Real Wedding: Lissette and Ashley
Lissette & Ashley
March 26, 2011
Love is so many things. And, love, at its best, is a joint effort — a mutual expression and experience — which galvanizes the love and energy of everyone who encounters it. Enter Lissette & Ashley: two brides who planned their seaside wedding — the biggest day of their lives — with thoughtful intention, faith and love, asking only their community and God to recognize and celebrate their Union as they wait for legal marriage and its many benefits to make its way to their home state.
Here’s their story:
What is your most favorite photo from the wedding?
We truly love the picture that Danielle (of Danielle Richards Photography) took of us, standing by the cake leaning into each other and smiling (see above). You can see the ocean in the background as well as a friend taking a picture.
It is our favorite because it shows us laughing and having a good time and that is how we are in our relationship. It shows the cake and our colors that we totally loved! And most of all, we’re so happy to have the shot with the beautiful window and the ocean that we dreamed of on our wedding day.
Your wedding themes were beautifully woven into your seaside setting. Can you tell us more about how you picked your site and then chose your decorations, cake, etc?
We knew that we wanted to get married somewhere by the ocean or on the ocean. We researched the internet for possible places to get married and made two appointments, one to check out a yacht and one at a beach club. We went to both appointments within a few days of each other and right away we knew we were going with Merrimakers at Water’s Edge. It was breathtaking.
The day we went to see the site, there was a wedding going on outside so we were able to see the place really set up and it was spectacular. Not to sound corny, but Ashley had a tear well up in her eye, and, at that point, we knew it was the place for us. Our event coordinator at Water’s Edge, Sally Dolan, had a lot of questions for us, what was our date? What type of food did we want? What type of settings did we have in mind? We didn’t have many answers when we started out, but with her valuable assistance and guidance we learned.
We had purchased The New Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings, and that gave us a tremendous background of what we were going to encounter with getting a cake, renting tablecloths and napkins, the food, the alcohol, the DJ, the photographer, etc.
Once we knew we had a venue that would allow the ocean to be our backdrop we started researching everything that we could that had beach themes or destination weddings. We hit every article possible on gayweddings.com and other sites. We searched the internet, magazines; it was like a research paper. We would save pictures and websites of places, decorations and ideas.
We already knew the cost would be very high when taking all of these things into account but the venue we chose offered cakes in the package and then cakes that were a bit more but they included all of the tablecloths, napkins, chair covers so that made the decision much easier.
Early on we had selected our color theme so as we made more decisions, we thought of how everything would match and coordinate with our teal/aquamarine color.
The cake we selected was not in the package but Lissette wanted it, and, as we were working throughout the year, we managed to save and select the cake in teal color with seashells and conches. Previously we had killed ourselves looking for a cake topper but when we decided on that cake, with the decoration on top there was no need for one. More money saved.
During the research process, we came across a table setting that we liked and we made that our guide and worked off of it. The center pieces were do it yourself and were the hit at the end of the wedding when everyone wanted to take one home.
What was your favorite aspect of wedding planning? How did this impact the Big Day itself?
Our favorite aspect of the wedding planning was doing everything together. We had heard so much that one person would take the brunt of planning the wedding and the other one just approved everything and we did not want to be like that. We took each step as another chance that we had to enjoy our time together and figuring out what we liked. We didn’t agree on everything and at those times we compromised.
Throughout the process we had made the decisions together and on the day of the wedding it was the best feeling ever because we knew that we had done this together and it was so beautiful.
We had met with our priest countless times not only to plan the ceremony but to be counseled and that was something that allowed us to feel more emotionally tied into everything and to each other.
Your wedding from the pictures, looks to be very “traditional” or as traditional as a lesbian wedding can get! Is this an accurate characterization?
When you are a lesbian couple and you choose to get married, there is no guideline to compare to. You are basically winging it. We both decided to wear dresses because that is who we are.
The ceremony could have been performed by a judge, but we wanted something traditional, religious. We are close to God and we know that God does not hate us nor judge us. With the help of Father Peter DeFranco and the Episcopal Church, which had an outline for civil unions, we pieced together what we liked.
Our procession was different than most. Lissette was walked down the aisle by her parents, and Ashley by her mother and uncle. The twist was that Lissette would wait halfway down the aisle for Ashley so that they could complete the walk together. We did not have brides maids etc. We had two men of honor (uncle and cousin) who stood next to us as we were married.
