Victoria & Jacqueline's tiny thrifty dressy wedding celebration

April 7 |
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Photos by Maggie Winters

The offbeat bride: Victoria, Nanny & eventual Montessori teacher

Her offbeat partner: Jacqueline, Nanny & eventual mommy

Location & date of wedding: Swann House, Washington, D.C. — March 5, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We had limited money to spend, so we shopped thrift stores and made many of the parts of our wedding.

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One dress was $23 and needed some slight repairs, which we did at home; the other was $40. Our order of service was on cardstock on dictionary pages, and the bouquet Victoria carried she made from flowers crafted out of the same dictionary pages.

Basically, our wedding was our thank-you party to the close friends who'd supported us throughout our relationship, so we rented rooms in an amazing bed and breakfast and had a weekend of celebration.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Since a huge influence on our ceremony was having our friends involved, we had lots of readings. Most of the readings reflected our English major pasts, such as e.e. cummings and Emily Dickinson.

In addition, one of our friends is a songwriter, and wrote and performed a song for us specifically for our wedding, which was an incredible gift.

MJW_4274We had a ring blessing, where everyone passed our rings around and said a blessing/wish/prayer for our future.

We loved the idea of incorporating the concept of eternity, and we'd tossed around the idea of a handfasting, but we ended up crafting our own ritual (after a few glasses of wine while working on our ceremony). All the guests came forward, picked flowers out of a vase, and laid them in two conjoined circles around us, making an eternity symbol. We placed this about halfway through the ceremony, so we stood in the circles through the rest.

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Our biggest challenge: At first, our excitement over planning a wedding was tinged with the knowledge that no family members would be there. As two girls together, each raised in conservative, religious environments, our families were out of the picture from the beginning. Through the planning process, we ended up discovering the secret gift of not having mothers influencing decisions. While we would love to have the support of our families, we found a freedom in planning that led to a wedding that was truly us — and probably not one our mothers would have approved of. We were able to make decisions based completely on what we wanted our wedding to be, and not what we thought would be expected of us.

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My favorite moment: Having everyone present at our ceremony was one of the most perfect moments we've had. The eleven guests all traveled to be there, and we originally picked the date based on what would work with everyone's schedules. When everything came together, looking out at the small group gathered, everyone crying, meant the world.

During the ceremony, most of the guests had readings, and one of our friends had written us a song which she performed. Our unofficial "gay mentor couple" held our rings and brought them to us to exchange after our vows… cue more tears.

We were able to have Friday through Sunday with our closest friends, which was truly special and a weekend of love, and since then we've watched friends who met for the first time that weekend plan trips to visit each other. We love knowing that we brought special people together.

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My funniest moment: Our wedding was informal and unrehearsed. After our officiant pronounced us married, we kissed to everyone cheering, and then they all stood there awkwardly, because we didn't know what to do next. Eventually, one of us just shouted, "So, who wants cake?!"

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MJW_3195Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Jacqueline was convinced, a few days before the wedding, that her hair was going to be hideous the day of. There were no trial runs, and everything had been going so well that apparently she just needed something to stress over. Needless to say, when the time came to get married, it was the last thing on her mind, and it turned out looking great anyway. An hour before we were supposed to be ready, she said, "Can't I just throw it in a ponytail and let's go get married?"

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My advice for offbeat brides: Think outside the ceremony. Our ceremony was incredibly personal and meaningful, but the photo shoot in the two hours prior, the party with everyone the night before, and the breakfast on Sunday morning all felt like part of the ceremony. If it's possible to stretch your wedding out, do it.

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MJW_3534-1Relax. By the time we had our ceremony, our feet hurt from walking and taking pictures — so we went barefoot. There was laughter in the ceremony; there were jokes after about not knowing how to cut a cake. The entire mood was light, because all that mattered was being there with friends, and the love that we felt. We never had a rehearsal, we never had trial hairdos, and we didn't care.

