Before I start my enchanted and persevering story, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Victoria Alvarez, I’m 40 yrs. old, I was born and raised in San Jose, Ca by my parents Ray and Gloria Alvarez. The love of my life is Dawn Jackson who just isn’t my soulmate but the heart of my soul. Before I go into more detail about Dawn and the reason why I feel that we deserve to have the dream wedding that we’ve always imagined, allow me to take you back a few years.
Back in 2013, I made the decision to live in San Jose, to take care of who was at that time, the love of my life, my grandmother, Josephine Alvarez. I hadn’t seen my grandmother for 2 whole years due to a falling out with a woman that had me stuck in a very abusive relationship. In fact, I was so concerned and scared for the safety of my relatives, I had stayed away from everyone for 2 years. After 2 years I had received a phone call from my mother that my Aunt Connie had called to let us know that my grandma was in the hospital. My parents weren’t sure if it was serious or not. I felt that if my aunt took the time to call us, it must be urgent, so I drove my parents down to San Jose. When I saw my grandmother, I instantly wanted to cry but I stayed strong. The grandmother that I had known and remembered, as a strong, thick skinned, with a little plump, loving woman, was now a thinner, and frail looking woman. But grandma JayJay still carried the same amount of love in her heart, and inner strength if not more. I was so grateful at the time that the Lord blessed me with the chance to spend the last 3 weeks with my grandmother taking care of her before her passing.
Later, I decided to stay in San Jose, to continue my education in the EMT/FIRE field courses. During this time, I had fallen in love with a woman and her kids. Well at least at the time I thought I was in love. But in this relationship, I felt more grief than happiness. This person never wanted to show any affection towards me publicly and would always look around before giving me a kiss, as if she was making sure she wasn’t being watched. Further on I was told by family, that I was living with, that I had to leave. This was due to differential religious views. I was extremely heart broken, I knew that my grandmother was probably crying looking down on the family from heaven above. My older cousins were thinking the same thing too. To my grandmother, I was always called her “Cool Girl”, she was always keeping me in her prayers and thoughts. My grandmother would always send me her hallmark cards at the right time. Except this time, there was no card for me, there was no phone call for me to make, saying thank you for her loving words. There was nothing. All in one day I lost my belongings, my job, and my car. I lost two Aunts that I looked up to.
I moved back in with my parents, and was struggling to find a job, of course in their little town of Madera, Ca the unemployment rate was very much at 99%. I was introduced to two beautiful Christians that were friends with my family. Brother John and Sister Olivia, the most wonderful Christians that I could ever have met. I have never walked into any home, where instantly you could just feel the love there, it actually made me a little nervous lol. This couple knew right off by my appearance that I was gay, and they still accepted me and loved me anyways. Shortly after meeting them, I came across an old flyer for work up at Yosemite National Park. I of course called the number and found out that there were Security openings. I was like in complete Awe! This paper I had for 6 years, and the opportunity was still available. I had 5 years of security experience, so this was a perfect opportunity. John and Olivia immediately started putting prayer towards my direction.
Well I got the job, and better, John and Olivia were so kind enough to take me to check in for my first day of work. When I arrived, I found out I was just not working security, but I was also working the fire department, and as a first responder to medical calls. I got to patrol for 10hrs and sometimes more, 4 days a week, in such majestic awesomeness. It was truly heaven for me, of course I had to deal with testosterone from other fellow officers, but I was blessed to meet Tony my fellow officer that shared the patrol car with me. Tony turned out to be gay, he also became my best friend up in Yosemite. I always had his back, and he always had mine. We both dealt with prejudice, but he helped me to learn to show that I was the bigger person. While I was up at Yosemite, I found out that the woman in San Jose that I thought was in love with me, had been taking money from me for her dream wedding with another woman. I felt so outraged, and most of all I felt so stupid. I started thinking of how I had lost some of my family, my job, my car, and now the woman that I thought was going to spend my life with. I really felt like a failure, and that I was the black sheep. As time went by, and I continued working in Yosemite. I would see nothing but couples holding hands, laughing, being romantic, and in love. I got to see weddings out in the meadows that were so beautiful. I wanted to know when would I get to experience such a dream, or was I destined to never have that experience at all?
