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SUM ME R 2020 / GAY




ON THE COVER Spencer and Sean’s story can be found on page 16. PHOTOGRAPHER:

Melissa Bissell Photography

PUBLISHER/EDITOR RENEE CLANCY WEBSITE SCOTT ROGERS A LOOK INSIDE Don’t miss the award-winning images and love story captured by Diego and Liza Photography. PAGE 46


COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS? Contact Renee at: renee@gayweddingsmag.com www.gayweddingsandmarriage.com

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Gay Weddings & Marriage Magazine is published twice a year. © 2015, all rights reserved. Reproduction or use of content in any manner without permission by the publisher is strictly prohibited. Opinions expressed in columns and articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

In this issue Gay Weddings & Marriage Magazine / Summer 2020

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ncompassing artistic qualities, Lindsay is the Owner of her hair salon while Ali’s creative side dominates her career as an Art Director. Their love story began in early 2016 as friends in their hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Over time, they started spending more and more time together and their friendship grew into love. The pair call a crazy Halloween party (where Ali dressed up as Olivia Newton-John and Lindsay as Alex from the movie Flashdance) as the “most memorable evening they ever had.” They’ve been inseparable ever since. A couple months later, on Christmas Day, Ali surprised Lindsay with Celine Dion tickets and a trip to Las Vegas. Neon lights, exhilarating dance clubs, and some relaxing pool time made for great Sin City memories. But happy times were challenged by unforeseen medical conditions for Lindsay, who experienced an inexplicable sickness hospitalizing her for months. In sickness and in health Lindsay and Ali’s relationship prevailed and love flourished. In August 2018 the pair took another trip to Las Vegas. After a fun day on the Vegas Strip, Ali asked Lindsay to watch the fountains at the Bellagio and then celebrate Ali’s birthday with a dinner. Little did Lindsay know, Ali had some magic up her sleeve. She coordinated a surprise proposal with a local magician and during his last illusion, Ali pulled a card that read, “will you marry me?” Of course, she said “yes!” Upon their return, Lindsay’s mother gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 5

started the planning for the big day, enlisting Linda Burchett, Owner of My Playa Wedding, to make their destination wedding day dream come true. The brides had a clear vision from the start involving a gold, blush, and ivory color palette combined with romantic greenery. With the backdrop of the turquoise sea at a bohemian beach club with sugary white sand, it was a perfect location for their dream wedding. The Brides awoke to sunny skies on their wedding day in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. As Lindsay styles Ali’s hair every day at home, she styled her Bride’s hair on her wedding day. After their hair and make-up session, both Brides had their “first look” with their fathers. Friend, Joshua Bright played the dual role of makeup artist and officiant, donning a white shirt, rose blush pants and a multi-colored bow tie. The Brides wore beautiful, sleeveless white dresses from the Wedding Gallery, and they added a subtle touch of color with their jewelry and hair accessories. And if that wasn’t enough, the Ring Princesses stole the hearts of many with tulle dresses with blush and ivory floral crowns as they bounced down the sugary, sand aisle with scattered rose petals paving the way. Joining the Brides at the alter was their precocious 9-year-old son, Bryant, who helped walk Lindsay down the aisle and held her hand throughout the ceremony. The day was perfect and Lindsay told her new Bride she could not wait to begin their “forever, fantasy fairytale life together”.

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Wedding Planner: Linda Burchett, My Playa Wedding Photographer: VIVA Photography Wedding Venue: El Taj Oceanfront Florist: Floreira Jardin, Playa del Carmen Cake: Magija Pasteleria, Playa del Carmen Wedding Dresses: The Wedding Gallery, St. Louis Rings: Point No Point Studio Hair & Make-up: Kaily Heusler, Joshua Bright, Lindsay Green at STL Glam Co.

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Real engagements


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Joseph and I both met in medical school. He grew up in Texas and I grew up in New Jersey. It took us both to move to the Caribbean for our paths to cross. It was the second day of my arrival when we met and we initially started out as friends. Our relationship quickly grew stronger as we spent every waking hour together (most of the time we were studying). We learned more about each other very quickly (spending 12-16 hours with someone each day will do that) and after just a few short months together, it felt like we’ve known each other our entire lives. We’ve been together for 6 years now and haven’t looked back. WHAT MAKES YOUR RELATIONSHIP SPECIAL? Being in same profession,

we understand the devotion and dedication medicine expects from its physicians. We support one another after a long day at work and provide a welcoming sound board for discussion of difficult or interesting cases. We’ve had days that we would not see one another while living in the same apartment. This is typically when one of us works nights while the other works days. During those demanding weeks, it’s the little moments in passing, like a short kiss good morning or a simple ‘goodnight’ text that mean the most. We’ve learned to cherish the moments we have together since our time off can be extremely limited. Our relationship continues to thrive despite us being apart for many hours of the day and we’ve adapted to make every moment together matter.

