Jenni & Karen


First Legal Gay Wedding In Dobbs Ferry New York

by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

Karen Naimool, Anger Management Counselor for Children & Jenni Griffith, Program Manager at a Medical School & Doctoral Student * Photographer: A mix of close friends and the local press that showed up. Some of the best shots came from Stu Bayer who did an article about our ceremony for the Rivertowns Patch. * Soundtrack for reading: “Stars 4-Ever” by Robyn *

One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: Queer femme pinup girl meets island ninja under a giant gay balloon arch with bubbles, giggles, and play!

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

Jenni & Karen | A Practical Wedding

A little about our wedding: Karen: Jenni and I are very different in terms of how we dress. I’m usually very low key and comfortable while Jenni is all about feathers, flowers, and vintage frocks. However, for our legal ceremony, we were both fancy! I found a champagne sari that complemented Jenni’s dress. I chose to wear traditional red bridal jewelry to represent my religion, Hinduism, and Indian Trinidadian culture. You can view some of our inspirations and ideas for our September Hindu wedding here on Pinterest.

Jenni: I had a Kate Spade dress sitting in my closet for a year, but I never found the right occasion to wear it. The polka dots and flared skirt remind me of the 1950s, which is my favorite era. I loved Valentino’s giant bow heels that came out a couple years ago but could not afford them. Luckily, Paris Hilton came out with this incredible knock off version in white! I adore birdcage veils, and I found this perfect white hat and veil at my favorite online store. I wanted our legal ceremony to be a queer spin on a traditional Western ceremony. Our September wedding will honor Karen’s Hindu religion and Indian culture.

Our ceremony took place at the Village Hall in the little Rivertown where we live, Dobbs Ferry, NY. We were the first legal same-sex marriage in the town of Dobbs Ferry, and it was extra special that our town mayor married us! After the ceremony, our incredible friends surprised us with a delicious lunch, champagne, and a slice of cake (with a candle on top) at our favorite local joint, Harper’s Restaurant. The restaurant harkens back to the 1950s and was the perfect setting for our impromptu reception!

Other cool stuff we should know about: We are a bi-racial and bi-national couple, which is difficult enough having to cross cultural and racial divides. However, our biggest challenge is proving to the world that we deserve to stay together as a family. We use our relationship, our love, and our family to fight DOMA, which makes it impossible for Jenni to sponsor Karen for U.S. citizenship. We don’t know whether Karen will ultimately be able to stay permanently in the U.S., but we are determined to make our story known and advocate for equality. Take a look at our website and some of our press.

Favorite thing about the wedding: Our Hindu wedding with all the pomp and ceremony will happen in September in New Jersey, which does not recognize same-sex marriage. So, we decided to have a legal ceremony in our home state of New York before the big gay Hindu wedding. We were (and still are) focused on planning our wedding in September but then found out in late February that our mutual friend and matchmaker, Alysia, would be in NYC in March. Alysia and Karen are best friends who attended Spelman College together. Alysia and Jenni were friends through graduate school. Alysia spent the better part of two years trying to get us together despite our refusals. She was convinced we were a perfect match and turned out to be right! All that hard work could not go unnoticed. We decided that it would be fitting to have a simple legal ceremony with Alysia as our witness while she was visiting NYC. Alysia was a part of both of our individual lives and the catalyst for our love. It made our legal commitment to each other even more meaningful to have Alysia witness our commitment as a wedded couple. Our legal ceremony is probably the best “I told you so” we ever had. Our ceremony at Village Hall turned out to be amazing and felt like a full-blown wedding even though it was somewhat impromptu.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • kathleen

    this is such a wonderful, beautiful wedding! I can’t tell who’s joy is more infectious- Karen, Jenni or Alysia’s! So so joy-filled.

    • meg

      Or the little kid. IS HE CRYING OR LAUGHING? I don’t know, but I love it!

      • kathleen

        I know! and the proud Mayor! there is such good rich FEELINGS FEELINGS FEELINGS here. I love it

      • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

        I didn’t even notice that Josh looks like he’s balling!! He’s actually cracking up because he dropped his cello on accident. The boys practiced “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” every night for one week because they said “Karen and I are shooting stars.” So. Damn. Cute.