One night, it was Christmas, December 25th, 2015, I was home at my parents’ house, spending time with my family. As I sat on the couch watching the Hallmark Channel, which probably wasn’t wise at the time lol. I started asking myself when will all this enchantment happen for me? When will I have someone in my life that loves me just as much as I love them and more. I felt myself getting emotional, which I was doing my best to hide from my family. Later that night at 11:30 p.m., I decided to post a few pictures of me up at Yosemite, some in uniform, and some of me just enjoying the adventures of Yosemite with friends on my days off. At that time, I wasn’t getting very positive responses from other women, it was always their needs, or hate for wearing what looked like a law enforcement uniform. This time I posted some pictures of me on Craigslist, and I asked what was thought of them. I had requested some feedback, instead of trying to take the approach of trying to find someone. Let me tell you some of the responses I received were way out there, and some even scared me in a funny way. Some of the thoughts that were coming from these women, were very colorful. Well on December 26th, 2015 at 12:05 a.m., I get this message from a woman that she thought I looked very nice in my pictures. I responded back and told her that she was the first normal response that I had received since I posted on the site, and that was just 15min. Without any thought, we started emailing back in forth just asking simple questions, talking about the night, and finding out that we were both in the same occupation of Security. She told me how she never looked at anything in the Fresno community. For some reason it came to her mind to look at the classifieds in my area hoping to just have a normal conversation with someone. Finally, I had expressed that I don’t ever give my number out when I haven’t met the person, she had expressed the same back. We both agreed that if we found either one of us too weird, we could always just block our numbers. Dawn called me at 1 a.m., and I swear we didn’t get off the phone until 6 a.m. Our conversation started off so easy, and so friendly, there was an immediate connection. I laughed because this was my only day off in the last 3 weeks, and instead of sleeping I was having the night of my life talking to her. We finally decided to end the conversation and get some rest, but by the afternoon, we were already calling each other and talking for another 4 hrs. So not seeming desperate at all right? Lol. As time went by, and our conversations started growing more and more, our connection started feeling stronger as the days went by. I, felt like I had more than a best friend to look forward to talking to. Dawn felt the same way. Now at my job in Yosemite, we would change shifts every 6 months. Well on this shift rotation, it was the Graveyard shift for me. What was funny was that I should have really been on day shift, but due to being short staffed, and medical needs of another fellow officer, I decided for my management to take on another 6 mos. of graveyard.
At first, I was like, what was I thinking, and heard that from my other fellow officers too, Yosemite was covered in snow, and we had temperatures below 0. But if I hadn’t taken on this shift, my conversation with Dawn probably would have never taken place, because I would not have had Christmas off, and the internet does not really work well in the housing. What was so funny about this was that on Christmas evening I had prayed to the Lord and asked him to send me someone special into my life. I really hadn’t thought of that prayer, until the day we finally decided to meet. Now we had already discussed about meeting each other for Valentines Day, so we wouldn’t be spending it alone. But it seemed like it was taking forever to get to February. On January 24th, Dawn and I were talking as usual, instead of me sleeping as usual lol. Some how we got onto the subject of daring me to get on a bus to come see her. Well if you dare me, I’ll do it, because I’m just like that, I love challenges! It does depend on the circumstances and the nature of it though! Well as we were still talking on the phone, I knew that the last bus to go to the train station hadn’t yet left Yosemite. I began packing my fire bag, for a 2 day stay, and then told her that I was in line for the bus. She didn’t believe me at first until the driver that happened to be a good friend of mine, confirmed that I was boarding for Merced to catch the Amtrak. Now I have never taken a trip out to the coast on the train or bus, so I was hoping I could figure it out on the way, and not get lost. Dawn kept texting me through the trip, and informed me that she had to work, but was going to have her sister pick me up, well of course that made me even more nervous, because we had never talked to each other. As I got closer after my transfer from the train to the bus, I was surprised that I wasn’t feeling nervous anymore but excited. Dawn kept insisting that I was going to find her unattractive because of her teeth being too big. Yeah whatever, ok lol. So, I texted her that I just passed a sign saying welcome to Grover Beach. Now this trip had started at 9:15 a.m., and I was barely arriving that night at 11:50 p.m. Quite a road trip, right? But I would do it all over again! Dawn then texts me that she’s going to be picking me up after all. Great relief, but then she informs me that I’m only 5 min away. My hands then start to get sweaty, and a little shaky. I started thinking what if this person isn’t there, and it’s just some mean joke, what do I do then? Of course, before I left Yosemite, I made sure that my close fellow officers and friends, well my Yosemite family all knew where I was going and the time I was going to be arriving. Of course, they were all worried for me, but wished me the best at the same time with excitement. Well I just told myself if turns out to be a joke, at least I can see the beach, get a margarita, and head back home.
