Caitlin & Kaitlyn's secret garden lesbian wedding

July 12 |
gazebo train loving
Photos by Andrew and Michael DeWitt

The offbeat bride: Caitlin, future minister (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Kaitlyn, student

Date and location of wedding: Unitarian Universalist Church of Muncie, IN — June 16, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our authentic selves happen to be incredibly poor in money and rich in friends. This was definitely reflected in the wedding. Instead of vendors, our "friendors" contributed astonishing services for cost of materials only. Our general community rushed to throw in extra help like driving the brides around, providing extra hugs, and finding a surprise maypole in the middle of the reception!

c kristin k mitchell

We wrote everything in the ceremony with help from our officiant, Julia. The vows were completely ours, down to sandwich-ing a Doctor Who and a Tolkien reference into the same sentence without breaking the sense of importance and reverence.

We did sprinkle references to our nerdier fandoms through places like the programs, vows, cookie choices (Jammy Dodgers), and cake toppers, while keeping the general, more traditionally romantic theme of The Secret Garden alive in our decorations and outfits.

k giving ring

Tell us about the ceremony: Our readings included the very popular e.e. cummings poem "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in" as well as a more obscure poem by J.R.R. Tolkien. I was actually completely unable to find any reference to this poem other than where I discovered it.

Found in Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carter p.83.

Lo! young we are and yet have stood
like planted hearts in the great Sun
of Love so long ( as two fair trees
in woodland or in open dale
stand utterly entwined, and breathe
the airs, and suck the very light
together ) that we have become
as one, deep-rooted in the soil
of Life, and tangled in sweet growth.

J.R.R.

We also included a chalice lighting, which is a tradition in our Unitarian Universalist Church.

full view from back ceremony

My favorite moment: For Caitlin: Definitely the vows. I'd had a hard time looking at Kaitlyn through the first half of the ceremony because she was so radiantly beautiful and happy, that I felt like I would burst into happy tears every time I saw her face. When the time came to pass off my bouquet and hold her hands though, I couldn't wait to say the words we'd spent hours crafting:

I vow to trust you, and to be worthy of that trust. I vow to listen with an open heart when you speak, and to share my own thoughts even when I am afraid. I vow to be your harbor in life's storms. In times of darkness, I vow to remind you of the astonishing light of your own being, and raise you up when your own wings falter. I vow to follow you, even if life requires an awful lot of running, down the Road that goes ever on. I vow to always strive to be the person you see in me. More than all of this, I vow to love you for the rest of our lives together.

For Kaitlyn: Those vows, first off, culminating in the exchange of rings. We're both wearing claddagh rings, the symbolism of which allowed us to wear them as engagement rings and then turn them at the wedding so they signified marriage. I'd been waiting to see our rings finally turned inward for so long, and the moment it happened was, to me, the final punctuation on our vows that said "this is how it will be."

parents in gazeboAlso, as the majority of my family has been extremely unsupportive of my relationship with Caitlin and chose not to attend or participate, I was expecting to not do either a father/daughter or mother/daughter dance, and had made my peace with that. I wanted Caitlin to be able to enjoy those moments even if I could not. I was extremely touched and completely surprised when her dad insisted that I stay on the floor after our opening dance and share the father/daughter dance with him, and then her mom did the same. That, and their unrestrained warmth in the impromptu receiving line made me feel like I was really and truly an official member of the family and that they had fully and happily accepted me as a new daughter. With the issues I've had with family over the years, and the scars I'm still working on healing, it was an especially powerful moment.

k went flop

My funniest moment: When Kaitlyn got to the phrase "an awful lot of running" in the vows, about a quarter of the guests burst into laughter (being the good Whovians that they are). Everyone else just thought it was funny that we were laughing, even when they didn't get the joke.

During our first dance, our friend's toddler decided he wanted to dance with us. No amount of cajoling by his mother could convince him otherwise!

photographer preparing

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I had resigned myself to abandoning the idea of professional, semi-professional, or really any kind of organized photography. We flat-out couldn't afford it, and we kind of used up the universe's jackpot of luck on skilled friends (seamstress and corsetry expert, budding caterer, retired florist). But one day before the wedding, my brothers sprung a surprise on me: even though they hadn't pursued photography seriously in several years, they'd been preparing to borrow all the best camera equipment they could get and take all those classic shots of our wedding. This last-minute bit of generosity completely overwhelmed me, and reminded me (not for the first time in this process) how amazing my beloved community really is.

brides and coven

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Trust your family. They might be a lot more loving/accepting than you think. For example, my parents surprised us with financial generosity, and Kaitlyn's dad surprised us by coming at all.

