Some women are just notoriously hard to surprise. They’re always asking questions and checking up on things, which makes actually trying to pull off something huge—like a proposal—nearly impossible. Alpharetta, Ga. resident Tennille is definitely one of those women.
She and her partner Sarah had been a couple for nearly three years when Sarah wanted to pop the question. Sarah’s plan was to take her time to look at rings on a day after it snowed, using the road conditions as her excuse to be gone for several hours. But she was caught slightly off guard as she was walking out the door by something Tennille said.
“I said, ‘Bring me back a surprise!’” Tennille says. “I never say that! But I resisted the urge to call her while she ran errands.”
And it’s a good thing, because Sarah hadn’t simply looked at rings. She’d fallen in love with a setting and solitaire diamond and actually purchased it. “I was so excited and nervous that I called one of my best buddies whose house was on my way home and told her I had to come by and show it to her and get some ideas on how to ask Tennille to marry me,” Sarah says.
Sarah’s friend gave her some ideas on how to propose, but she decided to go with her own instead. “She came home and sat down on the couch and we chatted for a minute, and then she said, ‘You asked me to bring you a surprise, and I couldn’t come up with anything,” Tennille says. “Then she pulled the little black box out of her pocket and said, ‘Will this do?’”
That’s when Sarah got down on one knee and told Tennille she was the love of her life and asked to spend the rest of their lives together. “It couldn’t have been more perfect,” Tennille says.”
The women began planning the wedding almost immediately. They visited 20 different venues in Atlanta, and attended two wedding expos, including one that catered to LGBT couples. “We actually found our venue, officiant and place settings at the LGBT expo,” Sarah says. “Once we booked our venue, it took a lot of the stress off of us because the wedding coordinator there was amazing.”
Although both brides worked on planning the wedding together, it was Tennille who really had the vision and Sarah who helped make it come true. And because it took place in Georgia, the wedding ceremony wasn’t legally recognized. But that didn’t matter to Sarah or Tennille.
“I am a pretty traditional and believe that you should be married—legal or not—before starting a family,” Sarah says. “I also wanted everyone to know I had found the woman of my dreams and that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. This was really my coming out, in a sense. I have always dreamed of my wedding day, but didn’t think it would ever really happen.”
But it did—and in front of about 100 of their closest friends and family members. Sarah’s father—who had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease—was still able to walk her down the aisle. And Tennille’s mother escorted her, in place of her father who passed away two years before the wedding.
“I struggled with who was going to walk me down the aisle in his place,” she says. “Then someone suggested my mother and I am so glad I made that decision. It was so meaningful for me to have her by my side giving me away.”
The women wrote their own vows for the ceremony, and even had guests take vows as part of the ceremony. “We didn’t know what the other wrote until we said them in the ceremony,” Tennille says. “Our officiant said they didn’t really mesh, that Sarah’s were romantic with some humor and that mine were very formal, but we decided not to change them because that is who we are.”
|Equality-Minded Wedding Vendors:
Venue: Berkeley Hills Country Club
Caterer: Berkeley Hills Country Club
Photographer: Michael Winter, Winter Images
Florist: Chuck Milne, Milne Productions
Hairstylist: Bob Steele in Alpharetta
Wedding cake: Brenda Bakes
Sarah’s tuxedo: Joseph Abboud from Black Tie by Lori
Tennille’s wedding gown: Justin Alexander from Sweet Elegance Bridals in Decatur
Honeymoon: Iberostar Grand Bavaro in Punta Cana, DR
After the actual ceremony, guests were treated to a cocktail hour, buffet dinner, open bar and lots of dancing. “Our reception colors were hot pink, black and white,” Tennille says. “I am not typically a hot pink kind of girl—and Sarah definitely isn’t, but I saw a table set up in a magazine and fell in love and it was all over after that.”
There were many special touches at the reception, as well. Sarah’s father wasn’t well enough to attend much of the reception, and had to leave before the father-daughter dance. So Tennille shared her father-daughter dance partners (her stepfather and two brothers-in-law) with Sarah. “It turned out to be a very moving part of the reception for each of us,” Sarah says.
The women also chose to acknowledge their close friends Patty and Lisa, who were celebrating their 10-year anniversary. They had their anniversary announced and their song played so Patty and Lisa could have a special dance together.
Overall, the entire wedding was intimate and exciting, and filled with joy. “I felt incredibly lucky to have just married my best friend and one true love,” Sarah says. “It was really overwhelming to have so many people there who all came to share in our love. We are extremely blessed.”
Written by Sarah Gleim | Photography by Michael Winter, Winter Images