We wanted to make our wedding to be an intimate and unique reflection of our bond. To match our flare of style, we chose to have a classic vintage wedding at the Mansion at Valley Country Club in Towson, Maryland.

Our wedding ceremony was completely unplugged to allow guests to focus on the presentation from our hand-written vows to the saxophonist serenading our foot washing ceremony. We were surrounded by complete love and utter support.

What special ways did you infuse the day with your personality?

To start their day, Ashley surprised Sherry with five gifts that appealed to her five senses—sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. Her bridesmaids and bridesman were each assigned a gift to present. The gifts were a body massage (touch), a cup of coffee (taste), a photo album (sight), a bouquet of flowers (smell) and a gold wristwatch (sound).

Unknown to Ashley, Sherry also had a gift for her, presented by her bridesman and maid of honor. It was a personalized wine decanter. Ashley and Sherry not only read heartfelt vows to each other but included a foot washing ceremony to demonstrate the meaning of love, humility and the first act of service to each other.

In place of a guestbook, guests were asked to highlight and sign their favorite bible verses in Ashley and Sherry’s first family bible. It was a beautiful large brown leather-bound bible branded with The Lawrences in gold lettering.

During their reception, Ashley’s sorority sisters (who were pinned upon arrival with African violet corsages) sang their sweetheart song, led by her mother who is also of member of the sorority. Many of Sherry’s close friends chose to wear tuxes/suits in support of the tux bride.

In memory of their grandparents and other loved ones who had passed away, Ashley and Sherry utilized one of the parlors of the mansion as a memory area. Elegantly framed pictures and lit candles were beautifully set amongst the mansion furnishings. The newlywed couple and their guests danced the night away to the tunes of Baltimore true residents of the great city.

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What was the inspiration behind your jewel bouquet?

For years now my go-to accessory has been a brooch. So much so that colleagues expect me to wear one every day. I felt like a brooch bouquet was very on brand for me. Also, my dress was a classic with all the drama and details in the back so I figured why not bring some drama to the front as well?

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Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding

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What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples?

Have an open mind and know what you want. Work together on a budget and figure out what is truly important to you and no one else. For us, we wanted a thoughtful but brief ceremony and a giant party for the reception and that’s what we got. Although it may seem like you are planning a party for everyone else, it’s actually a wonderful opportunity to experience love and support of your union on a larger scale. Despite all the hiccups and drama, in the end, my wife and I were so thankful we had a wedding.

Advice for vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples?

There is nothing different between a heteronormative wedding and LGBTQ+ wedding. First, learn what the aforementioned acronym stands for before working with us. Do not be afraid to ask questions. For example, most vendors paperwork had ‘husband and wife.’ Everyone seemed confused as to saying bride and bride because they couldn’t tell the difference so we told them call us Tux Bride and Dress Bride. They asked what to call my wife’s bridal party and we told them bridesmen. Simple changes can mean the world to the couple and most importantly bring you more business.

Did you have a bach (bachelor or bachelorette) party?

Yes, while Ashley’s was a winter skiing “Party on the Peaks” Bachelorette Weekend at Wintergreen Resort, Virginia, in February; Sherry’s bachelorette party was a warm weather “Beach Getaway” at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in February.

Who walked down the aisle and with whom? Or who (if anyone) waited at the front?

Their beautiful procession began with the officiant and the mothers’ of the brides escorted by their spouses. Next came Sherry’s bridesmen and the maid of honor (her sister). Guests were requested to stand as Sherry was walked down the aisle by her stepfather, Todd Gray. Then guests sat down. Then Ashley’s bridesmaids, bridesman and maid of honor processed in. Guests were again requested to stand as Ashley was walked down the aisle by her father, Kent Ward.

What challenges did you face as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?

The only challenge I came up with was finding a wedding planner. Many times when I would meet them, things were great until I told them I was marrying a woman, then the air changed in the room. One lady paused when I told her then said, “Oh, well I will need some help this one.” As if my wife and I were going to be more difficult than the average wedding.

Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?

Absolutely, I had researched LGBTQ -friendly venues and vendors and found quite a lot. Also, when obtaining signage or trinkets it was not hard at all to get Mrs. & Mrs. or Brides. Everyone we worked with was so very supportive, respectful and nice.

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SEARCH FOR LGBTQ+ FRIENDLY WEDDING VENDORS

VENDORS

Photographer: Create It Photography

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Mansion at Valley Country Club

Florist: Scentsational Florals

Planner: Pauché Eventss

DJ: Baltimore’s Premiere Event Solutions

Invitations: Vistaprint https://www.vistaprint.com/ @vistaprint

Attire: Madison James & Baltimore Custom Clothiers

Jewelry: The Jewelry Exchange

Attendant Attire: Bella Bridesmaids & Men’s Warehouse

Videographer: Five Star Multimedia Productions

Catering: Mansion at Valley Country Club

Cake: Cakes by Cynthia

Officiant: Larissa Parks

Decor: Denean’s Party by Design

Pipe & Draping: Baltimore’s Premiere Event Solutions

Lighting: Baltimore’s Premiere Event Solutions

Saxophonist: Chad Wilikins

Broach Bouquet: Tatyana Agulina

Shoes: Badgley Mischka & Zara

Makeup: Dominique Brooks

Hair: Zarah Charm & Carletta Jones

Prep Hotel: Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel

Transportation: American Limousines

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