Rustic, elegant wedding in San Rafael, California
Jenelle and Ragan had a rustic yet elegant wedding at the Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael, California. They traveled from their home in Ashburn, Virginia, after a two-year engagement to get married. Their first dance was to Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”
What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples?
We would say be patient and prepare yourselves. Our community is still on its way to having LGBTQ-owned wedding resources/companies. Though it may get frustrating with vendors and others assuming gender roles, being confused about “how it would work” and pronoun misuse—in the end, this was a beautiful opportunity to educate people in the wedding industry. And be honest with your vendors. Tell them what you want, you deserve it. And if you get a wedding coordinator, make sure they get you and you can feel 100 percent comfortable. Our words were, “We want someone who will understand and laugh at our gay jokes.” And the wedding planning company said, “Okay. We know exactly who to pair you with.”
Advice for vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples?
Take the time to understand an LGBTQ+ couple’s perspective, experience, culture and the world we come from. The vendors we saw that either had prior experience with the LGBTQ+ community or we could tell really wanted to learn how to work with us: That’s who we wanted to share our experience with. If we seemed like just another dollar sign or source of income for their company, on to the next.
What challenges did you face as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?
We weren’t anticipating having to emphasize many times that we were a gay couple. If a vendor would slip up and say groom, we would have to correct them to say bride. And the biggest challenge I think we faced was the constant reminder of how hetero-centered the wedding industry is. Looking on all the websites, photo galleries, terminology on the websites—rarely did we see a photo of an LBGTQ+ couple, or gender-neutral terminology, or a story other than with just a bride and groom. It can feel excluding and lonely sometimes, but when you do the work to find the vendors and people involved in your wedding that you’re comfortable with, and you openly communicate with each other, it became an amazing experience regardless of the hiccups and ignorance in the field.
Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?
The owner Sue of our DJ company was wonderful. We talked to her on the phone and originally their website had just a regular survey for couples to fill out, and then they had a separate same-sex wedding survey to fill out. We got to talking about it and she was so open and willing and wanted to know how she could make that experience better. I gave her some ideas and she said she would respond to me after the wedding, she just emailed me about three weeks ago! She fixed her form so that there’s only one form, with gender-neutral wording so it doesn’t matter who is filling out the form; any couple can do it. And she was incredibly excited and grateful that we were soft and welcoming and honest. That we weren’t rude or took things super personally to where we took away the only opportunity to educate and help someone be more inclusive.
Photographer: Briars Atlas
Venue: Falkirk Cultural Center
Florist: EcoFlower Weddings
Planner: CMG Weddings & Events, Kimberlee Howe
DJ: Denon & Doyle
Attire: Michael Thomas Clothiers
Cake Designer: Teeny Cake
Officiant: Ashley Cohen
Alaina Leary Lavoie
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