Cosplay lovers Chalice and Perla’s wedding married their passion for anime with bright and airy elements to create a magical visual feast bursting with ethereal colors and creative design.

lavender and orange flowers and gold wedding rings

nonbinary marriers with pastel colored hair and flower crowns

Their hair and makeup artist supported the pastel wedding colors of pinks, oranges and lilacs with an ethereal aesthetic. “They wanted to look like themselves but as if they were real-life anime and it was the wedding day in their very own anime series” says Ashley Peters, owner of The Stylist Abroad. “We brought in intricate braids, bright, pinky colors ,and elf ears. I’ve never seen such an unapologetically authentic wedding day!”

“We were engaged for about a year and a half, which was especially helpful for planning a wedding overseas,” says Chalice. “We live in Japan, but married in the U.S. with many international guests! Since we did all the planning ourselves, it was definitely good that we had such a long engagement.”

“We dated for a couple of years before Perla swept in with the first proposal (on Christmas, no less!), but I made sure to have my counter-proposal a couple of months later, underneath the cherry blossom trees like where we first connected.”

Chalice and Perla met at a cosplay event in Osaka. “Perla was dressed as a Disney princess,” says Chalice, “and I was dressed as an evil mask-wearing villain from an anime. We saw each other and both thought, ‘Wow, they’re so cool!’ So we took a picture together and promptly went our separate ways without exchanging contact info. A few weeks later, I was at a spring picnic party that Perla just so happened to be attending. We were exchanging social media when we realized, oh, actually we’ve met before! And a wonderful friendship was born. It was another several months before we decided to give dating a try, and with both of us being on the asexual spectrum we weren’t really sure exactly how anything was ‘supposed’ to go. Those Hollywood love stories always seem to emphasize attraction and passion, but I think for us it was a little more of a slow burn, taking everything one step at a time and emphasizing communication and comfort. We dated for a couple of years before Perla swept in with the first proposal (on Christmas, no less!), but I made sure to have my counter-proposal a couple of months later, underneath the cherry blossom trees like where we first connected. ”

For their August wedding in Alabama, each element was chosen with care, including little Japanese hand fans for the wedding guests, as well as water bottles to manage the southern heat. “We got married in a forest clearing in front of a lake at a beautiful venue that actually used to be a horse barn,” says Chalice. “When I was a teenager, I used to ride horses there for a couple of years until the owners left and the property was sold to the wonderful family that turned the whole place into a gorgeous events space. It was awesome to see it come together. Our florist Native Petals did a perfect job bringing together our favorite color palette of orange and purple seamlessly, including our flower crowns!”

lavender flower crown and lavender hair

“If you’ve ever been to the Southeast in the middle of summer, you’ve probably noticed that it storms almost every day in the middle of the afternoon. What started as a sunny morning was starting to turn cloudy by the time it was coming up on our 1 p.m. ceremony, but no rain yet. By the time we got to our vows, though, the thunder had started. Ironically, both of our vows mentioned storms, which was pretty poignant timing, but the sky was kind enough to wait until all of the guests went inside for the reception before the rain started. Fortunately, Perla is from Italy, and they say that rain on a wedding day is a sign of good fortune and a blessing from heaven, so we didn’t mind!”

The nonbinary couple practiced their first dance for 20 weeks with a professional choreographer in Japan. Their first-dance song was Dos Orugitas by Sebastián Yatra, a song from one of their favorite movies, Encanto. “It was especially nerve-wracking for me,” says Chalice, “because I really don’t consider myself a dancer, but it ended up going over quite well! After that, we had a couple of other special dances, including my personal favorite, the family dance.” With so many queer wedding guests in attendance, Chalice asked that the DJ call for anyone who came with their families up to dance, including “found families.” “That ended up being a huge hit! About half of our attendees came up and we formed a big circle, all holding hands, and everyone dancing together. It still makes me smile thinking back on it now.”

Their wedding included many thoughtful and creative elements, many of which were created by Chalice. “I’m an artist,” she says, “so I wanted to take over most of the design work, from the invitations to the welcome posters to the table cards—all given adorable names by Perla! All of the graphics were done from scratch and based off of the same rose-petal motif that I designed our wedding rings after. Not to mention, the wedding outfits were totally custom! I designed my own ‘bridal-style’ suit and helped to design Perla’s dress-with-shorts combo, then worked with a custom wedding outfitter in Osaka called Novleaf, who totally brought the designs to life!

