Sometimes a wedding comes along that is so full of love it becomes a challenge to choose images to feature. I was struck by Lysa’s positive outlook. Except for her brother, her own family did not participate in her wedding day. Rather than dwell on who was missing, Lysa focused on the love that surrounded her, not just from her beautiful bride Vanessa, but from Vanessa’s family who welcomed Lysa in, and the brides’ friends who filled the aisles. Every photo captures love, not just between Lysa and Vanessa, but between the guests who were present to witness their wedding day and celebrate the commitment between these two women.
June 20th, 2015
Lysa & Vanessa met back in 1998 at West Miami Middle School in Florida. Well, that’s when Lysa remembers meeting Vanessa, though Vanessa does not claim the same. Both girls were trying out for the same position on the softball team. Vanessa was always clowning around and making people smile, and Lysa really liked that about her. They were a grade apart, and after try-outs the girls did not speak again.
A few years later, when Lysa was a sophomore at Miami Coral Park Senior High School, Vanessa was an incoming freshman, and the ladies had a class together. Lysa reminded Vanessa that they had met once before at softball try-outs, and the two became friends. By Lysa’s senior year she began to feel that this was more than just friendship. Says Lysa, “We started calling each other ‘babe’ as a joke, and then there was a kiss.” They were both scared of their attraction, and although Lysa knew Vanessa had dated other girls, the two had only ever been friends. They took things slow and continued as best friends. They were inseparable.
“We saw each other dating others and provided a shoulder to lean on when it did not work, or a cheerleader when we found a new crush. It was not until I told Vanessa we should date that things got weird. She insisted that we were best friends and that it would ruin our friendship.”
Deep inside, Lysa knew this was special, that if they became a couple they could last forever. They dated on and off for a number of years, going between friendship and a relationship. When Lysa came out to her family they were not supportive, and this took a toll on the relationship. Rather than lose each other entirely, the ladies chose to remain friends. But the spark did not fade.
One night in 2011 the two were out to dinner having a girls’ night. Vanessa couldn’t stop staring at Lysa, who kept asking what was wrong. Finally, Vanessa said, “I know I will never find anyone who cares for me the way that you do.” She asked Lysa if they could try dating again, and Lysa said yes.
Lysa: “We are not perfect. I would never say that. But we respect each other, and love each other just the way we are. Honestly, she made me the person I am today.”
The ladies got engaged on August 9, 2014. Though they had already discussed that Vanessa would be the one to propose, Lysa couldn’t wait any longer, and told her in-laws she was going to do it … but as you can see in this sweet proposal video, Vanessa had other plans …
Say the brides: “This video shows how genuine our bond really is.”
Once engaged, Lysa & Vanessa had no plans for a wedding. They wanted to wait until they could be legally recognized as a married couple in Florida—which finally became the case in January of this year. The ladies fell in love with the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort in Miami. The brides quickly got to planning, sharing their news with friends and family.
For a summer wedding on the beach the brides chose to enhance their surroundings with hot pink and turquoise accents, which set off their white dresses and flowers beautifully. The brides kept some of their favorite wedding traditions, like a first dance, a bouquet toss and a garter toss.
The brides spent the night before the wedding apart, and Lysa watched the sunrise with her bridesmaids. Friends and family banned the brides from seeing each other until their ceremony on the beach. Both brides walked down the aisle; Vanessa first, escorted by her father, then Lysa, escorted by her brother.
Says Lysa, “When I arrived to the end of the pier, I could see everyone waiting down by the beach. I looked at my brother and said ‘let’s do this.’ As we walked down the beach I noticed the entire hotel and beach were watching. It was a bit overwhelming but my mind was so focused on seeing Vanessa that it did not faze me.”
The bridal party included family and a few dear friends. Lysa’s brother and his baby daughter were her only family that participated in the wedding, but she still felt blessed to be surrounded by love on this special day. From Lysa, “I can never forget walking down to Vanessa. She is not a girly girl. Seeing her in a dress, looking like a model, was breathtaking. She looked amazing.”
Vanessa’s Favorite Moment: “When I looked up and finally saw Lysa turning the corner I knew this was the luckiest moment of my life. I was about to commit to my best friend and lover and she was smiling, looking at me, and only me.”
The brides describe their ceremony as dreamy and full of love. After the ceremony the wedding party gathered together for a group hug. Lysa remembers the impact of this moment and says she wishes all LGBT couples could have this much love and support.
Lysa’s Favorite Moment: “Our first dance.”
Wedding song: Never Stop by Safetysuit
At the reception Lysa was so wrapped up in love for her wife that she did not notice Vanessa had surprised her with the charger plates she really wanted but had chosen not to spend extra money on. The bright colored flowers captured the Miami vibe and the brides danced, ate and toasted with their loved ones. Both brides are grateful that everything went perfect on their wedding day, but more than anything, they feel blessed by their love for each other, and blessed that they got to marry their best friend.
Starting with her morning coffee, Lysa wants to enjoy every moment of her day.
Surrounded by her bridesmaids Lysa reads a note from Vanessa.
Vanessa, meanwhile, is surrounded by loved ones while she gets glam for the big day.
Lysa’s bridesmaids add the finishes touches to the bride’s perfect bridal look.
While Vanessa, looking stunning, appears ready to get herself a wife.
The colorful wedding program doubles as a fan.
Escorted by her father, Vanessa walks through the sand to the ceremony spot.
Lysa follows, escorted by her brother.
The brides join hands as their ceremony begins, on a perfect day in paradise.
Lysa only has eyes for her beloved.
The brides exchange rings.
And a kiss makes it official!
A moment of sheer joy.
Followed by one more kiss.
The wedding party gathers for a group hug. Says Lysa, “We all rejoiced and jumped together. It was a moment I will never forget.”
Another moment bursting with love.
The brides strike a pose on the beach before heading inside to party.
The brides are announced amid cheers from their guests.
The brides take the floor for their first dance. Lysa says she doesn’t remember anything in this moment but being in the arms of her wife.
Vanessa and her father take a turn on the dance floor, and things get emotional.
Lysa shares a dance with her brother, her lone family member in attendance to provide love and support for his sister.
The stunning tables adorned with white flowers and the plates Vanessa chose to surprise her bride.
This sweet topper on an even sweeter looking cake.
The brides cut their white wedding cake.
Things get rowdy as Lysa throws her bouquet to the crowd of waiting women.
And Vanessa gets down and dirty in search of a garter …
And she comes up a winner. These brides took their favorite wedding traditions and made them their own.
The brides share a toast with their loved ones and enjoy the rest of what was a magical night.