Michael, marketing & Bradley, public relations
sum-up of the wedding vibe: Loving and happy wedding surrounded by close friends and family, tucked away in the majestic forest.
Number of Guests: 100
Location: Ashford, Washington
Where we allocated the most funds:
We actually had a wedding weekend. It was Labor Day weekend, and we had our entire family plus friends staying on site in rustic cabins tucked into the forest. Friday was the welcome dinner, Saturday was the wedding day, and Sunday was beautiful Sunday Funday, where we had brunch under a tent outside, lawn games, volleyball, drinks, and music. Therefore we spent a good amount on food and drinks for the weekend.
Where we allocated the least funds:
We ended up doing a few projects ourselves, which helped save some money. The dessert table was beautiful, but we knew we didn’t want a traditional cake or cake cutting moment. It was something we were willing to scale back without compromising the aesthetic and joy of a dessert bar. Bradley wrote the calligraphy on all place cards; inside each guest’s place card was a handwritten letter detailing our favorite moment with each guest. We also bundled our own lavender and hand dipped them in gold. The nine-foot altar arch at our ceremony was made of driftwood and lent to us by our wedding planner. We created real “family trees” by hanging family photos on trees that lined the trail to the ceremony. We used the website Joy to send out our electronic invitations. This was a great website.
What was totally worth it:
The venue. The wedding day itself was nothing short of magical. We were surrounded by our closest friends and family in the middle of an enchanted forest, enclosed by green moss and lights peeking through trees that were as tall as the eye can see. The air was perfectly crisp and filled with love. The ceremony was encircled by huge trees deep in the forest at the base of Mount Ranier; we stood on a stone alter. Natural wood benches were designed and nailed into the forest floor for our guests. The dinner snaked endlessly down an exquisite nature trail; the lights from the candelabras twinkled on the dinner table that was canopied by the natural branches of the forest. Our reception was also centered in the woods, where we wrapped string lights from tree to tree. The night ended with a bonfire, a cannabis station, fifteen delivered pizzas, and s’mores. The whole thing was a stunning and classy event amongst the natural beauty of the forest, and the venue allowed for all of this to happen in one location.
What was totally not worth it:
We genuinely can’t think of anything that was not worth it. We were very meticulous and had an excellent wedding planner. We scaled back and cut corners where we felt right, tried getting crafting with a few DIY projects, and invested in the right areas to make our guests had a fun-filled weekend. We look back and would do it all over again!
A few things that helped us along the way:
We had incredible vendors. Our wedding planner, florist, photographer, videographer, and DJ all knew what they were doing and made the day fun and easy. Bradley and I are natural planners, so we had a checklist of “things to accomplish” leading up to the wedding; this way by the time the wedding weekend came, we were stress free, knowing we had done everything we could and we could just enjoy the moment and people.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
We were lucky enough to bring our own alcohol and hire Emerald City Cocktails to bartend. So we got our alcohol at Costco, which allowed us to return any unopened bottles of liquor and wine. This was a huge help as we bought SO much and never feared of running out. Aisle Planner was a great resource to keep track of all the logistics.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
It’s really hard to say. The dinner table took our breath away. But the true beauty of the wedding was seeing all our friends and family, who have support us for nine years, come together and celebrate our love and commitment. We had two co-officiants: Bradley’s brother (a devout Catholic with five kids) and Michael’s sister (a devout Mormon with five kids). Guests included a broad political spectrum (e.g. Michael’s father, a former police chief from Florida and proud Trump supporter). All put their political/religious views aside to celebrate our love. It reminded us how fortunate we are.
Something else we’d like to share:
One groom’s vows referenced how he came so far from being a gay man feeling lost in his teens with NO role models on successful gay relationships or weddings, sneaking peeks at his mother’s magazines, to having his dreams come true. He hopes this inspires other LGBT teens to keep dreaming about their wedding. It’s possible. Instead of throwing a bouquet, we threw a boa… naturally! Our wedding party was introduced to RuPaul’s “Sissy That Walk,” and the grooms were introduced to RuPaul’s “Cover Girl.” We also worked with our DJ to edit a mock RuPaul’s Drag Race lip sync battle between our wedding parties, which kicked off the reception. Spoiler alert: Shantay they both stayed. Clearly we’re huge RuPaul’s Drag Race fans.