Jamie & Max

Last year, we did an invitation giveaway for Printable Press, and the winners were Jamie and Max. Jamie is a queer woman and Max is a trans man, and they were having a rough time of wedding planning that week, and they needed a lift. And because life sometimes works that way, Kimi swooped in out of the blue, and designed not one, not two, but THREE invitations, just for them to pick between (you can order your own here, fyi). And, because life sometimes works that way (times two), it turns out their wedding was being photographed by another member of the APW sponsor team, Leah and Mark Photography out of Atlanta. But beyond all that APW synergy, Jamie’s wedding graduate post hits the nail on the head. Her message that you need to get the people right is perhaps *the* important message in wedding planning, and one that is so often missed. So I’m squirming in my seat excited to finally bring you Jamie’s grad post, which is of course both beautiful, and chock full of wisdom.

Early in our relationship, Max and I did not know if we ever wanted to be married. After we decided to get married, we didn’t know if we wanted a wedding. When we decided to have a wedding, we wanted very different things.  Max wanted to grab a few of our loved ones and head to Vegas while I wanted to have an intimate and non-traditional celebration in the woods. The wedding we had was nothing like either of our original visions, but it somehow became exactly the celebration we needed.

One of the reasons we were originally hesitant to planning a wedding is that I am a perfectionist.  I am perfectionist who has extreme tendencies towards anxiety and hates nothing more than being wrong, and Max and I both knew that wedding planning was likely to push all of my anxious buttons.

And, it’s true that I did worry endlessly throughout our planning about everything from whether or not our ceremony would be too traditional for our friends or too non-traditional for our families, to whether or not the kitchen would be able to accommodate all of our loved ones’ dietary needs, to whether or not people would think we were cheap for only having a beer and wine bar.
As a sanity-saving measure, though, we decided that we would try very hard to put most of our worries and our money into the things that mattered most to us: the people, the pictures and the food.  It was a good plan that we executed imperfectly, but when we remember our wedding these are definitely the three choices about which we are most happy, but the only one that really matters now is the people that were involved in our wedding.

Max and I both agree that our choice of officiants was the best decision we made in our wedding.  We asked two friends – members of our chosen family – to marry us.  They have known us and loved us from the beginning of our relationship, and it only seemed right to have them bless us as we move forward.
Having Sheila and AT marry us also served as a way to honor our queer and radical community.  They are an amazing couple who, despite the fact that they cannot legally marry, model for us all of the qualities we’d like to see in our own marriage.

We also tried to keep people first in our wedding by trying to involve our families and the members of our wedding party in both meaningful and low-stress ways, like choosing their own outfits and helping us decide on the 12 different flavors of cake we served.

Of course, there were also great disappointments in wedding planning.  Our search for a venue that was accessible for all of the people we wanted to invite and fit our budget was tough.  The venue we eventually chose was beautiful, and while I have no regrets now, I struggled with it being so much more traditional than the venue that I originally imagined.  I also had quite a debacle with my dress.  I never wanted to wear a white or ivory dress, so I had a dress custom made by a designer highly recommended on the internet.  The dress, however, arrived late, poorly made, and in unwearable condition.  Five weeks before our wedding, I was left with no choice but to find an off-the-rack dress, and the only one I could find that fit my body and budget was a traditional ivory dress.  It was definitely devastating for a few days.

But just as the greatest joys in our wedding were because of people, so were the greatest disappointments.  About two months before our wedding, someone to whom I had been very close wrote a letter to me explaining all of his objections to our queer union and his disapproval of our marriage.  It was the most hurtful thing I’ve ever read, and I cried for weeks over it.  I was unsure until the day of the wedding about whether  or not he would attend, and he chose not to.  For a few moments on our wedding day, I felt the pain of that rejection, but it also compelled me to be even more grateful for those friends and family who have offered their support of us and our relationship and were there in either body or spirit.

I find it hard to offer wedding planning advice when I look back upon our wedding because it feels like so little of what we did during our 18 months of wedding planning mattered.

The dress I never wanted to wear and the tablecloths I hated don’t matter a bit to me now.  The food, which was amazing, matters only because our loved ones enjoyed it, and  Whatever else we got wrong or left undone while planning a wedding, we got the people right, and that is all that matters.

Photos By: Leah and Mark

Editor’s Note: For more on Jamie & Max’s amazing and radical community, have a look back at Aly & Elroi’s  family (two members of their wedding party) and our Reclaiming Wife conversation about creating the family you need.

