Lauren (she/her) and Jenna (she/her) chose Chris Stapleton and Pink’s “Love Me Anyway” to be the soundtrack of their first dance. The song is an intentional encapsulation of the unconditional love that has been the center point of their relationship. From initially dating long-distance to choosing a lengthy engagement in the face of a pandemic, every difficult step along the way set the stage for Lauren and Jenna’s wedding weekend to be a celebration of always choosing each other.

Two brides turn to see each other for a first look.

Two brides, one brunette and one blonde, stand in front of a round floral arbor, kissing.

Two brides stand side by side and hold bouquets of white flowers.

Jenna says, “I never quite knew what my happy ending would look like until our life began to take shape… We have already been through what seems like so much: owning several houses, career changes and some health challenges. We have always come out stronger and loving each other more. COVID hit right as we had gotten serious about engagement and put things in a clear perspective. We knew we were meant to take on the world together, and even though we had to wait nearly two years to get married after the engagement we are so so happy in our new married life together.”

A blonde bride feeds a bite of wedding cake to her new wife.

Two brides sit at a sweetheart table in front of a barn-like structure at their wedding reception.

The couple chose Hawkesdene Estate, an Equally Wed Platinum Preferred Vendor, as the venue for their intimate wedding weekend with close friends and family. The ceremony took place under a canopy of crepe myrtles with a double floral arch as their altar background. Their wedding colors of white and green were accented by dusty rose and navy blue, a palate that paired well with the picturesque Hawkesdene grounds. The marriers, who both wore white wedding gowns with plunging V-necklines, finished the night with a sparkler exit line of their enthusiastic wedding guests.

Two brides stand and laugh as someone gives a toast.

A black-and-white photo of two brides running down an aisle of friends and family holding sparklers.

Equally Wed: How did you personalize your wedding?

Jenna: We had to recognize our two pups! We had signature cocktails named after them: “The Riley,” a spicy margarita, and “The Finley,” a blackberry mule. We also had a mix of personalized treats and favors like the shower bombs that we bought through Etsy shops.

A framed image of two dog and their corresponding signature drinks: The Finley and The Riley.

A basket of small, personalized boxes that say "love."

What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ couples?

Find a place that reflects your interests. (For example, we love the outdoors and the mountains.) Also, consider a venue that allows for a full weekend, as we found that option to really make for a memorable experience for everyone!

What challenges did you face as LGBTQ+ marriers planning your wedding?

We initially checked out venues only to learn that they were not comfortable or open to our community. They would have gladly taken our money, but the lack of genuineness was clearly felt.

Did you encounter any pleasant surprises as an LGBTQ+ couple planning your wedding?

Yes, as soon as we learned about Hawkesdene and met the entire staff, we immediately felt their warmth toward us as a couple.

Two brides smile as they hug.

Two brides stand on a balcony and look out at the North Carolina mountains.

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Venue: Hawkesdene
Photographer: Jeremy Russell
Florist: Andrews Florist
Apparel: J Major’s Bridal Boutique, Charlotte, NC; Savvy Bride Boutique; Azazie; Generation Tux, an Equally Wed Platinum Preferred Vendor

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