Well suddenly the driver announces, “GROVER BEACH!” I see no one there, and my heart is starting to race. I call Dawn, and she tells me, “I’m here”. I said, “I don’t see you hun!” Well it turns out she was in the wrong parking lot, she was on the other side of the station wall in the parking lot for the train. We were relieved to find each other, and so nervous at the same time. Here’s this short little lovely lady, walking up to me with a red rose, which of course my heart was done for with that move, because I love roses. She was so certain that I was going to be disappointed, as I was feeling the same way about me. We hugged, laughed, and decided to go to Denny’s for some pie and coffee. I was STARVING!!! This is the funny part, as we both sat down in the restaurant, both of our phones start going off with text messages. We both were getting texts from our family and friends, asking if I was there yet, asking Dawn if I had arrived, and how was it? We both really laughed, because it was something that we both just don’t spontaneously do!
From that night on, I realized my enchantment dream was coming true! I had someone to look forward to talking with, and to see! I ACTUALLY HAD A GIRLFRIEND!!! Every time I had my 3 days off, I was on that train to see her. It was always exciting, funny, and full of love! Her family really accepted me, and I could very much noticeably tell that her mom and sister were so happy to see happiness in Dawn’s life. Later, Dawn finally had shared with me, how she was stuck in a marriage with a man for 24 yrs., for the sake of his children, knowing that she only liked women. I thought to myself, the commitment and the courage, all for the love and safety of the children. Dawn had also shared with me her past, how she was abused, and had a very rough life growing up. Hearing this broke my heart, I was so glad that we had the conversation in person instead of on the phone. I shared my past with her too. Telling her how I was abused by previous relationships with women, and was forced into drugs, just so I wouldn’t get beaten, and how I had to lie to the ER Dr. about my injuries. The one thing that Dawn and I realized was that we were both survivors, and STRONG Women.
As we both progressed in our relationship, I told Dawn, I’m going to marry you one day. My love would always joke around, and say, yeah sure, you’ll get tired of me. I also knew that it was her fear of her getting hurt, that she would say that. Now trust me we had our ups and downs, but I realized it was always when I had to go back to work. But I always assured her that I wasn’t going to leave her. I would laugh because on every trip down, she always had me leave something, so I wouldn’t have to carry so much on the bus. But I’m pretty sure it was to make sure I would return. I mean of course I couldn’t just abandon my “Old Spice” and “AXE” and especially not my “Johnny Blue” hair gel lol.
During this time, I was also dealing with a work injury that took place on Dec. 5th, 2015. Due to changes in the park, employees started disappearing to look for other work, and were trying to use their sick days and vacation time. I kept working to help management by covering as much hours as my body would allow me to. I finally had to tell my Director that I had to get checked and couldn’t handle the pain any more. Unfortunately, medical didn’t know what was going on with my shoulder injury, and finally I had to take a medical resignation, due to the decision of feeling that it wasn’t safe for me to continue patrolling.
