Amanda & Kaleb's tattooed lakeside wedding

November 26 |
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Photos by Katie Vee Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Amanda, wedding planner

Her offbeat partner: Kaleb, pipe technician

Date and location of wedding: Conneaut Lake Hotel, Conneaut Lake, PA — August 18, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When planning our wedding as a transgender couple, we knew that we wanted it to be as personal as possible. Not having the legal right to marry in Pennsylvania was not going to stop us from having a day to celebrate us.

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We kept a few traditional elements: my stepfather walking me down the aisle, a first dance, and a licensed officiant. We did pay for the wedding on our own, so DIY projects were life savers. We made our own invitations, programs, all the yummy treats, and customized all the signing. We were very grateful for our dearest families' support and a beautiful wedding on the lake.

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Tell us about the ceremony: I had my stepfather and a childhood friend walk me down the aisle, and it meant so much to me to have both of them there. Our vows were really important to us as well.

The bride: Nearly six years ago I fell in love with the most beautiful person that I have ever known. I remember the instant comfort and happiness that you made me feel when we met, and I was very soon certain that I wanted to spend the rest of my days feeling that way. So today is the day that we take the step towards our forever, and I wouldn't want to be standing next to anyone but you. To stand here today and try to tell you all the reasons why I love would take a lifetime. So here are just a few:

_DSC4282I love you because you teach me something new every day. Even if it's while sitting through fight night or watching a show about trucks. I love you because you have an infectious laugh, one that will light up an entire room and make any day a better one. I love you because you are so caring and thoughtful, tucking small notes into everything I own just to show me how much you care. I love you because we can always create an adventure together, whether it's on purpose or by accident, and I love the way you can sing your way to my heart on every road trip.

_DSC3941Because you've always loved me for who I am, and sometime for who I'm not, never judging me and always making me feel wanted and appreciated. You've loved me from close by and far away, never doubting the love that we have and always striving to make sure I felt your love even when you couldn't be there. You're my best friend. I feel most like myself when I'm with you and my hand always feels most comfortable in yours. When we face challenges together, I promise to focus on our love so that it may become stronger. As we grow old together, I promise to not let time dull my love and appreciation for you. The time I've spent with you has been the best time of my life, and I'm thrilled to spend the rest of my days as your wife.

The groom: Late night texting, that very first phone call, your voice sounding so perfect. You were on a trampoline and I was beside one. Feeling the pterodactyls in my stomach on the way to the bus station. Instantly feeling better when I saw your face after that long, nauseating Greyhound ride. You are my best friend.

Today I give myself to you in marriage. I vow to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sadness and struggle. I promise to sleep on the very edge of the bed with the smallest amount of blanket possible, even if I go to bed before you, so you have plenty of space to get comfy. I promise to paint your toenails for you when you want me to, and I'll even take off the old nail polish sometimes. I vow to love you in good times and in bad, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort. I vow to cherish you every second of every day. These words I will honor you with today, and all the days of our life.

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Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge was having everything we wanted and still being smart with our money. My abilities as a wedding planner absolutely came in handy since I knew what I could skimp on and what I wanted to splurge on. Our pictures, videography, and the food were very important to us. We chose a cash bar over an open bar, my dress cost $100, and we ditched real flowers in favor of dried ones. We were pleased with everything, even if it seemed so stressful during the planning.

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My favorite moment: We loved being able to write our owns vows. It focused on us and what we pushed through to get to that day. When Kaleb told me the word "nauseating" was in his vows, I have to say I was a bit nervous. But the vows were full of tears and laughs and made the day have such a bigger meaning to us. In addition, the fact that all of our family stood behind us as a couple, even if we aren't the "traditional" type, made it so we couldn't have felt more love and support.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: My number one tip is to be yourself. Let your wedding fully reflect you and your partner. If you want to spend $10 on your wedding and have it in your living room, do it!

Never let anyone tell you that your day is not good enough — you don't need those people in your lives. You can marry whoever, whenever. From personal experience, the people who were against my relationship or who didn't approve aren't in my life anymore.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Your vows made my eyes well up. Also, I have some friends who have a house up on Conneaut Lake – it's a gorgeous location.

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  2. Absolutely stunning story, vows, and wedding!! Congratulations! Wishing you both a lifetime of love!

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  3. huzzah for taller brides!

    and those are the most elegant cupcakes I have ever seen :-)

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    • Those are homemade funfetti cupcakes with cream cheese icing! My favorite and I didn't want anything else! LOL Thank you!

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  4. Wow! What a fabulous wedding! And a beautiful location!!! Thanks for sharing your vows! They were so beautiful! Just wondering about the blindfolding of Kalyb. Is this a PA tradition, or can I do the same to my groom here in Massachusets? Have a beautiful life together!!! <3 Suzi Q

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    • Thank you SO much! You're sweet! This is not a Pennsylvania thing, actually. I wanted a first look because I didn't want to hyperventilate while I was saying my vows but Kaleb didn't want to see me in my wedding dress before I walked down the isle. This was the compromise! Go for it!!

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  5. Conneaut Lake Hotel! My prom was there! Great looking cookie table too, complete with pizelles – a western PA tradition!

    What a beautiful wedding and a beautiful couple.

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    • Thank you so much!! I'm surprised for so many people to even know where Conneaut Lake is! Also, I had never even had a pizelle before I met kaleb ( I'm not from PA). When we were wedding planning his whole family stressed about the cookie table and said that it was NEEDED! I'm glad we had it and they were so yummy!

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      • Hey, your wedding was looks beautiful! I was wondering, how were the reps at the venue? My gf just mentioned conneaut as a halfway point between pgh and Cleveland for us, & I was wondering if they were cool about it or if the locals gave you any gruff?

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        • Yes, they were absolutely wonderful! The lake is a beautiful back drop for a ceremony, it is rather budget friendly, Joyce is the coordinator and she is SO beyond wonderful, the ballroom is breath taking and we had no trouble with any of locals at all!

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  6. Absolutely lovely!!! Your vows made me tear up, and I adore your programs! Just beautiful.

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  7. Holy crow! You were right up the road.
    You both look fantastic,I LOVE the blindfold, your dress, the hotel and everything at your wedding just looked utterly amazing.
    A million congratulations from another offbeater in NW PA!

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    • Thank you SO much! You are too sweet! We would have invited you had we know! We went to the beach club after the reception was over!

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