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Recent Bride Laura Leigh Abby Gives Tips For Planning Your Same-Sex Wedding

Same-Sex-Couple

Photo: Heather Rice Photography

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the U.S. Constitution in all 50 states. Prior to their decision, same-sex marriage was already legal in 37 states and the nation’s capitol, but was banned in the remaining 13.

It seems as if today in the United States the rights of same-sex couples are always changing. Just as we (finally) win our right to marry, we’re faced with backlash and discrimination from both the private and public sectors. It’s no secret that planning a same-sex wedding can expose you and your spouse-to-be to the possibility of discrimination. This can be determined by where you live and what kind of wedding you’re planning.

I planned a wedding in New York State and most of my vendors were based in New York City, which meant that for many of them, this was not their first same-sex wedding. Though we raised a few eyebrows, and I had to answer many questions with, “There is no groom, the other bride’s name is Samantha,” we were met with joy and excitement that felt truly genuine. We know, still, how fortunate we are, and that many couples face just the opposite.

Lesbian-Wedding

Photo: Rob Spring Photography

Love Your Venue

Your venue is the beating heart of your wedding, with your vendors serving as veins and valves and other metaphorical body parts. Select a venue where you feel comfortable, accepted and celebrated. This is good advice for all couples. Unless you’re getting married in a private residence, you know that other couples have come before and will come after you at your chosen venue. But during the planning process, right through to the minute you drive away post-wedding, you want to feel like the beloved leaders of a fairytale kingdom.

Vet Your Vendors

I’ve read too many stories of the discriminatory baker who wouldn’t bake the “gay wedding cake,” and I’ve watched as these stories propelled unassuming same-sex couples and business owners into the public eye. I can say with certainty that every single time, the couple is humiliated. This is not a feeling we want to recall when we think back on our wedding.

My rule of thumb is ridiculously simple: Look for experience, but also trust enthusiasm. When seeking out photographers, for instance, click on their website and explore their portfolio. Nine times out of ten an LGBT-friendly photographer will have a same-sex couple featured on their site. Of course, this isn’t always the case. I often collaborate with creatives who insist they’d love to shoot a lesbian wedding, but they simply haven’t been asked yet.

Lesbian-Wedding

Photo: Heather Rice Photography

Know Your Worth

We can also spin these discriminatory-cake-baker stories and use our “otherness” to our advantage. We had one vendor willing to drop her prices significantly because she wanted us in her portfolio. I reminded my wife of this often, “Babe, we are two women. I’m wearing a custom green wedding gown, you’re wearing Vera Wang, we’re throwing this big expensive weekend in the woods. We are a prize, so let’s behave accordingly.”

State Your Case

When choosing our wedding photographer—Heather Waraksa—this was my initial email:

“My fiancée Samantha and I are planning a wedding weekend extravaganza at the beautiful Cedar Lakes Estate next September. We are trying to get on top of some of the planning. As two girls, we both have some strong opinions on this wedding, but so far we’re (surprisingly) seeing incredibly eye-to-eye. My one major concern is photography! I don’t really like the look of most wedding photos, and I’d like something a bit different, specifically someone who can snap those magic moments and make it look effortless. We think your portfolio is incredible and would love to learn more about you and let you learn more about us. Our weekend will include a lakeside BBQ, mountaintop toasts, swimming and sports, vows by the lake, a big reception in a gorgeous barn, and an after-party in the tree house. We think it’s going to be spectacular and we’re looking for the right person to help capture the celebration. If you think you may be interested, and of course, available, we would love to meet you.”

This is essentially the email we sent to every single vendor, with a few tweaks of course. We also created a wedding-only email address: “2Brides2Be.” Our excitement was infectious and we had amazing vendors on board pretty quickly. As is reflective of my personality, I wanted to give plenty of information up front. I wanted potential vendors to know what kind of couple we were and what kind of wedding this was going to be.

Lesbian-Wedding

Photo: Rob Spring Photography

Be The Change

My advice is to be up front about: you as a couple, the wedding you want, and the kind of people you want to work with to make it a reality. There are going to be awkward moments—when I told one dress consultant there would be two brides, she asked if it was a “double wedding”—but I’ve never met a single person in a same-sex couple who isn’t used to the occasional awkward moment. I have no problem with those. In fact, I like being able to help others feel comfortable with how to speak to us and become more inclusive in their business practices. If you’re sick of crossing out the word “groom” then suggest to your vendors, “Maybe you should create documents with alternate wording.”