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Real engagements

CRISTINA & SHELLEY Cherece Casale Photography

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We work really hard to have a relationship with open communication, which we believe is the cornerstone of any great relationship. And we laugh ALOT, with each other and at each other. We love to travel! We love to go to sporting events! We love a nice dinner out free of our kiddo. We love to go play cards at the local casino. More than anything, we both value family (Cristina has a 21 and 20 year-old, and I have a 6 year-old, which we are both raising) and we work really hard to have a chaos free home. I sometimes look at Cristina and wish everyone could have what we have. We are kind to one another and we both work really hard to encourage one another and to support one another’s dreams and goals.

was don’t ever tell me that you love me first. I will probably run! I said when I’m ready to fall in love with you, I will tell you first. 3 weeks later, I sent Cristina an airline ticket to meet me in New York City (she had never been before). I had written her a letter for everyday that we would be in NY. The first night we went to the top of the Empire State Building and I pulled out a letter telling her that I had fallen in love with her. She reached into her coat pocket and gave me a card which said that she had fallen in love with me too.


Our first week of communicating had us miles apart (Me in MO and Cristina in TX), but it was awesome to get to live the excitement of the next piece of communication between us. Whether that was a random text, or a 3 hour phone conversation. I can still remember that excitement as though it were yesterday. I went to Dallas to meet Cristina in person after our week of about 50 hours of conversation via telephone. I won’t ever forget that day and that moment because the USA was playing hockey in the medal round of the Winter Olympics. That first weekend together was unreal. One thing I told Cristina though, from the beginning, gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 11

Real engagements

DENISE & KRISTINA Photographed by Let’s Make A Memory

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Denise: I had been planning it for so long! With Kristina’s friends and family being on the east coast, I had to plan in advance to give them notice so some of them could be a part of it and fly to California. But it was stressful! Only because I wanted it to be so perfect. This woman deserves the world and she sacrificed everything to move across the country so we could give our relationship all the tools to grow so it was stressful but really exciting bringing my vision to life! I proposed on a Saturday, one day shy of our 6th anniversary. I told her I had to work (which I’m not completely sure she believed me because I don’t normally work weekends but I had to give it a shot) and told her to be ready by a certain time and I’d send her an address to meet up with me later. I know she was annoyed but I had to get everything together before telling her where to go! I planned the proposal at OUE Skyspace in downtown LA with both our friends and families at sunset. The entire ambiance was just romantic. The staff was completely in on it and giving me updates the entire time she was in the building so that they could start playing the music when she was right outside the observation deck! Kristina says that when she got to the building she had a feeling, but she was trying not to overthink it lol!

heads so I was so focused only on Neesy! I didn’t realize everyone was there until after I said yes and heard cheering!

Kristina; But as soon as I got to the observation deck and heard our song playing it all clicked and I started sobbing! It was so perfect in every way, I didn’t even know everyone was there, because they all turned their gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 13

Real engagements

NOEL & KIRA Margarita Photography

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OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY NOEL: When Kira and I met the

connection was instantaneous. We’d gone ring shopping so she knew that I would eventually propose, but I still wanted it to be a special surprise. Being a photographer, she’s often my model and I told her we were going to shoot with a photographer friend, Margarita. She was going to work with us both on getting out of our comfort zones. We met at Patterson Park which has a beautiful pagoda at the top. Some time had passed when I said I forgot something in the car so I’d meet them at the next location, the pagoda. Once at the top I was waiting for Kira and Margarita. I had a friend set up a path of mason jars with twinkle lights in them and flower petals leading to where I was. When she came around the corner she had the biggest smile and couldn’t stop kissing me before I even spoke. When I finally got on one knee she said, of course! KIRA: She got me good! Noel

insisted that I get dressed up so we could go out and shoot some photos. See, I can be camera shy, but I often am the subject of her art because she’s able to practice her photography and she thinks I’m America’s Next Top Model. I knew that Margarita, her friend that happens to be a professional photographer, would be joining under the guise that she’d be giving both Noel and me a few tips. At one point we split up because Noel “forgot” something in the car and planned to meet back up at the pagoda that overlooks the rest of the park. We found each other at sunset

and Noel had lined the path surrounding the structure with mason jars filled with twinkling lights and flower petals. She proposed exactly five years from the day we met and when she got on one knee I said OF COURSE!