Talk with your spouse-to-be and discover what's meaningful to you. For us, we really wanted our friends present, and we wanted all of them to have a part in the ceremony. Putting our friends up in the B&B was over half our budget, but to us it was the most important part; once we made that decision, we went to thrift stores and craft stores and Craigslist to build the rest of our weekend.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? A wedding is about love and friends. It's not about money, the perfect flowers, traditions (unless they're meaningful to you), or the right photographer. It's about spending time, however much you have, with the people you love, celebrating their love and yours. Our "tagline" for our wedding was "All you need is love," and it resonated through our entire weekend.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!



  1. Zomfg it's a dc wedding!! I love it all (and now I have a photographer to sta…er, scope)! I especially love the metro escalator photos.

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      • I visited that tag, and it looks like most of DC weddings on OBB are same sex. While I love that DC is leading the way on marriage equality and adore the cute double-bride pics, I'm wondering why 1.) there are so few DC weddings to begin with and 2.) why there are no dudes in any of them? Is my hometown lacking in offbeat fellas? I pledge to submit my offbeat DC wedding after it happens, but I'm curious if I'm in the minority as a a hetero OBB?

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        • Amanda: I don't think you're in the minority. We just don't get that many DC weddings submitted to us.

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        • My husband and I live in DC, but sadly we didn't get married in DC, my mom won that battle so we were married in my families' home town.

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        • I suppose you mean getting married in dc as opposed to DC metro. I'm not *IN* dc but I'm pretty stinking close. I'm the Pentagon City/Crystal City area of Arlington, VA. My groom-to-be and I will be heading out west of here to Centreville, VA! We wanted an outdoor setting (well only the ceremony will be outdoors) and it was a LOT cheaper to go out that way! I have a friend in Rockville, MD who will be heading out to Pasadena, MD for hers but that's also because she wanted water. She will be having a very traditional wedding though.

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      • Thanks so much – though the credit really goes to Maggie the Awesome (which is what we called her all day). Originally we were excited about taking pictures on the National Mall, but the Metro there ended up being the best part.

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        • Full credit to you both for picking her – the shots are amazing!

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        • That rose statue is a block from my job! I pass it all the time. I wish I had seen you two on the metro that day, it would have made me smile FOREVER. Absolutely lovey!

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  2. Beautiful, personal, meaningful and true to yourselves – I cant think of a more perfect wedding and I loved that you shared it with us. Thankyou Victoria and Jacqueline!

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    • I could not agree more. Got choked up looking at your beautiful faces and reading your story. Thank you very much for sharing your love and your story.

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  3. Wow. Just. Wow. Those photos are amazing. Congrats ladies. You both looked stunning.

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  4. I love the metro pics! So cute. They quelled my anger at your families (grr). Just adorable though!

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  5. You girls are beautiful- it looks like a lovely, intimate ceremony. I'm sorry your families didn't participate in the wedding/ support your marriage, but you haven't let it stop you and that's really special. Some families do eventually come round- if not, you have each other and it sounds like you can be legally married where you live? I think that would make all the difference to the wedding stress that my fiancee and I are experiencing. We have mostly supportive families but they won't see it as a marriage until the state does (we're in Australia).
    Best of luck with the years of marriage and true love ahead of you!
    xx

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    • Congratulations to all of you! As someone who has been estranged from half her family for many years, remember that as an adult, you make your own family. That may be through marriage committments, friendships, birth, handfasting or whatever. It is sad that your birth family isn't involved, but you will have many blessings in spite of it.

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  6. You're both so beautiful and look so blissful together with your friends. I love it!

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  7. Gorgeous wedding and I'll echo the sorry about your parents. My wife and I are both lucky to have families that support us, even if they didn't quite understand what a lesbian wedding in Illinois meant (it's not legal why do it?) BUT they're in Texas and not having parents and siblings telling you what you *should* do and instead doing it yourself? Totally amazing and it all ends up being about the couple – as it should be. Congrats to two gorgeous ladies!

