It’s heartwarming to see authentic emotion and connections between people within a photo. So for Kristen of Kristen Giles Photography, capturing that feeling is her main focus. As a native Texan, she started her business in 2016 and believes that photography is a form of visual storytelling, and she prides herself in making sure all the emotions you feel on your big day will happily come back to the surface every time you look back at the photos.
A week after moving back from Stuttgart, Germany, Ian, an Opera singer and the venue director of Conroe event venue Madera Estates, met Paul at McGovern Centennial Gardens during a holiday party in 2016. Two years later, Paul proposed to Ian in NYC after a Broadway show, on top of the iconic Empire State building. It was only fitting for the couple to select Madera Estates for their winter nuptials! “As the venue owner of Madera Estates, we knew immediately we wanted to play to the strengths of the venue, while also doing something completely different and unique to us,” says Ian. “Our leap day wedding was a vintage, Spanish-inspired evening filled with an abundance of candlelight. Deep and rich colors of navy, burgundy, and saffron were complimented by talavera and handmade wrought iron pieces.”
Guests were greeted upon arrival with flower-adorned beer burros and the women in the wedding party wore Frida Kahlo inspired headpieces. The couple tied the knot in a romantic twilight ceremony followed by a show-stopping fireworks display. The celebration moved indoors to Madera Estates’ Hacienda and the newlyweds made their grand reception entrance with adorable alpacas. The evening’s entertainment kicked off with Ian and Paul’s first dance where a drag queen interrupted them acting as a jilted bride! A churro bar and boozy hot chocolate fueled guests for a lively “La Hora Loca” featuring characters on stilts and light up foam sticks. The greatest challenge Ian faced while planning their festive wedding was, “Letting go! As an industry professional, it was hard to not micromanage the process or even day-of details. I call it the blessing and the curse!”
We are so excited to feature this handsome Houston couple and their vintage Spanish-inspired wedding, captured in such detail by Ama By Aisha. Congratulations, Ian & Paul!
This week, as all of us take shelter, rebuild and regroup from the unprecedented deluge of Hurricane Harvey, and take stock of everything that is dear and precious to us, we will be sharing some of our favorite weddings of the last few years. If you need an escape, a moment of peace, a reminder of the importance of family, friends and, above all, love, please settle in, snuggle down and join us. And once the storm clouds clear, and the water recedes, let us know what we can do to help you. We are all in this together. #BeStrongHouston #LoveConquersAll
“It was Jill’s smile, full of life and joy, that captivated me in her profile picture on Match.com,” Marina says. “We met for the first time at the Memorial Park running trails in Houston. She was so radiant, sweet, funny and smart. I was immediately besotted with her. The more time I spent with her, the more I saw that what most people would think are flaws are actually her perfections, just reaffirming over and over again that she truly was the one for me. I was most certainly going to marry this woman. And what a woman she is.”
As for Jill, well, “I had given up on love,” she says, “and then came Marina. She was so certain all along that we were meant to be. I was skeptical… could this be the real thing? Could love endure and grow into a lasting relationship? Marina’s love opened my eyes and kindled a fire in my heart. And she was right…we were in fact, meant to be. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, with a heart full of love. I am caught…forever.” And so are we. Join us in celebrating Houston couple Marina and Jill’s beautiful destination wedding at breathtaking King River Ranch, one of our absolute favorite Hill Country wedding venues.
With its “French country theme” and incorporation of the fall season’s colorful splendor into magnificent bouquets and floral arrangements by King River Ranch’s in-house floral design firm, Willem-Aiden, “Everything was rustic and elegant at the same time,” the couple tells us. And the joy this couple shares, well–it shines through every aspect of their celebration. Congratulations, Marina & Jill!
Photos: Pamela Hults Photography | Venue: King River Ranch | Planner: Eventfully Yours, LLC
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo: Heather Rice Photography
In honor of today’s celebration of love and romance, we’ve hand-selected a collection of sweet wedding decor items, accessories and other goodies, all inspired by the colors, symbols and spirit of Valentine’s Day. From bridesmaid invitations to cake toppers, unique style accessories to DIY OMG’s, these pretty little bitties will infuse your day of love with the day of love, whatever day you say, “I do!” Scroll down for details & links! And, from our hearts to yours, happy Valentine’s Day!