High school sweethearts marry after 10 years in colorful beach ceremony
On September 14, 2019, after just over a decade together (we started dating in January 2009), I married my high school sweetheart Macey on the beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Our ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend, Sarah Jo, who also doubled as a bridesmaid—and performed perhaps the quickest costume change we’ve ever seen! Our wedding cake was designed by another longtime friend, Angela, who also created signage for the wedding such as our Gay Agenda sign. The cake depicts us on the beach, each reading books, with our cats Blue and Gansey at our feet. We both walked down the aisle to “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter; Macey walked with her mom and I walked with my dad. Our first dance was to “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Haley Reinhart and we entered the reception to our couples’ song from high school, “Hanging By a Moment” by Lifehouse.
We had a shared wedding party (not split up by person or gender) made up of our chosen family and had a joint weekend bach party in August. Each of us had a maid of honor and my MOH also carried our wedding rings inside a hollowed-out copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Macey’s family threw us a wedding shower with a literary theme and custom bookmarks. Macey and I got ready in her family’s Airbnb surrounded by family and our wedding party and skipped the first look to exchange letters and wedding gifts at the Provincetown Library before our ceremony.
During our wedding, I honored my mom, who passed away in 2004. I wore her Claddagh ring on one of my bracelets and secured two photos of her and one of her favorite quotes to my bouquet. (Both our bouquets were made from book pages of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya and sheet music of “Hanging By a Moment” in lieu of real flowers.) My dad wore a matching lapel pin with a photo of my mom. I also placed her photo on a reserved seat next to his in a purple frame, her favorite color, and the photo followed us and sat at our reception table following the ceremony. Sarah Jo included a tribute to my mom during her ceremony.
We held our reception at the Crown & Anchor, a popular restaurant and nightclub in town. Our wedding theme was bookish and literary with a whimsical fairy tale vibe. I wore a custom-designed purple dress and a cape with the words ‘Love Always’ on the back in glitter; I also wore a crown of amethysts. Macey wore a Sophia Tolli mermaid style white dress adorned with black flowers and a traditional veil.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?
Alaina: I saw Macey reading a book across the room in our first high school class, but we didn’t really talk to each other until lunchtime. We decided to keep eating lunch together so neither of us would be awkward and alone and we became friends, and then best friends.
Macey: I met Alaina on the first day of high school. We were in homeroom which just happened to be a mechanics class. I was reading my book because that’s what I do when I’m nervous and I remember seeing this girl in a rainbow outfit. I found her again at lunch and asked to sit with her.
What makes your relationship special? Tell us some things that you both value in your time together.
Alaina: We both absolutely love reading so we spend a lot of time talking about books, sharing books and going to bookstore events together. We also love animals and nature but more in a quiet, relaxed kind of way, not in a goes-hiking-every-weekend way. We love to go to the beach together and just sit by the waves—in silence or in conversation, and often to go read and watch the ocean move.
Macey: I love that to some extent the shared things we loved in high school like reading, writing, animals and our overall nerdy hobbies still keep us connected over a decade later. We go to book signings and place bets to see who finishes a long-awaited book sequel. I always make her go see Star Wars and superhero movies after pretty much strong-arming her into watching the originals. We’ve been taking walks on the same beach for years. I love that at its base our relationship hasn’t changed from its original roots, only shifted and grown so that at the beach last summer we talked about a book we were both reading and what entrees to serve at our wedding. We know we can weather the serious and the fun because we’ve been doing it for so long.
Give us all the details about the proposal. How and where did it happen? Was it a surprise? What was the planning process?
Alaina: I proposed to Macey first, at the end of August 2018. I was very uncertain about waiting until 2019, which would make it 10 years since we started dating (I also asked her to be my girlfriend), but decided to just go for it. I actually got Macey’s consent first before proposing, basically by asking her how she would feel about being asked since she’d just started a new job and gotten her graduate degree. Once I knew it was something she wanted, I planned a long weekend trip for the two of us in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I proposed on the beach just before sunset. I wrote the proposal in a letter because when I asked Macey out, she said she’d let me know in a letter (which I still have, her answer was yes). I read the letter out loud to her and gave her a book of short stories I had spent a month writing, with a dedication in the front asking her to marry me. We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating. I’m glad I ended up proposing in summer 2018 because we actually got married in September 2019, a little over 10 years after we started dating.
Macey: Alaina has always said that she wanted to be the one to propose, she never said she had to be the ONLY one to propose. After we got engaged (Alaina proposed on the beach in Provincetown) I saw more and more double proposals going viral. In double proposals, both marriers in the relationship propose to each other, sometimes accidentally at the same time, sometimes months apart. It’s a popular practice particularly in the LGBTQ+ community and I like that it allows both people to feel loved and special. Ever since high school, Alaina has wanted to be proposed to not with a ring but with a customized locket from one of her favorite shops. So I reached out to them and got the process started. I decided I wanted to propose during a trip we already had planned to San Francisco. It was perfect because we already had a photo shoot planned with the photographer who shot our proposal photos in Provincetown (consequently we also loved working with her so much she was also our wedding photographer). I could surprise Alaina with one of her favorite things (photos) without coming off as suspicious. The locket came two days before we were set to leave and I was anxiously checking my email for tracking updates. I proposed during our photo shoot in Muir Woods. I got down on both knees (I was so nervous I forgot it’s usually one) and read her a letter just like she had to me months ago.
