Hilltop Wedding in Tiburon, California: Sasha & Emily
April 2, 2016
Sasha and Emily met in the first semester of grad school. They spent the whole first year thinking of excuses to be near each other. Emily was pursuing a Masters of Divinity and Sasha a Masters of Arts in history of religion, so they spent more time than not sitting around talking about religion, history and what it mean to to be “queer and religious.” By the end of the year, one of Sasha’s friends sat her down and told her that she and Emily were basically already dating, so they may as well go on an actual date. Emily was getting the same lecture about Sasha. They went out for falafels and they have been in love ever since.
No one can tell their proposal story quite like Sasha, so in her own words: “After grad school, Emily and I moved to the Midwest, so she could pursue her career as an ordained clergy person. During a particularly stressful few months, I decided to plan a surprise getaway weekend to Chicago. I packed the car with her favorite road trip treats, scored a great hotel room downtown and then took her to dinner at an iconic and romantic fondue restaurant in town.”
Sasha continued, “I had the ring with me the whole time, but I promised myself I would only propose if the moment felt entirely perfect. So after dinner, I lit candles in the hotel room and opened a bottle of wine, setting the scene for the perfect proposal. However, given that we had both just inhaled a cauldron of cheese, I was too stuffed to even move – let alone get down on one knee. So, we cuddled up and watched three hours of ‘Modern Family’ before passing out for the night. No proposal.”
“The next morning,” said Sasha, “Emily woke up to shower and I snuck down to get her some breakfast tea. She stumbled out of the bathroom, half-dressed with sopping wet hair and saw me…her eyes filled with tears and she knelt down on the floor next to me and said, ‘I love you so much.’ We hugged and I, with absolutely no stealth whatsoever, pulled the ring very loudly out of a Velcro pocket in my purse and asked her to love me forever. We cried, and then we did what everyone does after a good cry – we went out for brunch. Our server was the first person we told that we were engaged. She brought us champagne, took our picture and told her entire wait staff about our happy occasion.”
Sasha and Emily chose their venue in part because of its stunning view of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Emily worked at the church during grad school. Her mentor was the pastor and a very dear friend to both of them. The couple ate, talked and laughed with 75 of their closest friends and family all afternoon. It was perfection.
Planning was a challenge because both knew the vibe they were looking for, but the rest was a mystery. A skilled friend took on their wedding for “minimal cost but maximum satisfaction,” and took care of all of the little details that pulled the day together so perfectly. She even recruited friends of the couple to help with all aspects of the wedding.
Both Emily and Sasha find value in sacred space and ritual items, so the ceremony held meaning for them. Instead of a traditional wedding party processing in with flowers, theirs brought items of importance: a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread to remind them of the necessity of good food and Sabbath time; a candle in remembrance of those who have passed; an atlas which represented their hopes to see the world as much as they can; a pitcher of water and bowl of dirt, reminding them of the most basic elements of nature, and its importance to them; and so on. As they processed in, each couple placed the items on a table at the front of the ceremony space. The really amazing part is that they never practiced where each of them should place their item and by the time the processional was done, the table looked perfect. This was Emily and Sasha’s absolute favorite aesthetic piece of the whole day because it was imbued with so much meaning.
Sasha’s favorite moment was immediately after the ceremony when she and Emily went into the pastor’s office to sign the marriage license. Both of their moms witnessed and the five of them gushed over every piece of the ceremony. As a clergy person, Emily is used to greeting people as they enter church. So her favorite memory was informally greeting guests as they arrived to the church. They didn’t want to hide out and “surprise” folks when they walked down the aisle, which meant that on their wedding day, she was able to welcome family and friends who flew across the country and drove across the Bay to come to their ceremony.
Asked to share her advice for other couples, Sasha said, “One of the things about being queer that is at once sad and also beautiful is that there are really very few traditions to follow. The role of each person in the relationship is defined as the relationship progresses. We don’t necessarily depend upon preconceived gender roles, but rather we have the freedom to create those roles equitably. My biggest piece of advice is to try and find liberation in being queer as you plan your wedding. Acknowledge that there is space for creativity and newness in this process. Sure, there are many traditional wedding rituals that can easily be carried over, should that feel relevant or important to you. On the other hand, if those traditions don’t feel relevant to you and your partner, then revel in the opportunity to push the boundaries of what it means to have a wedding ceremony. In the end, this is about your partner and you standing up in front of people that support your relationship in order to say, ‘yes, I choose you.’”