Rafael Dos Santos – My gay wedding day
Marriage for me is the upmost declaration of love and commitment. I’ve always had in my mind that I would be married one day. I may sound a bit old-fashioned but there are certain traditions that I think we should keep. I believe that commitment and vows are so important, and for this reason I wanted to declare to the one I love that I am committed to being with him for the rest of my life. – Says Rafael Dos Santos one month after his wedding day where we have been invited.
What are the challenges that you have faced to make this dream come true?
I left Brazil in 2001 when I was 20. I had suffered a lot of bullying at school and that hurt me a lot. People think that Brazil is a liberal and open minded country but it’s not. People don’t have access to education and education is the key to acceptance of all kinds – colour, religion and gender.
It sounds harsh but I had to leave my own country to be able to live the life I wanted, to be free, to feel that people loved me for what I am and not for what I should be or have.
We got engaged very quickly. People say that when you meet ‘the one’ you know it and this was certainly the case…
How do you remember the time when you had to talk with your family and friends about your feelings toward a man?
While in Brazil I never really told anyone that I was gay. My mother has serious issues with my sexuality (and still does – she didn’t come to my wedding, neither called or sent me an email). My relationship with my mum is difficult and almost non-existent. It’s difficult to talk to her because I can’t simply start deleting William from the conversations. I can’t tell a story and say ‘I went to this place, instead of we went to this place…’, so because I can’t be myself and talk about it openly we hardly talk.
My father is a fisherman and he is okay with it. I believe that parents always try to balance each other out. If one gives you a hard time the other one tries to soften things up. I go to Brazil once a year but I have not been since 2012 – when I told my mother that I was going to get married. While in London or some places in Europe (not everywhere, of course) we have amazing friends who have become our families. People that we can count on for anything that comes along were there to celebrate our marriage with us.
How did you meet each other?
We met on 30th May 2011 when we were both happily single and enjoying a night out with friends. I didn’t really think it was going to work between us because when I met Will he used to smoke, and once we met again on a proper date and he asked me to be his boyfriend, I said I would only date him if he stopped smoking. He has never smoked since and we got married on the same day that we met four years ago.
How can you describe your time together?
We got engaged very quickly. People say that when you meet ‘the one’ you know it and this was certainly the case. We met on the 30th May and on the 16th August the same year (on his birthday) I took him to Paris to celebrate his birthday. During the day trip I surprised him by taking him to the Eiffel Tower for lunch at the Julio Verne Restaurant, and once we finished our main course the waiter brought the dessert in one of those those old-fashioned silver trays with a big round lid. There were two cakes inside with two gold rings on top. That’s when I popped the question (and yes I was on my knees!).
During the whole time we’ve been together we have been engaged and committed to our relationship. We have had our ups and downs but I have to admit that being engaged forced us to face situations that we would have just walked away from if we were just dating. Yet we had already made the commitment that we were going to stay together by getting engaged, which was one step closer to marriage. All our friends thought we were crazy, but we were, crazily in love with each other!
Can you tell us more about your wedding?
Your wedding day is one of the most amazing days in your life. It’s a shame that it goes so quickly.
His parents live in a beautiful thirteenth century house in Hampshire (south England), and their gardens are just like being in paradise. We had a marquee where the (very emotional) ceremony was conducted. It was followed by champagne and canapes but what made it even more special is that the champagne is made by his family. It’s actually English sparking wine (because you can’t call it champagne) but I had helped at the grape harvest so it was all very special for us.
We have had our ups and downs but I have to admit that being engaged forced us to face situations that we would have just walked away from if we were just dating…
During dinner we had a mix of our cultures. We had Brazilian fish stew (moqueca de peixe) served where people could help themselves at the table. I served that because my dad is a fisherman and my mum used to make this dish at home. We had speeches and the decoration of the ballroom was Brazilian carnival. Once dinner was finished we all went outside for the cake, which was decorated with golden venetian masks.
We then danced away with Brazilian music, samba dancers and fantastic friends.
In total we had friends from 27 different countries, my sisters were there with their families and some friends from Brazil also came. William’s whole family were there and his mother was the one that decorated all the table with the most amazing tropical flowers. We managed to combine the sophistication and class of the English with the fun and vibrant energy from Brazil, and everyone loved it.
What are the main qualities that you like in your partner William?
We could not be more different and I think that’s why it works so well.
He is very calm, thoughtful and a real ‘English gentleman’. He has the most charming personality and his soothing voice calms me down. It’s important to have someone who is very different from you but at the same time they need to share your values and your vision, and you must support each other for the relationship to work.
You are now involved in many projects – how do you balance your time between work and personal life?
I had to make some decisions this year and put some projects on the back burner for now. As an entrepreneur you need to make decisions on what to keep pushing and investing in and I also need to look after my home and my hubby. I wake up at 7am every morning to cook our meals to take to work. We’re both gym addicts so we must eat five times a day. Our daily routine is very busy during the week, which means that I have limited time on where to invest time.