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  • Moz

    I’m sorry your former friend wasn’t supportive but I am very glad people turned out for you and that you were/are loved.

    Congrats on your marriage xx

  • Wow. Even though you had to settle for a dress you never wanted, you still rocked it and looked incredibly beautiful. Every single picture is filled with so much love and light and your stunning community is, no doubt, a huge contribution to that. It looks like you had exactly the sort of wedding that I am struggling to define and you give me courage and inspiration that it’s out there!

    Congrats on a beautiful wedding and, I’m sure, an even more beautiful marriage.

  • This makes my heart happy. We are all about the people. In times when I find myself struggling with whatever wedding decision there is to make on any given day, I ground myself in the reality that the people will make the day what it needs to be, and we have a rock solid group of family and friends who will love and support us on our wedding day.

    Congratulations to you both!

  • Sarah

    Just beautiful! Thank you for the sanity snap on a Monday morning!

  • It really sucks that someone close to you chose to a) hide their true feelings about your marriage for so long and b) not to just suck it up and support you because you are you.

    And… The ivory dress you never wanted to wear looks very beautiful.


  • Thank you for such a thoughtful and honest post. I especially like that you talk about things that were disappointing, like your so-called friend who didn’t show or the dress that wouldn’t have been your choice usually. In an industry designed around the idea of “perfect” days, it’s totally realistic to think that a lot of times, things won’t go exactly right. And it’s okay. Your phrase “we got the people right, and that is all that matters” really says it all.

  • “Whatever else we got wrong or left undone while planning a wedding, we got the people right, and that is all that matters.”

    I feel like I could tape this up in my cubicle as a life mantra. This is the sort of realization that a lot of people spend their whole lives trying to get to. I’m so excited for you both. It looks like you had a beautiful day filled with much deserved love and support. I’m sure that kind outpouring will only follow you in your married life together.

    • meg

      Yes. Right? Yes.

  • Thanks to Jamie for writing about the most difficult parts of wedding planning — the times you disappoint yourself and fraught relationships with loved ones. And thanks to Meg for posting this. The photos are stunning, but my favorite thing is how many people the photographers caught wiping away tears. I would love to know and have proof that people were so touched at my own wedding. Also, as a wedding grad, I have to say the part I most identified with was this: “I find it hard to offer wedding planning advice when I look back upon our wedding because it feels like so little of what we did during our 18 months of wedding planning mattered.”

    • Exactly on the planning! I’m glad I did, but in the end all the little details just melted away, and what remains strong in my memory is the wonderful people who came, and the love and support from them.

      • meg

        So that’s what you write then, done. No excuses ladies!!! We’re actually running low on new wedding grad posts, and hearing a lot of people give excuses as to why their powerful stories shouldn’t be written and shared. Time to pay it forward.

        • Yes Ma’am. It’s in the works right now.

        • I know, I know, I’ve been “working” on mine too.

          And by “working on it,” I have a text document saved to my hard drive with about 3 sentences written. That I wrote almost 4 months ago.

          Oh crap, yeah, my wedding was 4 months ago today! 1/3 year anniversary, anyone? :) :)

        • My wedding isn’t until August but you can 100% count on me for a graduate post!

  • Heather

    “[W]e got the people right, and that is all that matters.” That is one of the most brilliant wedding- (and life-) related statements I’ve ever read.

  • I am with you 100% on the worrying and perfectionism. I am so glad to see that you could let go of that a little, especially after the fact – maybe there’s hope for me!

    Congratulations :)

    • Well, I certainly had my moments of not being able to let the worrying go while we were in the process of planning. Thankfully, I have a partner who is very good at helping me focus on what’s really important and a lovely supportive group of friends.

  • Beautiful. Jamie, you’ve always been an amazing writer, and this is no exception. Congratulations to both of you. :)

  • I thought I recognised Aly and Elroi!

    I reckon that often the people with the most amazing weddings are those who feel least qualified to offer advice. The reason? Their weddings were so suited to their own personalities and set of circumstances that it seems bizarre to “impose” that knowledge on another couple. Having said that, Jamie, I think that often the role of wedding graduates is to inspire brides-to-be with the possibility that a wedding does not need to look and feel like the page of a wedding magazine. You have MORE than done this. Beautiful.