How did you know your partner was the one? When did you first know this in your relationship?
Alaina: I think I really knew before we even started dating. We were best friends and Macey and I had a sleepover one night in the summer. I remember that I was writing and she was painting; we had no trouble spending time together even if we were quiet or doing our own thing or actively doing an activity together. We would be laughing the entire time. I wanted to have a thousand more nights just like that. I realized I was in love with her a month or two after that night.
Macey: I always have a hard time answering this question, not because I don’t wholeheartedly believe she’s the one but because I can’t recall the moment I started to have romantic feelings for her. Looking back, I just remember small hints that showed me how special she was to me. I want to constantly be with her just so we could continue our conversations, I wanted to tell her how my day was and ask her what she thought about books and television shows. Anyone who knows me can attest that I don’t normally connect so quickly with someone. But she’s challenged me and encouraged me and inspired me since high school. I’ve known she was the one I wanted to marry for a long time.
Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette?
Alaina: We’ve talked about having a beach wedding for as long as we’ve talked about getting married, even before anyone was seriously considering a proposal or setting a date. It was an absolute must for both of us to be near the water (we were a little flexible about whether the venue was physically on the sand or just overlooking the ocean) with an outdoor ceremony. For that reason, we didn’t go heavy with the beach-themed wedding; the sea itself did that for us. (We did end up getting married on an actual beach with white chairs in the sand and a reception inside at a restaurant.) Our wedding was book-themed and we called it a “literary wedding.” All of our centerpieces were books, our wedding arch was an empty fireplace mantel with books on top of it and we gave our wedding party books as props for our photos. Our color palette was definitely rainbow and we worked with a bookstore on Etsy to create customized vintage selections of colorful books for our decor.
Macey: Coming up with a theme for our day was really difficult. Our interests and individual aesthetics are all over the place and it was hard to consolidate that into one event. Ultimately, I’d say the theme ended up being “books on the beach.” Since we are both ocean lovers it was obvious we wanted to get married by the water but we didn’t necessarily want all the nautical decor that seems to go with them. We also fell in love with all the book-themed ideas when we were doing research. Books and reading have always been such a big part of our relationship so it was second nature to incorporate our favorite books in little ways.
Did you personalize the day in any way? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
Alaina: Our mutual friend, Sarah Jo, officiated the ceremony. She’s actually one of Macey’s oldest and best friends from childhood and she ended up becoming close friends with both of us after she transferred to our college during my senior year. We were up late drinking one night with all our friends when a fire alarm in the building kicked us all into one of the dining halls. Sarah had her laptop with her and she became a minister online that night to pass the time. We joked that she could officiate our wedding (but that wasn’t why she did it). When the time actually came, we asked her to be our officiant—while we were out at karaoke, one of her favorite things to do with friends. She did an amazing job; every single guest who talked to me about my wedding couldn’t stop raving about how beautiful the ceremony was. She made us laugh, she made us cry. I can’t imagine I will ever attend a wedding as a guest that will top the ceremony she did.
Another one of my favorite parts of the wedding day was actually one I didn’t plan. Macey’s mom got us a pedicab, which is really popular in Provincetown, to drive us around on our way to the ceremony. We had a very short “commute” and no need for a limo or car service because the Airbnb where we got ready was less than a five-minute walk from our venue. Riding in the pedicab was a blast. Everyone was congratulating us and cheering us on as we drove by.
Macey: I would have to say one of my favorite events of the day was throwing the biodegradable glitter. Our ceremony was right on the beach and we really wanted to incorporate our guests throwing glitter after our officiant pronounced us married. I remember my wife and I stuffing little bags with small handfuls of glitter and sealing them up for hours but it was worth it to see our guests so happy throwing it. I also really enjoyed the photo booth and the personalized props we got for it. A lot of our friends and family really love to take photos so it was fun to see what they did. We also got to keep all the digital copies of that night.
What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
Alaina: I was most excited about exchanging our vows and the ceremony. Macey and I both chose to write our own vows. We did not read (or hear) Sarah’s ceremony before that day and we didn’t read one another’s vows. We had our maids of honor both read the ceremony and our vows to make sure the general tone was cohesive. This made the entire ceremony a surprise and I loved every minute of it. I knew I would be crying during our vow exchange and it was more beautiful than I could have imagined. I spent over 10 years loving this person and I had the opportunity to tell her how much in front of most of the people we care about most (and hear her do the same). If I could relive that part over and over, I absolutely would.
Macey: I would have to say aside from actually getting married one of my favorite moments was getting ready. Since the venue didn’t have a room for the wedding party to get ready my family invited us and the entire wedding party to get ready at their Airbnb down the street. We put on some Lizzo and nostalgic ’90s boy band music, people threw their makeup all over the dining table and we all just had a good time. It was heartwarming and fun to see so many friends and family laughing and coming together for our special day. There are even some funny photos of Alaina singing along to the music. It was one of those moments where you realize just how lucky you are.