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OUR FAMILY 16 GWM / Summer 2020

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Spencer and Sean share the story of their journey as a family and offer some valuable advice to new parents.


ell us a little about your family planning journey. Did you work with a surrogate? An adoption agency? What were some of the challenges throughout the process? We started our family planning journey at a Men Having Babies conference in New York City. At the conference we were able to go to panels with IVF doctors, surrogacy agencies, experienced surrogates and other gay families. We were really lucky with our journey - the whole process took about 18 months from the time we signed a contract with a surrogacy agency until the boys were born. We new we wanted a family right away so that was part of the reason we decided to use an agency versus trying to navigate the surrogacy process on our own. You definitely pay a premium going through an agency, but for us it was worth the peace of mind knowing that they had the experience and could help guide us quickly and (relatively) smoothly through our journey. Surrogacy is definitely an adventure - it’s hard to describe the experience of letting go complete control of your unborn children to someone who you’ve only met a few times. But fortunately the women who are drawn to Surrogacy (and this was certainly the case for us) are really extraordinary. In our experience, both with our surrogate and others we’ve met, their motivation is never financial, but rather an altruistic one - they have an opportunity to give this incredible gift to a family that needs help and they

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are enthusiastic about doing it. As the pregnancy progressed so did our relationship with our surrogate. We became close with her and her family, visiting often for doctors appointments and check ups. She joined us for a baby shower and our extended friends and family were so grateful for the chance to meet her and thank her for the gift she was giving our family. At the time of our journey same-sex compensated surrogacy was not allowed in the state where we live. So one of the challenges was that we had to find a surrogate who lived in another state. Even though it was only about a five hour car ride - the closer that the anticipated arrival date came the gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 19

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more anxious we got about being so far away. Fortunately we were able to spend the last couple weeks of the pregnancy with our family who lived close by and we were with our surrogate when her water broke through the delivery of our beautiful boys.

that you used to be able to do basically anytime you wanted. Even though having kids is hands down the best experience we’ve had and one we would never want to miss, it’s a definite challenge to accept this new reality.

ewborn babies are a joy and a challenge. Please share something you both have struggled with over the last months. What are some of your favorite moments?

But there is also a real joy in being able to provide these tiny little babies with everything they need. Before having kids we felt the need to read and study and take classes about how to be dads - but once you have the babies you realize how much of this is natural instinct. It’s a real joy to discover that there isn’t anything you need to “learn” about being a dad - you are already perfectly suited for the job.


Newborns are really hard - and before you have one yourself it’s hard to understand why. They are just eating and sleeping and snuggling constantly, but that takes ALL of your time and attention. They can’t do anything for themselves - and it’s not until we had newborns that we realized just how much work that requires. Even things that don’t seem that complicated on their own, like feeding or diaper changes, become really overwhelming when you are doing them on repeat with very little sleep. The biggest challenge for us is that there is no break - ever. From the moment they are born you have to provide everything they need. Even if you are not a selfish or self-centered person you have most likely spent the vast majority of your life taking care of yourself and your own priorities. That entire way of life is completely stripped away when you have kids - your life is no longer your own. What that actually looks like in our day to day is that with newborns it’s often impossible to find time to eat, sleep, or shower - things


ewborns take up a lot of time. How and when do you make time for each other or get some ‘me’ time? Newborns take a lot of work! And finding time to take care of ourselves and to spend time as a couple was very challenging. The thing that helped us the most was asking other people for help (and then taking it when it was offered). We were really lucky to have grandparents, siblings and friends who helped a lot at first. Once we made it through the first few months we also started looking into regular child care. As we both started to go back to work it was important to find childcare we could trust. One of the best things we did for our relationship was find a regular TV show that we could get excited about watching together. It’s easy enough to crash on the couch at the end

of the day and finding a show we wanted to watched together made that really feel like date night. We also made a real effort at setting aside a date night where we had someone watch the babies so that we could get out of the house. Even if it was just to go down the street and spend an hour - it helps to get away for a little while.


hat advice would you give to another couple that would like to start a family too? Ask for help! It truly takes a village and don’t be afraid to say that you need help. With everything from how to start a family to what to do with newborn babies - asking for help made us better parents. Being a gay family comes with it’s own set of challenges - there are far fewer role models in the world and it can feel like you are doing it on your own. Whatever you are feeling and whatever doubts or fears you may have know that you are not alone. Over and over again we have found that someone else has had the experience we’re having and helped us through it. We found so much comfort in connecting with other parents and meeting other gay parents (who we didn’t know too many of before we had kids!). There are a lot of us out here in the world and we are happy to share our stories and experiences if they will be helpful. Starting a family and being a parent is not easy, but the payoff is so incredible that all the hard work and challenges are worth it. Photographer: Melissa Bissell Photography gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 23

Real Weddings

ANTON & DENIS September 13th, 2019 / Photographer Natallia Dunai

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Real Weddings


ago. In more than 40 countries around the world, same-sex marriage is already allowed. For Belarusian gays and lesbians this opportunity is closed, the only way for them to legitimize their relations in Europe, and afterwards to live together in Belarus - together, but underground. Anton met Denis on a dating site. The guys started to host the first personal and open gay blog in Belarus, which openly shares the details of the coming out and the warm moments of their relationship. This is unsafe in such a homophobic country as Belarus, but the guys are fighting for human rights, and therefore decided to officially get married, even if their marriage is never recognized at home. WHAT’S THEIR JOB? Denis is the

soloist of the State Chamber Choir of the Republic of Belarus, and Anton is the pastry chef. DID THE COUPLE HAVE ANY SPECIAL REQUEST FOR THEIR WEDDING?