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  8. Oh my. Gorgeous results by making awesome choices. Have to echo that it is disappointing to hear about the lack of family support but it's nice to see that you stayed true to yourselves. I'm a bit envious of you two for this. During the planning of our wedding, our families basically took over and the end results of ALL the wedding details mean nothing to me. Luckily, the marriage did and that is the most important. But sure would be nice to look at photos and not remember how it was hi-jacked by well meaning famiily.

    Please share about how the bride's bouquet was made.

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    • Victoria made the bouquet herself, out of pages from an old dictionary. She's about to get an etsy shop up and running, I think, so I'll have her post the link when it's set up.

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    • Thanks so much!

      I actually made the flowers from a tutorial on OB. If you search paper flower tutorial, I think you can find it. I also have an etsy shop up, as of 5 minutes ago, if you are (or anyone else) interested. My store is called Flight of a Bee.

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    • Thanks! We were walking to Safeway to pick some up (we really didn't care that much), and saw a streetside vendor with gorgeous ones…never what we would have picked if we were thinking about it, but so perfect. :)

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  9. Wow, I can't believe those BEAUTIFUL dresses came from Goodwill! They look like they were made for you!

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    • Aw, thank you! Victoria's needed a bit of alteration, but other than that, they were perfect. I'm still in awe of how this wedding came together, and reading all these comments just brings it all back!

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  10. Adorable wedding! I am dying to see more, but the flikr photostream doesnt seem to be wedding (or DC) related? Is is just me?

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  11. H'OMG that last shot on the page. That sassy booty shot. H'OMG.

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  12. OMG that black-and-white column dress with the elbow-length gloves….*swooooooon!*

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    • Thank you! It definitely wasn't the dress I had in my mind (I actually didn't have any sort of dress in my mind), but as soon as I put it on, I was like, this is the one!–And I must have gloves to wear with it.

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  13. Aaaah, the cuteness! The love! Too much! I'm dying over here…

    You girls are an adorable couple and really created something unique; small and simple and yet so meaningful and personal. I love it! I wish you too all the best!

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  14. OMGOMGOMG those DRESSES. I am SWOONING. You guys must have the greatest thrift-shopping foo EVAR. And you look unbelievably beautiful and happy. I was squeeing all over myself when I read your post.

    Much support and kudos to you for having your own wedding and doing what worked for you, even if your families might not quite understand yet. I hope they'll come around. But we all know that there are two sorts of families: the biological family and the LOGICAL family. Your logical family knows how important your love is to you and will support it. Some of us haven't even met you and we're cheering you on!

    I am so totally designing black and white dresses for next year's Collection. That dress paired with the black gloves? OMGFABULOUS.

    And you even had an eco-friendly alternative to a bouquet. You guys are totally my Heroines. ::swoons again::

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    • Thank you thank you thank you! I want to thank everyone on this post, but I don't want Ariel to shoot me. :p
      We're addicted to thrift stores, and it paid off. I love the biological/logical phrasing; hadn't heard it that way, but it's so true – and we shopped thrift stores so we could have our LOGICAL family there!!
      And I know. Isn't she hot in that dress? ;)

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    • Thanks! Your comment really made my day. And we're such thrift store junkies in day to day life, it only made sense to do that in our wedding. And you design dresses? That's awesome!

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  15. Victoria, I want your dress SO BADLY.

    And man, you guys had a love-filled explosion of a wedding. It had me grinning from the very first picture. Congratulations!

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  16. I love how blissed out happy you both look, even while riding the DC metro (not something I usually enjoy myself). Beautifull and inspiring women, congrats!

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  17. Totally fab! So happy for you both. We all know it's your families loss. To miss such a beatiful human experience is a shame. Congrats to the lovely couple.

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  18. You guys are beautiful, and I love everything about your wedding! It looks like it was a wonderful day. I used to live in Bethesda (my mom was stationed at the Naval Hospital) and I miss it so much!

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  19. What a gorgeous couple! Your families are seriously missing out, but that's their loss!

