Meet the Pennington’s: The Story Behind One of the Grammy’s Weddings
February 4, 2014 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Associate Director of Digital Media
Brittany Pennington and Sally Beaver, Seattle, first met at Mesa Desert Ridge High School, but it would take many years and many miles before their love would land them on the stage at the Grammy’s.
Brittany, 25, and Sally, 21, were engaged for almost one week when a tragic motorcycle accident landed Sally in the hospital in their hometown of Arizona. It was the shock of the accident that motivated the couple to move to Washington, where their marriage would be legally recognized under state law.
Though their wedding planning had taken off in Seattle, it was not without obstacles. Sally’s family members in West Virginia threatened not to attend, putting a damper on the young couples’ enthusiasm to host a ceremony. So, after almost two years of engagement, Brittany – unbeknownst to Sally – decided to answer a nondescript casting call looking for couples that would like to marry at a “large event.”
At the end of November, she receives a call back.
“You two are so cute. We want you at this event, but we can’t tell you what it is right now because we don’t want this secret to get out,” Brittany recalls the woman saying over the phone.
It’s another month before Brittany and Sally learn they will marry on the Grammy’s. Not only do they have just one month to prepare for a wedding in front of millions, but also they have to keep it a secret.
According to Brittany, nerves got the best of the couple as the big day loomed nearer.
“Me and Sally, we didn’t eat – we both lost five pounds because we could not eat or sleep a few days before the wedding,” she said.
On the Friday before the Grammy’s, the couple flew into Los Angeles, racing to the courthouse for their marriage license before it closes.
Though at first, Brittany and Sally admitted, they worried marrying alongside 32 other couples might take away from their special moment, their fears were assuaged the next morning during rehearsal.
“While we were standing in line on Saturday, we started talking to the other couples – just seeing where they were from,” said Brittany. “Everybody – every couple was so unique in their own way. One of them was a cancer survivor, and she’s really young. She was pretty close to my age. Her partner had helped her through all of her chemo and everything.”
“I don’t think people would’ve ever thought that gay people, straight people, mixed-race people would ever be married on the Grammy’s,” said Brittany. “I’m glad that we got to be one of those couples.”
That afternoon, Brittany and Sally finally learned they would marry during Macklemore’s performance. According to Brittany, it was when the singer broke into “Same Love” during rehearsal that she realized the import of the moment.
“I just got chills, because even in the rehearsal, it felt so heavy on me,” said Brittany. “I just wanted to show people that love is love.”
At 10 a.m. on Sunday, the 33 gay and straight couples arrived for a final show-run through before they were tucked away in a tent to keep their big reveal a secret. The couples passed the time bonding, sharing food and drinks, and helping each other get dressed.
“I feel like these people will forever be in my life and I never would’ve expected that going into this,” said Brittany. “We’ve all talked about every year on our anniversary, all of us getting together. We’ve been keeping in touch and sharing pictures and it’s really amazing.”
Just before Macklemore’s performance was set to begin, the couples waited backstairs, ready to follow their cue to walk out to the center aisle. There, celebrities and musicians walked passed to cheer them on.
Finally, at the big unveiling, the couples walk out to a deafening applause. Brittany follows her mark until she’s reunited with Sally at the end of the aisle.
“I see Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, and Keith Urban and I look over and he’s crying. Katy Perry starts crying, everybody was crying,” said Brittany. “I wasn’t expecting it, it seemed so heartfelt and so real that these people were really cheering for us, and that was what really touched me.”
Since their wedding, the Pennington’s have received an outpouring of support, including from their home state.
And as for outlets that have run negative comments about them, Brittany and Sally aren’t listening.
“In the end, all that matters is that we were there – we were the first ones and we stood up for what we believed in,” said Brittany.