  • http://emilytakesphotos.com Emily

    Everything about this is fantastic! Congrats you two! Well done, Alysia!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      We sent Alysia a edible arrangement a couple years ago as a “thank you” gift. Seriously, we owe her SO MUCH MORE!

  • Carbon Girl

    Beautiful!!! I love how your outfits complemented each other, and the rainbow balloon arch, and the kids playing their instruments–too cute! I can’t wait to see photos of your big Hindu wedding. Please come back with a second post!

    • meg

      THEY BETTER. Right?

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      It’s rare to find a champagne sari, and we has no idea whether it would complement my dress while shopping in Queens. I’m very happy it worked out! The rainbow balloon arch was a surprise from our friend Doug ( who likes to call himself our LQBF or Local Queer Best Friend). We were shocked when we pulled up to Village Hall. It was a beautiful moment. Thanks for all the love and excitement.

  • Paranoid Libra

    There goes my afternoon stalking you guys on the internetz. Holy awesomesauce!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Hahahaha! I’m totally an internet stalker myself so I can appreciate the time warp!

  • Josephine

    I love the dresses and how they work together while still maintaining each ladies style. And the happy expressions on everyone’s faces- especially Alysia. I love seeing invested family and friends.
    And I really love the expression on the face of the girl photo bombing the kiss at the end!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Karen and I are so different in almost all aspects (race, ethnicity, religion, culture, country of origin, personality, passions, etc.), and we really want to celebrate our individuality at both the legal ceremony and our September wedding. Who we are as individuals is what makes our love and relationship magical.

      Our friends and community are so supportive of our family. The photo of Annie’s face as we kiss is priceless!! She announced to her friends last week that she saw “two ladies get married!”

    • Brefiks

      Oh my gosh, I totally missed that and had to go back and check the post! Priceless!

  • sarahrose

    Love this! So much joy. Wish you all the best and can’t wait to see updates from the big bash in September. (Hint, hint.)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Hahaha, it really touches us that the APW ladies are so excited about our little gay ceremony AND our September wedding. xo

  • One More Sara

    such a great example of how long we still have to go for marriage equality, but also celebrating the progress that has been made so far. cant wait for the big, gay Hindu wedding post :)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Unfortunately, we have a long road ahead of us as a society. DOMA forces thousands of same-sex binational couples to live in exile abroad. Karen had to leave the country for a month this year, and we had no idea whether she would ever be able to come back. Luckily, all the immigration issues were sorted out because we have access to immigrations attorneys who specialize in LGBT cases. However, many couples are not able to afford LGBT immigration attorneys. We are the lucky ones. I’m so happy we were able to get legally married in NY, and I look forward to the day when I can sponsor Karen for U.S. citizenship.

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    Oh my goodness, this makes my heart so full. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks for the love, Helene!

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    The pictures of the kidlets providing the music just made my heart melt. Possibly the best job for a child in a wedding, ever.

    Also, your wedding is gorgeous (but I hope you already knew that.)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Totally the best job for a child!!! Jadon and Josh were over the moon about sharing their string skills with everyone! We plan to have more violin performances at the September wedding.

      Thank you for the love. We never expected the legal ceremony to be this lovely. Our wonderful friends and community made it happen.

  • Sara

    Oh my gosh, the one of y’all giggling and the mayor fist-pumping is DELIGHTFUL! Both of you were simply luminous. Echoing the demand for another post after September’s Hindu ceremony. Yay!!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      The mayor was such a hoot!! He is a big, macho, white, straight dude, and he was so excited to perform the legal ceremony! The fist pump was the signal he created for Alysia to “bring forth the rings.”

  • Tonya C.

    This was awesome. Besides the fact that it was a gay wedding, it had a ballon arch. A BALLOON ARCH!

    YOu ladies rock. Tis all.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      The rainbow balloon arch was so rad! It was awesome to drive up to our little Village Hall and see this massive balloon arch. The balloon arch then traveled to the front of our home after the ceremony, and all our neighbors were commenting for weeks about how much they loved it. I wish it were permanent!

  • http://shopcraftgasm.com Melissa of craftgasm

    What a beautiful post, you guys! I’m sitting here grinning with my eyes tearing up. Love it.

    (The kid with the dropped instrument facepalm is KILLING ME.)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      You really can’t go wrong with kids + instruments at a wedding. It’s bound to be a recipe for pure awesomeness!