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  20. two gorgeous brides, a tiny and meaningful wedding ceremony, eternity flowers, I AM TEARING UP OVER HERE!
    congratulations on your marriage and all the very best for a wonderful life together.

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  21. So, I was definitely leaving the Smithsonian on March 5, meandering down the Mall, and I looked over and saw a small group of people, with two lovely ladies in white. I said to my partner, "Look! I think it's a lesbian wedding! That makes me squee!" So you can imagine my delight to find more pictures on OBB! You all must have been good luck, because we got engaged at the Tidal Basin that very afternoon. =) I, too, love the metro pictures, especially the random tourists behind you. Congrats and best wishes!

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  22. Congrats! It all looks amazing! Where I come from (Portugal) people are quite homophobic and prejudiced too (despite the fact that it is now legal for a same-sex couple to get married). I think my mom would have the same reaction if my partner happened to be a girl. Honestly,I was never able to understand why anyone would fail to support love! I'm glad you didn't let similar prejudices stop you!

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  23. WOW. Your wedding looks like it was amazing.

    And, I would like to take that picture of the two of you on the escalator (the one with just the shoes) and frame it and put it over my night stand. Creepily specific, I know. I'm just saying.

    Congrats to you both! May you have a long and happy life together :)

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    • Hah! That's one of our favorites too. I mean, I'd be honored to be above someone's nightstand. Well, my feet would be…

      Thanks so much!

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    • Devon,
      Would you please, please, please, take a picture and email it to me when you hang it up? I'd get a huge kick out of seeing my work hung!
      :)
      -Maggie

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  24. Oh my gosh, you guys! Jacqueline and I are jumping up and down in our room and squealing. You all are too much, and we are just in awe of all of your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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    • And just know that for every person who actually comments, there are probably eleventy-hundred who are cheering you on and saying, "All the good comments have been taken, darn it!" (Yes, that would include me.) :)

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      • That was me. In that eleventy hundred. I was reading every one and going YES! I AGREE! THIS!

        Then i decided to post anyway. Because this wedding was so beautiful it made my heart ache.

        We just got married unlawfully here in oz and are doing it all again – legally – in Canada in a few weeks. You two look so incredibly happy and in love, and I was amazed at the way it just brought me back to so many moments in OUR wedding day when I felt overwhelmed with love for my wife and happiness about marrying her. I'm sorry your families weren't supportive, but it makes your wedding seem all the more important and necessary – you two are totally making your own supportive family with eachother and your little community.

        PS I love the 'all you need is love' tagline so much.

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      • Call me eleventy hundred and one. My favorite part of your wedding is how the love oozes through the photographs AND the Internet AND the computer screen. :)

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  25. The wedding, your dresses, the pictures, the both of you, everything is just gorgeous! I love it all! You both look so in love, and your happiness just radiates.
    I also love the infinity circle! I've been thinking about doing the handfasting cords (I never heard about it before OBB, and I just love the concept), but now I may have to take a cue from you and integrate something like that in my wedding! I've always loved the symbol. (I still remember being so excited when my first car had that symbol on the door.) Or maybe the cue I'll take is to create our own ritual. I think it is so special that you made something unique to the two of you!

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    • I know! It's such a great symbol, and it was kind of eerie (in the best way) standing in the middle of the symbol that our friends had made around us. I totally recommend something like it!

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  26. Wow! Love all your wedding shots in and around D.C. including Metro :) Congrats!

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  27. Oh what a pretty wedding! I love the flower idea for the ceremony. And the dresses are so pretty. I can't believe they're both thrifted!
    Congrats and thanks for sharing with all of us!

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  28. You guys! Look at your awesome wedding! I hope your parents see those pictures and feel ashamed that they couldn't get over themselves to celebrate your happiness with you.

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  29. beautiful, beautiful wedding. you look so very happy and full of love.

    i can only hope my wedding will be as gorgeous and filled with laughter an dlove as yours :D
    thanks for submitting this!!

