To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Hundreds of years ago even Shakespeare understood the gravity of choosing or carrying a family name.  Romeo struggled with the choice of giving his up and being with his forever love or hanging on to it and losing her altogether.  Lucky for us, deciding what to do with your last name after marriage doesn’t have such grave consequences.  It can however, be a tough decision for a couple to make. Names can hold cultural significance or help identify you as a proud member of a prominent family in your community.  Long ago, there were hard traditional rules to the last name situation, but times have changed and now couples are choosing different routes altogether.  So, if you and your partner are in this phase of merging your lives and trying to figure out what to do with the last names, just know that you don’t have to settle for tradition.  Here are few ways couples are deciding to merge their last names.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

The Traditional Way

I know I started this by talking about non-traditional routes, but I thought it would be good to start with this one to lay the foundation.  I think we all know the traditional way to handle your last name after marriage is having one partner take the last name of the other. In the past, it was the woman who would take her husband’s last name, however in essence it is just one partner deciding to replace their last name with the other partner’s. Doing this requires a lot more work than some of the other options including filing for a new birth certificate and social security card, changing your name on your driver’s license and passport, and of course paying the fees associated with those changes. There are other issues you may run into as well, if you go this route. For example, is if it is the husband who wants to take the last name of the wife or if you are a same-sex couple, things get a little trickier.  In some states those two situations don’t allow couples to go through the standard marriage name change procedures.  Instead you would need to file for a legal name change that requires petitioning the court and putting out a public notice which could cost you a few hundred bucks.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Keep Your Given Name

I mean, it’s yours after all.  You have likely walked around with that name your whole life, it is nice and worn in and comfortable.  It is who you are.  That can be reason enough to keep your name, but there are a host of other reasons people decide to do this.  The most common are for practical and professional reasons.  Practically speaking its low-maintenance.  You don’t have to make any changes or pay any fees.  You just continue with your regular life after the wedding.  Other people keep it for professional reasons.  You might own a business and it carries your name, there’s no need to change that when you keep your surname.  Or you have built a professional image around your name and its your personal brand.  Changing it could be a marketing disaster.  There are also familial or cultural reasons.  A good friend of mine comes from a large Korean family who is very involved in their community.  They have a unique last name, so when she introduces herself, people know who her family is and value what they have done in the community.  When she got married, she wanted to stay connected with that culture of community support her family was known for, so she kept her family name.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Add Punctuation/Hyphenate

This is probably the second most common way that couples choose to merge their last names.  They just add a hyphen.  Think “Jane Doe-Smith, or John Adams-Brown.” Rumor has it that even Jay Z has hyphenated his and Beyoncé’s surname to become Shawn Knowles-Carter since she doesn’t have any brothers and they wanted to carry the family name on. This is an easy way to have the best of both worlds.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Create a New Name Altogether

Not only has this idea gained popularity in the last decade, but it just sounds awesome.  Some couples have decided to ditch their given names altogether and come up with their own. They are using names they made up as kids or choosing to merge their two surnames (Dawson and Hobbs become Dobbs or Hawson), or simply choosing something that references mutual hobbies or passions, like my clients Sara and Will did: their new last name references one of their favorite Doctor Who episodes.  Of course, this would likely require a legal name change and a few dollars in fees, but what I’ve heard from couples who have done this is that is prevents the need to choose one name over the other or to make your names extra long with hyphens.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Hopefully, this post gives you a solid list of options when deciding what to do with your surname after the wedding is over.  And just as Shakespeare wrote many, many moons ago and much more eloquently than I can, no matter what you decide to do, a name doesn’t change who you are you’ll still be that perfectly sweet smelling rose no matter how you decide to sign.

 

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Landing Resort Winter Wedding

Landing Resort Winter Wedding | Michelle + Rich

Michelle and Rich originally intended to elope, and then it turned into a small wedding, and then it turned into a bigger wedding. The Landing Resort and Spa offered the perfect location: a gorgeous rooftop deck, in house catering, and incredibly comfortable resort style hotel rooms that allow for pets, which was a must since they’ve rescued quite a few dogs over the past year.

Since Michelle and Rich both work at media school that offers courses in film, photography, theater and other visual arts, most of their close friends are all photographers and videographers.  As such, it was important to them to find someone that was relaxed, laid back, and wouldn’t be concerned with other folks taking photos.  Among my loud charm and wit, I am certainly relaxed. Oh, and I can help you find a DJ the night before you wedding.

