Low-key Louisville, Kentucky, wedding celebrates chosen family, queer joy and spirituality
Haley + Jenny
Pronouns: she/her (both)
Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venue: Mellwood Art Center, Louisville, Kentucky
Wedding Season: fall
Wedding Vibe: low-key, nontraditional, simple, joyful, intimate
Haley and Jenny married after a year-long engagement. The queer couple proposed to each other on the same day. “We both knew that we wanted to be engaged, and would likely do so soon, but didn’t know it would be the exact same day,” the couple shared with Equally Wed. “Haley proposed to Jenny in the kitchen and then they went to a play at Actors Theatre and dinner at Buck’s restaurant. While they were at the play and dinner, Jenny had two of their close friends decorate their deck with pictures of them throughout the years, family members and fresh flowers.”
JENNY + HALEY’S LOVE STORY
Haley and I met through a mutual friend when we were 19 years old. At first we didn’t hang out much, but after a few months, I invited Haley to a house party that my roommates and I hosted. At first I asked another mutual friend to extend an invite to Haley but Haley replied with “she has to ask me herself.” So, that’s when I got her number from our friend and texted her and that’s how we got each other’s numbers. After hanging out at that party, we decided to hang out again. I asked Haley “Do you want to hang out just us or with a group?” and Haley responded “a group is cool.” And as Haley tells the story, this moment sent her into the friend zone that she had to “claw her out of.” We were best friends for a while, then we dated, then we broke up, and then after some years, we found our way back to each other. It’s the most conventional or romantic fairy-tale-like story, but we are both very grateful for the years we’ve endured together, the joy, the tears and the love we’ve shared.
Aside from the bouquets and the boutonnieres, we bought the flowers by the bucket and with the help of friends, put them together with vases bought at thrift stores. We got wild flowers from Hazelwood Farms, a Kentucky farm that had a booth at a local farmers market that I bought from for years. Coincidentally, it turned out the family who owns the farm also happened to be related to my brother’s girlfriend!
Our wedding was on the smaller side and indoors. It was the perfect amount of people for us. We were able to have most of our family (some could not travel because of COVID) and our closest friends. Our officiant was JoAnne Morris. She is an ordained minister, but more importantly, she is a friend of ours. It was really meaningful to have someone we know play that role in our wedding. We did not write our own vows. It felt like too much pressure so we requested that JoAnne help guide us in that moment. I am an ordained minister and our spirituality is something that is important to both of us. We had prayer and read scripture (Ruth 2:16-17), and we had a hymn played. The scripture spoke to the commitment we were making to each other and the hymn was the same hymn that Haley and I sang one of the first Sundays we went to church together. One of my favorite parts of the service was the poem we read titled “I Have Just Said,” by Mary Oliver. The first time I read the poem I immediately thought of Haley and when we got engaged I knew I wanted it to be read during the ceremony. I still remember the day I read it to Haley and after reading it, I looked up at her and we both had tears in our eyes. It’s a beautiful poem that fits us perfectly.
But our most favorite part of the wedding ceremony was the moment we had with our two boys, Nate and Stephen. Nate and Stephen are related on Haley’s side of the family and only a couple of months after getting engaged, they came to live with us. Over the course of our first year together, we formed a family and we wanted to honor that family by making promises to the boys. We also wanted to give them something to symbolize our commitment to them and to being a family. A few weeks before the wedding Haley had the idea to create our very own family crest. We picked symbols that were representative of our family: things we like to do together, our dogs, the Deathly Hallows symbol to remind them of the power in love, and a Latin quote that translates into English “Fortune Favors the Bold.” We wanted to honor and speak to the boldness the boys showed when they moved in with us, the boldness we showed in opening our home, and the boldness we would continue to show as we move through life together as a “nontraditional family” (whatever that even means, because what is a “traditional family” anyway?!). After reciting our vows to each other as wives, we recited our promises to the boys and then pinned the family crest onto their shirts. It was a moving moment for everyone present and one that we as a family will cherish forever. In addition to the pins, we had a larger copy of the crest made and to this day it sits on our mantle as a reminder of the promises made to the boys and the beautiful family that we’ve created together.
HOW DID YOU PERSONALIZE YOUR WEDDING?
The whole thing felt intimate and personal. The intention we put into the ceremony and who participated in the ceremony, the way we were able to be present with all of the guests. It was a reflection of who we are as individuals and as a couple. When we first started planning our wedding, we felt a lot of pressure from family to do it a certain way. We knew that we wanted something small, but our families wanted something bigger. The guest list continued to grow and then COVID hit. This meant that the list needed to be shortened significantly so that we could keep everyone safe. I wish COVID wasn’t something we have all had to go through, and I am grateful that because of COVID our wedding turned out to be what Haley and I had wanted from the beginning. We tried to make the best out of being a “COVID Wedding,” so we had masks with our hashtag printed on them and hand sanitizers with stickers that had our names and wedding date printed on them as our favors. Our wedding would not have been possible without the incredible support of our friends, family and Danny Mac’s Pizza. Everything from our signage and floral arrangements (except for the bouquets and boutonnieres) to the cake table and the set up of both the ceremony room and outdoor reception and music playlist was DIY. Our outdoor reception in the courtyard right outside of Danny Mac’s was more beautiful than either of us could have imagined on our own and we give all the credit for that reception to Danny Mac’s and the team there. Our wedding day was more than we could have ever imagined and it was perfect for us.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ENGAGED LGBTQ+ COUPLES AND MARRIERS PLANNING THEIR WEDDINGS?
Do what you want to do. It’s easy to get caught up in what your family thinks, what your friends think, and what society tells you a wedding is “supposed” to look like. We took the word “should” out of our vocabulary and that made all the difference. We would not have done a thing different. Another note: there will be hiccups. The week of our wedding, our hair person could no longer do our hair, and the woman who was going to (safely) sing had emergency surgery. We took lots of deep breaths and made it work. And it worked out beautifully. Let go of what you can’t control and be present in the moment. Look at the people who are gathered as you walk down the aisle. Be mindful of every step, every word, every hug and every kiss. It will pass by quickly, but if you pay attention then it will stay with you forever.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE AS AN LGBTQ+ COUPLE PLANNING YOUR WEDDING?
It felt hard at times to envision a wedding that reflected us and not one that reflected the heteronormative traditional wedding. We bumped up against this with our families the most, though they are very supportive. I was worried about bumping up against people who wouldn’t want to work with us because we are queer but we were lucky to not have to deal with those issues.
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Photographer: Sarah Katherine Davis Photography
Venue: Mellwood Art Center
Florist: Hazelfield Farm
Wedding gown: Rebecca’s Wedding Boutique
Catering: Danny Mac’s Pizza
Makeup artist: Micaela Frances Reeves
Kirsten Ott Palladino
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