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There go the brides: Local gals getting hitched in San Fran

Donna Cochran, left, and Dawn Willey are taking the next step.

Courtesy of Dawn Willey

Donna Cochran, left, and Dawn Willey are taking the next step.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi may have gotten all the attention when they tied the knot in August, but about 115,000 same-sex couples will wed in California over the next three years.

On Friday, St. Petersburg's Dawn Willey and Donna Cochran will be among them, hitching it up at San Francisco City Hall. The pair beat out about 50 other couples in WFLZ-FM 93.3's Your Great Gay Wedding Day contest, which invited twosomes to send in a video stating why they deserved a free wedding (along with airfare and hotel accomodations). Their winning entry was a slide show set to a song Dawn wrote for Donna.

"We get a cool piece of paper. We get an actual marriage certificate, which is really cool, and we get a honeymoon for free. So you can't beat it," Dawn said. They're also planning a December celebration in Tampa Bay with 100 friends and family, and — yep, two wedding gowns.

Dawn, 42, is a social worker and part-time musician. Donna, 44, works in human resources. They live with Dawn's father and sons, ages 15, 13 and 12. The pair spoke with tbt* earlier this week.

Do you remember your first date?

Dawn: It was on my 41st birthday. We both drove over and we met at this little place that unfortunately no longer exists, but it was over on Corey Avenue on St. Pete Beach. This cute little place called Mangia. ... It was like we were two little kids. It was really cute.

Donna: It was our first kiss, too.

Was marriage something you had both talked about, or did one person spring it on the other?

Donna: We did talk about it. I said, and then Dawn said, that we'd never been so sure of anything in our life and that we wish that it was legal here — that we would do that. It was always something that we had talked about. We knew that we were going to have at least a commitment ceremony with our friends and family and whatnot. But we wanted to have been seeing each other for a year. We thought, "We're not going to move in together officially for a year. We're not going to do the whole lesbian and U-Haul thing." (both laugh)

What are you wearing for the wedding?

Donna: When we go to San Francisco, because we're going to do a lot of sightseeing that day, I think we're just going to be very informal.

Dawn: A nice sweater and jeans!

Donna: You've heard the expression "lipstick lesbians." We both are, so definitely no tux or anything like that.

Will either of you be changing your name?

Donna: I'm going to be changing my name to Donna Willey. ... No hyphen.

What's the most unique challenge of planning a same-sex wedding?

Donna: Traditionally, you have all the ushers and the bridesmaids. We're kinda short on ushers. (laughs)

Bride pride

Dawn Willey and Donna Cochran will be married Friday morning at San Francisco City Hall. See the winning video and, soon, wedding photos at


There go the brides: Local gals getting hitched in San Fran 09/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:46pm]
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