Road Trip
Sandy and Jenn travel from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. to obtain a legally recognized marriage


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Remember Friendster? No? Well you’re probably not the only one who doesn’t. But Atlantans Sandy and Jenn are two women who will likely never forget the social networking site, which debuted long before Facebook and even Myspace. That’s because the two met when Jenn’s roommate convinced her to join the site to try to find friends when she first moved to Atlanta.

“I found Sandy not long after I signed up,” she says. “We e-mailed for several months before meeting in person, and then it didn’t take much time after a few of dates for things to escalate into a formal relationship.” That was seven years ago—and this past June the couple just celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary.

Sandy, who’s 34 and Jenn, who turns 30 in August, tied the knot in a simple ceremony in Washington, D.C. at a Unitarian Universalist Memorial Church in Dupont Circle. It was important to Jenn that they be married by a spiritual leader rather than a judge, but both women wanted the wedding to take place where it would be legally recognized, which is why they chose to go to D.C.

Initially, their plan was to hold a wedding and reception in Atlanta, but at the same time, they were looking at options to get legally married in states that allowed it. “While planning for the legal portion and the reception/ceremony portion, D.C. legalized gay marriage (that March) so we immediately started looking into that as an option,” Jenn explains.

“It’s ridiculous to me that we were legally wed in our nation’s capital yet our home state does not recognize our marriage,” Sandy says. “It was important to me that we get married though. I think it was something I wanted us to do […] to declare in front of those people most important to us.”

And so that’s what they did in a small parlor room of the Unitarian Universalist Memorial Church’s main sanctuary on June 12, 2010, before 20 of their closest friends and family.

Jenn wore a simple, summer white above-the-knee dress from The Limited and Sandy wore khaki linen pants and a white button up from JCrew. Immediately before the ceremony, the women shared a few minutes of quiet time, joined hands and walked into the parlor together, holding special flowers they selected to honor Sandy’s mother and Jenn’s sister who passed away in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

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Photography by Wade Collins

“Everyone sat in mismatched, oversized and multi-colored chairs and couches, and we stood in front of the mantel with Pastor Lillie,” Jenn says. “It was perfect because it wasn’t typical or traditional—it almost felt like we were in a living room. What’s more comfortable than that?”

After the women exchanged their deeply emotional vows and were presented as a “publicly sanctioned married couple,” the entire wedding party celebrated together at the Vietnam Memorial and Lincoln Memorial, then with a small reception/meal Old Ebbitt Grill—the oldest saloon in the city—and at a Patty Griffin concert that evening.

But of course the big celebration came later in the fall in Atlanta, when they threw a semi-formal reception with music, dancing and food at the Georgia Tech Alumni House for about 115 guests, with a rehearsal dinner the night before at their favorite karaoke bar. A photo booth with silly props—think big wigs, crazy hats and clown-sized sunglasses—was a huge hit and added a fun factor to the night, while a slideshow from the D.C. ceremony allowed guests who didn’t attend the wedding to experience the nuptials via beautiful photos.

D.C. Wedding Venue: Unitarian Universalist Memorial Church, Dupont Circle
Reception Venue, Atlanta: Georgia Tech Alumni House
Wedding Dress D.C.: The Limited
Wedding Gown Atlanta: Natalie’s Bridal
Wedding Suit: JCrew
Caterer: Endive Catering
Photographer: Wade Collins
Hairstylist: Grow Salon, Decatur
Cake: Publix

Between all of the fun, guests dined on a menu of Southern comfort food from Endive Catering that included passed hors d’oeuvres of Belgian endive stuffed with Montrachet goat cheese, sun-dried tomato, dried fruits and fresh basil; and fried green tomatoes topped with fresh herbs, crumbled Montrachet goat cheese and red-pepper remoulade; as well as entrées like beef short ribs with red wine demi-glace with roasted garlic Yukon gold “s’mashed” potatoes; and stone ground white grits or aged cheddar cheese grits with a multitude of toppings to add on top.

“After the event ended, a large group from the party joined us back in our hotel suite where we continued the celebration,” Sandy says. “The whole package of events really represented our styles and us.”

And speaking of representing their styles, that’s one piece of advice Sandy has for other engaged couples. “Don’t let tradition rule your wedding if you don’t want it to,” she says. “You should make it about you and what you want. If you don’t want a cake, don’t get a cake. If you don’t want fancy chairs, get fluffy couches. If you want to sing, get karaoke!”

Both Jenn and Sandy stress that even though the ceremony is about what you want, but it’s also about celebrating with those you love—and those who love you. “Some of things that meant the most to us were that two of our grandparents were able to attend at 70 and 80-plus years old—and we think they had more fun than anyone else!” Jenn says.

“I would say I was overwhelmed with happiness and love that day,” Sandy says. “While I was saying my vows to Jenn, I started crying. That surprised me, and I think most of our friends, too. I think maybe part of it was sadness, too, that my mom and Jenn’s sister, Jessi, weren’t there to witness and celebrate with us. Because standing in front of our family and friends and declaring our love for each other—that was an amazing feeling.”