2 New Brides 2 Be

Now that I’ve been blissfuly wed for nearly four months and my posts have begun to slow down, I can let you in on two little facts: 1) It is true that I have been hiding most of the wedding day photos. I promise to share in the near future. 2) My hope for this blog as my own wedding becomes a memory is to share stories of other brides.

We all know I’m not a gold star lesbian. I don’t have as many lesbian friends as I’d like, but those I do have are pretty bodacious. Not long after our wedding, two of our dearest friends moved away from us and across the country to Los Angeles. Our devastation was overshadowed by all of the crazy final wedding plans and the hectic aftermath. Still, we miss them constantly.

Carie & Kelly have been together for 8 years. Kelley and Sam grew up together in Sarasota, and I first met the girls when I moved with Sam to LA in 2007. Carie and Kelley were living in San Diego at that time. They have been our partners in crime, our beloved travel companions, and our go-to girlfriends for all things lesbian. Needless to say, we adore them. Back in May Sam and I enjoyed insider knowledge the night before Kelley was going to propose to Carie. A group of us went to dinner and our excitement was not easy to contain, but I am honored to share their adorable proposal story with you today.

As told to me by Kelley:

The Proposal

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All Green Everything

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A quick Google search sealed the deal. 2013 was the year of the green.

This past year there were many catchy headlines to remind us that green was indeed the color of 2013. To be precise, the color of the year was Emerald. Pantone, the authority on this, made it perfectly clear last December.

By the time this news was delivered to the masses I already had my gown designer, Kathryn Conover, on a search for the perfect shade of green french lace and silk taffeta for my wedding gown. I didn’t make her job an easy one, and she was often reminded as she searched for the fabric that while it was hard to find at the time, it would soon be available everywhere. So yea, I’m excited that my dream color for my wedding gown turned out to be the color of the year. That’s cool and I’m inclined to give myself much more credit than I deserve. However, had green been voted the worst color of 2013, the absolute ‘don’t you dare wear it’ color of 2013, I still would have walked down in the aisle in my perfect green gown. Ladies, be who you are. This is not a straight or gay thing. I’m just certain that life is too short to do what everybody else says you should do.

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My parents still leave newspaper clippings on my bed in their house. Each time I arrive for a visit there are relevant articles in a pile on my comforter. Last year, any time they came across breaking news about the color of the year they left me the pages. Cuties.

Looks like the color of 2014 is Radiant Orchid … Hmm.

The real point of this post is that I’d like to know – Any of you ladies have a wedding dream that everyone raises their eyebrows at? 

Carnival Cut-outs

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Carnival cut-out by the talented Kate Taney

Don’t know what a carnival cut-out is? Yes you do, just like I did, but I never really knew the name for them.

I googled and googled until I discovered that the classic name for that lifesize thing that ya stick your head through is called a carnival cut-out!

Have talented friends? Me too. My beloved pal Kate started asking us a lot of questions leading up to our wedding. She wanted to know about Sam’s secret dress and the wedding cake, she wanted ceremony location details. Sam and I were alarmed. Then Kate showed up to the wedding toting this carnival cut-out, which was not only a huge hit at the reception, but was so imaginative, beautifully done and thoughtful. If you can’t tell there’s a Milk Bar cake, which our pups Luda and Winston are peeking out from behind. There’s a rainbow flag, of course, and our dresses are pretty spot-on. I was completely blown away. Some of our guests who dared instagram themselves as the two brides are now shown here for your enjoyment …

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Wedding Whites – Nightfall

After the gorgeous toasts and the sinful meal (Are brides supposed to gorge like that the night before their wedding?) we had one more trick up our sleeves for our Friday night rehearsal guests – Movie Night!

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We bought two carts full of blankets from Ikea. We forgot that they don’t have bags, so the blankets were spilling all over our car. My mom helped us wrap each blanket in twine.

Friday evening was planned to every last detail by both me and Sam. I really pushed for those mountaintop toasts, but I have to give Sam credit for the movie. This was her idea. We wanted something fun and lowkey, because after all, Saturday was going to be a big day. After dinner and s’mores we led our guests down to the great lawn where we had a giant blow-up movie screen set up on the edge of the lake. Meg from That Time Events set out the blankets (An Ikea purchase as a gift to our guests) and lanterns to make everything super cozy, while Lisa and Stephanie from Cedar Lakes Estate made sure there was wine and popcorn for all.

