Jayme & Sondra's rustic blended family wedding

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Photos by Lauren Gill Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Jayme

Her offbeat partner: Sondra, Children's Theatre Owner

Date and location of wedding: Carlisle Hill, private estate in Franklin, TN — October 19, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Because of recent changes in the law for getting legally married, my partner and I decided to plan a wedding in under 30 days for our closest friends and family (about 100 guests).

As a lesbian couple, with children, getting married in the Deep South, we decided that an intimate wedding with our closest friends and family was the way to go.

Our wedding was very affordable for us: I think we spent under $8,000 for everything including dresses, rentals, venue, catering, cake, DJ, alcohol, bridesmaid gifts, and special gifts for our kids.

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Lesbian Wedding Program

In some ways we had a traditional wedding. We wrote our own vows, we had a ceremony, and we had a reception. However, we had a low-key, relaxed ceremony (we didn't even do a rehearsal) with all of friends and family involved. Our friends participated in every aspect from playing the music, performing the ceremony, and providing an amazing venue. They helped us setup, they helped us celebrate, and they helped us party!

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It was also important for us to keep the kids involved in every aspect of the wedding. Both were Sondra's kids from a previous marriage, and we wanted them to feel like our marriage was the joining of the four of us for life. Prior to the wedding, we made sure to all get ready together — both brides, the bridesmaids, and the kids. It was a wonderful day.

Intro to the Informal Wedding

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Our friend, an extremely talented musician, played "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" for us to walk down the aisle to. Our son walked his mom down the aisle and my brother walked me down.

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Our friend was our officiant and did a wonderful job blending the informal atmosphere with the sincerity of the moment. We exchanged rings and we were off to the reception!

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We read one of my favorite Bible verses, Ruth Chapter 1 16-17:

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 1:17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

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Log Centerpieces

Our biggest challenge:
My biggest challenge derives from a fear of rejection. I wanted our friends and family to be 100% behind us. We are both teachers and work in a conservative area where lesbians aren't a part of everyday society. We have never been very public about our relationship. I was thrilled to look around that day and see nothing but loving and happy supporters with us in our life: close friends, family, new friends, students, and even our Mormon accountant!

As for many couples, the blending of the extended families can be difficult, especially with the lesbian element. But we were both thrilled and blessed to have our parents and Sondra's kids at our wedding. Our families have always played a huge part of our lives and our wedding day would not have been complete without their presence.

We were also nervous about having the kids' father's blessing for the wedding. While he chose not to attend the wedding, he gave us his best wishes and has truly been nothing but supportive.

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My favorite moment:
During the ceremony, we read each other our handwritten vows. We each carried the other's rings and vows in our chest because our dresses had no pockets. There is so much pressure with writing vows, but the heartfelt sentiment was so honest and pure that the moment and the words nearly froze in time. It was a beautiful moment for us.

Before the ceremony, we took a moment with each of the kids to present them with our own wedding gift. For our son, we gave him personalized dog tags (his dad is in the military) and a quote from Buddha saying, "With our thoughts we create our world." To our daughter, we gave her a diamond infinity necklace to be a reminder that our love, commitment, and family are forever.

After the ceremony, we noticed that our son was crying, so we pulled him into the guest suite and asked him what was going on… what was he feeling? With big tears welling in his eyes he said, "I don't know why I'm crying… I'm just so happy." So we told him that they were "tears of joy" and he said, "Well that's stupid. You shouldn't cry when you are happy."

Personalize Mason Jars

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
Sondra was married before and wanted to have a more simple wedding. Don't get us wrong, we are in the theatre and love themes (and themed weddings), but this time around it was just nice for a moment of our lives to be less theatrical and more honest. It was just about us — two people in love.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I think finding a lot of the tips and hints from Offbeat Bride truly made our wedding more enjoyable. It was nice to be reminded that weddings don't have to be magazine-perfect to be perfect for us. The reminder to take a break with your partner to slow things down and absorb them is my absolute favorite piece of advice. I can remember so much of our wedding because of it.

Also, I recommended letting parents know what time the reception might need to become child-free, if that's something you're planning. In the invitation we let everyone know that kids were welcome until 8:30 p.m. but then it was time for the adults to party. Everyone was really gracious and completely respected our wishes.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Congrats! What a great friendly looking wedding! And what a sweet family. Your son is so cute I just want to pinch his cheeks, but if he is like my nephews he would roll his eyes and say he is too big for that baby stuff 🙂

  2. Such a wonderful wedding and lovely lovely family! May your lives be as happy and joyous as this day always xo.

  3. eeep congratulations!! You're both beautiful, and I LOVE the bridesmaids dresses! I'm so so happy that little by little couples all across the country are finally beginning to be allowed to have the wedding they want.

  4. Your son's comment about happy-tears made me bust out in a doofy grin. 😀 What a beautiful family!!

  5. I love this wedding. Congrats to you both – it seems that you had a day that was festive, meaningful, and true to yourselves. I'm so happy that your friends, family, and community were there to support you. Not to mention the setting, the dresses, and the decor were all beautiful!

  6. Oh wow!!! I absolutely ADORE this!!! I'm so glad that even though you feared rejection you allowed yourselves to make it happen anyways! This post made me so happy!!!

  7. What a wonderful event! You guys look like a wonderful, happy and fulfilled family! Congratulations!! I especially love your "Pick a seat, not a side, 'cause either way, it's for the bride" sign! How terrific!

  8. "I don't know why I'm crying… I'm just so happy." So we told him that they were "tears of joy" and he said, "Well that's stupid. You shouldn't cry when you are happy."

    This made me cry. I'm stupid.

  9. I actually teared up reading and looking at the lovely pictures. So tastefully done and with the involvement of the family. Luved it! Congrats!

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