It’s not that tough to change their forms to read:

Spouse #1 ____________

Spouse #2 ____________

Let’s not be afraid to ask.

Lesbian-Wedding

Photo: Heather Rice Photography

Excerpted from “2 Brides 2 Be” (Rare Bird Books, 2017), by Laura Leigh Abby, available on Amazon.com.

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Enchanted Forest-Inspired Wedding at Chateau Cocomar by Civic Photos

Jessica met Oscar at the Aerodome ice skating rink when she was 9 years old and he was 15. “Our families introduced us to each other, but he was too cool to hang out with me. Sparks didn’t fly until ten years later,” tells Jessica. Lo and behold Oscar wasn’t too cool for Jessica anymore, they hit it off and he was ready to make her his wife.

When it came time to propose, Oscar found the perfect moment during their trip to Disney World to get down on one knee in front of Cinderella’s castle. Jessica said, “Yes,” to her Prince Charming, and they began planning their enchanted wedding—inspired by their Disney World proposal—at Chateau Cocomar.

Chateau-Cocomar Floral-Bridal-Party-Robes Floral-Bridesmaid-Robes Bride-Getting-Ready Bridesmaids-Outside-of-Chateau-Cocomar Bridesmaid-Bouquets Navy-Groomsmen-Suits Floral-Wedding-Sign Chateau-Cocomar-Wedding-Ceremony Bride-Walking-Down-Aisle Indoor-Ceremony-at-Chateau-Cocomar Chateau-Cocomar-Wedding Bride-and-Groom-Kissing Bride-and-Groom-Portraits Chateau-Cocomar-Wedding Bride-and-Groom-Kissing “I made sure our engagement photos, wedding decor, photo booth and dessert table incorporated hints of popular fairytale romance stories,” says Jessica.

Chateau-Cocomar Forest-Inspired-Wedding-Decor Fairytale-Wedding-Decor Forest-Inspired-Wedding-at-Chateau-Cocomar Forest-Inspired-Wedding-Decor Dessert-Table Dessert-Table Macarons Berry-Blush-and-Wedding-Cake Fairytale-Wedding-Decor “One of my favorite moments was the surprise fog and confetti on the dance floor,” she adds.

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Photos: Civic Photos | Venue: Chateau Cocomar | Catering: Cafe Natalie | Flowers, Decor & Rentals: AJ’s Urban Petals | Dessert Table & Favors: Wink by Erica | Lighting, Music & Entertainment: LG Entertainment

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We’re Down With Downtown: 2 DTHTX Wedding Venues We Love (OK…3)!

Crystal-Ballroom-at-The-Rce

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema | Venue: The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice

Sure, the bars are hopping. And yeah, there’s a hot, new eatery opening its doors just about every 19 seconds. But one of our favorite things about downtown Houston’s business-to-pleasure evolution is the growing popularity of our thriving urban center as a super-chic location for wedding celebrations.

Ballroom-at-Bayou-Place

Photo: Courtesy of The Ballroom at Bayou Place

One of the coolest kids on the Downtown block is The Ballroom at Bayou Place. Located right in the heart of Downtown’s lively Theater District, The Ballroom has 15,000 square feet (!!) of flexible party space, which can be configured for everything from an intimate engagement-party gathering to an all-out-epic wedding bash for 500 or more of your nearest and dearest. If sleek balconies, sweeping skyline views, swank chandeliers and velvet drapery sound like your idea of the ideal wedding setting, you’ll definitely want to check out this Downtown dazzler, where manager Craig Howard (formerly of Ritz Carlton hotels and Cirque du Soleil—you may have heard of ’em) and his team of pros will help you with everything you need to plan a very pretty city wedding.