    And: I think you look pretty foxy in the frock you didn’t want to wear. Your personality shines through the ivory…

    • TOTALLY! I usually don’t have trouble writing, but this post was so difficult because I couldn’t figure out what from our situation would be of use to other people.

      • Rymenhild

        Your situation is of use. All of it is.

        I’m queer, not yet engaged but anticipating engagement in the relatively near future, and looking forward to all sorts of family drama surrounding the same-sex / genderqueer wedding thing. It really, really helps to know that other people have been there first.

        Mazel tov to you both and may you have many happy years together!

    • Carla

      I definitely squeed when I spotted Aly and Elroi ^_^ I also really like that viewpoint on why every individual wedding can be so inspiring.

      Also, I think that first photo through the lit-up crystals may be one of my favourite wedding shots ever.

  • Suzanna

    Love it! So much style, so much class! The love is coming right outta my computer. Congratulations!

  • You were a beautiful bride (ivory dress included) and this is a compelling story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  • Breathtakingly beautiful, and the heart…

    …it touches mine.

  • This is so wonderful–the emotion (love the wiping tears shot), the thought, the values. Thanks for reminding us what it is all about.

    And for what it’s worth, that dress you never wanted to wear looks gorgeous on you :-)

  • Wow. I am blown away with the beauty and the emotion captured in these photographs.
    And I love what you say about getting the people right. Because it is so so true.

  • ka

    One of the things that stresses me the most about wedding planning (as a “perfectionist who has extreme tendencies towards anxiety and hates nothing more than being wrong” myself!), is knowing that the wedding we actually have may well be drastically different than the wedding we set out to have. Thank you Jamie, for the wise and beautiful reminder that it will somehow be exactly what we need.

    (And yes, the crying! Now that is my idea of a successful ceremony! ;-) )

  • Congratulations on a beautiful wedding and a touching graduate essay. (I cried!) As a gay woman who was married this summer, I can share your pain about your close friend writing you that letter– one of my best friends did something similar. However, it seems that you prevailed and had an amazing day. I’m so happy for you. :)

    Now, go on and have a joyous marriage & life.

  • Cassandra

    One thing I love best about this are the happy tears in the photos – you definitely *did* get the people part of the wedding right.

    Beautiful words and a beautiful wedding, and an important reminder that in the end the details of what went wrong won’t be what you’re thinking about months and years down the road.

  • The emotion in the photos of this wedding totally GETS ME. Beautiful.

  • Jamie, you look gorgeous and Max looks so handsome. You’re both glowing, and the expressions on your guests’ faces are so loving and happy. The whole day looks just priceless. I hope there’s enough love there, and support here, to make up for the blindness of the few who tried to shame you.

    Also – 12 kinds of cake? YES please!

    • Oh, yes. The cake was fab. We love cake. (As a bonus, 12 regular cakes was waaaaaay cheaper than one wedding cake.)

  • ANI

    My boyfriend is trans, and one of his dearest and oldest friends “broke up” with him a few months ago – she said she couldn’t be friends with him now that he’s a guy, cause she isn’t friends with guys/doesn’t have guy friends. This woman is one of the nicest people, someone I’ve always loved and admired. She works for a living with LGBTQ at risk teens. It really really shook my boyfriend, and made him question his transition (if transitioning means loosing his best friends, is it worth it?) and it made me look differntly at all his old friends (who else may secretly be a psycho, waiting to break my guys heart?).

    • ANI

      It really means a lot to me that you shared your story. Thank you for showing me I’m not alone. There are very few people who really understand what this is like, from the inside.

    • Ani, I’m so sorry for how hurtful that must be for you and your boyfriend. There were certainly friendship that were strained when Max transitioned, and I had a few friends who were very, very confused and angry when I started dating a transman. In most cases, we’ve all made amends, but I’m pretty sure that Max would say that his transition was work all the trouble – even the really hard parts. Going through it together has made us much stronger as a couple, and we’ve grown particularly close to those friends and family members who have been supportive along the way. I wish you both nothing but the best, including a wonderful community like we’ve found.

    • Class of 1980


      That is the strangest thing ever!

  • Your wedding looks beautiful, and wonderful and full or happy emotion. Congratulations!

