Discovering Every Different within the Place They Had All the time Been

When Denise Parnell and Whitney Hardy first encountered one another in 2009, it was on a blind date — one which Ms. Parnell was on with a person to whom she had been launched by mates.

To ease the stress on Ms. Parnell, her mates had organized for the setup to be half of a bigger gathering of 10 folks at a Mexican restaurant in Memphis, Tenn. The prolonged group included Ms. Hardy. However she and Ms. Parnell, each from the Memphis space after which of their early twenties, didn’t pay a lot consideration to one another.

Ms. Parnell was targeted on her blind date (which turned out to be “an entire catastrophe,” she mentioned). Ms. Hardy was targeted on her girlfriend on the time, who was together with her that night time. Afterward, 5 years glided by with out the 2 giving one another one other thought.

Throughout these years, Ms. Parnell remained in Memphis. A graduate of the College of Memphis, she was busy working as a ghostwriter for a company weblog, along with volunteering at an area farmer’s market and collaborating within the native Junior League chapter.

Ms. Hardy, who graduated from the College of Tennessee, moved to Atlanta for a tax-auditing job, earlier than returning to Memphis in 2014 to begin Henderson Transloading Providers, an agriculture storage and transport firm, together with her household. On the facet, she launched the L.G.B.T.Q. social networks LesBiFriends, which nonetheless exists as a Fb neighborhood, and, which shuttered in 2017.

“I wished to be extra seen to children like me,” mentioned Ms. Hardy. “I all the time say to folks, ‘Be the mentor you wanted if you had been youthful.’”

Though they had been born and raised in the identical metropolis, their upbringings had been considerably totally different.

Ms. Hardy grew up in a two-parent family in Germantown, Tenn., an prosperous suburb of Memphis. Ms. Parnell was raised by her mom and maternal grandmother, and lived in numerous neighborhoods in Memphis all through her childhood.

Ms. Hardy got here out in her freshman 12 months at Houston Excessive College in Germantown — “the primary homosexual scholar to go public there,” she mentioned, which “terrified” her. Ms. Parnell dated solely males.

In late 2014, the 2 crossed paths once more once they ended up on the identical group chat with yet one more bunch of mutual mates. They didn’t agree on something. “We’d argue over the most effective espresso store in Memphis or who was the most effective up and coming artist. Everybody on the chat would simply get quiet,” mentioned Ms. Hardy, 34. “However it drew me nearer to Denise. We’re each, um, very opinionated.”

Ms. Parnell, additionally 34, mentioned she favored that Ms. Hardy “challenged” her. “After I’m captivated with one thing, I come on sturdy,” Ms. Parnell mentioned.

Finally, their playful bickering by way of textual content message on the group chat led to in individual conversations when the 2 started carpooling to native occasions. Ms. Parnell and Ms. Hardy realized they shared a ardour for artwork openings, museums and dwell music.

“We discovered that we actually lived down the road from one another, too,” mentioned Ms. Parnell, whose home close to the College of Memphis was simply blocks from Ms. Hardy’s home within the Pidgeon Estates neighborhood.

Over the following 12 months, the informal mates turned confidantes. Aligned on a ardour for recent greens — Ms. Parnell is vegetarian; Ms. Hardy is pescatarian — they shared many dinners cooked at residence by Ms. Hardy, throughout which they might counsel one another.

Ms. Hardy was nonetheless together with her girlfriend, however had issues about their relationship. She knew she wished to get married at some point, however she wasn’t satisfied that she had met her superb match.

Ms. Parnell additionally questioned her life trajectory. She was by then working as a contract content material creator and a social media supervisor on the Memphis Faculty of Artwork, and felt unsure in her profession.

“It appeared like I did all the best issues and I used to be anticipating to be farther in my skilled profession, however stuff wasn’t lining up for me,” she mentioned. “I stored hitting partitions with my inventive endeavors as a author.”

One night time after a supper at Ms. Hardy’s home, Ms. Parnell went residence and had a romantic epiphany: She favored Ms. Hardy.

“I texted Whitney, however she tried to speak me out of it,” mentioned Ms. Parnell, who recalled Ms. Hardy telling her, “‘You most likely had an excessive amount of to drink.’”

To that, Ms. Parnell mentioned she texted again: “I had one glass of wine!”

Ms. Hardy didn’t overthink the truth that Ms. Parnell had by no means dated a girl. “I’ve really dated largely bisexual ladies,” she mentioned. And for Ms. Parnell, exploring her sexuality felt pure, she mentioned. “It wasn’t an enormous deal to me as a result of I grew up attending performing arts faculties. Just about all people round me was homosexual.”

However each anxious {that a} romantic relationship would jeopardize their friendship. That concern led them to maintain their relationship strictly platonic all through most of 2015. Throughout that point, Ms. Hardy broke up together with her girlfriend, and launched 3rdSpace, a company in Memphis that helps the native arts neighborhood.

Ms. Parnell did some freelance writing concerning the meals scene in Memphis for Blavity, a information and way of life web site created by and for Black millennials. Her want to take issues in a romantic course with Ms. Hardy didn’t wane. In November 2015, Ms. Parnell recalled, “I lastly mentioned, ‘Hey, we have to go on a correct date. We have to dress up.”

