Dana Landis, left, and Tamara Waldridge, both of South Bend, Indiana exchange marriage vows at Vander Veer Park in Davenport, Iowa Wednesday, December 12, 2012. (Jeff Cook/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Jeff Cook

“I love you” works for most couples, but it was just too long to type at the end of messages Dana Landis would send to her new spouse, Tamara Landis-Waldridge.

So they shorted the note of affection to “Italy,” which they say stands for “I’ll truly always love you.”

There were plenty of shouts of “Italy” on Wednesday at Davenport’s Vander Veer Botanical Park conservatory. The two wanted to get married on Dec. 12, 2012, and their wish came true.

Dana Landis and Tamara Landis-Waldridge, both 42, made the four-hour trek from their home in South Bend, Ind., to get married in Davenport, which they said was the closest city where they could legally marry.

Unlike Indiana, Iowa allows same-sex couples to marry since the Iowa Supreme Court decision Varnum v. Brien in 2009.

After her wedding ceremony, Landis said she hopes her home state will one day recognize her marriage.

“I’m hoping that sooner than later Indiana comes out of the dark ages,” she said. “We were forced to come to Iowa to get married. We want it to be legal.”

Scott County Magistrate Carrie Coyle married the couple at 12:12 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s my legal obligation,” Coyle said before the ceremony began. “I’ve always been very supportive of same-sex marriage.”

Coyle has married between 50 and 100 same-sex couples since the decision, and she said the majority of them come from out of state.

“I think it’s amazing they can do this here,” said Christine Tine, Landis’ maid of honor. “I’m happy for them. Love is love. You should be able to marry whomever you want.”

Landis and Landis-Waldridge have been together for 15 months. Landis said she’s been welcomed by her spouse’s family. Her spouse’s 27-year-old daughter even got a tattoo above her left elbow that says “Mom2,” in honor of Landis.

“That means a great deal to me,” Landis said.

They initially wanted to get married over the summer, but Landis-Waldridge hadn’t yet recovered from back surgery.

She first had back surgery in February. The doctor arrived late and, in his haste, cut into her spinal cord, Landis said.

“By the grace of God, she’s walking,” Landis said.

Landis-Waldridge said she’s “healing slowly” and is back to work.

They had members of their family as well as a few friends make the trip with them.

Vander Veer’s conservatory was filled with poinsettias. Landis said she wanted it to feel like Christmas and festive. She and her spouse have their birthdays in December.

“I’ve never been happier in my life,” Landis said. “I am at such peace.”