A wedding designer’s would-be engagement party becomes an enchantingly happy surprise for guests.
By Lynne Konstantin
Photographs by Laura Tennent
On March 2, 2003, David McKnight and his partner, Jim Dunn, set sail on a cruise to Hawaii, and 30 of their closest friends watched the longtime couple say, “I do” before a reverend.
“In our minds, we were married,” McKnight says.
But on June 26, 2015, a Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage a Constitutional right — meaning the couple had the opportunity to be married in the rest of the world’s minds, too.
The couple set a date of March 3, 2016, and began planning — particularly McKnight, who owns Emerald City Designs in Farmington Hills, a one-stop shop for wedding planning, floral design, rentals, graphic design and more.
About six weeks in, Dunn, a retired floral designer and caterer, could see his perfectionist partner’s stress was reaching new heights.
“Jim knows I’m very detailed,” McKnight says. “And as a wedding professional planning his own wedding, I was feeling the pressure.”
Dunn suggested a new plan: The couple would throw a combination birthday party for David and engagement party for 100 guests at their home — dubbed “The McDunn” — on Aug. 8. What guests didn’t know was that while they were enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres poolside, the couple-to-be had run upstairs to change from casual partywear into Calvin Klein tuxedos for a surprise wedding ceremony.
While McKnight and Dunn were changing, the team from Emerald City Designs pulled off a magical transformation in the front yard, readying it for the ceremony in a swift 22 minutes flat.
Dunn had arranged for a plane to circle the house flying a banner with the words “Happy Birthday, David! Will you marry me?” When the plan had changed for the day to be the big day, Dunn added the word “2day” to the end — an extra surprise for McKnight that signaled to guests that something special was about to occur.
“Having that plane, seeing the looks on some of our friends’ faces — they were blown away,” McKnight says. “They were so thrilled that we actually got to do this, on our front lawn, where we created our roots.
“It was one of the most perfect experiences I’ve ever had.” NS
Signing the marriage license was pretty emotional for us,” McKnight says.
For more information about events by Emerald City Designs go to www.emeraldcitydesigns.com or call 248-474-7077.