I’m incredibly thankful that Rich and Michelle found me. I had such an amazing time with their friends and family and I now count them, as well as a few of their friends, among my friends. 

Also, that first look face.  Amiright?

Venue: The Landing Resort and Spa | DJ: Gabe Gavilanes | Florist: Thran’s | Bakery: Icing on the Cupcake | Bride’s Attire: Pronovias from Miosa Bride | Groom’s Attire: R. Douglas Clothier custom suit designed by David Garibaldi

Landing Resort Winter WeddingLanding Resort Winter WeddingLanding Resort Winter WeddingLanding Resort Winter WeddingLanding Resort Winter WeddingLanding Resort Winter WeddingLanding Resort Winter Wedding

 

Resources for Black Brides

African American Wedding Traditions

I cannot let this month end without paying homage to the rich history of African American culture and specifically, all the amazing African American wedding traditions.  February, though much too short, is Black History month. It also happens to be the month of love. So, it made sense that I finish this month off with a post that celebrates “Black Love” or more specifically the ways in which that love is celebrated during weddings.

These Black wedding traditions are both fun and have deep historical significance. Some are just for kicks and some trigger moments of honest inner reflection.  By integrating these traditions into our ceremonies, we create more memorable wedding experiences which knit together the hearts of those in our community and bring us back to the ties that bind, the feeling of family and of home that are sometimes drowned in a sea of majority culture.  Here is a quick list of some of the most popular.

African American wedding traditions

Jumping the Broom

Probably one of the most recognizable traditions in black weddings is the tradition of “jumping the broom.” In pre-slave trade Africa jumping the broom represented the symbolic sweeping away of all past problems.  During the era of slavery African Americans were forbidden to marry and often couldn’t live together, so jumping over a broom at the end of a wedding ceremony was one of the only ways for them to publicly declare their union. 

Today many African American couples decide to make this tradition a part of their wedding. It is very popular to have a beautiful broom handcrafted to use during the wedding, and then keeping it afterwards to display in their new home together.

African American wedding traditions

Sorority and Fraternity Strolls

Black couples who are members of a Black Greek organization are familiar with the Greek “stroll.” Greek organizations have historically and continue to be a medium to create bonds and social involvement in the black community. Members of these organizations take pride in being a part of such an effort and often decide to include their Sorority Sisters or Fraternity Brothers in their wedding ceremonies.  The most popular way to do this is for members of the organizations to participate in their particular “stroll.”

African American Wedding Traditions

The Stroll has evolved from the African tradition of “Stepping.” Though stepping can be traced back to African tribal dance, the more modern versions began in the early African American slave communities.  The slaves used “stepping” along with “call and response” chants and songs as a means of communicating important information.  Around the late 1960’s historically black sororities and fraternities embraced stepping and strolling. 

Black couples usually include this rich tradition during the wedding reception where sorority sisters or fraternity brothers dance in a synchronized way or “stroll” in a circular pattern around the room.

Though its origins are in the Black community, stepping has spread to Latino, Asian and multicultural fraternities and sororities as well.

Resources for Black Brides

The Electric Slide/Cha Cha Slide/ Cupid Shuffle, etc.

Okay, we talked about the historical stroll, now let’s jump into a tradition that is all fun.  If you have ever been to a single black barbeque, family reunion or heck even sometimes a funeral, then you have been prompted to get up to dance along to one of these line dances.

Soul line dancing in the black community essentially has a similar history to the Greek strolls, but to be honest, we just kind of love it.  Don’t ask me how we learn these so fast, there must be a specific gene that is passed on or likely we grew up watching our elders do it.  Either way these dances make their way into most black family events.  It’s a great way to get everyone on the dance floor and having a good time. Yes, I know African Americans are not the only ones who do line dances, however I’ve never been to a Black event where one of these songs was not played and people of all ages did not get their fancy feet to the dance floor. If you want some incredibly fun memories be sure to throw those into the DJ’s mix.