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  30. They are so cute I could diiiieeeee ^_^

    *splodes*

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  31. This wedding was absolutely beautiful. I love that you were able to create something so wonderful and intimate for yourselves and your friends. I agree with the previous comment about your birth family. They may choose not to be involved in your new life together, but from the pictures you've put on here, you've created a new family all on your own, and that family is gorgeous!!

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  32. the metro pictures are amazing! You two look so in love and so beautiful. I wish you the best in the world! All you need is love!

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  33. You both look so beautiful, and happy, and in love :D

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  34. YOU TWO ARE AMAZING! I love wedding pics with two hotties lady brides! :) Your wedding looked like such a fun and beautiful day… Your families don't know what they missed out on. Congrats to you both!!!

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  35. OMG, Victoria and Jacqueline look beautiful in their gowns. They make a perfect looking couple.

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  36. Absolutely love everything about this article! Victoria and Jacqueline, you are gorgeous, and the love oozes out of these photos. I love how everything is so personalized in your wedding. I adore the infinity ring of flowers – WOW! So incredibly special how your friends were included in the ceremony, not just spectators. Love what you said about not having the influence of your mothers – I must remember this when my daughters do or do not get married someday! GORGEOUS photos!!! The metro photos are so ARTFUL!!! Every aspect of your wedding is so inspiring – thank you so much for sharing!

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    • Thank you thank you thank you! To everyone, really. I think we're totally printing out everyone's comments to put in our wedding scrapbook.

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  37. That first picture up top made me tear up immediately; you two look so blissfully, absurdly happy. The love just leaps off the page. And the metro pictures are perfect. Congratulations!

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  38. This is so beautiful that it made me cry with happiness! I am engaged to a man, but I absolutely LOVE women marrying women.
    The subway pictures are AMAZING.
    I am amazed that you found such nice wedding dresses for the price!
    It is very sad that your families were not involved. Hopefully, with time, they will come to accept your marriage.

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  39. I absolutely love everything about this post! I enjoyed looking at the amazing photos. The wedding dresses are stunning and the red boots made me smile!

    Best of luck Victoria & Jacqueline!

    cheers…tiffany

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  40. Your wedding made me smile, get all teary eyed (first in a bad way because of your families and then in a good, sappy-sweet romantic way) and smile and grin some more! I love the dresses (especially that gorgeously beaded bodice!) I love the hair, I love the flowers, I love the small but amazingly good ceremony for a whole weekend with friends, and I love love LOVE all the cute pictures! I'm not getting married for a good long while yet but when I do, I'll come to your etsy site for one of those dictionary flowers – they're amazing, and if I can have even a tenth of the love you two share in my own marriage someday I'll be a lucky gal!

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  41. Soooo gorgeous, I'm fanning myself!! I love DC and showed this post to husband (of 17 days) who said:

    – love those DC metro shots
    – wow those girls managed to get quite different dresses to each other, and
    – where are all the old people??

    Oh, and we both laughed at your cake-solves-all-awkwardness moment :)

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    • Haha, we didn't intend to keep it to under-30s, but that's just how it worked out! Congrats on your new marriage. :)

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  42. Gosh, you guys are HOT!
    This wedding totally had me thinking that there can't be anything more beautiful than two gorgeous ladies getting married. I hope that when you're old and look back at your time together, you will look as happy as you do in these pictures ^^

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  43. You two are just beautiful- you look so happy and in love, and it's AWESOME! :D I love everything: Jacqueline's messy ponytail, the dresses (BARGAIN!), Victoria's black gloves, all the adorable photos, especially the ones on the escalcator…it's all gorgeous. :) Aw yeah- LOVE the sassy booty shot!

    I'm so sorry that you didn't have your family there to support you. :( That really hurts me, actually. However, families do come around- some friends of mine (two girls) got married recently, and my friend Amy's parents went away on holiday to Australia the weekend of her wedding, so that they could get out of attending. That sucked. BUT, her parents are slowly coming to terms with her sexuality, and have welcomed and accepted her wife as part of the family. It took some time…but progress is progress. :) So, don't give up!

