Tuxedos

Paul Waters, right, and his partner Kevin Voecks check the fit of their tuxedos for their wedding Tuesday, June 17, 2008. Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D- Los Angeles) will officiate the ceremony in a Studio City corporate office garden. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

It's 9 a.m. on a Thursday and Paul Waters and Kevin Voecks are paging through photos of cakes at the Vienna Bakery in Thousand Oaks.

"Would you want something like that?" Voecks asked, pausing briefly on one.

"Hmmm," Waters replied.

It's 12 days until their wedding.

Voecks, 51, pointed to another, a four-tiered cake, with icing studs running down its side. "This one reminds me of a tuxedo shirt, it's not effeminate."

"I think bow ties here," Waters, 53, said. "And I like the wedding bells on it."

"Bow ties would be awesome!" Voecks said.

His soon-to-be mother-in-law, Peggy Waters, 80, looked on as her only son and his groom finalized the order.

"Kevin's a 10," Peggy Waters said. "All the women Paul brought home, I never liked. This is still a dream come true."

It was Fourth of July weekend in 1993 when Voecks saw Waters across the bar at a country/western beer bust in North Hollywood.

Beer in hand, Voecks walked over and said: "Hi."

Within months, Waters knew he had met the right man. But Voecks thought of himself as an "eternal bachelor." That fall, Waters gave him a week to decide -- commit or go their separate ways.

Waters moved into Voecks' Valley Village house on Oct. 29, 1993. They bought matching rings engraved with that date. But they asked the jeweler to leave enough space for a second date: their hoped-for wedding day.

At the time it was wishful thinking.

As laws changed over the years, Voecks and Waters registered as domestic partners: first in West Hollywood, then in Los Angeles County, and finally in California. They contemplated using friends' addresses in Massachusetts so they could marry there. But they wanted more than a symbolic union.

"We don't want a marriage with an asterisk," Waters said.

"We want the real deal," Voecks said.

On May 15, the day the California Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Waters and Voecks were in Las Vegas.

In their hotel, they took calls from excited friends and watched coverage on television. Waters turned to Voecks.