They wanted to say yes in a quiet, homey, cozy environment. It was a really special day for the couple, because their dream - a love and romance without boundaries came true. HOW DID THIS WEDDING CHANGE YOUR CAREER AS A WEDDING PLANNER? It was one of the first

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weddings, where I began to offer not just a ceremony, but also an intensive program after. An adventure-filled day with the opportunity to experience the nature and history of the Danish islands. My husband and I are not

only private guides, but we get close to a couple and have a great time, and people appreciate and adore it! WERE THERE ANY CHALLENGES FOR THIS WEDDING? When the

wedding is held in the open air, we always expect it to rain, and therefore we must be prepared. We have transparent umbrellas, transparent raincoats and the ability to pull the tent. But this time, everything promised to be more serious, since two days before the wedding a storm warning was announced. Therefore, I had to worry and come up with a plan “B” - we decided to use a concert venue located right in the forest, brought there pots with plants and candles. But nothing happened, the storm passed us by. WHAT WAS THEIR IMPRESSION OF THE WEDDING? “We want to

express our deep gratitude to Elena and Karsten for organizing our wedding, as well as for the rich tourist program. After all, Denmark is not only Copenhagen and the mermaid, it is much deeper and more interesting. gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 27

Real weddings

Only thanks to them we fell in love with this country, plunged into Hygge with our heads. You gave us a fairy tale” WHAT ARE THEIR FAVORITE MEMORIES OF THE DAY? The

ceremony was held on a wooden pier by the lake. Suddenly, just a minute before the ceremony, a boat sailed to the pier and a group of retired tourists came out, who, having seen the ceremony, wanted to stay and see. They sincerely congratulated the guys, took photos and drank champagne with us. The fact that strangers rejoiced in their happiness affected the couple to the core. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS DESTINATION – WHAT DIFFERENTIATES IT FROM OTHER PLACES? All our locations, include

this one (Maribo lake), is a nature-based cozy places on the Danish islands. This location is just perfect for the couples, who want elope to what they love in their life: peace of mind, unity with nature, exploration, love to history and adventure. It is ideal for the NORDIC ADVENTURE, and gives the couple unique opportunity not just marry but also explore the Danish islands with us.

Wedding planner: Nordic Adventure Weddings Photographer: Natallia Dunai Ceremony venue: Maribo lake Officiant: Leif Utermöhl 28 GWM / Summer 2020

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Real weddings

MELISSA & MARI October 5, 2019 / Paul Dauda Photography

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According to Melissa, “There have been some major obstacles for us to overcome, mostly because this is our first same sex relationship which was extremely difficult for some people (including family) to accept. But despite these challenges, building a life together has been so easy! And even on our toughest days, what keeps us going is that we love to laugh and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We love to be in the moment and be authentically ourselves! And that is what we are trying to bring to our big day.” As our eyes filled with tears, it was such an honor they chose us to capture their love on their wedding day. Melissa & Mari decided to host a small 13-person wedding in La Jolla, CA at Windandsea beach and a small reception on the rooftop of a private residence just walking distance from the ceremony site. Their style, you ask? “Tequila and tacos on china”! They wanted to have a balance of casual and elegant all at the same time. They wanted the ceremony and first look to feel intimate and romantic, but we want the after party, to be a party! The brides DIY’d snacks, signs, music, flowers and flatware. Even Melissa’s wedding ring was a family heirloom with lots of love extended from Mari’s late grandmother. Although Mari’s family did not attend the wedding, the brides were surrounded by so much love and support of friends and family. Fully equipped with a dance off up the makeshift aisle of all the guests in attendance

Dress Store: Davids Bridal Dress Designer: BHLDN Makeup Artist: Mobile Beauty Team Bakery: Churros El Tigre Caterer: Gringas Tacos and Catering Specialty Foods:The Martini Agents Location: Windandsea Beach Reception Venue:La Jolla Private Residence Photographer: Paul Douda Photography gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 31

Real weddings

AUDREY & TARA September 28, 2019 / Nicole Chan Photography

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superficial similarities (we’re both queer Taiwanese-ChineseAmerican women who love food and video-/board-games), we’re actually quite different. Audrey is patient. Tara is...not. Audrey is moral. Tara sometimes lives in the gray zone. Audrey loves sleeping. Tara does too -- but will self-flagellate if it’s past 10:00AM on a weekday. Audrey doesn’t conform to social norms of success breeding happiness. Tara chases those things to lay ever-more-offerings at the altar of ambition. We are a study of contrasts. We are so different in how we approach life but we have the same basic values: don’t be an asshole and try to leave the world better than you found it. We talk through our differences when they crop up with open hearts and open minds (or at least we try to!) and we bask in our moments of sameness. So it doesn’t matter if we’re arguing over how neat the closet has to be or we’re coexisting peacefully on the couch playing games or watching Doctor Who. In our best times and worst times, we’re always the best versions of ourselves with each other.