    I wish you both all the best for an amazing married life!

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  44. I just love that you had all of your guest pass your rings around and say a blessing for your marriage. It sounds like a great tradition. I think others would like to incorporate that tradition into their own wedding. Congratulations!

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    • For right now, it's not. I was worried that would make me really upset, but our wedding was so awesome that it doesn't even matter (though, of course, it does).

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  45. Wow!! It's so pretty it looks like a fashion shoot! The dresses are so gorgeous, especially in contrast next to each other!! The red boots the black-&-white dress… the way you two so obviously adore each other… So very lovely!

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  46. Beautiful wedding! The emotion was palpable, and I LOVE the metro shots, which looked really professional. As a DC resident, I have to ask: which Goodwill did you find these dresses at? I've always dreamed of finding a wedding dress at a thrift shop, not that I have a wedding to plan.

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    • We actually found them around Cincinnati, where we're living – otherwise I'd gladly pass the locations along! Most thrift stores I've been in have a selection, though they're often, um, dated. And Maggie was definitely an incredible, fun professional – if you ever need anything photographed, definitely look her up!

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  47. Wow! I didn't even cry at my own wedding, but I must admit that while reading this I got something in my eye…

    I know I've only met you guys a few times, but I have to admit that the love between you really shows *all* the time. And I *adore* that you used an infinity into your wedding. Kim and I have used that as "our symbol" pretty much from the beginning, and it's even incorporated into our wedding rings.

    Congratulations and best of luck for a long, long, and very happy life together! You guys rock!

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  48. Awesome! These pictures are truly amazing. I bet they completely reflect what you wanted them to reflect. Congratulations, girls :)

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  49. oh goodnesss you guys are amazingggg! if you want to friend me on the tribe (if your in it) please do!! haha, i'm veryyy inspired. i was planning on using news paper to make my flowers but if you dont mind i might steal the dictonary pages because that's the kind of font i was hoping to find in the newspaper! :] and to copy everyone else *squeeeeee* i just want to steal like your entire ceramony even tho i'm marrying a guy :P lolz btw you are both gorgeous and i totally support the thrift shop thing because my home area had one in every town unfortunately southern wv doesn't have many of them so i will have a hard time finding one if i try that way (im debating or i found an expensive one i like but… its expensive… or i have my great grandma's wedding dress as an option!) ok now i fell like im blabbing and stealing your post. but loveeee thisss :D

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  50. Wow! I love those photos. And what amazing dresses! Congratulations.

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  51. You look so beautiful and this sounds so special and meaningful and generally wonderful, I got all teary. Thanks for submitting!

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  52. Ladies….those dresses!! OMG!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE. Gorgeous girls, beautiful wedding and I can see that you do have a very loving family, perhaps not a biological one, but a loving family nonetheless.

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  53. Your wedding is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

    (And yes, your photographer is amazing! I wish she worked in Boston!)

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  54. This wedding looks SO amazing! These two ladies look so in love, and everything looks so dreamy and relaxed. Even the DC subway platform looks romantic!

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  55. This is so gorgeous and wonderful… but I'm so sad… I spent that whole post scrolling going "WHERE CAN I GET THAT DRESS" (with the black bands on it) and hit "goodwill" and was like NOOOOOOOOOO. ;D

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  56. Thank you so much for putting up these pictures! Many of them feel so personal and intimate, I feel like a friend looking back at such a happy day. I also shed a couple of tears as I read your story… I think it's because you are so beautiful together and that your family doesn't (won't, can't) share your feelings of love for each other. I hope by the time this post is read, things might have changed for the better.
    My favorite two pictures? You are holding one another in front of the bay window, the happy moment on the train, and of course, the photos on the stairs to the Metro… What, you think I could really pick only two favorites?!
    Congratulations again :)

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  57. I LOVE that black and white dress! Your wedding looks beautiful! Congrats, ladies!

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