Sarafina & TJ’s San Diego-Style LGBTQ Wedding

I’m really over the moon about getting to share my very first reader wedding with a transgendered partner. If the wedding world has gotten slightly more accepting of our L-G-B brothers and sisters, it still offers next to no resources or models for Trans or otherwise gender queer couples who are choosing to marry, and it’s time that we all brought a bit more awareness to this issue. I want to draw your attention to Offbeat Bride’s excellent article on Transgender Grooms, and other than that, I’m going to let Sarafina take it away:
From Sarafina: My hubby is Transgendered, and has been living as my sweet guy for almost two years now (we have been together for 5+ years). He is truly the love of my life and I could not be happier to have found someone I love and respect so much! That said, we are truly just like everyone else. Since we had a outpouring of love from family and friends through the planning process and the “day of”—I offer our experience as a glimmer of hope to others who think that their family will never accept them, that they will never find someone who loves them for who they are, or that they cannot “afford” to celebrate their love just as proudly and loudly as anyone else!

Your first names: Sarafina & TJ
Where your wedding was held? The ceremony was held in the Casa De Moro gardens space behind The Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego. The reception was held in a beautiful upstairs Loggia Room at The Prado Restaurant. TJ & I went on many dates there in the beginning of our relationship– so it was a natural choice.

What made your wedding creative?
We had a ceremony that we wrote ourselves during a dinner with our good friend Carolina—who is an “elder” in San Diego’s LGBT Latino community (I put that word in quotes because she does not want to be thought of as “old”!) . She offered to preside over our ceremony and we immediately said “Yes!” Having someone you know and respect guiding you through the experience made such a difference to us. It was very personal and just the right amount of spiritual (Buddhism). We felt blessed to have someone we respect so much perform our ceremony!!
Many other details: Dahlias were the main flower for our wedding (they symbolize dignity—which is what you get back when you experience equality ) and they were used on the front of invite and in our centerpieces. My Aunt walked me down the aisle and “presented” me…instead of “giving me away.” Our RSVP cards requested guests give their “top 3” songs that they wanted to dance to or hear during the wedding…which helped keep people dancing throughout the reception and listening for “their song”. The majority of our vendors were “friendors” & locals from our hood…Our friend, DJ Sandra B. Ware, did the honors of spinning during the event, our friend Phil took the photos, our Cousin Stacey made her beloved biscotti cookies for everyone as favors…these doubled as table cards. Friends were encouraged to donate to the “No on 8” Campaign in lieu of wedding gifts…We had a picture display of weddings of our family members and guests and encouraged people to bring theirs and add their pictures to the display (many did and enjoyed this). We kept our sense of humor involved…I surprised TJ with a Transformer Groom’s Cake…and his vow’s included promising to teach me how to do laundry…

What made your wedding thrifty (whatever that meant for you)?
We paid for our own wedding and our own honeymoon and we were super-proud of the results. Still, since we were on our own, we had to be double-careful of the budget- especially since we wanted really yummy food… and a “casual elegance” vibe. We ended up spending a little over 9,000 on everything…that included the rehearsal dinner for 20 people, out-of-town gift bags, hair and makeup for me and my best lady and Auntie…and all the “little extras” that most people don’t count in their budget!
What made your wedding sane?
After a summer filled with watching many LGBT couples we admired (who had been together for years and years) FINALLY receive the right to get married and working to fight for the No on 8 campaign…there was no way that we could caught up in “details”. We had a renewed respect for the institution of marriage…which gave us a renewed respect for the process of planning to get married J We kept our heads about us, and had a lot of fun planning a party with family and friends involved! When Dj Sandra announced the last song– our entire family linked arms in a semi-circle while we danced in the center…how is THAT for love and acceptance? And how is that for a magical wedding moment!?!Congratulations to both of you, and thank you so much for sharing your wedding with all of us. May your wedding help inspire each of us to keep fighting, in ways both small and big, to give everyone the dignity that comes with marrage equality, in every single state of our union. Cheers to you both!

Pictures by Phil Collum Photography

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  • k

    What a beautiful and thoughtful wedding! Plus that first photo is pretty badass.

  • Hurrah! Three cheers for Sarafina, TJ, and A Practical Wedding! :)

  • Beautiful. I really appreciate this celebration of love, and hurray for all of you for showcasing a wedding that is exceptional in so many great ways.

  • Anonymous

    Yay for a practical wedding, and congratulations to Sarafina and TJ for a beautiful day.

    My partner is also trans, and we're just beginning the wedding planning dance. Thanks for the the inspiration. Love & Light.

  • I love that this wedding was elegant, thoughtful, and most importantly, so meaningful. May you have 100 years of happiness together!

  • kaitlin

    Downright awesome!

  • Beautiful wedding! Glad you could post this :)

  • What a beautiful wedding! I love that Sarafina’s aunt presented her rather than “gave her away.” You can just feel the love pouring out of this wedding.

  • This was such a beautiful, thoughtful wedding. Thank you Sarafina and TJ for sharing and thank you Meg for writing a wedding blog that shares equally in every form of love and joy.

  • The wedding process seemed lovely and sincere. Liked her simple wedding dress :)

  • as the daughter of 2 mommies i’m super stoked to see the first of what i hope will be many wonderfully beautiful(in so many ways)LGBT weddings on apracticalwedding! i hope my other favorite bloggies will follow suit!! but i gotta say i was also happy to see this post today since the couple did what my boy and i plan to do, which is ask our guests for song requests via the rsvp.. my question for miss sarafina is how did y’all word your request on the invites?

  • Meg

    Oh nikimatt,
    I’ve done piles of LGBTQ weddings. This is just the first trans reader wedding I’ve done (I’ve even done some trans non-reader weddings if you look back far enough) Look on the left side of the blog, LGBT Wedddings are one of the tags you can sort by. Go enjoy!


  • Anonymous

    Just beautiful. Looks like a sincere and heartfelt celebration. Congrats!

  • Loving the love that is shared through the words and pictures. Plus, the flowers rock. I lurve dahlias.

  • The cake toppers are so cute! I love the little glasses.

  • love this post, esp. since I know the areas they got married in pretty well. Congratulations to the happy couple!

  • Thank you all so much for the kind, kind words! We are happy to share…it was a wonderful and (believe it or not) very healing experience for our family. Weddings (and wedding planning) can be stressful, but there is a real undercurrent in the ritual that magically brings people together. My Roman Catholic father gave a speech about how he was afraid to fly– but “would have walked days to get to the wedding” if he had to.

    Nikkimatt– we had our invitations designed by a local vendor (Etsy is great for this too) and under the space for regrets/accepts we put 3 blank lines and the words “Top Three Musical Requests:” Be warned, however, we had everyone from Right Said Fred to Kenny Loggins on our playlist :)

  • What a hunk! Us transguys know how to put on a shindig.

  • sheesh!
    meg- i’m an idiot.. i’ve seen lgtb weddings here before, i guess i had just forgotten about them in my quest to find an appropriate and complimentary way to segue into asking miss sarafina my Q about the song requests! that being said- Thanks sarafina! and well, as long as it’s caddyshack/top gun loggins and not pooh corner loggins, i’ll be ok..:)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah! How wonderful. Thank you for sharing this.

  • beautiful wedding. congratulations to lovely couple. and thanks, meg, for posting. you’re the best.