  • Amy

    I love everything about this wedding! Amazing matching outfits, your matchmaker being your witness, the Mayor, all the love! I love it! Exclamation marks galore!!! And one more!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks for the love, Amy!

  • LauraB

    I was grinning by the time I got to the end – joyful!

    Congrats both and I can’t wait to see part 2!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you, Laura! We’re really excited about our Hindu wedding.

  • LifeSheWrote

    I just love your big smiles in every one of your pictures! So much love and happiness! Congratulations!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Karen and I never thought we would be able to get legally married in the U.S. It’s only this year that our attorney told us we were “allowed” to get married in NY without immigration penalties. Our friends watched us struggle and fight to stay together as a family. Getting legally wed was a culmination of years of strife and anxiety. Of course, the battle continues, but at least we can do after declaring our forever love to our friends and the interwebs!

  • carrie

    This made me smile so damn hard. Thank you for sharing, congrats, and thank you for spreading the word about these very, VERY important issues. The very best to you and can’t wait for the second post after the September wedding!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for caring about our little family and marriage/immigration equality. I really believe that we can change things by spreading love and acceptance.

  • http://www.koruwedding.com Koru Kate {Koru Wedding}

    The Brides’ big, beautiful smiles!!!! Once I peeled my eyes away from the awesome rainbow arch, I saw those beautiful smiles in every photo. Congratulations & best wishes~

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thanks so much! We are over the moon about being married!

  • http://www.abuttercreamwedding.com Sara C.

    Ahhh! I’m crying. I’m literally crying.

    First, CONGRATULATIONS!

    Second, as the twin sister of my gay twin, it is so damn Good to see this. My twin is at the point they don’t consider marriage, long term partnership, etc. as even a possibility (they live in the southern/midwestern US). So GOOD.

    Third, I think that if for just a minute that we as heterosexual couples did not take for granted our ability to marry at a whim, there would be more weddings brimming over with this beautiful, simple, complex, awesome, Joy.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Thank you for the love, Sara.

      I’m touched that you are so supportive of your gay twin sister. I’m sure it means a lot to her. It’s very unfortunate that many places in the U.S. are a threatening and even deadly place for LGBTQ people.

      APW is our little corner to create a space where hetero and LGBTQ people can explore and celebrate marriage. We are making more meaningful marriages by participating in this dialogue.

      • http://www.abuttercreamwedding.com Sara C.

        Thank you for sharing! And I agree – APW was a great source for me to share with my twin.

        PS I live in North Carolina right now, and as I’m sure you’re aware, there is a HUGE vote coming up on May 8th. Doing what we can to prevent that terrible, terrible amendment from passing…

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

          Yes, I am aware of Amendment One. My friend, Aly, wrote a beautiful blog post about how this will affect her family: http://embracerelease.com/2012/04/08/232/

          Thank you for the support. Hopefully, this bogus amendment will not pass.

  • http://www.embracerelease.com aly

    Gorgeous, adorable, LOVE THEM.

    • meg

      And Facebook tells me you’re friends. HOW ARE ALL YOU COOL LADIES FRIENDS? I imagine there is a clubhouse somewhere, and if I’m really nice, I’ll be invited in for tea one day.

      • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

        Ha! Yes, it’s true. Jamie, Aly, and I are queer lady friends from Atlanta. We will totally tell you the password to the clubhouse.

        • meg

          PASSWORD TO THE CLUBHOUSE. Day, MADE.

  • http://threlkelded.net Emily

    You know that horrible joke about how gay marriage should be legal so “they” can be miserable with the rest of us? Hardy-har-har-har? Okay, well that, only with immigration issues.

    I would love for you ladies to be able buy a ticket for the terrible journey that is going through the immigration process. Because it can be difficult, frustrating, and awful, and you should be able to be miserable with the rest of us.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      I really wish I had a magic wand to wish away the immigration nightmare! Hopefully, DOMA will be overturned soon and these times will be a distant memory. In the meantime, I try to enjoy the everyday bliss of my little family.

  • Cassandra

    The thing I hate about Wordless Weddings is you don’t always get the details behind it – I love the extra bit of info about both of you and about both your weddings. BUT I would a) Like to know if the little boys are laughing or crying and b) what your officiant was saying when he raised his fist and y’all are making cute faces at each other.

