Colo. Governor's Wedding (on the Anniversary of His First Date) Makes History: 'Couldn't Be Happier'

"We couldn't be happier to be married at last," Jared Polis and his new husband, Marlon Reis, said in a joint statement

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Makes History With Wedding
Governor Jared Polis (left) marries First Gentleman Marlon Reis. Photo: Jocelyn Augustino 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis married his long-time partner on Wednesday, a ceremony that was also the first same-sex marriage by a sitting state leader.

Polis and Marlon Reis, who have been together for 18 years, "were wed in a traditional Jewish ceremony surrounded by close family and friends" on Wednesday afternoon at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the governor's office tells PEOPLE.

The couple, who live in Boulder, were engaged in December and have two children, ages 7 and 9.

"The greatest lesson we have learned over the past eighteen months is that life as we know it can change in an instant. We are thankful for the health and wellbeing of our family and friends, and the opportunity to celebrate our life together as a married couple" Polis and now-First Gentleman Reis said in a joint statement.

"After eighteen years, we couldn't be happier to be married at last," they said.

Polis and Reis, a published writer and animal advocate, wed in a small ceremony held outdoors and attended by friends and family.

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone officiated and every guest in attendance was required to test negative for COVID-19.

"The ongoing pandemic meant that we had to weigh the safety and wellbeing of our loved ones and their physical presence at our ceremony," the couple told PEOPLE in an emailed statement. "Ultimately, we opted for a smaller outdoor ceremony and celebration with friends and family. It was important for the peace of mind of our family and friends that we administer rapid COVID-19 tests to all guests before entering the wedding venue."

The site of the ceremony — Mary Rippon Outdoor Theater at the University of Colorado at Boulder — is significant in that it's where Reis graduated from the English department in 2004, and where the Colorado Shakespeare Festival takes place every year, the couple added in their statement.

Of course, the governor still had to focus on official state business — even on his wedding day.

As a spokesperson for Polis told PEOPLE, "At the last minute, President Biden announced a visit to Colorado. Thankfully, Governor Polis was able to greet the President and attend an event with him at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, on Colorado's national leading renewable energy and climate policies before rushing back to attend the rehearsal dinner."

At the reception luncheon, the couple and their guests enjoyed a plant-based menu of vegetarian charcuterie boards, rosemary-cashew nut roast, sweet corn-jalapeño lasagna, and a cake in their favorite flavor: lemon vanilla.

Polis later tweeted in celebration, including a line from The Princess Bride along with a link to an article about his nuptials.

"We just thought we would have a small gathering: family, a few close friends, just keep it very intimate, but still have something that was meaningful to us and our nuclear families," he told Colorado Public Radio of the ceremony.

He became the nation's first openly gay male elected governor in 2018, a decade after he made history as the first openly gay man elected to the House of Representatives.

Making history was never the plan, though, according to Reis, who told CPR: "Over the course of Jared's career in Congress, you know, we didn't set out to be the first of anything. Things sort of happened that way."

Reis added that the couple didn't even broach the subject of marriage for "a long time," as it hadn't been a possibility for either of them for much of their lives.

"As I was growing up, marriage was not even in the realm of possibility," Reis told CPR. "There was a lot of misinformation out there about what could potentially happen if you came out — what opportunities would you lose, how it would negatively impact you? So for a long time, the idea of getting married, we didn't talk about it."

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty

But once same-sex marriage was made legal in Colorado in 2014 (and then nationwide the following year) the possibilities changed, with Polis recounting how he was on the steps of the Supreme Court when the high court's decision was handed down.

"It was just kind of a moment of pure euphoria where the system worked," Polis told CPR of the day the decision was announced.

Polis proposed to Reis last winter while both of them were sick with COVID-19, and Reis was headed to the hospital. Telling CPR he had been thinking about proposing "for a while," Polis said he had already ordered a set of rings and had them inscribed with a passage from Isaiah.

"And [Reis] was going off to the hospital with COVID. I mean, I knew he'd probably get better, but obviously you never know," Polis said. "I thought, Now's a good time to give them something to remember here as we leave the house to take him to the hospital."

The couple told the outlet that they picked a ceremony date — Sep. 15 — that was significant to them: the 18th anniversary of their first date.

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