For their summer wedding, Charleston, South Carolina, wives-to-be Shannon (she/her) and Tina (she/her) wanted their industrial venue balanced out with modern wooden decor and simple greenery. After getting ready separately and doing a first look, the brides had a brief ceremony, officiated by a close friend. Shannon and Tina wanted to make sure they got to spend the majority of their wedding at the reception. Shannon says, “Having fun and bringing everyone together to celebrate love was our biggest and most important goal.”

For their bouquets, Shannon, who identifies as a lesbian bride, and Tina, who identifies as a bisexual bride, went with white for all the flowers and included a strong emphasis on eucalyptus leaves. They wanted the bouquets to look loose and natural to complement their wedding colors, which were sage and green for Tina’s side and dusty blues for Shannon’s. Eucalyptus was the main character for the rest of event florals and covered the majority of the decorations, hanging along the chairs down the aisle and looping around the hand-crafted wooden lantern centerpieces.

We caught up with the brides to hear about their modern Charleston wedding.

Tell us your love story!

We both swiped right! Shannon made her Tinder account the night before New Year’s Eve. We matched that night, texted the entire next day, met up that night and fell in love quickly. Our lives just kind of organically merged together from there. We wish there was something more like a romantic Hallmark story to tell, but that was really it. We have an amazing group of friends and family both close and long distance. We’ve done long road trips for holidays and summer vacations. We manage to stay fans of different football teams and sometimes even watch the games together. We have a golden retriever named Rateliff as our son, and he is just as obsessed with us as we are with him.

Who proposed? Tell us about the proposals.

We both proposed. Tina beat Shannon to it. We got the idea of doing mystery date nights from our friends. One of us would plan a full evening for the other, as a surprise. Tina used this idea to cleverly disguise the proposal. We went downtown for drinks at the Charleston Place Hotel and dinner at Charleston Grill.

It seemed like a normal, yet fancy, date night until Tina said there was one more surprise and took Shannon on a bike taxi through the city to the Battery. This wasn’t an uncommon place for us to go. We like to go to the gazebo there and play songs to slow dance to, so Shannon just thought Tina was being cheesy and this was the finale to the mystery date. Tina started asking Shannon about what song we would want to dance to when we got married and playfully teased if Shannon was sure Tina was the one. She said something along the lines of, “Okay, let’s get married then.” That’s when she pulled the ring out of her pocket and asked Shannon to marry her.

Shannon decided to organize a series of events at locations that Tina loves, accompanied by some of her closest friends. Seven handwritten notes sent Tina from one location to the next. Each note was decorated with photos and memories from each of the seven years we’d been together. Tina spent the day with friends having brunch, lunch, and beers at a favorite brewery, then freshened and fancied up with a friend near the beach while Shannon decked out a room at the Tides on Folly Beach. The last note sent her to the room where Shannon waited with lights, candles, and a bottle of our favorite bourbon. We spent the weekend at the Tides on the beach, celebrating the official start of our future!

Did you have a bach party?

Tina went to Nashville. Day one was Hooters-themed, with shirts of Shannon in her old Hooters uniform printed on them saying: Last Hooters Forever. They went to karaoke bars, drag shows and a baseball game. Shannon spent the weekend at a bridesmaid’s lake house, dressed in full ’90s neon, partying on a pontoon boat and winning as many lawn games as possible. The highlight of the weekend was the inflatable slip and slide.

What was the ceremony like?

The ceremony was short and sweet. It was inside at the same venue as the cocktail hour and reception. Ushers handed out personalized programs that listed fun facts about us and the wedding party, as well as mapping out the times for the rest of the night. There was a string duo playing our favorite songs as we all walked down the aisle. We chose Robyn’s “Show Me Love” for the bridesmaids and Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You” for us. We both walked down with our father figures. Tina went first and waited for Shannon to follow. One of our best friends, Cat, was our officiant. We opted out of writing our own vows and instead collaborated with Cat to come up with some fun stories and sweet moments we wanted to share about our love.

How did you personalize your wedding?

Shannon is a high school art teacher, so she was determined to make as many decorations as possible, including the centerpiece lanterns, table number markers, welcome sign, donut labels and seating chart. She drew our dogs for the can koozies as well.

The biggest personalization was easily the wedding band. That was Tina’s call, and it was worth the splurge! The Midnight City Band crushed it. We got to personalize almost the entire set list by essentially giving them our vibe for the music. They played the best mashups of all the ’90s and early 2000s hits with a strong emo influence. The dance floor was full. We all were so into it that almost everyone missed the grilled cheese snack offered toward the end of the night.

What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples or marriers?

There are no rules. People will want to put your wedding into a box with labels, but that is all for you to decide.

What advice would you give to vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ marriers?

Get rid of “Bride and Groom” on questionnaires. That was discouraging. It felt like we were supposed to just pick who was going to have to list their name under “Groom,” so we just didn’t hire that particular vendor and had to keep looking. Venues with multiple dressing rooms were also an issue. Tina got ready at our venue while Shannon had to stay at our hotel and shuttle over. It presented some challenges when one bride needed something from the other. There are some cool vendors that offer “man cave” lounges for the groom and groomsmen for the day of the wedding with pool tables and shuffleboard and other fun activities, but they just advertised to the men.

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

Being two women with lots of ideas, especially about decor, offered some personal challenges, but we learned some valuable lessons on healthy communication. Aside from some simple frustrations and a lack of getting ready space for two brides, we really didn’t have any challenges that were specific to being LGBTQ+.

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

Getting married in a relatively conservative area like Charleston, it is easy to anticipate some unpleasant surprises from some people with different views. But it was a very accepting environment all the way through the planning process! On the wedding day, when we ventured out to King Street and Hampton Park for photos, it was a pleasant surprise. You just never know when a family walks by two brides kissing in the middle of the street if you will get the dreaded homophobic comments. We actually got a lot of congratulatory remarks or everyone just minded their own business. It definitely isn’t a city known for advertising LGBTQ+ wedding destinations, but Charleston stayed classy through our experience. The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

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Photographer: Sara Boyd Photography
Planner: Shelby Hart
Venue: Union Station
Flowers and catering: Duvall Events
Shannon’s attire: Rebecca Schoneveld; Maddison Row South
Tina’s attire: Barbara Kavchok; Angel Rivera Atelier
Bridesmaids’ attire: Bella Bridesmaids
Rings: Diamonds Direct
Hair and makeup: Lashes and Lace
Dessert: Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
Lighting: Alpha-Lit
Ceremony music: Williams Duo
Reception band: The Midnight City
Transportation: Coastal Limo Charleston

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