Other: Blackbird Doughnuts Floral Designer: Bloom couture Jewelry: Jennie Kwon Makeup Artist:Tammy Tan Dress Designer: BHLDN Ceremony Location: The Liberty Hotel Photographer: Nicole Chan Photography gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 33

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CAMERON & FERNANDO March 20, 2020 / Bora Bora Photographer Damien Gobron

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Real weddings

TELL US ABOUT YOUR WEDDING! We wanted to elope - just the two of us - to the most isolated and beautiful place we could think of. Bora Bora was at the very top of our list. We wanted to ensure our wedding theme was consistent with the style, colours and ‘feel’ of the location. WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PARTS OF YOUR WEDDING? My husband secretly

arranged, with our wedding planner Ranihei, for two of my favourite songs to be performed by a local musician as we arrived at the ceremony. This was such a wonderful surprise as I had taken the lead in much of the preparation to that point and wasn’t expecting it. DO YOU HAVE ANY WEDDING PLANNING OR MARRIAGE ADVICE?

Two things: 1. When in Rome (or, in this case, Bora Bora), listen to the advice of the locals on the ground if you want to have an extraordinary experience. 2. Be realistic and allow some flexibility to your plans. We got married during the COVID-19 crisis and things necessarily had to be altered at the last minute. If you learn to ‘go with the flow’, you’ll enjoy the experience significantly more than if you get stressed by it.

Accomodations: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora Photographer: Bora Bora Photographer Damien Gobron

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Real Weddings

AIMEE & CHELSEY October 15, 2019 / Blueberry Rocket Studios

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Real Weddings

Chelsey and Aimee wanted to get away from the Florida Heat and escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains to have their perfect cozy intimate wedding. With only their immediate family and close friends, Chelsey and Aimee tied the knot at Chetola Resort with the elopement they have always dreamed of.

Floral Designer: Park Place Florist & Gifts Bakery: Stick Boy Bread Co. Caterer: Timberlake’s at Chetola Resort Equipment Rentals: A Bushel and A Peck Vintage Rentals Event Venue: Chetola Resort and Spa Photographer: Blueberry Rocket Studios 40 GWM / Summer 2020

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Whether you‘re the bride-to-be, the MOH, or a guest, it’s officially time to say ‘I Do’ to wedding season. From the bridal shower to the bachelorette party, and everything in between, there are numerous gifting moments to prepare for leading up to the big day. Leave the wedding-gift season stress behind and turn to Smith & Sinclair - the brand creating a category-defying food & beverage products designed to make gifting and entertaining more glorious- to ensure you have the best gift in the pile for brides, grooms, and wedding parties alike.

THE BUBBLES PROSECCO GUMMIES Shower the bride and make her feel loved with this ultimate candy for grown-ups. This bag of cocktail candy without the kick includes 12 candy gummies such as Berry Royale Mimosa Gummies, Pineapple Bellini Gummies and Mandarin Spritz Gummies. Available for $10 online at us.smithandsinclair.com and in stores at Urban Outfitters and Paper Source.

EDIBLE COCKTAIL GLITTER DUST RASPBERRY ROSE GOLD Get your VIP ladies (bridesmaids) excited for the big day with the latest addition to Smith & Sinclair’s cocktail garnish collection. This Flavored Edible Cocktail Glitter Dust transforms any drink with an opulent iridescent shimmer, splash of color and fruity flavor. Available for $9.50 online at us.smithandsinclair.com.

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THE COCKTAILS LOVER’S GIFT SET Now that you’ve said yes to your partner, it’s time to pop the question to your BFF! Everyone has a cocktail lover in their life and this gift set has everything you need to win over your maid of honor. Contains: Party Box of Alcoholic Cocktail Gummies, Elderflower Spritz Cocktail FIZZ and Edible Cocktail Glitter Dust. Available for $28 online at us.smithandsinclair.com.

THE PARTY BOX OF ALCOHOLIC COCKTAIL GUMMIES Looking for the perfect addition for the bachelorette gift bags? Say no more. This Party Box is perfect for a party or pre-game with four flavors of expertly mixed cocktail gummies. Each box contains eight flavorful flavors such as Pineapple Bellini (40% Vodka), Elderflower Gin Spritz (40% Gin), Mandarin Spritz (40% Vodka) and Passion Fruit Mojito (40% White Rum). Available for $24 online at us.smithandsinclair.com.