Resources for Black Brides

A Way to Celebrate our Uniqueness

Ceremonies of all kinds are a way to bring communities back together.  They are a way to celebrate our shared history, struggles, and triumphs.  Adding traditions into those ceremonies remind us of our past and unite us in all the things we have in common. These traditions give us a break from trying to blend in– and allow us to celebrate what makes our specific communities unique and valuable.  Oh, and some of them are just plain fun. When planning your ceremony take a minute to think about what makes your family unique and special and try to include those elements into your wedding.  Keep them going for the next generation so that in years to come they can share in that pride and pass it on. Do it for the future.  Do it for the culture.

Resources for Black Brides

Big thanks to my writer, the amazing Tashara Mitchell of Austin, TX, who has been working hard to help me craft posts that are inclusive and diverse.  It’s important to me to make sure that everyone is represented in my work and she’s the badass who is helping.  If you need marketing and ghost writing services, I can’t recommend her enough.

Why You Should Throw a “Big Easy” Mardi Gras Wedding

You don’t have to be religious or from the south to love a great Mardi Gras party. I mean who doesn’t love a full day of binge eating your favorite foods or a night of drunken revelry that comes with free colorful costume jewelry (aka Mardi Gras beads)! We know there are literally thousands of ways to plan your wedding, but a Mardi Gras wedding should absolutely be in the running. So, when you do decide, make sure I’m there to catch what will inevitably be fantastic photo memories! However, if you need to be convinced further, just keep reading.

New Orleans Flag

Reason 1: Have Any Venue You Want with a Tuesday Wedding

Weddings are expensive, especially if you are eyeballing a Saturday wedding.  Most popular venues are booked for Saturdays a year out. This means two things: 1. Saturdays are extremely popular, and it may be difficult to get the date you want and 2. This high demand equals high prices.  Weekday dates are much lower in price because of the lower demand (think anywhere from 10-25% lower), and you can have your pick of dates and venue.

I know what you may be thinking, “who will want to take off during the week to come to my wedding?”  For some perspective, 1.5 million Americans called in sick the day after the Super Bowl, so have no fear, we know how to plan for recovery and sacrifice for a good party. You can also look at it another way and realize that though having a Tuesday wedding may keep some people away, your wedding guest will be made up of the people who truly love you and won’t let anything stop them from celebrating with you.

Wedding Guests

Reason 2: Shrove Tuesday and Pancakes

Great Food, Masks, Parades, and King Cake.  Mardi Gras traditions simply cannot be beat. There is so much history and culture tied into the holiday that you have your pick of customs to implement into your wedding. First, it starts with the name Mardi Gras, also known as “Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.” In Christian culture Mardi Gras is celebrated the day before “Ash Wednesday.” Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season, which is a time of penitence and fasting. So historically, Fat Tuesday was also known as “Pancake Tuesday” because celebrants would try to use up all their butter, sugar and dairy prior to lent by making and pigging out on pancakes.  Over time it has evolved into a day of celebration and total debauchery. Your last chance to get in all the fun before the 40 days of sacrifice that lent requires. Sounds like the perfect time for a wedding celebration to me.  But the tradition itself is the eating of the pancakes.  If you are considering a unique twist on your reception dinner, maybe throw in a pancake bar complete with ready made pancakes and all the toppings you could imagine.  Sort of a “do-it-yourself” IHOP. 

Wedding Dinner

Reason 3: Masks, Not Just for Halloween

Besides the food, Mardi Gras is known for its beautiful masks. Early on in New Orleans Mardi Gras history, revelers wore masks keep their identities secret, to avoid being bound by societies norms and be free to participate in not-totally-acceptable ways. This also gave them the opportunity to mingle with whoever they wanted. Consider implementing this into your Mardi Gras wedding.  Add a bundle of creative masks to your photo booth station and let your guests get as wild and creative as they want.

Mardi Gras Indians

Reason 4: King Cake. Need I Say More?

I absolutely could not write a piece about a Mardi Gras wedding without mentioning the King Cake. The traditional New Orleans King Cake is decorated with purple, green, and gold sugar icing. They can be plain or filled with cream cheese or nuts. A plastic baby is placed inside the cake and the tradition states that whoever gets the piece with the baby must throw the next party.  Consider a twist on this tradition for your wedding.  Instead of throwing the bouquet or the garter, offer the single ladies or men at your reception a piece of King Cake and the one who gets the baby, gets the bouquet or the garter instead and is next in line for a wedding.