They went out to dinner after which noticed the movie “The Martian.” On the way in which residence, they stopped at Muddy’s Bake Store, a bakery in Memphis, for cupcakes. The night, Ms. Parnell mentioned, was a turning level of their relationship. “It marked the gradual development from attending to know one another to being extra concerned about one another,” she mentioned.

That December, Ms. Parnell and Ms. Hardy went to a vacation social gathering hosted by New Memphis, an area group targeted on neighborhood improvement. It was then that Ms. Hardy mentioned her romantic emotions for Ms. Parnell crystallized: “I felt this sense of consolation, security, adoration and delight as we mingled with my mates. I wished everybody to satisfy Denise and so they beloved her.”

By January 2016, they had been formally calling themselves a pair, and that October, the 2 moved in collectively, together with Ms. Hardy’s Chihuahua, Duck.

Round that point, Ms. Parnell launched a way of life weblog known as The Elle Aesthetic and left her job on the Memphis Faculty of Artwork. Ms. Hardy continued to juggle her time between her start-up ventures, which required her to journey and be on name for shoppers, colleagues and younger artists.

“I grew up in a household of entrepreneurs so I knew I needed to be with a sure kind of persona. Denise carried bins with me. She revered my journey and was there with me for my development,” mentioned Ms. Hardy.

Over the following few years, the couple continued to speculate time of their careers and relationship; in 2019, they adopted a rescue Labrador collectively, which they named Panda. Then got here the pandemic, which put life as they knew it on maintain.

“I can’t downplay how annoying it was. I used to be involved about work and our well being and simply going to the grocery retailer,” Ms. Parnell mentioned. “However we acquired to know one another in a brand new approach throughout that point. I discovered from Whitney that you may get by way of onerous instances and nonetheless have a mushy coronary heart.”

However when the world floor to a halt, Ms. Hardy mentioned, it allowed her to see how pivotal Ms. Parnell had change into to her life. “I mentioned to myself, ‘In the event you don’t seize this lady now, you’re loopy,’” she mentioned. The pandemic additionally didn’t crush her entrepreneurial spirit: In January 2021, Ms. Hardy, launched an enhanced water firm known as Hardy Drinks in Memphis.

Ms. Hardy proposed to Ms. Parnell on Jan. 23, 2021, the couple’s fifth anniversary, in entrance of the Levitt Shell, an amphitheater in Memphis.

She sought out a Black feminine designer to create a bespoke engagement ring, and landed upon Maggi Simpkins, who custom-made the ring with a ruby, Ms. Hardy’s birthstone, beneath the diamond setting. (Ms. Parnell had thought-about herself extra of a plain-gold-band individual, however mentioned Ms. Hardy wished to have “a second.”)

On Dec. 31, 2021, Ms. Hardy and Ms. Parnell had been married on the Cordelle, a Victorian residence in downtown Nashville. Reverend Shameka Cathey, a minister of the New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville, officiated on the ceremony earlier than 50 vaccinated friends.

To their black-tie wedding ceremony, Ms. Parnell wore a easy white crepe robe with a cathedral veil. Ms. Hardy donned a customized black velvet swimsuit from The Tailory New York, customized with freshwater pearls to honor the couple’s water indicators (Ms. Hardy is a Most cancers; Ms. Parnell is a Pisces). “I went to New York thrice for fittings, so I suppose that makes me the bride,” she mentioned.

After the ceremony, the couple stole away from their friends to a personal room to share an intimate second, which each known as the spotlight of their New Yr’s Eve wedding ceremony.

“I used to be like, ‘Oh my gosh! We actually did it!’” mentioned Ms. Hardy. “I used to be an accounting main at College of Tennessee. I’m a nerd. You by no means assume you’re going to get the cheerleader.”

Ms. Parnell, who mentioned she was as soon as often called the “queen of the primary date,” mirrored on their romantic historical past: “Whitney was all the time like, ‘Why do you want me?’ I might all the time say, ‘Someday, you’ll get up and calm down.’”

When Dec. 31, 2021

The place The Cordelle in Nashville, Tenn.

Supporting Girls The couple made it a precedence to work with Black feminine distributors, together with photographer Elle Danielle and planner Tanza Perry-Cooper of LeeHenry Occasions in Nashville, who assisted on the day of the occasion.

Signature Cocktails Ms. Parnell’s tipple was a spicy mezcal margarita named after the TikTok sound, “Is it Me? Am I the Drama?” Ms. Hardy’s drink was the “Southern Woman,” a combination of vodka, orange bitters, maple-infused easy syrup, cinnamon and onerous cider.

Music Snafu As a substitute of their chosen first track, “No person” by Leisure that includes GoldLink, Ms. Hardy mentioned the D.J. “performed the fallacious track at first, so we simply stood there.” However when the best monitor got here on, “we smiled and acquired on the market,” she mentioned. Discovering Every Different within the Place They Had All the time Been

Fry Electronics Team

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