Summer Italian garden party wedding in Seattle, Washington
Emma and J’s summer wedding had a Italian garden party theme and incorporated old family traditions and modern concepts.
Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?
We have such loving family and friends, we wanted a day that was generous and fun for four generations of the entire family. Maybe even a little chaotic at times. We made sure to incorporate European family traditions as well as some new things to celebrate our queer love. So if we had to name the theme was it was gay Italian garden party.
J and I have worked in education advocacy so it made perfect sense to get married at a school, not to mention my mom’s job made it very affordable to get married at Lakeside School. Our colors were mostly white with accidents of blue, green and pink which are our favorite colors. We had a big Italian feast for dinner so the table decor needed to accommodate the passage of three courses of shared dishes.
We tried to incorporate as many traditions as we could. Emma’s dress and veil were all pieces of lace from Emma’s mother’s dress. Although we couldn’t get married in a Catholic Church the way Emma would have preferred, we did bring elements of the ceremony—a Bible passage read by a dear family friend, Emma’s dad walked her down the aisle and we prayed to Our Father all together holding our first family rosary, a gift from Emma’s mother who had been gifted that Italian wooden rosary from her grandmother (Emma’s great grandmother).
We had our dear friends (also a gay couple) read a piece of the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage. For the signing of the marriage license, our wedding party showered us with rainbow confetti. This was especially meaningful because when we started dating, gay-marriage wasn’t legal. We did the traditional first dance to “Fly Me to the Moon” and the father-daughter dance was Emma and her dad to Elvis’s “The Wonder of You.”
We cut the homemade cake from a dear family friend. The cake topper was two frogs kissing—neither of us waited for a prince; instead, we just wanted to find another frog to love forever (cheesy we know!). The best tradition of the night was the limoncello that Emma and her mom made. As well as serving traditional Italian wedding cookies and late-night grinders. Emma’s mom made 17 different types of traditional wedding cookies to share; they were a big hit. Those cookies fueled us through the tarantella.
J’s suit was made by Bindle and Keep, a special suit company based in NYC that specializes in making dope suits for trans-people. The suit was perfectly gender-affirming. Later in the evening, Emma changed into a white jumpsuit, a little more queer in fashion for their send-off under a sea of sparklers. A highlight of the night was that J opened the door to a supped-uped Mercades (rented by Emma’s brother) so Emma could drive them off into the sunset; we’ll never really fit our gender roles and that felt just right.
Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?
We made a lot of the decor: The floral hoopes that hung from the ceiling, the ceiling drapery, the flowers were all done by our very dear friend Jackie. J made the alter decor, even the arch. We also made the signage as well as the menus. J also made the photo backdrop and the balloon arch in the entryway. Maybe one of the only things we purchased were two paintings of us as kings from Emma’s favorite artist Blayne Beacham Macauley.
What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?
My best friend Jackie, who’s family has worked at the Pike Place market for decades purchased the flowers from the market and created over 50 small vases to put through the entire venue. Jackie also made our bouquets that were so lovely. They were all light pinks and white to compliment the dark greens in the decor.
Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
It is hard to pick favorite parts of the wedding. I loved all the lawn games we made for our guests. Emma’s favorite part was the dancing for sure. J’s favorite part was the food and the chocolate cake. Together, we worked to make the ceremony so personal that it felt just magical to speak those words to each other. We also have written over 100 letters to each other so reading letters from each other before our first look was special and personal.
Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.
We knew this event was a semi-outdoor affair. We don’t come from money and wanted our guests to come as they are. We suggested a garden theme for our guests. J wore a dark blue suit and Emma wanted long navy dresses or suits but asked each bridesmaid to pick their own style—something that would complement their very diverse looks. Our officiant Yasmin wore a velvet navy suit. J wore a custom blue suit from Bindle and Keep with a silk magenta paisley lining. Emma’s dress was a second hand Sarah Seven with the back custom made to incorporate all the lace from her mother’s dress. Emma’s long veil was her mother’s. Our rings are rose gold.
How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.
We met in the messy world of politics, both grassroots organizers. Coworkers and friends for two years; it was a singles party on Valentine’s Day when finally the stars aligned over some poorly made sangria. We dated for five years, bought a house, stripped every room to the studs and remodeled that house. Changed jobs, went back to school, life was full and finally, we decided life wasn’t going to slow down and we were tired of not-being-married.
J proposed at sunset on a family vacation with Emma’s best friend and brother there to take pictures and toast this new life. It was a surprise and completely perfect.
Opening to our ceremony from our officiant: Today J and Emma commit to one another in a binding act of love to cherish and protect their union. For this couple, love is about working together as a team. I first met Emma in 2010 when we were both student leaders. Right from the get-go, I knew that Emma was a brilliant, fierce and passionate leader. Emma and I went on to work together at the Oregon Student Association where we met J in 2013, who was equally brilliant, fierce and passionate. Since then I have observed their relationship evolve and grow as they wove their lives together, and it is an honor to be standing here with them today. I believe this marriage will last a lifetime because the two of you have worked through many of life’s big moments together as a team with grace, joy and a detailed backwards plan.
What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
For Emma, it was the ceremony: Getting to say these promises, my vows that I worked on months and finally get to be married to J. For J, it was the food and the family: Getting to be together and enjoy all the people we love, that was magic.
Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
Our wedding planning advice would be to try and do less; we made a lot of things that took a very long time. It was our vision but in the end Emma looks back and agrees (finally) that maybe we could have toned it down. Or for a bride like Emma with a specific vision, hire more help the week of. Also, if you have friends coming from different parts of your life, make it clear what you hope for from them. Otherwise, we are so glad we found moments, more than one, to slip away and just have ‘us time’ that day. My (Emma’s) best memories are of being with J on my wedding day; there’s nothing more I could have asked for.
Photographer: Megan Christine Studio
Location: Lakeside School
DJ: Grit City DJ’s
Alaina Leary Lavoie
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