Shanker and Pariser, who is a nurse, met in April 2009 during a Pennsylvania Diversity Network fundraiser in East Stroudsburg.
Three years later, Shanker proposed.
The Bethlehem residents were joined in a legal wedding in Connecticut in April, surrounded by family and friends and officiated by Religious Institute president the Rev. Debra Haffner.
“We chose Connecticut for a few reasons, including the proximity to Pennsylvania and because we wanted to have our legal wedding on the beach,” Shanker said. “But most importantly, we went to Darien, Conn., because there is no waiting period to get married: We were able to apply for a license and get married in the same day.”
The two also wanted to sanction their union with a Jewish ceremony, which was held July 28 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Seth Goren.
The decision to have two ceremonies was something the two gave much thought, Shanker said.
“We felt very strongly that we wanted to be legally married and we also wanted to celebrate with our friends and family. We didn’t want to wait for Pennsylvania and getting legally married now in a state where it is recognized does come with certain federal benefits post-DOMA,” Shanker said.
To prepare for the religious ceremony, the pair learned about Jewish wedding traditions and worked to make them their own.
“Our ritual was inclusive and progressive and in line with our values as Reconstructionist Jews,” he said.
Shanker said the couple was overjoyed to be surrounded by friends and family.
But, they were also excited about congratulations they received from a few special guests not in attendance.
“One highlight was receiving a letter from President and First Lady Obama and another letter from Sen. Casey congratulating us on our marriage,” Shanker said. “We had both letters, along with our marriage rejection from Pennsylvania and our marriage license from Connecticut, on display at our wedding.”
Shanker said their ceremony hasn’t changed how they approach their relationship, but has changed the response they get from the public.
“It doesn’t change anything for us in terms of our relationship to each other. What does feel different is how other people interact with us now that we are married and call each other husbands.”