David Tutera and Joey Toth on being the first same-sex couple to marry at their church

David Tutera may be known for making magic when it comes to onscreen weddings. But off-camera, the celebrity wedding planner had a movielike love story of his own with husband Joey Toth.

“We were introduced via my very close friend and [Toth’s] sister,” the planner and television personality tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We talked for several weeks on the phone. It was kind of old-school.”

However, the couple did have an unconventional official first date.

“The first date that we had, it was sort of odd because he was coming [to California] from Arizona to come spend time. It was kind of like, what do we do? Do you stay at a hotel? Do you stay at my house? How long is the date? What if it goes bad?” Tutera says. “So we created the parameters on the phone. Like, ‘You can sleep in the guest bedroom. Nothing’s happening.’”

Regardless of Tutera’s intentions, however, he says that as soon as he laid eyes on Toth, it felt like a movie.


“It was a movie moment,” Toth concurs. “Because it’s [me] coming down the escalator in an airport and there’s David waiting for me, for the very first time that we meet in person.”

When reminiscing about the rest of that first weekend together, Toth recalls incredible detail, down to the “two hamburgers well-done” that Tutera ate at the Soho House during their first meal. They also spent a day at Disneyland while Toth was in town. And although Tutera admits to not being as quick to remember that weekend’s itinerary, he does say that he immediately knew that Toth was the one.

“I knew that Joey was the one when I met him. I wasn’t aware that we were gonna get married ’cause I wasn’t ready,” Tutera continues. “Life was incredibly chaotic.”

The chaos surrounding Tutera at the time came from his pending divorce from Ryan Jurica — with whom Tutera had twins via surrogate. But a few years later, Tutera was ready to make Toth an official part of his family, and he employed the help of his daughter, Cielo, for the Hawaii proposal.

“When I proposed to Joey, Cielo was an equal part of the proposal process,” Tutera says. “She knew that she had her line that she had to say, which was, ‘Will you marry us?’”


Tutera says that his little girl was, of course, perfect in her execution of the proposal. However, the couple nearly hit a roadblock after they asked their pastor at the United Methodist Church in Hollywood to officiate the ceremony.

“Immediately the answer is ‘yes,’” Tutera says of the couple’s pastor, who they had known from spending so much time there. “Three months later, we found out that the church declined us.”

According to them, the church had never seen a same-sex wedding within the sector of the United Methodist religion. But the couple says their pastor was dead set on being involved in the first.

“She fought and said, ‘I’m gonna do this even if I lose my job of 22 years,’” Tutera says. While Toth adds, “We got to be the first same-sex couple to walk down the aisle there, and it was amazing.”

The couple has since been married for three years, and another daughter via surrogate was born on Jan. 24.


Now, Tutera is bringing that same magic to other people’s weddings with his new show, My Great Big Live Wedding, premiering on Tuesday at 10 p.m. Joining Lifetime’s “Real Love Tuesdays,” each episode of the eight-part series will follow the emotional journey of a deserving couple who will be getting married live at the end of the episode.

“I’ve always been someone that wants to make people happy,” Tutera says. “This show is greater than I can possibly wrap my head around because of the stories of these couples.”

And just like when he was on that escalator in the airport, Toth is both proud and in love with his husband for his work.

“This is about making other people happy,” Toth says. “Making an impact for them to pass it along.”

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