When I told Dawn the news, she immediately told me, you’re coming to live with me. I thought for sure without a job, I wasn’t probably going to see her any more, but that was not the case at all. Dawn tells me on the phone, “Mom and I are coming to pick you up, and help you move out.” I was surprised, well completely beyond surprised, and this is when we really started the journey.
Since Dawn and I have been together, we have been through a lot of crazy, not so sure, what the heck are we doing, are we ready for these “ADVENTURES!” We became Foster Parents for our niece Ocean for 8 mos. Oh my gosh that was so scary in the very beginning, but an extreme joy and what an experience. Ocean was 2 weeks old when we received her. In fact, I was out of town for a Dr.’s appointment when Dawn called me saying that Ocean was going to be given to the county due to some problems. I immediately got on the next train out, just to be there in court. I have always wanted to be a mom, and as it turns out, I’m a good one! Dawn has been so supportive the last two years of our relationship. She’s been there for me with all my medical appointments, and surgeries for my disability. It hasn’t been easy, because I haven’t worked in 2 years. I now suffer with depression, anxiety, and whatever else, but still Dawn nor her family have not left my side. Dawn has been my rock through all these new challenges that I now face with!
So, FINALLY the BIG day comes on February 7th,2018! I presented Dawn with a ring. Talk about being nervous that whole week. I finally popped the question with her family there. When I opened the box, I immediately saw Dawn’s eyes glisten as they started to water up. I knew I had picked the right ring, and I made the right choice of asking Dawn to be my wife. She wrapped her arms around me tight and gave me the sweetest kiss ever! Every day since the engagement, our happiness has encompassed us more and more. Every day and every night we kiss each other and tell each other “I love you.” Everyday I know now what true love is, and most of all I feel the same amount of love I give out, come back to me and more. I now have someone that’s not ashamed to hold my hand in public, nor take pictures with me at the wharf, on the beach, in the car, on vacations, or anywhere that is a memory for us. Most of all I finally have some one for the first time not ashamed to kiss me no matter where we are. We both truly thought that this wonderful relationship would never come for us. It’s like living in a Fairy Tale every day.
Now I always told myself, that I wouldn’t tell my parents that I was gay, until my nephews and niece were 18, so that I wouldn’t be denied from them. But I also told myself, that if I ever fell in love with a woman that I knew loved me equally back, I would not deny her existence nor be ashamed. Dawn had asked me to not say anything to my parents until after my surgery in March, and after Easter. Just so that they could enjoy Easter with the grandchildren. On April 10th, 2018 at 7:45 a.m., I made a phone call to my mom, I knew they were back in town from San Diego, CA. It was a hard phone call because of their religious beliefs and set ways. Within 15 min., I was told that Dawn and I were no longer welcomed to their house, because we’re an abomination to the Lord, and by letting us in, she would go to hell. Then proceeded to tell me that I’m going to hell, also I won’t be allowed around until I accept the fact that I like men. I lost my parents in 15 min. Since then I’ve been not trying to let my emotions get to me, but its hard, because every day I would call to check on them. I would help them financially, and when I was there, I would provide good healthy meals to the best that I could financially.
What’s more of a struggle for me and Dawn rightnow, is trying to find a Wedding Venue that we can possibly afford, that isn’t hanging up on us, or flat out saying no to us because it’s a same sex marriage. We were so enthusiastic to start looking at ideas, venues, and attending our first wedding expo. We decided to have our wedding on June 20th, 2020 to give ourselves some time to try to save up for the day we’ve dreamed of. Except lately it’s been a lot of grief and disappointments. I’ve been told on the phone that the price for the venue was $3,900, but when they found out that it was a same sex marriage, the price went up to $20,000, because supposedly gay weddings are more of a problem. Another venue in Pismo Beach, Ca was referred to us by a friend. The venue looked perfect, it was a barn and you were allowed to do your own bbq. Unfortunately when my call was returned for more information, I found myself being preached to by the owner, and hearing her say how she loved us, but just couldn't allow our type to be on her property. I just started shedding tears, everything else that was available was just way over our budget, but I refused to give up!
