ceremony the couple changed into black jumpsuits and went snowmobiling in the surrounding mountains. Credit…Larissa Welch and Bailey Boggs/We, The Light Photography

For their first (and only) dance, they took off their jackets, set up a speaker in the snow and gingerly sidestepped to their favorite Adele song, “One and Only.” “No twirling or throwing me down or anything!” Ms. Harris said.

About a week earlier, Ms. Harris made a list of some things, 41 to be exact, that she loves about Ms. Bishop. The list, which she shared via email, included:

“She looks at me like I’m the most beautiful person in the world.”

“Without her the thermostat or WIFI would never actually work.”

“She never gives up on me, even when I’m at my worst.”

“She still kisses my forehead and opens the door for me.”

“She is everything I never knew I needed.”

On This Day

When Jan. 6, 2021

Where Frisco, Colo.

The Wedding Gifts The brides gave each other gifts before the wedding. Ms. Harris gave Ms. Bishop a wristwatch with “I love you more every second” engraved on the back. Ms. Bishop chose a necklace for Ms. Harris, one with a locket containing the first photo they took together when they were 24 and had just met.

The Marriage License The brides signed it right after the ceremony and had their dogs “sign” it, too. They brought along a black ink pad for that purpose, pressed the dogs’ paws on it, and blotted their paw prints on the license.

Their Names Ms. Harris plans to take Ms. Bishop’s name. After the wedding, she said, “I’m finally a Bishop.”

The Reception The couple celebrated over lunch in Frisco at Outer Range Brewing Company where they cut a small two-person cake, which was designed like a mountain with snow melting down the sides. Then, they changed into black jumpsuits and went snowmobiling in the surrounding mountains. Ms. Bishop’s mother, who followed all their activities on FaceTime from her hospital bed, died 11 days later, on Jan 17.

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