Wedding Second Line

Reason 5: The “Second Line” Parade

Finally, we cannot forget the parade.  Okay this last one may not be a strictly Mardi Gras tradition, but it certainly has its roots in New Orleans. It’s called the “second line”. The “second line” is a tradition for brass band parades. It’s made up of those who follow the band as they parade in the street, just to enjoy the music, and traditionally twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air. This “dance” is called “second lining.”  Many New Orleans couples have been led to the reception or out of it via second line. Yall, can you imagine being led into your reception by a brass band, twirling a parasol, with your wedding guests behind you, ready to party New Orleans Mardi Gras style?  I mean, does it get any fancier than that??

Wedding Second Line

Are You Convinced Yet?

I hope this little history of Mardi Gras traditions and how you can integrate them into your wedding inspired you to go full “Krewe.” Once you have, contact me and I’ll be ready with photo booth, camera and beads in hand.

Mardi Gras beads

Aspen Grove Wedding

Aspen Grove Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Kelsey + Nick

Nick and Kelsey met in college at UNR and now reside in Las Vegas, NV.  They were excited to wed in Lake Tahoe and their venue is one of my absolute favorites in the area – it always has amazing light, regardless of the time of day and although it’s right in the heart of Incline Village, NV, you feel tucked away into your own private space.  Their Aspen Grove wedding was an absolute blast from start to finish.

Nick and Kelsey’s friends and family were right up my alley: whiskey drinking, dance floor maniacs that spent the whole day laughing.  Their dance floor was epic from the get go: both Kelsey and Nick were crowdsurfing at one point and the end of the night culminated with pants being torn off a groomsmen.

 Related note: shout out to Kelsey for being part of a really amazing non-profit that I considered as my recipient for this year.  She’s on the board of S.A.F.E. House, a comprehensive anti-domestic violence organization that offers free 1) shelter, 2) advocacy and counseling services, 3) community education to end domestic violence. The organization serves primarily women and children in Southern Nevada, but also serves men who are victims of domestic violence, as well folks from outside Nevada.  If you aren’t aware, I pick a different non-profit beneficiary every year to give a percentage of my sales to and I always choose one that is directly connected to my clients. 

Venue: Aspen Grove | Catering: Aspen Grove | Florist: Moana Nursery | Bride’s Attire: Celebration’s Bridal | Groom Attire: Brooks Brothers | DJ: Lake Tahoe DJ | Second Photographer: Annie Robillard 

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Wedding favors

Football, Fly Fishing, or Film: How to Incorporate Your Favorite Hobbies into Your Wedding Festivities

So, you met your life partner at the local theater’s all-day Star Wars marathon and ever since then you two have been inseparable.  You two can be found at every indie movie midnight showing and every film trivia night at all the bars in town.  We get it, you love film, or maybe it’s not film, but football, or ballroom dancing, either way, it’s an integral part of who you are as a couple and you want to share that somehow throughout your wedding festivities. The question is how do you go about it without feeling like a giant cheeseball?  Below are a few fun and classy ways to incorporate your favorite hobbies into your wedding festivities.

Wine Country Engagement

Shoot Your Engagement Photos “On Location”

Your engagement photos are a perfect place to demonstrate your love for your hobbies as a couple.  This can start with location. It requires a little thinking outside of the box, but If you spend your Wednesday nights competing in your local bowling league, why not use that bowling alley for your shoot location.  Okay, so maybe that one is a bit cheesy, but it could also be a location shoot on a golf course, a museum, or a trail you love to hike, or a destination location that you love.  Can’t live without wine? Let’s go to Napa!  I love activities as a shared day taking photos – it’s an easy way to share your interests with the people you love, and the photos turn out amazing.

Alternative Engagement Session Ideas

Integrate Props that Display your Hobby into your Wedding

If you’d rather not shoot your engagement photos at a bowling alley, or if the perfect location is inaccessible, there are always ways to integrate things you love into your wedding decor.  Who says your wedding has to have burlap or the color of the year as it’s centerpiece (oh yeah, the knot does).  F that!  Want an off the wall wedding theme?  How about dinosaurs?  WHY NOT.  Two good clients of mine met and bonded over their love of Magic and so their wedding centerpieces were quick to learn table games that their friends and family could play at their reception during the Magic Tournament they also held.  You do you.   

