We’ve basically been in love with Alabama’s poster women for the lesbian fairy tale love story since Poppy first reached out to us about her then-girlfriend, Sarah, proposed to her (see their gorgeous engagement photo session in Alabama’s rustic wooded setting with j.woodbery). Poppy wooed our editors with her lovely writing in her personal essay about how her conservative Catholic father embraced his lesbian daughter and her same-sex marriage. (All the tears.) And now, we’re honored to bring you her and her wife’s wedding story and photo gallery. Below the photos is Poppy’s own story, told in her own talented way with words.
From the bride, Poppy Kalaba
I had the amazing opportunity to marry the woman of my dreams twice. On May 19, 2013, my girlfriend Sarah decided to pop the question during a baseball game between the LA Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. I’m a fierce Atlanta fan while Sarah is a huge Dodger fan. Even though this game usually brings out a tense rivalry, I can’t tell you who won that day.
Shortly after this amazing day, we started planning our wedding. We set a date for April 3, 2014 in Chattanooga, Tenn. It’s where we spent our first two anniversaries and it has always held a special place in our heart. In Nov., we flew to visit Sarah’s parents in Calif. for Thanksgiving. While there, we decided to go down to the courthouse to make our marriage legal since same-sex marriage [was not legal in the South at the time]. We only told our parents and a few close friends. In our eyes, this was just for legal purposes and we don’t consider this as our anniversary. We always say, “We signed the papers on November 26, 2013 but we got the key to our marriage on April 3, 2014.” Although I would have done things differently if same-sex marriage was legal, I do feel blessed to have experienced an elopement and a wedding. There is something so beautiful about standing in a courthouse promising to spend your life with someone without any bells and whistles. Just two souls promising to love each other just as we were.
After the legal wedding, our ceremony approached quickly. We decided to have a small wedding since we were traveling to another state. On April 3, 2014, I officially said “I do” at Rock City in Chattanooga, Tenn. It took me a month to write my wedding vows. I rewrote my vows numerous times but no matter how much I tried to make them perfect, this was what my heart wanted to say:
“When I was little, I dreamed of this day. I always pictured a grand fairy-tale wedding that ended with me riding off into the sunset with my prince charming. What I never saw coming was that my prince charming would actually be a woman named Sarah. There is another secret that no Disney movie will tell you. Fairy tales are not about a specific time, day, or place. They don’t start the day you say ‘I… do’ and there is no magic potion that will make everyday sunshine and rainbows. Fairy tales are created by loving someone unconditionally every day. ‘I love you’ means that I accept you for the person that you are and that I do not wish to change you into someone else. It means that I do not expect perfection from you — just as you do not expect it from me. It means that I will love you and stand by you even through the worst of times. It means loving you when you’re in a bad mood, or too tired to do the things I want to do. It means loving you when you’re down — not just when you’re fun to be with. “I love you” means that I know your deepest secrets and do not judge you for them- asking in return only that you do not judge me for mine. “I love you” means commitment, dedication and loyalty. So my vows are simple. I love you. I vow to always love you. I can’t wait to see where our fairy tale leads us. Wherever we may go and whatever we may do, I know I am whole because I have you.”
Ironically, the best was yet to come. My dad is a pretty conservative man. He is someone I have always looked up to and his opinion means the world to me. Simply put, he’s my best friend. I never sat my parents down and told them I was gay. I figured that I didn’t need to. My philosophy is that I love who I love. I wouldn’t need to sit them down and say, “Hey, mom and dad, I’m straight,” so why bother making my sexuality a big deal. Even though Sarah asked my dad for his blessing to marry me, deep down I did often wonder what my dad was going to do when I got married. I never wanted to disappoint him or force him to be somewhere that his conservative Catholic values couldn’t handle. Not only did my dad show up to my wedding and walked me down the aisle, he also gave a toast at our reception. He stood up and outwardly welcomed my new wife into our family and said that being there was an honor. Even after the wedding, I thanked him for walking me down the aisle and his response was, “There is nowhere else I would have wanted to be.”
I wish everyone in the LGBT community experienced this level of love and acceptance. Sarah and I are so lucky and fortunate to have two families that both accept and love us. We strive every day to honor that commitment we made before friends and family.
Photography: J.Woodbery Photography