Lily (she/her) and Sarah Beth (she/they) met on Tinder, fell in love at Pride and married in a quirky ceremony encompassing everything they cherish. Their wedding was a lesson in the magic of chosen family and queer joy. The Astoria, New York, residents had a destination wedding at Lily’s cousin’s horse ranch in San Luis Obispo, California. The couple married a year prior to their pandemic-postponed wedding celebration, and it was clearly worth the wait.

A family friend used local wildflowers to create floral arrangements that brought pops of color to the wedding’s ranch-chic aesthetic. The atmosphere was joyful and celebratory, and many of the guests who were strangers at the beginning of the festivities were fast friends by the end of the night.

The ceremony was outdoors, with guests seated in a spiral formation and the couple exchanging vows in the middle. At the close of the ceremony, the newlyweds had the DJ play Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place On Earth” as the couple moved through the spiral, high-fiving everyone on their way out. At the reception, the celebrants enjoyed a wood-fired pizza feast, complete with a beer tap truck and donuts and pie for dessert, concluding the night around a giant bonfire.

RELATED: California LGBTQ+ weddings and engagements

We caught up with Sarah Beth to hear about their love story and California ranch-chic wedding.

Tell us your love story!

We like to say that we met the old-fashioned way: on Tinder. It all started on a snowy February night at a wine bar in Manhattan. Both of us played it pretty cool at first. Lily always describes it as “slowly reeling her in….no sudden movements,” while pretending to reel in a fish. But it didn’t take long for things to get more serious. The most magical day of our lives to date was that June, during the NYC Pride parade. Pride was already, in our opinion, the most magical day of the year in New York, but this particular year it compounded with the deep joy and happiness we felt spending the day celebrating with someone we were falling madly in love with. The day concluded with both of us saying “I love you” for the first time. We’d both been alluding to it all day, saying things like “I’m crazy about you” and “I’m so happy we found each other,” but we just couldn’t hold it in anymore. From that point on, we were inseparable and knew soon after that we wanted to spend our lives together.

How did you personalize your wedding?

So many ways! To name a few: the ceremony seating was in a spiral formation; Lily’s dad officiated with a creative secular ‘sermon’ where he described what our ‘higher power’ would look like (turns out, she’s a lesbian who loves breweries); our friends performed silly jingles we’d written over the years during the ceremony; Sarah Beth’s brother sang “Follow Your Arrow,” Kacey Musgraves’ queer country song; we had a beer tap truck because there are few things we love more than beer; we chose a simple but useful wedding favor–a bottle opener keychain complete with our names, the date and sea otters holding hands…the list goes on. We definitely wanted the wedding to feel uniquely ours, and it’s safe to say we accomplished just that.

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

It’s hard to say if we encountered any pleasant surprises while planning our wedding as a result of being an LGBTQ+ couple, but in general, we did feel very supported in the process, and some vendors even seemed excited to work with an LGBTQ+ couple in that we stood out from some of the other wedding couples they typically work with. In that way, we are immensely privileged, as we know that many LGBTQ+ couples aren’t so lucky, especially when it comes to their families.

What advice would you give to vendors and venues working with LGBTQ+ couples?

It’s important to be mindful of the wedding terminology you use when working with LGBTQ+ couples, doing what you can (both in conversations and in the forms that couples complete) to steer clear of using gender-binary language. The more mindful and sensitive we are to the broad spectrum of gender and sexuality, the more inclusive the world will be, and the more safe and welcome LGBTQ+ folks will feel, not needing to fit into a box or label dictated by the heteronormative patriarchy we already live in day to day.

What advice would you give to engaged LGBTQ+ folks planning their weddings?

The best part of planning an LGBTQ+ wedding is that you can do whatever you want! There are no gender norms to abide by, which is liberating. It’s true that any couple can do what they want for their wedding, but we truly felt like we didn’t have to do anything out of obligation or tradition, which allowed us to make our special day particularly personal and casual in all of the ways that we love. It’s your day to do whatever you want. Don’t forget to take it all in!

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Photographer: Derek Preciado Photography
Planner: Jade Preciado Events
Lily’s Attire: needle & thread; BHLDN; Lucky Brand
Sarah Beth’s Attire: Aritzia; Free People; Urban Outfitters; Marc Fisher
Catering: Pulcinella Wood-Fired Pizza & Catering
Rentals: Butlerz Rentals
Bartender: Tap Trucks SLO
Transportation: SLO Safe Rides
Service Staff: Golden Events Staffing
Donuts: SLO Do Co
Pies: Linn’s Easy As Pie Cafe
Restrooms: Fence Factory
Accommodations: The Wayfarer SLO
DJ: DJ Darla Bea

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