Magic the Gathering WeddingDinosaur Themed Wedding

 

Wedding Party Gifts

Like most couples your bridesmaids and groomsmen will likely have some things in common with you.  After all, these are your closest friends and family members. If you share a common hobby or interest, consider gifting them with something that corresponds with that hobby.  Hand built barbeque pits were the perfect groomsman gifts for my friend who grills with the men in his family once a week. I also thought about my cousin who was part of a book club and bought her bridesmaids a bottle of their favorite wine with a book attached. The great thing about these types of gifts is that it helps support a hobby that you and your friends can enjoy together.

Wedding Party Gift Ideas

Wedding at the Museum (Venue Location)

Much like the idea of taking your engagement photos at a place that you as a couple frequent, this idea involves location.  This recommendation however, takes that one a step further and instead of just a location for photo shoots, why not choose your actual wedding venue based on your hobbies?  If you spend a lot of time checking out museums, consider renting out a museum in your city for your wedding day or maybe you are both teachers and met at a school, see if it is available for events. 

Designer Wedding Cakes

Last, but certainly not least, if you don’t want your whole wedding focused on your hobbies, designing a cake that reflects your interests adds just a small touch of who you are into your big day without it completely stealing the show.  Pastry artists and bakeries have advanced in their cake making skills at a rapid pace and you can have a cake designed that looks exactly like R2D2, the Dallas Cowboys football stadium, or a giant scarf with knitting needles and tastes equally delicious.  Don’t want to go overboard?  Just add a custom cake topper that represents the two of you!  It’s a bit more subtle than the other ideas, but it still makes a statement about who you are as a couple and the bonus is that it looks great in your wedding photos!

Wedding Cake Toppers

There are a multitude of ways that you can incorporate your hobbies into your wedding festivities, these are just a few.  The important thing is to make sure that you make this day about you and use it as an opportunity to share the things you love as a couple with the people you love.

Chart House Wedding

Chart House Wedding | Ashley + Tim

Once upon a time, two people named Ashley and Tim hired me to be their Chart House wedding photographer and to do an engagement session with them in my hometown of Dallas, TX but really what’s really important is that we got drunk and ate pizza and they met my mom and we became best friends forever.   

True story.

Tim is from Northern CA and he convinced Ashley that they should get married in Tahoe in August of this past year.  She was very concerned that it was going to rain.  “It never rains in Tahoe in the summer,” Tim assured her over and over.  “It NEVER rains in Tahoe in the summer!” I exclaimed with ultimate authority over and over.

It POURED.

But thankfully it poured seconds AFTER their ceremony and stopped by the first dance so clearly they are going to have the best of luck for the rest of their lives, which is what we tell people so that they feel better when it rains on their wedding day but is actually a lie.

Second true story.

Ashley’s aunts can really break it down on the dancefloor.  

Third true story.

Also, I went home with one of their wedding guests.

True or false?  You decide.

We were also all super pumped to do a post wedding portrait session and we went tromping all over the rocks out at Angora Lakes a few days later so I included some of those gorgeous images at the end of their wedding images.

Venue: The Chart House | Florist: Thran’s | DJ: Cornerstone Entertainment | Bride’s Attire: Allure Bridals from Terry Costa | Bridesmaid Attire: Lulu’s | Groom’s Apparel: J Crew | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Rentals: Camelot Party Rentals

Chart House Wedding Chart House Wedding Bride and Groom

Tahoe backyard wedding

Tahoe Backyard Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Dost + Nick

These two. 

I adore them. 

I’m so thankful to call them friends now.  They love music, and dancing, and laughter, and good food.  They are adventurous, curious and sardonic.  They say yes when I invite them to concerts by bands they’ve never heard of and they invite me to concerts by bands that I’ve never heard of.  They are willing to go to burlesque shows starring my former clients.  They like brunch (but, I mean, never trust a person that doesn’t).  They have some incredible moves on the dancefloor.

Dost and Nick wanted an intimate backyard gathering with their motley crew of far flung friends and family.  Their guest list was as diverse as they are, with folks coming from as far away as Turkey.  They rented a beautiful house directly on the water through VRBO for their Tahoe backyard wedding and as an added surprise, it decided to snow that week.  Bonus: Dost made good use of a thrift store fur coat that was perfect for the occasion, which is to say, it was fucking freezing that day and she had no choice but looked amazing in it.

