Candis & Hayley’s Gay Southern At Home Wedding

Today’s wedding is awesome, not just because it’s a lesbian wedding that took place in a deeply red state (though I love that bit), but because of everything else. It features partners who don’t see eye to eye on aesthetics and styles (you don’t have to!) and DIY everything, from photography to food, and a dessert (but country club style) reception. Hurrah!

Indulgence was the word of our spectacular, DIY wedding day. Hayley and I aren’t much for themed events (or so I thought), yet our wedding was absolutely centered on indulgence, with a dash of hedonism and political rebellion. We’re a gay couple getting married in a completely crimson state, and we only set out to please ourselves. Ever wanted to see a feminist country club wedding? You should have been there.

Hayley and I come from vastly different places in the world. Geographically, she was born and raised in Louisville, KY, a city with severe bipolar disorder (Midwestern? Southern?), while I grew up in romantic, deeply Old South Georgia. Her fondest memories from childhood include riding her bike to the country club to swim the day away, while mine tend more toward riding my bike down the dirt road to the local pond to fish. She has political anemia: she knows, but she never gets too fired up about much of anything. I, on the other hand, have been known to scare lesser mortals with the vehemence of my social zeal. We may be best friends, but we’ll never be total birds of a feather.

So when the planning began we struggled to conceive of an event that said “Candis and Hayley totally love each other” in a way that was both exciting and authentic. We thought big wedding, small wedding, beach elopement, farm weekend, country club soiree, art gallery chic, etc, etc, ad nauseum. After months of ideas being rejected, we settled on one that had been heavily endorsed by Hayley and that didn’t make me want to vomit. Compromise is the name of the game after all. With Hayley’s family home as venue and garden cocktail party as the style, we were ready to get serious.

Like all couples (maybe more so with two brides) we went through the inevitable arguments over invites, flowers, cakes, dresses, favors, blah, blah, blah. Even the date wasn’t sacrosanct as we changed it twice to accommodate family members. Eventually all things were decided, plans set, dresses bought and gifts arriving in the mail. Wedding planning turned out to be both harder and easier than imagined.

Fast forward past all the hard work that we did, our parents did, and half dozen friends did to the actual event. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined with a perfect altar created on the back lanai under the pergola, fairy lights draped artistically in bushes, on trees and around the house (thanks to Hayley’s dad, an undiscovered garden design whiz), and a crowd of most of our favorite people in the whole world.

We did our aisle walking to classical, but that was no bridal march being played. We used some of our favorite Bach and Beethoven, with a few Jack Johnson instrumentals for flavor. When the ceremony began I couldn’t help but wonder how the older, more conservative members of her tribe would respond to the ultra-feminist, non-heterosexist, atheist take on a wedding that we had cooked up. There were no actual heart attacks, so I’m guessing they took it in stride.

In a year where multiple friends and family were attending tons of weddings, we really wanted the Calvert-Collier gala to be something fresh. We also saw no point in feeding all of our friends a meal they would eat ten more times that year and so, the dessert reception was born.

As a chocoholic whose first complete word was “cookie”, I knew people would appreciate us skipping right to the good part of any reception: the cake. On Hayley’s mom’s 10 foot long dining table we created a gorgeous display of cakes, cookies, tarts, pies, brownies, cannolis, and more. There was enough sugar to kill a diabetic elephant. Champagne, Sangria, beer and Mexican Coke were all on offer as well, plus a little sidebar of cheeses, fruits, and breads. How did we pick the menu? Our favorite things of course!

After all the hard work, all the planning, all the gentle (like a Force 5 hurricane) disagreements and stress, after the politically charged ceremony, the typical silver and crystal reception with atypical food and drink, after the last person had been hugged and thanked for coming, the real reward for me was (you guessed it) love. While Hayley’s love is all well and good, what impacted me most, what was most remarked on by our guests, was the overwhelming support and goodwill shown by all of those who had traveled hundreds, even thousands of miles to share the night with us. In a state where our union isn’t legal, where plenty of people bear us ill will, our wedding day was a perfect reminder of why it’s worth fighting the good fight, over and over if necessary. And hopefully enjoying yourself while you do.

The InfoDresses: David’s Bridal and TJMaxx / Flowers: Costco done by Hayley’s mom, future sister-in-law, sister and aunt / Venue: Hayley’s Parent’s House / DJ: Candis’ brother-in-law, music hand picked one song at a time / Food: friends and family, plus one special Italian creme cake by Helen’s Bakery / Photographer: Hayley’s younger brother, Sean Collier

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