Sarah + Dawn | A Georgia Lakeside Picnic Wedding
A charming picnic-styled wedding expertly crafted by two women in love


In the final hours of a May morning, Sarah Neuburger and Dawn Sarmiento exchanged lakeside vows in front of a close-knit group of 40 family and friends at Mistletoe State Park in Appling, Ga.


sarah and dawn-queer-lesbian-georgia-wedding-photo-by-leahandmark-children-balloons


All the guests walked down toward the lake for the ceremony, including nieces and a nephew who walked with white balloons as a pseudo-processional. “They were our balloon people and loved it!” says Dawn. Each guest wore a gold-glitter heart pin to unite them as a community of people witnessing the marriage.



The betrothed women wrote and read aloud the words of the ceremony, which also included a few passages of writings they loved. They opted to skip having a wedding officiant, and instead arranged for a few people to add their own thoughts. Sarah and Dawn exchanged rings: Dawn gave Sarah a pyramid ring from Madewell, and Dawn received a rose-gold speckled band made by Claire Kinder Barrett.

“At the end, we had all our guests declare us married together,” Sarah says.



After they tied the knot, Dawn and Sarah walked to the lake where a canoe decorated in strips of patterned fabrics and chains of fabric flowers was waiting for them. “We needed our friends to give us a push into the water so we could start paddling as a married couple,” says Dawn.



Neuburger and Sarmiento’s reception was a casual picnic-style celebration in the woods, in the same location the guests stayed the entire weekend. Overall, a pink, gold and cream color scheme came together, though the couple swears they didn’t plan that part. After months of craft weekends making all their own décor and food labels, the preparations came together seamlessly for an homage to the DIY movement. Edible offerings, most of which Sarah and Dawn made themselves, included punch, barbecue, pasta and fruit salad. “We served everything buffet-style. Since we had to feed guests all weekend, each cabin had snacks and breakfast for guests to serve themselves. Lunch was a Southern barbecue followed by a dinner of beef empanadas, chicken adobo with quinoa and buko salads,” Sarah says.


sarah and dawn-queer-lesbian-georgia-wedding-photo-by-leahandmark-two-brides-gay-wedding-cake-topper

Two simple two-tier cakes were set out, each with its own cake topper. “One was a vanilla pound cake with raspberry center with a pale pink icing. On top of that cake, I put the cake topper I had made for us that looked like us. I have made custom cake toppers for years and was so excited to finally make one for us,” says Sarah, the crafty maven behind “Our other cake was a gluten-free chocolate cake with chocolate icing with an arch of vintage artificial mistletoe berries and leaves with a cluster of wedding bells below it.”

Their nontraditional wedding plans continued through to Sarah and Dawn’s music and dancing, which included a group dance to a choreographed sequence in Walk the Moon’s Anna Sun video. “There were lots of talented folks in our lot so they performed several songs they each had been practicing for us. The rest of the music was all iPod plugged up to an amp,” says Sarah.


The DIY wedding theme continued with the passed-around iPod Touch, which included instructions for guests to operate the installed photobooth app, Pocketbooth, in order to take their own photos. Of course, the talented team of Leah and Mark Tioxon were on hand to capture the day’s biggest moments, too.

Reflecting back on the day, Sarah’s favorite moment “hands-down” was watching all their family and friends walk down to meet them.

“From the folks who came, I think they seemed to just enjoy getting to relax with everyone over the weekend,” Sarah says. “We had rented canoes, it was warm enough to swim, there was plenty to eat and drink, and we were surrounded by lots of good people.” —Kirsten Ott Palladino

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Atlanta Gay Weddings, an annual print publication copublished by Equally Wed and The GA Voice.

Photographers: Leah and Mark Tioxon
Venue: Mistletoe State Park
Cakes: Icing Cake Design
Attire: Free People dress, Bastad vintage clogs (Sarah); J. Crew pants, Diane Von Furstenburg top, H by Hudson shoes (Dawn)
Jewelers: Karen Konzuk, Madewell and Claire Kinder Barrett