We were all thankful for the tent and for the best DJ around Dave Berkman, who was willing to completely break down and move mid-day his entire setup inside so everyone could cut a rug the grass in relative comfort while it was 40 degrees out in Tahoe in September.

Dost and Nick have since told me that they were drawn to my work because they loved the way I capture movement and motion, which is something their dancefloor had plenty of!  I’m so incredibly honored to not only have been part of their day, but have new friends also.

Venue: VRBO | Caterers: Carson City BBQ | Rentals: Celebrations Rentals | DJ: Ascent DJ | Bride’s Attire: Maggie Sottero | Groom’s Attire: Paul Smith

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Holly's Ocean Bluff Wedding

Holly’s Ocean Bluff Wedding | Fort Bragg, CA | Simon + Vanessa

This Holly’s Ocean Bluff wedding is too special not to blog right away.  Simon and Vanessa came to me by way of a former wedding.  Simon’s sister, Kendra and her now husband Tom, hired me to photograph their wedding last summer.  It was one of my favorite weddings of the year because their friends and family were so vibrant, generous in spirit, and welcoming of Nicky and I.  When Simon and Vanessa became engaged, they immediately reached out to me about photographing their wedding as well.  It always makes me feel incredibly special to be part of a family for multiple events – whether it be watching families grow and share and capturing their portraits, or photographing multiple weddings for the same family.

When I showed up for Simon and Vanessa’s rehearsal dinner celebration (tacos and wine mind you – I think it was actually planned just for me), Uncle Glenn told me that I did such a good job on Kendra and Tom’s wedding that I could definately “take it easy this time and phone it in.”  Needless to say, I did no such thing and a lot of fun, a beautiful ceremony overlooking an ocean bluff, family formals in the rain, some insanely delicious food, and an exceptionally raucous dance party filled their amazing day.

It was so fun to see so many of Simon and Kendra’s good friends and family members for the 2nd year in a row.  Being hired repeatedly is an honor that I do not take lightly and I hope that Simon and Vanessa love their wedding photos as much as I loved taking them.

Venue: Holly’s Ocean Meadow | Coordinator: Sonya Houston from Mendocino Weddings | Florist: Rosa Wyglendowski of L&R Farms | Catering: Karina’s Catering | DJ: DJ DLT | Bride’s Attire: BHLDN | Hair and Makeup: Marianella from M Salon | Rentals: Matt Rowland Events | Second Photographer: Chris Arson

 

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LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Interviews: The Texas LGBTQ Wedding Experience

June 26th, 2015 was a day that changed the lives of many people in the United States. It was one of those days, that ingrained into many people, the memory of exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. For a few of my friends in Texas, waiting on the state to make same-sex marriage legal was beginning to feel like a hopeless dream but that Friday changed it all. On June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage in all States and tears of joy, excitement, and hope were shed all around. Once they heard the news, couples could finally begin making those long-awaited ceremony plans. From where to find wedding photographers who shared a vision for their wedding (like…ahem, Lauren Lindley), to which traditional wedding aspects they should include. One of my oldest family friends was one of those couples who began planning. So, in honor of the recently celebrated Pride Parade in Austin, TX, I asked her and her close friend to share their Texas LGBTQ wedding experience. I believe these stories will help all couples find some joy, hope, advice and encouragement from reading.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Sheeanna & Rachael
Wedding Date: August 12th, 2015
Wedding Venue: Southeast Metropolitan Primitive Trail

How long have you been married? 2 years (10 years together)

Tell me how you met. We met through mutual friends. Talked on MySpace and then danced all night at the bar on ladies’ night a couple times. On one of the nights a friend asked Rachael to come home with me because I was too shy. One night turned into 10 years, and we were inseparable. We have only been apart from each other a handful of times since then.

Was there an official proposal? If so, who Proposed?  No. We always talked about being together forever. It was just something we knew mutually, but never thought would be legalized.

Did you decide to get married pre-supreme court decision or post?  Post.

Did that ruling affect your decision? Absolutely. Previously we had accepted the fact that we may never be able to marry legally, which was upsetting because we only wanted to have rights. A piece of paper would never split us up if we could not have done it legally, but it could prevent us from having rights if one of us were injured or ill, our property and our livelihoods, everything we built and shared together.