We kicked off the festivities by releasing giant paper lanterns into the night sky as a slideshow of photographs lit up the screen in the background. We nearly set a tree ablaze, but otherwise the lanterns went up without a hitch. Then it was movie time. Sam and I had settled on cult favorite Wet Hot American Summer. We weren’t surprised that most of our aunts and uncles had never heard of it, but we were shocked to find that some of our cousins just a few years younger than us had never seen this gem. We curled up and enjoyed movie night until Sam and I were ready to sneak off to bed.

My dad still maintains that Friday night was his favorite part of the weekend. It was a warm, no-frills evening for everyone to enjoy being together and for us to spoil our guests (and ourselves) a little.

Of course, Heather Waraksa was there to capture the magic.

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Wedding Whites – Mountaintop Toasts

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With the right plans and the right people, the night before a wedding can be much more than a mere rehearsal dinner. Inspired by festive rehearsal dinners that I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of, most recently my dear friend Leanne’s, I wanted the night before our wedding to be a celebratory kickoff for a weekend of fun. Joined by those friends and family who were a special part of our wedding ceremony or planning process, we had pretty big plans for Friday night, the first part of which was entirely out of our control; That plan was sunshine and a warm, clear evening.

We decided to make this a white party, of sorts. Because we were not having a traditional wedding party nor were either of us wearing white for the wedding, we thought it would be fun to have everyone in similar dress for Friday night. This way we could get wonderful photos that had a true wedding look about them. Our Friday night invitations read: This is your turn to wear wedding whites! Please wear your favorite white, ivory, or neutral outfits.

The evening began down by “the deck” where we had a quick wedding rehearsal. Then me, Sam, our parents and siblings as well as our ceremony escorts and readers all headed up to the mountaintop for toasts. Cedar Lakes Estate has two locations where couples typically get married; the deck, which we found more intimate and where we had to get married, and the mountaintop, with plenty of space and stunning views. I knew we needed to find a way to include the mountaintop in our wedding, and pre-dinner toasts were the perfect opportunity. When we arrived up there our gorgeous guests, all decked in white, ivory, cream, pink  … and on and on … were mingling and sipping, bubbly in every hand. Our marvelous designer Meg, of That Time Events had arranged all of the chairs in a large circle. After a few minutes Sam and I began the festivities by welcoming our guests and thanking them all for being a part of our wedding weekend. Then we opened up the floor.

Among the speakers were my mother Irene, Sam’s Godmother Shelley (who released two silver star mylar balloons into the sky as a throwback to the day Sam was born, when she arrived at the hospital with a star balloon that read, “A Star is Born”) and many of our friends both old and new. There was laughter and tears, declarations of love and reminders of embarrassing moments past. The toasts were a perfect kickoff to a big, love-filled weekend.

After the toasts it was time for a BBQ …

The Kiss

Sam and I have been practicing our wedding kiss for years and years. We had this silly little game going where she would say, “How are you gonna kiss me at our wedding?” and I would reply by slipping her the tongue or pecking her on the cheek and laughing as she demanded I “take this seriously!”

The truth is, we’ve never done a whole lot of smooching in front of our families, and we were nervous about the kiss. On our wedding day, however, we just had to go for it. We asked our guests, “How did it look? Was it natural? Was it a mess?”

We finally have the results from our photographer. So what do you think?

All photos by Heather Waraksa:

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Kegs & Kickball

A wedding day is often an emotion-fueled enterprise idling around one word: Preparation.

Hair. Make-up. Last minute details. So you have all of these special people in your life in this one place to celebrate with you, but you can’t spend any time with them because you’re busy getting ready all day. I rejected that.

As I’ve already mentioned, Sam and I were adamant about enjoying our wedding day – the entire thing! We had family and friends gathered in one place, so we thought it would be fun to get everyone involved in some friendly competition and go Goettlich v. Semon one final time before we became The Abbys.

Unfortunately it turns out that we have some seriously competitive friends … and a few on either side who like to bend the rules. We discovered some new heroes among us and most importantly, we had a ton of fun. View this slideshow to check out some fun kickball pics. It hurts to admit that in the end Team Goettlich won, but Team Semon put up a good fight … even if most of our team spent more time at the keg than in the field.