    There is so much happiness and joy in these photos, and what I like the very best is all these kids blowing bubbles and celebrating with you. Things like this – people raising their children to be happy about love in whatever form it takes- brighten my day.

    ETA – well scratch that, lady – your comments filled in the blanks I wanted to know about! Now I like this whole post even better ;)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      I’m glad I answered your questions! Yay! The children in our community are as important as the adults. They are an integral part of our lives, and we want to highlight them in both our legal ceremony and September wedding. Some of the comments from the parents are in this article from a local newspaper: http://www.nygec.org/uploaded_documents/Griffith.pdf Most of the parents at our legal ceremony were heterosexual and are committed to raising loving, accepting children. I have hope that the next generation will make the world a more beautiful, open place for EVERYONE.

  • Ashley

    Gorgeous. GORGEOUS! Congratulations, and much, much luck dealing with all the legal and immigration bullshit!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      Thank you, Ashley! Fingers crossed.

  • Gloria

    so freaking cute!! i got to see a hindu wedding ceremony for myself last september and they’re super awesome!
    congratulations!

    and for those of you who want DOMA repealed you should be furiously emailing your congressmen and telling them that you want the RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT of 2011 to reach the floor and get passed! the respect for marriage act has sponsors and is floating around the House and needs to be brought to the forefront.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      Our Hindu wedding will be my first, and I can’t wait! I’ve been reading about the wedding ceremony, watching videos, and reading books. Hinduism is a beautiful religion, and I’m looking forward to participating in all the rituals. I’m not religious at all, but I’m grateful that my partner practices Hinduism. She brings a calmness and peace to our family that comes from practicing yoga and meditation her entire life.

      We’re going to be the first same-sex Hindu wedding to actually take place IN a temple. The pundit, temple, and community have been very kind and accepting of our family.

      Thank you for mentioning the Respect for Marriage Act! Yes! I hope it gets passed.

  • http://lifeatpedalspeedblog.blogspot.com/ meghan

    I love, love, love the dresses! Everything about this wedding is makes me so happy.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      Thank you!! I wasn’t sure if the color would make me look pale as a ghost, but I think it all worked out. The champagne color definitely looks gorgeous with Karen’s cinnamon skin color!

  • Diana

    AMAZING! I LOVE IT ALL!!!! Congrats!!

    I’m sure the newlyweds know about this awesome organization, but if it hasn’t gotten a shout-out here or anywhere on APW yet, it should:
    http://www.immigrationequality.org/

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      Thank you, Diana! Karen and I are very involved with Immigration Equality. They are a wonderful organization. Also, Out4Immigration: http://www.out4immigration.org

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  • http://www.fearlessology.com Alejandra

    So so so brimming with joy for you! I was trying not to both laugh and cry on the train at the same time.

    This post also reminds me we need an APW clubhouse in NYC. Somewhere we can meet up in person to lead change on these real topics (and have some laughs too)! Actually, can our clubhouse be upstate so we can take a breather from the city? :)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      YES, APW Clubhouse in upstate NY with tea parties (or martini parties depending on how we’re feeling), book club, bitch fests, and bon bons!!

      • http://www.fearlessology.com Alejandra

        Hahaha! So good. If the upstate ladies ever need a change of pace, we can hold the club down in Brooklyn :)

        • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

          I love Brooklyn and am totally down with a rotating clubhouse!! :)

  • CBaker

    I have not read one bit of this post or comments…yet. I just have to say that ANYONE doing anger management with kiddos is A+ in my book! As a therapist/LPA, you must have all the patience in the world. Congrats to you and your lovely bride!

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage/ Jenni

      Karen works at a residential treatment facility for abused, neglected, and displaced boys. I don’t know how she does it. She impresses me everyday with her love and devotion for those children. It has to be the hardest job EVER. Thanks for the love!

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  • Brittany Lee

    I keep coming back to the wedding, i think because there is something so pure, so fun… you can tell they are truly each others best friends. They both look so relaxed and coming from a bride who is weeks away from my own wedding, this is calming, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Weddings are fun, these two are definitely enjoying the ride:)

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      I hope your wedding day is magical and everything you want it to be!

  • http://whitehindu.blogspot.com Carolyn

    Love the Hindu representation! Gorgeous sari, too. I love how the dresses match so well.

    • http://www.mywedding.com/queerhinduvintage Jenni

      Karen looked STUNNING in her sari! Thanks for the love!