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Real Weddings

JOE & GLENN August 9, 2019 / Diego and Liza Photography

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Real Weddings

Photography Driving into Prince Edward County for the wedding of Joe and Glenn at the Drake Devonshire, we knew we were in for a treat. Prince Edward County is known for its wineries, an exciting art community, awesome restaurants and festivals, and gorgeous landscapes and waterfront views. The Drake Devonshire, an award-winning waterfront boutique hotel, perfectly captures the essence of Prince Edward County. It offers a modern take on the traditional country inns with incredible architectural design, unique artwork, and custom designed furniture; stunning lake views;

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and drinks and food menus that are absolutely out of this world. When you combine an amazing and fun-loving couple, such as Joe and Glenn, with a venue as quirky, romantic, and luxurious as the Drake Devonshire, the day is guaranteed to be incredible. Joe and Glenn got ready together in the astounding Owner’s Suite, a luxurious space with a large private balcony and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario. When we arrived at the suite, Joe and Glenn’s babes of honor were downstairs getting their hair and makeup done so we still had the guys to ourselves for a short bit. Since they hadn’t showered or shaved yet, we proposed shower shots. After just a few moments of consideration, they both excitedly jumped (literally) into the shower with lots of laughter and giggling. Note to self, jumping in the shower is as dangerous as they say – luckily, there were no injuries and just loads more laughter. The babes of honor came up to help Joe and Glenn get dressed once Melanie Sleep, the incredibly lovely and passionate makeup artist, finished applying all the final touches. As Joe and Glenn changed out of their custom embroidered groom robes and into their snazzy tuxedos, the girls broke out a bottle of bubbly, which of course resulted in just bigger smiles and much more giggling from everyone. Earlier in the morning, Joe and Glenn requested we capture their exquisite red-soled shoes at some point in the day. Just before heading outside for their

couple portraits, Joe and Glenn presented us with the perfect opportunity for this epic shot while they were enjoying the lake views with a glass of bubbly in hand and their feet up, their redsoled shoes popped in the sun. We knew this was our chance to capture the awesomeness of their shoes, but we had to wait for the right moment. A quick kiss and a clink of the glasses was it, and an epic award-winning shot was made. The grounds at the Drake Devonshire are as fun and unique as the inside. The gardens are lush and green, a wooden bridge offers seating and views towards the lake, and a quirky wall mural matches the vibrancy of the art and decor of the hotel, all acting

as the perfect backdrop for portraits. While we had to work very quickly as the mosquitoes were merciless and we couldn’t risk our grooms getting bit before their ceremony, Joe and Glenn’s chemistry during their portraits was nonetheless palpable. We often have to remind our couples to keep their hands on each other during portraits, but that wasn’t the case with these two. They happily embraced and exchanged kisses, giddy with excitement as guests started to arrive for their ceremony. One of the things that the Drake Devonshire prides itself on is bringing people together, and seeing all the guests at Joe and Glenn’s wedding ready to witness these two wonderful humans say gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 49

Real weddings

I do was definitely a testimony to just that. The dining room at the hotel where the ceremony was going to take place was full to the brim with guests beaming with happiness as the babes of honor, with lovely bouquets from Flowers by Marvin, walked down the aisle, with the grooms close behind. Officiating the ceremony was Peg Evans, whose warm and personal approach was the perfect addition to this intimate ceremony, making us feel like everyone in that room was one big family. But of course, it’s the undeniable chemistry between Joe and Glenn, who stood hand in hand in front of all their loved ones, proclaiming their eternal love for one another, that was the highlight of the ceremony. We couldn’t help but also tear up along with the rest of the guests as vows were exchanged and many happy tears were wiped away. This ceremony went straight for the feels. Before joining their guests for a romantic and intimate dinner, we stole Joe and Glenn away for a quick portrait session on the patio. The patio backs right onto the shore and has the best sunset views overlooking the lake. Inside, the guests were eagerly waiting for Joe and Glenn to kick off a night of wining, dining, and lots of dancing, but with we simply could not ignore the gorgeous lighting the sunset was offering us. As the sun continued to set, all the quirky light fixtures adorning the dining room lit up. The warm, low lighting in the space created a magically romantic glow inside, perfect for highlighting the speeches, which were equally fun, sweet, and warmed the soul.

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Soon after dinner plates and tables were cleared, and the beautiful succulent-themed cake from Teri Loves Cake was sampled (that cake topper with the little Chihuahua is everything!), it was dancing time! Joe and Glenn shared their first dance together while being serenaded by friends, making it that much sweeter and more special. The best part of the evening though, besides all the awesome dance moves we saw on the dance floor that night, was the surprise dance performance Glenn and the babes planned for Joe. With confetti cannons for the grand finale that were met with a look of sheer delight from Joe, we can safely say that Glenn succeeded in surprising him. Joe and Glenn, we feel so lucky to have been a part of such an intimate and joyous celebration of your love. For that, we thank you!

Venue: The Drake Devonshire Flowers: Flowers by Marvin Makeup: Melanie Sleep Suit: Holt Renfrew Officiant: Peg Evans Cake: Teri Loves Cakes Photography: Diego and Liza Photography gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 51

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ink can be done in so many ways, but the soft pastel of this elegantly styled wedding will inspire you. The combined tones of gold, soft-pink, and white are the perfect blend that take your breath away when curated in this timeless shoot. We know you will be inspired by this event photographed by GunnShot Photography.