Did you both want to have a wedding?  If not, why not? We both wanted to marry each other always. But we differed on our opinions on the type of wedding. I (Sheeanna) wanted a big wedding, Rachael wanted a smaller wedding and does not enjoy being the center of attention. She felt it was something we should share between us and not everyone we knew. We compromised on the entire process and both had different things we wanted.

How long did you wait between the proposal and the wedding? We did not have an official proposal, we always just knew we would if it were legal. We married a few months after the supreme court ruling to pass same sex marriage.

Were your families accepting of a wedding? If not, what were some of their concerns? Yes and no. My (Sheeanna) mother and father were supportive and love Rachael. Though my father’s family were not all present in my life for ten years after I came out, my mother’s side has always been very accepting and present in our relationship. Rachael’s family has always been supportive and loving and accepted me immediately.

Did you decide on a big or small wedding?  Why? We had a very small elopement only including our sisters, our dog, and our mutual best friend. We got married on a primitive trail that we hiked often with our pup. We felt it was some of our best times and where we really found ourselves. We wanted it to be private, short, and sweet. Especially since it was one of the hottest days of the year. We married on the day of our existing anniversary of when we got together.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience 

Did you bring the standard traditions into your wedding (Ex: Father/Daughter Dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.)? For the most part we did not. At first, the concept of being “wives” was an odd one to us. We merely wanted our rights as a married couple. We were always somewhat hesitant on the concept as there are so many in this world who are not accepting and ugly about it. We did get specific outfits to wear that all had the same general color scheme and our pup wore a tie made from some of my extra dress fabric. I (Sheeanna) made rose bouquets and boutonnieres, made of pages from Rachael’s favorite book series. We did not write our own vows and instead coordinated with our officiant on some basic vows that fit us well. We celebrated afterwards with a potluck at our favorite local greenbelt with all our family and friends who could be present.

Did you have any vendors or did you completely do it on your own? Why? We did all of it on our own. We wanted something simple and carefree, less stress.

Were your wedding vendors familiar with same-sex weddings?  (Did they have any experience in one?) Our wedding officiant was well known for marrying same sex couples.

Would you like to share the names of any vendors you would recommend? Give a brief review of their service? Spike Gillespie was wonderful. We had a meeting with her in person about a month before to go over different options for vows and she sent us some examples. She composed our ceremony for us based on what we wanted, hiked out a ¼ mile to our favorite trail spot and endured the 100-degree weather. We would absolutely recommend her to anyone we know.

Tell me about your wedding day.  How did you feel after it was over? Relieved. While we kept it small, it was still chaotic and a lot to work on. We had a beautiful time and were so grateful for all the people who came to celebrate with us. I don’t think it really felt real until we received our marriage certificate and then I (Sheeanna) cried for a while in relief and joy. We finally had the rights we wanted for so long, to the person we have loved for many years, and more to come.

What tips would you give other same-sex couples preparing to plan their wedding in Texas? Do what feels right for YOU! Often weddings end up turning into what your family or friends want, and none of that matters in the end. Your wedding day is about you as a couple and the love you share for each other. Whether you have a huge wedding, or a small elopement, it should be about what makes you happy. Your wedding is to celebrate the love you have for each other, not everyone else.

Sheeana and Rachael’s story of how they met was so cute, I could barely hold it together while writing this, but it is filled with so much love and friendship that you can’t help but hold onto hope for a love like this. Here are a few things that a took away from it.

1. MySpace did some things right.

This story proves that spending hours on end decorating your “about me” page was not a complete waste of time. I mean, just take a look at this story! But on a more serious note, online dating is totally a thing now. I know that’s hard to believe if you are over a certain age, but social media has changed the landscape for finding love. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. True love could be waiting on your besties friends’ list.

2. Add your own special touches to your wedding day.

Seriously, who else was extremely impressed by the idea of making boutonnieres, from pages of your love’s favorite book series? Not only is that truly genius, that but those little touches make for fantastic photos.

3. Make sure your wedding is about you.

When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get caught up into doing the things that would make your family and friends happy. Just don’t forget that this wedding is yours and about you and your love. Pick the vendors you want, and involve those who make you feel comfortable. Choose your own location and make the choice of big or small wedding on your own. The people who truly love you will support you.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience