Ashleigh & Erika’s Historic Maryland Mill Wedding
Sept. 19, 2015
Ashleigh wasn’t looking for love, but when an unexpected guest, Erika, showed up to a casual dinner with friends, it walked right through her front door—carrying tortillas. A little over two years later, the brides wed in a historic Maryland mill, just outside of Washington, DC, surrounded by close friends and family.
During what she thought would be a small, family brunch, Ashleigh noticed Erika was a bit distracted during the meal—she didn’t even eat the bacon-wrapped hot dog she’d ordered for her! Midway through brunch, Erika started to chat about their relationship. As Erika continued, Ashleigh was totally unaware of what was coming next, but curious as to why she’d picked this time to start a conversation about their relationship.
When Erika got out of her chair, it hit Ashleigh.
“She asked me to be her wife, and I was like ‘Oh my god!’ ‘Oh my god!,’ Ashleigh said. “She had to ask, ‘Is that a yes?’
Of course, it was.
Ashleigh took the lead with planning the couple’s wedding, and, like lots of people, started with Pinterest. At first, she thought they would have a rustic wedding, but then, she thought, “there’s nothing about Erika or I that’s rustic,” so the theme changed to celebration. The bride said she only had three must-haves: the wedding must have some element of pink; delicious food and amazing photography.
As wedding planning continued with little trouble, the couple hit major snags just a month before their big day.
“Everything just kind of went downhill,” Ashleigh said. Her father, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, took a turn for the worst, and Ashleigh traveled from the couple’s home in DC to Tennessee to support him. Over the course of the next month, Ashleigh found herself with her father more often then not. He passed away just six days before the couple’s wedding. Though she briefly considered postponing the wedding, after talking with her mother, who said she should stay the course, she decided to host the wedding as planned.
Ashleigh’s sister was slated to officiate the ceremony, but wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding now that she was needed out of state to help plan their father’s funeral. The couple’s friend, Sara, stepped in to officiate with just four days notice. Not only that, but friends helped the couple finish up wedding projects when Ashleigh had to abruptly leave her last-minute crafts and organizing to be with her father.
She chose to honor her father with a photo collage of memories, and by asking her seamstress to stitch a small heart-shaped piece of one of his shirts into the inside of her dress.
Ashleigh’s favorite part of her wedding day was the first look. She and Erika hadn’t seen each other in almost a week, so it was a “super” first look. The couple took a minute to exchange gifts at the first look as well. She also loved seeing how well the event came together. “I didn’t get to do any of those last-minute details to make sure everything is perfect,” Ashleigh told GayWeddings.com. “So, it was really exciting to see how everything came together.” After their outdoor ceremony, the couple and their guests moved inside where they’d arranged a cocktail party style setup to encourage guests to mingle and be sure their wedding wasn’t stuffy. To create this, there were only a few seated tables with cocktail tables throughout. Being that Ashleigh is a burlesque dancer and Erika is a drag king, lots of the couples’ friends are performers. They decided to host a lip-synching contest—with Ashleigh and Erika judging— to provide a fun element of performance at the wedding that wasn’t a choreographed dance or karaoke.
The couple and their guests had so much fun at the wedding that they asked their photographer to stay longer! Ultimately, Ashleigh said one of the nicest aspects of the wedding was being surrounded by their friends who love and support them. “There was a very loving atmosphere,” Ashleigh said. “We felt very loved.”