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Dress Store: Annabelle’s Bridal Boutique Calligrapher: Scribble and Script Hair Stylist: Goddess Hair Studio Cake Designer: Bella Donna Baking Floral Designer: WILLOW & WATER Ceremony Location: R Wedding House Photographer: GunnShot Photography

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Real weddings

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AREN & AUSTIN November 6, 2019 / Marylane Studios

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Real weddings

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Aren and Austin were married at a beautiful oceanfront estate in the historic Olowalu town of Maui. They were surrounded by just a handful of their closest family and friends which made it intimate and romantic. With the majestic Pacific ocean in the background they said their “I do’s” under a custom driftwood arch adorned with tropical florals from the island.

Officiant: Reverend Kimo Kirkman Caterer: Threes Catering Maui Cake Designer: Cake Fanatics Linens and Coverings: Accel Party Rentals Equipment Rentals: Signature Event Rentals Specialty Foods: Aloha Bars Maui Floral Designer: Dellables Floral Design Photographer: Marylane Studios

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ou don’t always need a reason such as an engagement or wedding to have a photo shoot. Aleks and Danny decided to hire a photographer while vacationing in Bora Bora to capture this moment in time. They will have these beautiful photos to remember the love and laughter from this breathtaking trip.

Photographer: Marc GĂŠrard Photography - Bora Bora Location: St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

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Real weddings

BRITTANY & RIANNE October 19, 2019 / The Everlasting Photo

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Real weddings

We didn’t have any inspiration behind our wedding other than wanting to spend the day with our family and closest friends. We were lucky to find La Bonita Ranch - which allowed us to have an intimate backyard/ barn feel to our wedding and reception. Our theme was modern rustic and our colors were navy and wine. HOW DID YOU DECORATE YOUR SPACE FOR THE CEREMONY AND THE RECEPTION? We were very

fortunate that one of our uncles and our grandma owned a flower shop in Fullerton, CA for over two decades. Our gift from them was basically all of our flowers and decor. For the most part we had no idea what our bouquets, tables, and altar were going to look like until it was wedding time. Our absolute favorite was the wedding altar. It truly made the background of every photo stunning. Our wedding favors were magnets that we did ourselves. We had to cut down a tree in our front yard and hated the idea of wasting any of the wood. Brittany’s brothers and Dad cut the wood and her Mom sanded and stamped the wood. It was truly a family affair! HOW DID YOU MEET? Just like

most of the world nowadays, we met on a dating app. I (RiAnne) lived in Arizona at the time and was visiting Southern California to see family and friends when I reached out to Brittany. We dated for about a year when she decided to move to Arizona. About 10 months later I proposed to Brittany at her birthday party at our house. All our family and friends 68 GWM / Summer 2020

knew a proposal was coming at the party, however Brittany thought it was just a massive 27th birthday party. I was a nervous wreck all day as I knew I would be proposing, however we also had a random massive rainstorm on our hands. Our brothers were shoveling buckets of water from the rain gutters, everyone was covered in mud, it was truly a nightmare. Luckily the rain stopped RIGHT BEFORE the party started. We had live music, woodfire pizza made in the front yard by our favorite local pizza place, our favorite bartender making drinks, and homemade wedding themed sugar cookies for dessert. My family did all the decorating for the party which was amazing. I had purchased light up letters that spelled out WILL YOU MARRY ME that I had our family and friends hold. I distracted Brittany in the front yard by taking pictures while they set up the letters. Once they were ready we walked to the backyard, music was playing, and she turned the corner to see the signs. It was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t have been happier.

Photo Booth Equipment: Trailer Gypsies Photo Booth Bakery: The Fix Catering Cinema and Video: Love is cinema Location: La Bonita Ranch Photographer: The Everlasting Photo gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 69

our baby

BIANCA & SARA Paul Douda Photography

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We are often stumped for words when trying to describe Sara and Bianca. After capturing their New Years Eve wedding in 2015, we have loved watching them grow together as partners in life and in their business; and now, as moms to be! It was such an honor capturing Bianca & Sara’s maternity session in San Diego. We started the afternoon at their home and then walked over to their favorite coffee shop, for tea and donuts. After that, we headed to Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach to play in the water and capture more stunning shots of these two beautiful women! Bianca was glowing in and out the entire time, and the way Sara looked at her wife was pure perfection. We can’t wait to meet their baby girl joining the Marino-Swikard household any day now!

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Real engagements

BRIANNE & VICTORIA Twomermaids Photography

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Brianne: Total surprise! We were planning on going to dinner and she was so late coming home (I didn’t know she was actually setting up the room) that I said I wasn’t going because it was almost 9. She drug me out mad and in my pajamas and drove me to the hotel room where there were rose petals and wine and a beautiful letter about how much she loved me and my kids. She proposed as soon as I finished reading it. Victoria- It was a surprise and I’m a terrible liar. I probably shouldn’t have told her I was an hour away. She was so mad but it’s a great story now. WE’RE ALL ABOUT THE BLING... TELL US ALL ABOUT THAT RING!