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Unsolicited Advice

Hi All. As you may have noticed my blog posts have been few and far between lately. This post-wedding life of mine is busy with some serious stuff but mostly fun stuff, and I am patiently waiting for wedding photos and a wedding video as I prepare for my first holiday season as a wife. I have a wife and I am a wife! I will continue to divulge all of the glorious details from our wedding, so don’t you worry.

Something special I’ve gained from blogging is learning how remarkably easy it is to relate to each other. I’m in a same-sex relationship and I live in New York City, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to every other girl out there who is maybe in her twenties, married or single, trying to answer this question: Just where did I think I would be as I approach thirty?

I learned so much while planning my wedding, and with a whole slew of friends planning 2014 nuptials I am trying to give only solicited advice. It’s not always easy, but I never want to be the girl who asks a friend about her  wedding planning only to interrupt two seconds into her squealing to talk about my own. So I’m trying. I don’t know if I’m succeeding. I just have so much advice to give on dress shopping, music, and what I learned about writing vows. But I enjoyed learning all of this as I went, and I’m thrilled to watch as some of my closest friends get to do the same. Of course I love sending them endless wedding jewelry ideas and it’s true, I’ve taken a few girls wedding dress shopping in the past few months (My fav!).

So since I have no self-control, today here are my top five little tiny pearls of wedding planning wisdom:

  1. Create a new e-mail address for your wedding. You’ll be SO glad you did this. I thought I was being cute and clever when I came up with 2brides2be, which began as an e-mail address before I had the idea for a blog. Keeping our wedding e-mails out of our individual inboxes kept us organized without getting us overwhelmed.
  2. Don’t hire a single vendor that you don’t connect with. I know the word “connect” can be so ridiculous. I’m not one to sit down for coffee with plans to become besties with my potential photographer, but I’m glad that my wife and I went with our instincts on who to work with. Planning our wedding was a blast, in part because we genuinely enjoyed everyone who helped make it happen.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ya know when you read a wedding blog and the bride gushes about her sister-in-law who baked the wedding cake and six pies for the dessert table, or the great-aunt who sewed burlap table runners and you’re thinking, Seriously? I have no one in my life that can build a chuppah or bake dessert for 175 people, but they did help in other ways. Sam and I did not have a traditional wedding party, so we found various elements with which to include our loved ones. We had friends helping us make beds in the cabins where many of our guests were staying, and we employed my mom to help us make gift bags. We actually didn’t ask for enough outside help, and I wish we had. Everyone wants to be involved and is willing to lend a hand. (And anyone who doesn’t want to help will probably let you know!)
  4. Take your ceremony seriously! Don’t laugh or roll your eyes because this seems SO obvious. When planning our ceremony I was terrified at the thought of making everyone sit there and pay attention to this momentous moment for us. I am so glad that we hired a professional and I am glad that we asked our friends and family to gather with us. Who cares if it’s a little long? We gave them all cocktails and we knew they could manage to sit still for a little while!  I know how popular it is for couples right now to ask a friend to officiate their wedding, some of my own friends are doing that and I think their weddings are going to be excellent. I think this is an especially excellent idea if you have a friend or relative who has previously performed a ceremony, and even better if you love your Priest or Rabbi, if your mom’s best friend is a minister, or if you find yourself in some other similar situation. This is your wedding day, and it’s okay to gather your guests to witness a beautiful, well-planned ceremony. I am so excited to blog about the Celebrant who performed my wedding ceremony. She is a seasoned pro who knew how to handle such an important occasion. Take the ceremony seriously and allow it to be special.
  5. Sit down and discuss the wedding of your dreams with your fiancé(e). You cannot plan a wedding trying to make everyone else happy. If you attempt to do that, you will just end up making yourselves unhappy.  Sam and I didn’t want to spend our entire wedding day having our hair & make-up done, so we had a big brunch followed by Kegs & Kickball. We got to enjoy the entire day with our family and friends. Plan the wedding you really want and your loved ones will be honored to celebrate with you, even if they think kickball on your wedding is nuts.