Wait to buy your reception alcohol until after you get your final head count.

sweetness flowers outdoor

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photography: Andrew and Michael DeWitt
  • Hair glitteries for brides and bridesmaids: Claire's
  • Caitlin's dress (the floral white): David's Bridal
  • Bridesmaids dresses: a DIY project of the brides and bridesmaids, cut roughly along the infinity dress pattern found here, with fabric bought from Mood Fabrics.
  • Kaitlyn's dress (the leafy ivory): Custom-sewn by Cortney Koerner.
  • Food: Miriah White

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. This wedding looks amazing! You girls look so extremely happy, and I love the fact that you are both wearing semi-classic wedding dresses.

    Also, I love how the universe paired the two of you up. Must cause a lot of confusion. "No, I meant the one with the K".

    Lots of love in your shared future!

    10 agree
    • Thanks so much, Kim!

      And yeah, the matched names has always been a point of amusement. We met when I was 4 and she was 3, respectively, and we found it hilarious- and we haven't been separable for too long since. Friends and family have all found their own ways of coping (although they all feel inordinately proud of themselves for common solutions, like calling us "CKaitliyns" ^.^)

      7 agree
      • Thanks, Kim! I'm just thrilled that I was able to get married in what was essentially a riding dress, minus the sideslit. Completely trip-proof! :D
        And yeah, the universe has a sense of humor.

        4 agree
      • You guys were friends since before kindergarten? That is completely precious. Mazel tov to you both!

        10 agree
      • Childhood best friends with the same name, now married…

        Ok. You two officially win the Most Epically Adorable Couple Award (Which I just made up.)

        19 agree
  2. I've been telling two dress couples for AGES that they can both wear traditional bridal gowns. It doesn't matter if they are exactly matching in any way shape or form. Thanks for proving my point!! You both look stunning and make a beautiful couple. Also, I love community built and run weddings, so special in every way. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your day with us!

    2 agree
  3. Everything about this is so lovely! And a big shout out to my fellow UU's!

    4 agree
    • 'Nother fellow UU over here, who also had a two-dress wedding! This wedding was so beautiful it made me teary. :)

      2 agree
    • UU's Unite!

      I'm totally crying in a coffee shop at how gorgeous this wedding is. So much love in these pictures. So much happy-making. And also missing my church.

      5 agree
  4. Beautiful! I'm so happy to hear of your wonderful and loving experience of your wedding day :)

    My fiancee and I are starting our wedding process, and her parents aren't exactly happy about us either. I'm glad to hear that you were able to come to peace with it (as I hope she does with her parents) and were able to have a fantastic and memorable day :)

    1 agrees
    • I know the family not being excited and happy for your happiness is rough. Hang in there, and best wishes for your wedding and for peace of mind (although wedding planning does tend to get in the way of peace of mind. ;D)

      1 agrees
  5. You both looked so beautiful in your dresses–and even better, you wrote beautifully about your wedding. Congratulations!

    2 agree
  6. I nominate you guys for coolest wedding of the year. And I declare Caitlin's parents inlaws/parents of the year.

    4 agree
  7. That poem… the vows…. *siiiiighhhh* So utterly romantic :D

    0 agree
  8. So I just have to say that you both look amazing, beautiful, and ecstatically happy. This post made my day, I lived in Muncie for two years and I hated it, but I would like to change my mind based only on this wedding. Thanks for restoring my peace with that town!

    1 agrees
  9. Your wedding was beautiful!! I grew up as a gay kid Muncie, IN attending Burris High School & BSU for College. I've attended the UU and seen a few weddings there too.
    Growing up its not the easiest place to grow up gay or live as a LBGT adult. But, thankfully there are also some amazing people there at form wonderful and welcoming communities/families.
    I'm so happy for you both! And I have to say it is inspiring to see gay couple having weddings in good old Muncie. Best wishes to you both and thank you very much for sharing.
    Molly

    2 agree
  10. Your vows are just incredible. Those hours paid off. I wouldn't steal them, but can I use some of the wording as inspiration when we write ours? I've looked through two books on vow writing, and yours blow every example away.

    0 agree
    • Please feel free! We did work really hard on them, and if you don't mind, I'll share a bit of the process to help you make yours more personalized.

      First, we sat down – just the two of us, intimate candlelight, etc. – and brainstormed all the things we wanted to promise and be to each other. We used references that are more obvious (Dr. Who, Tolkien) as well as phrases and concepts that have been important to us throughout the relationship (like the idea of being a harbor, or wings, for each other.) Finally, in a twisted bit of inspiration, we'd actually been going through some rough patches right before this, so that helped us realize the need to vow things like the open communication and trust.

      The writing part- I really can't help with turning the list into words. Writing poetry (and for me, vows are poetry) has always been a very mysterious process to me, that happens somewhere in my subconscious.

      0 agree
  11. This wedding was so beautiful! I love the dress combo (where they weren't the same color or style), and I absolutely adore the fact that Caitlin's parents shared the mother/father/daughter dances with you. That was so sweet!

    2 agree
  12. This wedding made me tear up as well. I'm now going to go review my own vows. Thank you!

    0 agree
  13. Not only do you two look stunning, but you actually made me tear up reading about your story. I hope you two are having a wonderful time together.

    0 agree

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