Real Wedding

Valarie & Heather’s Nautical-Themed Beach Wedding


Sept. 24, 2015

Valarie and Heather were unlikely college sweethearts—Heather had never dated a woman before meeting Valarie. Yet, Valarie wasn’t wrong when she suspected Heather was sending her signals during a spring break trip in 2005. That summer, the two women discovered their parents lived only 30 miles apart, and began spending a lot of time together. By the time school started that fall, they were an item. Valarie said it wasn’t just one thing that drew Heather to her—it was a lot of things. Mainly, “she really got me,” Valarie told GayWeddings.com. Years after meeting and falling in love, the two wed in their home state of North Carolina amid happy family and friends.

The Proposal

It didn’t take long for Valarie to know Heather was the one. Six months into their relationship, she’d given her love a promise ring with the intent of “I’m keeping this girl forever,” she told us. On Christmas Day 2009—four years later—she proposed, but it took another six years before the two finally tied the knot.

“It was important to us to get married in North Carolina,” Valarie said. “We didn’t want to do it anywhere else, so we were waiting.”


The Planning

As soon as North Carolina recognized marriage equality in October 2014, Valarie went on the hunt for a vacation house in the Outer Banks to host the couple’s wedding. “I knew from the beginning I wanted something intimate with just our closest friends and immediate family,” she told GayWeddings.com. The couple knew they wanted a beach wedding since their relationship started at the beach during spring break, and it’s their happy place. They also knew they wanted a nautical theme to complement their beach setting.


The couple focused on what was most important for them during the wedding planning process: good food, good cake, good music, their friends and family and an awesome gown for Heather. Valarie said she concentrated on the experience of the wedding and tried not to get caught up in the extras or traditions.

“We didn’t feel the need for family dances, garters or bouquet tosses,” she told us. “We wanted our wedding to be about us, but most of all have a great time.”


With a hurricane brewing off the coast the week of their wedding, Valarie and Heather made a last-minute change to host the ceremony on the dune top deck rather than directly on the beach. The day before the wedding there were heavy downpours and gusty winds, but on the couple’s actual wedding day the rain stayed away. Plus, the deck location allowed the dune to block the wind so their ceremony could be heard clearly.


Valarie and Heather beach wedding North Carolina

Valarie and Heather’s favorite part of their wedding was—besides the great food—their vows, which they wrote themselves.

“The words that came out of my wife’s mouth were the most incredible things anyone has ever said to me,” Valarie said. “I fall in love with her even more every time I hear them.”

Their LGBTQ-Friendly Vendors

Photography: CSaul Photography//Videography: Benz Productions//Event Rentals and Ceremony Setup: Renee Landry Events//Catering: Coastal Provisions//Hair and Makeup: Hairoics//Cake: Atlantic Cake Company

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Although I've spent the last decade riffing on everything from suburban politics to race in media, documenting love stories as content manager of GayWeddings.com definitely takes the cake. A proud alumna of Howard University's journalism program, I've written for Parents.com, The Huffington Post, xoJane and Essence magazine. When I'm not writing, I'm debating the merits of Drake, obsessing over frozen yogurt or plotting my next international adventure. I want to feature you on GayWeddings.com! Always feel free to drop me a line at community [at] gayweddings.com to share your engagement, wedding and love stories.

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