What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples?
Alaina: Work with as many LGBTQ+ vendors as you can! This was the best choice I feel like we made for our wedding. I loved working with allies to the community as well, but I loved being able to feel good about getting married in an LGBTQ-owned venue and have several other major vendors as part of the community. One thing I noticed and loved, which may or may not have been intentional, was that our LGBTQ+ photographers captured other LGBTQ+ couples celebrating at our wedding. There’s one photo of the ceremony from the back that focuses on Macey’s uncles, who are married and traveled from Tennessee to Massachusetts for the wedding. I can’t say for sure that other photographers wouldn’t pick up on these things, but to me, it was a joy to see other LGBTQ+ folks who were guests at our wedding highlighted during our day. It was clear to me that our vendors really understood who we are as individuals.
Macey: Don’t settle on any aspect of your special day for hesitant or intolerant friends or family. The ones who love you will show up. We were very lucky that virtually all our friends and family attended our wedding and those that couldn’t come weren’t able to due to health reasons (the venue was far for everyone). Our wedding was everything we wanted it to be and I honestly couldn’t imagine changing anything for other people. It’s your day so you should celebrate exactly how you want to. I would also say to work with vendors who are either LGBTQ+ or are completely comfortable working within the community. It was refreshing to work with an LGBTQ-owned venue where there was never that awkward coming out moment when you have to explain that your fiancee is a woman, a man or nonbinary (or however you identify as a couple). There have been a few moments when well-meaning work colleagues refer to my partner as my husband (they didn’t know) and I have to gently correct them. It was nice that I never had to do that during our big day.
Advice for vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples?
Alaina: Make it as clear as you possibly can that you are LGBTQ-friendly. It’s so easy to just make sure to at least share an LGBTQ+ photo once in a while on Instagram or wherever you normally drum up your business (marketing materials, your website/blog, Facebook, wedding shows, etc.). Our major vendors were, for the most part, easy: Our wedding photographer also photographed our proposal, our venue and wedding coordinator are LGBTQ-owned businesses. With every small purchase like our cake topper and custom signage, I had a moment of hesitation every time—will they turn us down because we are an LGBTQ+ couple? If this vendor only has Mr. and Mrs. guest books in their shop does that mean they don’t make customs? It always makes things easier for your LGBTQ+ potential customers if we can see immediately that you’re thinking of us, including us and ready to work with us. Macey and I also are both read as feminine and use she/her pronouns; I noticed a lot of gendered language when we were wedding planning. If you’re a wedding pro, look for those details because they matter to your clients. Does the venue have gendered restrooms? Is the word “bride” everywhere? Can you trust that your staff won’t misgender couples and their guests? Our DJ, for example, specifically asked us if we wanted to be announced when we walked into our reception and if so, how. He didn’t assume we would want to be announced as “the brides” or “Mrs. and Mrs.” Our photographer never posed us according to gender roles. Our wedding coordinator asked us about our wedding party’s role instead of assuming we had “bridesmen” and “bridesmaids.”
Macey: Going off of my response earlier, I think it would be great if vendors made it so couples wouldn’t have to come out over and over again or explain their relationship. If you do cake toppers, automatically show the two brides or groom toppers if you make them. This way someone won’t have to ask if customization is possible. They can look through their options just like heterosexual couples.
What challenges did you face as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?
Alaina: I feel so fortunate that we really didn’t face any major (or even minor) challenges. We got married in a historically LGBTQ+ location, which helped and as I said, a gay-owned venue. I had to do a bit more research to make sure wedding professionals were LGBTQ-friendly before hiring them but that was really it. Most of the challenges we faced were specific to accessibility; I have a disability and so do several of our guests and wedding party members. It was difficult to find a venue that was wheelchair-accessible and willing to help us figure out how to have an oceanside ceremony that mobility aid users could attend. I really never felt like I had to come out as queer during the planning process, but I often felt like I had to either out myself as disabled or specify that we had disabled guests coming. It would be a lot easier if wedding professionals made accessibility an automatic part of their job so the burden isn’t always on the couple to handle it.
Macey: Honestly, I was lucky in that I can’t really think of any challenges we faced as a couple. We live in and got married in a traditionally liberal state. That’s not to say there aren’t problematic places around here but I was fortunate to feel just like any other bride when interacting with vendors.
Photographer: Melissa van Ruiten Photography
Second Shooter: Cal Bingham
Wedding Planner: Contagious Events
Venue: The Crown and Anchor
Macey’s Dress: Sophia Tolli
Alaina’s Dress: Sew Maggie Jean (currently inactive)
Alaina’s Wedding Skirt: Tutus Chic Originals
Cake: Angela Sowersby
Hair and Makeup: Laura Jean
Nails: Polished Boston
Officiant: Sarah Jo Enloe
DJ: Chris Racine at the Crown and Anchor
Book Bouquets: The Paper Girl
Wedding Rings: Brilliant Earth
Engagement Locket: Metal Couture
Engagement Ring: Brilliant Earth
Logo: Emery Allard Smith
Photo Booth: Pose
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Alaina Leary Lavoie
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