Ballroom-at-Bayou-Place

Photo: Courtesy of The Ballroom at Bayou Place

Jumping from a modern ballroom to classic one, let’s take a little stroll across Downtown, and treat you to a glimpse at The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice, located, just like the name says, in the historic Rice Hotel. Built in 1913, The Crystal Ballroom is 5,600 square feet of…gorgeous. Picture 35-foot-high ceilings, hand-painted murals, arched windows, and, of course, the lavish chandeliers you’d expect from a place with “crystal” in its name. Plus, the venue is catered by Sambuca, a name synonymous with renowned American fare—making The Crystal Ballroom a great spot not just for opulent Downtown weddings, but impress-your-guests pre-wedding parties and rehearsal dinners.

Crystal-Ballroom-at-The-Rice

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema | Venue: The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice

Oh—and don’t forget Lawless Spirits, also located in The Rice. This artisanal-cocktail hotspot, with its industrial-glam ambiance and equally chic terrace offers additional pre- and post-wedding celebration space, along with a taste of Texas history.

lawless-spirits

Photo: Courtesy of Lawless Spirits

Find these two Downtown gems, and tons more Houston-area wedding venues, right here, and schedule your tours early, loves…the best spots in town book up fast!

Crystal-Ballroom-Detail-Ama-Photography

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema | Venue: The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice

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Childhood Best Friends Wed at Northgate Country Club

When we say Houston couple Jessica and Trung go way back—we mean it. They met in 8th grade on Halloween night when a big group of friends went trick-or-treating together, and later became the best of friends in 11th grade. “I told Trung I had a crush on him and he asked me out shortly after,” recounts Jessica.

Years later he found the right moment to pop the question during a romantic vacay in Hawaii. “We were en route driving from Maui to Hana, and we stopped by a no-trespassing mile marker in search of a waterfall. Once we reached the waterfall, he got down on one knee,” says Jessica. She said, “Yes,” to spending the rest of her life with her best friend (aww).

Northgate-Country-Club Ring-Bearers-and-Flower-Girls Father-Walking-Bride-Down-Aisle Outdoor-Wedding-Ceremony Outdoor-Wedding-Ceremony Jessica tells us, “We aimed for a simple, yet elegant wedding,” and Northgate Country Club gave them the Houston wedding of their dreams.

Bride-and-Groom Lavender-Bridesmaid-Dresses Lavender-Bridesmaid-Dresses Groomsmen Bride-and-Groom Bride-and-Groom Diamond-Engagement-Rings Chalkboard-Wedding-Hashtags Simple-Wedding-Decor Wedding-Cake Pink-Gold-and-Green-Dessert-Table Some of their favorite moments included the Vietnamese tradition of visiting each table and toasting. “We also had so much fun dancing our hearts out on the dance floor,” says Jessica.

Bride-and-Groom-First-Dance Bride-and-Groom-First-Dance We are so happy for the adorable newlyweds, and sending best wishes!

Bride-and-Groom

Photos: Stephen Huynh Photography | Venue: Northgate Country Club | Baker: Cakes by Gina

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Ivory, Gold & Green Vineyard-Inspired Wedding

You know how sometimes you’re sitting in your car, debating whether you should drag yourself over to happy hour with your squad…or head home for a lil’ Netflix and chill like you kinda want to? Yeah, you should prob pick door number 1. This is pretty much the decision Ryan was facing when he made the not-entirely-enthusiastic decision to attend a law-school happy hour social…and ended up changing his life forever.

“We talked and danced the night away, and even shared chocolate-chip pancakes at iHop,” says Kylie, who fell for her future hubs that fateful night, and eventually married him, in a multi-part wedding celebration that embraced Kylie’s Vietnamese background, and Ryan’s Mexican and American ones. “We wanted to fuse all of our cultures together to make our wedding day unique, and fun for our guests.” And we want to share this awesome Houston couple’s lovely and lively wedding with y’all. So go ahead, enjoy, and join us in wishing the newlyweds love!

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“I also loved the idea of a California vineyard wedding, so I incorporated wine corks in the décor along with fresh garlands and lush white flowers,” says Kylie.

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Kylie tells us her favorite moment was during their first dance to “Face The Sun” by Miguel.

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Photos: Kitty Sanchez Photography | Hayley Paige Wedding Dress: Now & Forever Bridal Boutique | Rings: Zadok Jewelers | Flowers & Decor: Dream Bouquet | Linens: LBL Event Rentals

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