We selected a female DJ — Tara Feeley — who sang our first dance. It was unbelievable!! She had a tremendous voice and it was such a special moment. She really took into account the types of music we wanted as well as the genre when she put together our musical program. In addition to that, we spent time figuring out how we were going to be introduced because it is usually the bride and groom or Mr. and Mrs. We also strayed from tradition by not throwing our bouquets.
Instead, we decided on a “longevity dance” and invited all committed couples to the floor. We had requested that the DJ ask the longest heterosexual (45 years) and homosexual (31 years) committed couples to give us a word of advice.
Our friends who had been committed to each other for 31 years told us later that, in all of their years together, this was the first time they were able to dance together at any wedding.
We can’t express to you how touched we were that we were able to allow that to happen for them.
Tell us more about the quote from Mother Teresa and how you included it at your wedding ceremony and/or reception.
When deciding on a favor we wanted something that could be used not put away in a cabinet and we came up with a drawstring bag. Next, we wanted a quote that would convey to our loved ones and the world a sentiment about acceptance, equality, love and non judgment. We are both minorities, women, and lesbians; we had met enough opposition in our life to know what we wanted our message to be. In our search, Ashley found the perfect one by Mother Teresa. It was short, simple but very to the point and profound.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
We rolled up each bag so that the quote was the focal point. It was a black bag and the white writing really stood out with the color theme at each table.
We were not sure initially how to present the bags to the guests and with the assistance of the Maitre’D’s (Jason) , the staff at the venue placed them perfectly by having the quote facing up on each plate.
What’s your best piece of advice to couples who are planning a wedding in 2011?
Let your special day be an extension of who you are and stay true to yourselves. Allow yourselves to be creative. Try to have an idea of what you want the finished product to look like. Research and get ideas, see what others have done. Most of all, take the time to be in it together if possible. Talk about it, disagree about it but do it together.
How do you think LGBT couples choosing to stand up and exchange vows in front of their loved ones changes families and broadens attitudes/beliefs about gay marriage?
We think that, by choosing to stand up and exchange vows in front of our loved ones it allows all of us, both gay and straight, to grow and learn more about the differences between marriage, civil union and domestic partnership, as well as the disparities people face.
We had people talking to us about it not being fair, about the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, the gay bashings, the bullying. We realized that, by our deciding to profess our love to each other, it made people that we cared about start to understand the unjust indifference and hatred promoted in our society.
It allowed the great moments to be highlighted in discussions with us and with others. We know that it allowed loved ones who were dealing with their own issues about their sexuality and families a chance to see that there is an opportunity for acceptance and support.
We had more than 100 people present to love and support us because we decided we wanted people in our lives to know how important we were to each other.
We had to come out to some of our friends and usually that is a very trying process, but we knew that we were in love and that was worth whatever response we got.
It is never easy to come out to people because there is always the fear of rejection and we saw that it was not only a coming out process for us but also for our parents. The positive result was that they were able to see that there were so many people there supporting and believing in our decision.
What’s your Lesbian status as a couple?
We are in a Civil Union on paper because our state has not yet approved marriage. In our eyes, and the eyes of God, we are married.
Anything else that you would like to add?
Make sure that you have someone at your venue who will be there to answer questions and help guide you when you are just starting the process. We were very fortunate to have that in Sally. If she didn’t know the answer to our question, she investigated until she did. It was a relationship that made a major difference for us.
It is also very important to have the same type of relationship with your photographer because s/he will be recording your memories. Get to know him or her and communicate your likes and dislikes. Check out your potential photographer’s work, feel comfortable asking any question. And make sure you are comfortable with this person’s work because it is work you will have to love for the rest of your life.
If you are religious and have not been accepted by a church, keep searching!! It is out there for you.
We couldn’t have asked for better people to work with and they helped our fairytale wedding come true. We wish the same for you.
Finally, we would like to thank gayweddings.com because it was the first site that started our search, and a site we went back to many times for more information. We were two lesbians in love and about to plan the most important day of our lives and not sure where to begin.
When trying to plan the most important day of our lives, it felt good to know we could count on a site that was there for us.
Editor’s Note: Awwww, shucks! Thanks, gals!
Reception Venue: Merri Maker’s Water’s Edge
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Submitted via TwoBrightLights