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    Sam on the left, me on the right

If you’re not planning a wedding and you’re going to like, a thousand this year, here are only two tiny things to remember:

  • Don’t complain to the bride. If you have a concern or a complaint, find someone else—anyone else—to share it with.
  • Bring a card. If you’re not giving a gift for any reason, at least write a nice card. We had friends who went out of their way to find cards on Etsy that were meant for two brides, and those are special keepsakes. I won’t forget that they did that, and I’ve promised myself that I will start giving more personal and unique cards in the future.

Those are my few cents.

Don’t forget to leave your two cents in my comments!

(More about this rousing kickball game to come)

In Remembrance

As I’ve written before, it was important to Sam and I to include her mother Penny in our wedding. One way we did this was in our ceremony. Towards the beginning of the ceremony we paid tribute to Penny. Our Celebrant, Elizabeth, said this:

“We include in our memories Samantha’s Mom, Penny Gero, who is with us in Spirit. Laura Leigh is grateful to have gotten to know and love Penny, who was a funny and wonderfully wild woman, and who loved Laura Leigh equally in return.”

She then quoted Sam: She was an amazing mother, and loved her kids fiercely. She was put on this planet to be a mom and there was never a second that she didn’t make sure her kids had what they needed and were happy.  I feel blessed that I was loved so much because it makes me realize that the love I’m able to share is because of her. One of the things that makes me happy is knowing that Laura Leigh got to spend a few years with my mom, getting to know her, and being a part of the family, it makes me happy to know that my Mom loved Laura Leigh and would give me her blessing knowing that I’m spending my life with her.

“Penny is deeply missed, and her love and blessings are felt amongst us today. Samantha will now light a candle in honor of her Mom, to symbolize the eternal light of their family bond.”

Sam then lit a candle that would stay burning throughout the ceremony.

This is only one way to remember a lost loved one in a wedding, but it felt vital to us to find a way to include Penny in our celebration. She was there in so many other ways as well, but this was our most distinctive tribute.

Ceremony Readings

Whenever I dare to compliment myself I instantly think of Regina George and Mean Girls. “But you’re, like, really pretty… So you agree? You think you’re really pretty?” It’s such a classic line because as women we are programmed to deflect compliments … (another conversation for another time. This is not a feminist blog and I believe every pretty girl should embrace her  beauty) Anyway, I think it’s okay to pat yourself on your back sometimes, to say, “Damn, these pants do something fabulous to my ass,” or “Yes I agree, I do have incredible nail beds.” So yes, I think my wedding ceremony was wonderful. It was exactly what Sam and I wanted it to be, and for that I am so pleased. Planning a wedding and choosing the decor and the music and the food is fantastic fun, but designing a unique ceremony for you and your fiancé(e) is undeniably special, and it was one of our favorite parts of our wedding.

First, we found our Celebrant, Elizabeth Phaire, from The Celebrant Foundation & Institute. I have written about her before, only because it was a true pleasure to work with someone so capable and compassionate. She offered us a few ceremony options, and we chose the option that allowed for a completely unique ceremony. Elizabeth created a couple of drafts, which included the story of us, a tribute to Sam’s mom Penny, readings of our choice, and remarks from some of our family and friends.

Today I’d like to tell you about our choices for readings during our ceremony. Sam and I enjoyed choosing them almost as much as we enjoyed listening to them at our wedding. They were certainly atypical, but that’s us!

  • The first reading, given by Sam’s Aunt Lisa was “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton. This story is about two unlikely companions. (We made both dinosaurs girls in our version)
  • Next, my dear friend Kate read an entry from my journal, which I wrote on January 19th 2005, when I was nineteen years old. This was maybe the strangest choice, but it outlined both my fear of falling in love with Sam, as well as my fear of not being with her. If I was going to showcase my vulnerability and have a wedding ceremony witnessed by family and friends, then I was going all the way.
  • Next, our sister-in-law Jaine read the lyrics to “Hum Along” by Ludo, a favorite song of ours from early in our relationship.
  • Our final reading was read by Sam’s friend Chris, who read an Irish blessing, “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You,” which paid homage to my heritage.

Our readers were excellent and our readings really meant something to us, which made them both a special and indispensable element of our wedding ceremony.

Check back soon for more ceremony details and let me know what you think of our choices, or what you may have in mind for your own wedding.