All I want is to find the most beautiful venue with a coastal and mountain view in the background for my Dawn. Dawn really wants a Western theme wedding for the reception. We don’t care if it’s a vineyard, or a ranch, we would just like to find someone to rent us their barn, to make my love’s dream come true. Lately though, we both have been feeling discouraged, and upset with the negative responses. We had this one venue called Nipomo Creek Farms meet with us. They said that they would love to have our wedding on their property, we felt so relieved, but at the same time, we felt like we were being rushed off the property. The next day my fiancé receives an email, telling her that for the size of our crowd, which at the time we were saying 70 could not be worked with and that it was out of their hands to do further assistance, when the day before we were told it was fine. Even at the Expo we were told by a couple vendors that their property wouldn’t be suitable for our reception. They wouldn’t give me a reason why. I had one vendor tell me straight up that she loved me, unfortunately couldn’t allow our type of wedding or reception on her property, due to her beliefs. Tears began running down my face. I felt like I was hearing my mother on the phone again. Most of all, I was feeling so saddened, it seemed like everything was trying to stop us from having our dream come true.
Dawn and I don’t have much money at all. Especially with me being on disability, a lot of times we’re out of funds by the end of the week. We’re blessed with Dawn’s family as close as they all are, we never go hungry, cause we’re all there for each other. If her family had the money, they would help, but they’re financially struggling. We just want to have our special day come true! I want my beautiful fiancé, the love of my life’s dream to come true! She deserves it more than anything! I want her to have the colors that she’s dreamed about. I would love to have a group of mariachis for an hour or two in honor of my Grandma’s. We really want this to be a comfortable simple but somewhat elegant event not just for us, but for everyone that partakes in our special moment, we want them to remember. We want them to remember the day that Dawn and I say to each other, “I DO!” I know my story and my reasons are long, but the truth that you’re reading is very much the truth from the bottom of our hearts.
We have found our dream location to have our ceremony, which is at a place called Dinosaur Park at Shell Beach, Ca. There's a beautiful white Gazebo that not only gives a great panoramic view of the ocean, but of the mountains also, which is perfect because I love the sea, and Dawn loves the mountains and vineyards. To rent this location is $200. For the reception we have found this beautiful venue that doesn't have a problem with same sex marriages. What's absolutely beautiful about this location is that there's also a spot on top of a grazed hilltop that gives you a complete surrounding view of the beautiful vineyards that surround the coast. Dawn loves and values her wines and wineries. Her passion for the taste, the art, and the properties, brings such a smile to my face when I see the joy in her eyes. Well at this venue, there is a beautiful white barn that will accommodate our number of guests, and give the beautiful rustic western look that we desire. I have found a wonderful mariachi group that just doesn't provide music, but also provides the rich culture of my ancestors with dancing and horse riding entertainment. I would love to honor the memory of my grandparents. We are able to do our own bbq, so we're figuring for 150 guests. For our wedding cake, we're wanting to have a rustic design with our theme colors of lavender, champagne, and teal. We have found an officiant, and she is perfectly fine with same sex couples. For our very first honeymoon ever, which involves hopefully and God willing a trip to Hawaii, Disneyland, and a final journey to Glacier National Park.
To have this all happen with your support and help, I wouldn't even know where to begin or how to begin to show our deepest appreciation and gratitude for your love and support. I definitely know that it would involve a lot of tears from me and Dawn. We have never asked for help anywhere near this magnitude, so it's very hard for us, and a little scary. I have poured and shared our story with you from the very bottom of our hearts.
Ceremony Location = $200
Reception Location = $10,000
Vehicle Rental and Horse Carriage = $1,800
Mariachis = $2,000
Food = $1,500
Beverages = $600
Cake = $300
Officiant = $575
D.J. = $250 hr (4hr min)
Photographer = $1,000
Flowers/table settings/tables/linens/chairs/decor $3,000
Bride's Dress/ Groom Suit = $1,200