“It was helpful to have some knowledge of sewing and costumes, because our requests were a bit unconventional. I had a full jacket made of ribbon lace with a vest, pants with lace cutouts and a removable organza train styled to look like the petals of a flower. Perla had a sweetheart neckline dress with keyhole back and a two-tiered skirt with a full slit down the front to show shorts underneath, with the longer skirt removable and the top skirt able to be bustled so that we could dance without stepping on the lace trim. I was so excited to see everything come to life on the day with all of the jewelry, makeup and hair in place. It was better than we could have imagined. For Perla’s part, they decided on most of the music, including our entrance music from How to Train Your Dragon and exit music from Portal 2, which was also the visionary for the hairstyles! We also included the traditional Italian wedding favor of confetti (candy-covered almonds) and put it next to our wedding card box (as opposed to a traditional wedding book).”

couple embracing. the front person is wearing a lacy jacket with a light pink blouse underneath

What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples or marriers?
Be patient and diligent with where you choose to have your wedding and who you choose to have involved, from all of the vendors to the guests! It’s worth it to continue reaching out to vendors that “click” with you. It can be scary to put yourselves out there, especially in today’s climate, but once you’re able to share your story and make a real connection with people, that’s when the magic happens. It can be tempting to rush into things, and that’s true about anyone in that exciting whirlwind of being engaged! But if there’s one thing that this relationship and this whole process has taught me, it’s the virtue of taking things slow!

Cosplay lovers Chalice and Perla’s wedding married their passion for anime with bright and airy elements to create a magically visual feast bursting with ethereal colors and creative design.

Do you have any advice for vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples/marriers?
It really saves a lot of heartache when vendors and venues can make it clear from their own information, website, social media pages, etc. that they are inclusive. Be it a massive album of gay weddings or just a little rainbow flag in the corner, nothing gives an LGBTQ+ couple a bigger sigh of relief than knowing that they won’t be turned away at the door. In addition to that, we think educating yourself is the next best advice we can give. Learn about pronouns, terminology, inclusive language, and remember to ask before making an assumption. And if you ever make a mistake with an LGBTQ+ client (it happens to all of us!), apologize, correct and carry on! Being respectful is always number one, and we always felt more comfortable with vendors who we could tell were making an effort.

nonbinary marriers toss their wedding bouquets at the same time

What challenges did you face as an LGBTQ+ couple or LGBTQ+ marriers planning your wedding?
There were definitely a lot of challenges that were pretty unique to us as an LGBTQ+ couple. First of all was location. Alabama isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind when it comes toLGBTQ+ inclusivity, but between all of our most realistic options, it was actually the best choice we had. We are an American and Italian couple living in Japan. In Japan, same-sex marriage is still completely illegal, and although there are “partnerships” that someone can get depending on the city, they aren’t legally binding. Italy has same sex partnerships, which have almost all of the legal rights of marriage, but wedding venues have multi-year long wait lists. That left my hometown as the only viable option, since the U.S. is the only place with fully legalized same-sex marriage.

pink wedding cake with bright flowers

Then we had to deal with searching for inclusive vendors and venues in Alabama, which always started with the same email that basically said, “Hey, do you accept gays?” In more than one instance, we were told that the vendor or venue had never worked with a same-sex couple. In some instances we were redirected to other more suitable vendors which was a great help, but in a lot of cases the conversation ended there. The most shocking one was when I emailed the local botanical gardens and got ghosted.”

nonbinary couple in white lacy wedding attire and flower crowns. one marrier is sitting in a large wooden swing and the other is leaning down toward their partner

Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as an LGBTQ+ couple or marriers planning your wedding?
Despite a lot of the vendor and venue struggles, there were a lot of great interactions that we had! Anytime we were able to connect with inclusive vendors, they were so wonderful and excited to work with us, and we got a lot of great advice and recommendations. Then on the Japan side, we were actually blown away by the enthusiasm we met with each vendor we worked with. Despite it not being legalized, it seemed like the majority of people were very pro-same sex marriage so it was a relief to feel like the people had our back even if the legislation hasn’t caught up. Everyone was so excited by our designs and plans that it really brought a lot of joy and life to us during our long engagement! The Equally Wed heart is a trademark of Palladino Publishing, LLC.

Wedding exit with long sparklers for a nonbinary wedding, the couple is wearing flower crowns

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Hair, makeup and styling: The Stylist Abroad, an LGBTQ+ affirming, Equally Wed Pro certified inclusive wedding professional and a preferred Equally Wed vendor
Photography: Jeff & Rachel Photography
Wedding ceremony and reception venue: Hampton Cove Wedding Venue
Florist: Native Petals
Attire: Nov Leaf 
Jewelry: Ring Ram