Off the Waterfront
Even pouring rain couldn’t stop the sun from radiating at Shae and Beth’s Provincetown, Mass., wedding


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Sometimes keeping things small and simple make them even more remarkable—especially when it comes to a wedding celebration. Of course, that’s not to say inviting 250 of your closest friends and family to your nuptials isn’t just as special; that’s the dream of brides and grooms all over the country. But for Elizabeth and Shae Amerson of Clarkston, Ga., what mattered most for their wedding wasn’t how many people were there, but instead who was there and where it was located.

After dating for six-and-a-half years, the two women tied the knot on June 22, 2011, in front of just 12 of the most important people in their lives. They met in 2005 while out with friends and agree that the attraction was instant and undeniable. “We connected eyes from across the room and both knew that there was something different and very special about this person just from the initial glance,” Shae says. “We have been inseparable ever since and wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Then just two years after that meeting, Shae proposed to Elizabeth, despite knowing the two couldn’t legally be married in their home state of Georgia. She wanted the rings and proposal to be symbols of their love and dedication to each other. So while celebrating Cinco de Mayo with friends, Shae got down on one knee in front of everyone and confessed that she’d be honored for Elizabeth to her wife.

“It wasn’t anything huge, but was a complete surprise to Elizabeth,” Shae says. “And she said yes … after she stopped crying!” So that same year, Elizabeth legally changed her last name to Amerson to reflect the couple’s commitment.

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However, as time went by and the women grew together, they knew how important it was to make their marriage legal. So after careful thought and extensive research, they chose to exchange their vows in Provincetown, Mass. “Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage,” Elizabeth says. “And it became a quest of ours to share this wonderful place and how the world should truly be with our family and friends.”

Wedding venue: House, Cape Cod Provincetown, Mass.

Reception venue: Victor’s, Provincetown, Mass.

Caterer: Victor’s, Provincetown, Mass.

Photographer: Helen and Frank Coombs, You Ought to be in Pictures, Cape Cod, Mass.

Florist: Wild Flower, Provincetown, Mass.

Wedding cake: Relish, Provincetown, Mass.

Shae’s suit: Brooks Brothers

Elizabeth’s dress: Casablanca Bridal 1959, Wedding Angels, Roswell, Ga.

The ceremony was scheduled to be on the waterfront at The Red Inn in Provincetown Harbor, but bad weather threw a wrench in their plans and they held the wedding inside the house they’d rented on Cape Cod instead. But nobody let a little rain put a damper on the day, especially Shae and Elizabeth. “The day was very rainy and nasty, but for some reason, we felt peace and comfort because no matter what, we were finally getting married,” Shae says. “Even having the wedding at the house turned out wonderful.”

Everyone kicked into high gear and began reorganizing. Elizabeth moved around furniture and decorated for the ceremony, while Shae called the vendors to let them know about the location change. “It seriously worked out awesome,” Shae says.

The ceremony itself was very special. The women flew in the pastor of their church to officiate, which brought a touch of home to Massachusetts. Their godparents also were included to light all of the ceremonial candles.

Unfortunately, neither of Elizabeth’s parents could attend. Her father passed away in July 2010, and her mother is ill with cancer. In a moment commensurate with the joining of the two families, Shae’s father walked Elizabeth down the aisle to her to “You Are So Beautiful” by Mark Barrios. During the ceremony, Shae’s father stood by her side, and her stepmother, Vicki, stood next to Elizabeth. But Shae didn’t want Elizabeth’s parents to be left out, so she created a small pendant with pictures of Elizabeth’s parents that she tied to her bouquet of hot pink mini calla lilies and cymbidium orchids so they were at the ceremony with her in spirit.

Instead of incorporating a unity candle into their service, Pastor Ray had glasses of red and white wines that eventually Elizabeth and Shae combined into one and drank to symbolize their union. “Elizabeth also dipped her pinky finger into the honey and touched it to my tongue and vice versa,” Shae says. “This represents the sweetness of life, because the Bible talks about how sweet honey is.”

After the women were legally married, the party moved to Victor’s in P-town, where they held the formal reception, complete with a full open bar and sit-down dinner. They also had their first dance to Keith Urban’s “You’re Everything” and cut their wedding cake—a two-tier red velvet cake with white frosting.

But ask them what they loved most about the day and they’d probably give you several answers. “How sexy Shae looked when I saw her for the first time and that I was finally getting to marry the love of my life!” Elizabeth says. Shae agrees: “My favorite part was seeing Elizabeth for the first time and us being presented as wives for life!”

Having a legally recognized marriage—even if it’s not in their home state—was also gratifying. “There are no benefits for us, but we just wanted to have it legal,” Shae says. “But most importantly, we wanted to be in front of our closest friends and family in a beautiful setting and that is exactly what we got.”