[dropcap letter=”H”]eather: “It was a perfect day, full of laughter and love, family and friends who are family, happiness and tears (of joy, of course!). We met in October 1995 at the Metropolitan Community Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Actually, my friend Cindi invited her out to coffee after church that night, and that was the beginning of this amazing relationship. Holly had moved to Knoxville from New Orleans after a breakup and was looking for a new start. We hit it off and before long, were inseparable.

“You can imagine that in 18 years, we’ve been through a lot: moves, job changes, job losses, family deaths, marriages, pets … anything and everything a couple has to face in a long-term relationship (except children, which is one regret we have).



“In the summer of 2012, the Episcopal Church approved a liturgy to bless same-sex relationships. Called the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant, Holly and I were the first in our home parish of St. James Episcopal Church in Knoxville and the fourth in the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee to seek the blessing. While we planned our special day, we took special care to include the people who have stood with us for entire relationship. My best friend since college, Lynn, stood with me, while Tina (the partner of Cindi who had started this whole thing off by inviting Holly to coffee that Sunday night so long ago) stood with Holly.”  






“I am involved with youth ministry in the Diocese, so many of the people who helped with the service and reception were from that world—friends Amanda and Liz served as our hostesses, handing out programs, directing traffic at the church. Another friend, Renee, along with my parents, brother and sister-in-law decorated the Relix Variety Theatre, our reception site. Alex (Renee’s husband) performed all of our music on guitar; it was beautiful! Another friend from college, Katie, made our gorgeous cake, while my mom made the beautiful cupcakes decorated with roses and silver sugar. As you can see, it really was a family and friend effort to make it a special day.



“Most of our décor ideas came from Pinterest. I made all of the centerpieces and decorations in black, gray and silver. I also made the bouquets for both Lynn and me out of brooches, some of which were new, many of which were vintage and some given to me by friends and family.

“All in all, it was a perfect day. While not a glamorous wedding, it really reflected who we are: a little tailored for Holly and little girly for me. And the most important people in the world to us were there to share it with us.

“Our goal was to put together a celebration that honored our relationship with each other and all of the other people in our lives. We heard from many of our guests that it was the happiest wedding they had been to. To us, there could be no higher compliment than that.”

Couple: Heather Pagles and Holly Sebesta
Years together: More than 18 years
Wedding date: November 2, 2013
Ceremony: St. James Episcopal Church, Knoxville, TN
Clergy: Rev. John Mark Wiggers
Reception: The Relix Variety Theatre
Caterer: Molly Davis
Cake: Katie Davis
Flowers and decor: DIY
Photography: Lemons and Roses Photography