Brianne - Literally the perfect ring for me. Cushion cut halo ring from Kay. She swears she did it herself, but I KNOW I sent a picture of this one a while back. Victoria- We would send each other rings back and forth so I could get an idea of what she liked, this one wasn’t one of them. ARE YOU EXCITED TO START PLANNING YOUR WEDDING DAY? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS IN MIND YET?

We’re so close almost everything is done, we just procrastinated on engagement pictures. March 19th we will be tying the knot at Emerald at Queensridge in Las Vegas!

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COUTURE COLLECTION FANCY WHITE FEATURING TRANSGENDER MODEL VALENTINA SAMPAIO Like light bouncing off of a brilliant diamond, our Fall 2020 bridal collection was inspired by the beauty that is reflected from within. This collection celebrates a woman’s essence and individuality. It’s about reflecting on who she is and connecting to what really matters to her, including what she wants for her wedding day. Fancy white diamonds, opaque white diamonds that resemble the dreaminess of a bridal gown’s tulle fabric, plays a part in creating this collection. The array of flowy, soft silhouettes, such as A-line, mermaid, and ballgown shapes have been modified to be voluminous, yet soft, fluid, and modern. Each layer of the airy gowns tell a story, much like each layer of a woman’s personality tells her story. Intricate lace peeks through light-as-air tulle, silk, or organza embellished by reflective finishes like beads and rhinestones. And subtle hues of ivory, blush, and lavender are played up with silver embroidery, casting a romantic and ethereal aura around the bride. And to debut the new line of gowns, transgender model Valentina Sampaio shines as the face of the couture collection.

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Admired for her confidence in revealing her true self, she’s a perfect representation of this collection for the woman who knows she is unique inside and out. “All is beautiful and unceasing, all is music and reason, and all, like diamond, is carbon first, then light.” — José Martí

Designers Galia Lahav & Sharon Sever View collection at www.galialahav.com

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FALL COLOR INSPIRATION Steph and Stephanie (yes, they have the same name!) a real couple modeled for us. They had been dating less than a month when we did this, but you could never tell! Steph actually fractured her ankle the day before the shoot and was so committed to still come and model, what a trooper! My vision was a nice fall color scheme of mustard, burnt orange with a mix of teals and aquas, and I think we delivered just that. Between a bridal wedding jumpsuit and a bride flower bracelet, we definitely were able to make this shoot unique. The venue, Timacuan Country Club, is an underrated gem. Located in the Northern Orlando area, the property is filled with so much greenery. A great combination of rustic meets classy with the wooden beams and the chandeliers. The beautiful cake had the most amazing flowers which contrasted so well with the aqua colored icing. Sweet Miss V’s outdoes herself every time. Hair and makeup were done by Denise of Denise Marie Beauty and she sure did have a challenge. Stephanie does not normally wear a full face of makeup or have her hair done up, but she made her feel (and look) confident and amazing. The gown and bridal jumpsuit were provided by Nicole Maree Bridal who traveled over an hour from the east coast. Both fit the girls like a glove. Tiffany with Trove Rentals provided the tabletop rentals, the copper tones of the chargers and the mustard napkins really made a statement on the tables. The

hedge walls and furniture was provided by iRent Everything. The flowers by What Really Matters Inc. brighten everything up with the vibrant mustard colors and a bridal floral bracelet that I’ve never even seen before! Denise lined the ladies’ hair with some of the florals to tie everything together.

Last but not least, we had two amazing stationers. Jennifer with Miller’s Calligraphy did all the freehand calligraphy and Dorota with The Aphrodite Studio did all the digital artwork. While Steph hobbled all over the grounds of Timacuan Country club, we finally got a hold of a golf cart to help take us out on the property for an amazing sunset!

Event Planner: Jennifer Nicole Photography Etsy Designer: The Aphrodite Studio Calligrapher: Miller Calligraphy Co. Equipment Rentals: iRent Everything Tabletop Rentals: Trove Rentals Cake Designer: Sweet Miss V’s Beauty: Denise Marie Beauty Dress Store: Nicole Maree Bridal Floral Designer: What Really Matters, Inc. Reception Venue: Timacuan Golf & Country Club Photographer: Jennifer Nicole Photography gayweddingsmag.com / GWM 79

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GWM Summer


Melissa Bissell Photography

Profile for Gay Weddings and Marriage Magazine

Gay Weddings and Marriage Magazine Summer 2020  

Gay Weddings and Marriage Magazine goes beyond wedding day tips to address the needs of LGBTQ families and marriage. Advice from wedding coo...

Gay Weddings and Marriage Magazine Summer 2020  

Gay Weddings and Marriage Magazine goes beyond wedding day tips to address the needs of LGBTQ families and marriage. Advice from wedding coo...


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