  • kristen

    while i am a christian and have my own beliefs about marriage, i was saddened to hear about your friend that wrote you a letter and that you felt rejected and hurt on your wedding day. thank you for your honesty and vulnerability and for sharing your story. bless you!

    p.s. meg – my stepmom has asked me a million times why i didn’t go to the local “bridal show” this weekend in our community – my answer? i was on APW all weekend… … :)

    • meg

      Hey Kristen,
      I know you’re doing your best to be respectful, and I’m down with that. But I do try to discourage us from making the “I’m a Christian and…” kind of comments. My whole family is Christian and super active in the gay rights movement, so it’s important to remember that Christianity comes in many forms, lots of which are queer friendly.


      PS Yay!

      • J

        Kristen – while I’m sure well intended…comments like this still feel incredibly demeaning and dismissive. I will be marrying my female partner in a ceremony performed by a christian minister this year. My family, also christian, is very supportive.

        Meg – thank you for your comment. It is so nice to have allies step up so the queer community doesn’t always have to.

        • Class of 1980

          The Christian churches in my current town don’t represent a wide variety of denominations. It was an isolated mountain community for so long. So isolated that even Catholics are a curiosity here.

          There are a lot of people here who literally have no idea that there are Christian denominations that have no objection to gay marriage.

          Just thought I’d mention it because prior to moving here, I did not know that such a thing could be unknown in this day and age.

          • kristen

            i apologize for not communicating my thoughts in the best way. i just meant to say that i’m sorry you felt rejected by your friend and that it’s okay to have different beliefs – but it’s not okay that you were treated that way.

  • Many thanks to everyone for your kind words. I’m so glad to have found this community, and it seems especially right to have our wedding posted here on the MLK holiday when we take time to consider civil rights and equality for everyone. Oh, and it’s our threee-month-aversary :)

    • meg

      I know, right. I suddenly realized we were posting it on MLK day, and I was like, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh………..” Happy three months!!!!

  • Class of 1980

    Having no idea that your dress experience was a “debacle”, my immediate response to your photos was that your dress was beautiful on you. Such a pretty creamy color that just so happens to look great on you.

    I’m not sure why your former friend felt the need to expound on his objections to your marriage, but yeah, “friends” like that sure make you appreciate the real ones.

    You both look darling to me … and happy.

  • Elroi

    Great tale, Jamie. I’m so glad I was there. I love you two!

    • Thanks, El, for all you did to help and keep us sane. We are so glad to have you and Aly and Avie and the Bean as part of our chosen family.

  • The photos of you and your loved on your wedding day are fabulous, and I offer my congratulations to you for being able to look past the things that went wrong to see the things that were important. Congratulations on your marriage!

  • Jenni

    Jamie, this is a beautiful recap of the wedding. You and Max are a beautiful couple filled with so much love and light. Thank you for letting me a part of your magical day. I’m so happy you were able to share your story with the blogosphere! xoxo

  • Hannah

    I totally remember when you won the giveaway and the excitement of SQUIRRELS! So glad to hear about your wedding rocking it out. I second the dress comments – you are such a beam of wondrous light, no one could ever have guessed it wasn’t your first choice. Way to go!

  • This whole post makes me smile. Jamie and Max, you are full of courage and bravery a girl like me could only hope for. Thanks for reminding me who–not what–is important in life. And what’s worth fighting for.

    As others have said, the pics with people dancing, laughing and crying speak volumes about the love and shared commitment between partners and community you shared. Happy anniversary-ish and many, many more joyful days, months and years to come!

  • Laura

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Jamie, you are stunning and Max is so handsome and you both look so full of love for each other. Thanks for this great, very helpful wedding grad post and for sharing your joy and wisdom. Cheers!

  • Karen and Jadon

    Jamie and Max,
    We loved your wedding very much. Jadon still talks about the food and thinks that every wedding we go to should take a page from yours. Chosen family is a blessing that you embraced in your celebration of love. I was amazed at how considerate you were to all of your guests of family and friends on your special day. Jamie thank you for including us in your family. Just as you are in ours.
    Karen and Jadon

  • Aly

    I’m coming to this a little late because I was out of town but… Jamie, as many others have said, this post is beautiful. I was so happy and touched to be a part of your wedding. I know how hurtful it was for you to experience rejection from some but the hall that day was filled with so many people loving you, it felt transcendent. You and Max deserved all the love beaming at you that day and every day. And even though I’m still mad for you about that first dress, you were positively radiant in the one you found off-the-rack.

    Ps. You also got a few of those cakes very right, too–at least the ones my toddler gave me a few seconds to stuff my face with. :)

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