We met at an outdoor concert in Fort Collins, Colorado. I first noticed Cara standing behind me on her tiptoes. Ten years later, I surprised her by proposing at that very same spot.
In the years in between, we followed Cara’s passion for filmmaking and my love of sculpture across the country. Together, we braved a fifth-floor walk up in New York City, flipped an old house on the Front Range, settled into a small brick cottage in the plains of Nebraska, spent a summer in the basement of a bed and breakfast in Montana, got our daily does of vitamin C living in the middle of a California orange orchard, and, last year, moved to the deserts of New Mexico. In a few months, we’ll head back to sunny California once again.
What did you wear? Were any of the accessories or jewelry significant? Were you conflicted about wearing or not wearing certain things?
In the beginning, Cara was certain she would not wear white, and I thought I’d be in a gray suit. Somewhere along the way, Cara decided she did want a more traditional dress and I was adamant that I needed pink pants. We felt our way through the process as best we could and tried to pay attention to our guts.
Our culture tends to dictate what this means and what that means. For us, to get married and feel good about participating in the institution, we had to figure out new meanings for ourselves.
Ultimately, Cara opted to wear a veil as well, which I know was a big decision for her. Rather than it implying modesty and obedience, she saw it as stately and dramatic. Also, Cara’s engagement ring was handed down from her aunt, and our wedding bands were made from my grandmother’s engagement ring.
What special elements did you include in your wedding day? Were they symbolic in any way?
We knew we didn’t want a traditional wedding party with matching outfits and ladies lined up on one side and guys on the other. Since we’d been together for so long before getting married, there wasn’t a single person standing up there that we didn’t both love. Some of our loved ones are straight, some gay, some queer, some partnered, some single, and we wanted everyone to feel loved, safe, and honored exactly as they are. We encouraged the people in our wedding party to wear whatever they wanted and decide for themselves if they preferred a bouquet, a boutonniere, or neither.
Cara’s brother stood with her and my sisters stood with me. We had flower grandmas instead of flower girls. My mom and dad walked me down the aisle and both of Cara’s parents walked with her. My dad joined my mom and I during our mother/son dance, and Cara danced with her dad and her mom too.
Our siblings led a sing-along during the ceremony “Lean on Me,” and later at the reception our wedding party and I surprised Cara by serenading her with “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes. It’s a song that came out years ago, but I always joked that I would sing it to Cara on our wedding day, and I did!
What did you splurge on?
The venue was definitely our biggest splurge. We fell in love with the atmosphere, the historic architecture, and the food.
What did you save on?
We saved the most on table settings and flowers. I’m a ceramic sculptor, and I wanted to do something special for our wedding day, so I made over 50 vases that guests could take home at the end of the weekend. We ordered our flowers in bulk and relied on a few of our talented guests to help with the arranging. We also skipped little things like passed appetizers at the happy hour and champagne at the toasts.
What worked out really well, and was totally worth the time/money invested in it?
We were so happy we chose a venue where a lot of our guests could stay on-site. Even though it was a bit pricier up front, it was so nice not to worry about transportation or moving from one location to another. We were unsure about hiring a day-of coordinator in the beginning, but that ended up being a big help on the day as well. And solid, comfortable shoes were so worth it! We also spent a lot of time on our vows, especially Cara, since she felt extra pressure as a writer.
Why are you excited to be featured on Catalyst?
The other answers have been from Qwist, but this is from Cara:
As not-quite-straight feminist, navigating wedding planning was so challenging, and Catalyst was a godsend in the process. Qwist and I present as a straight, white couple, so it might not be a good fit, but I figured it couldn't hurt to reach out. We had men, women, and non-binary people on both the bride and groom's side, and I was saddened by how few images I saw like this online when I was looking for guidance beforehand. Catalyst made such a difference for me, and we would be so excited if we could help future couples!
Words by Qwist, as told by Amber Marlow. Photos by Alicia Lucia.
Photography | Alicia Lucia Photography
Venue | Los Poblanos: Inn & Organic Farm
Caterer | Los Poblanos: Inn & Organic Farm
Paper | Funky Olive
Makeup | Nicole Marie Makeup Artistry
Officiant | Cynthia Copeland
Florist | Bouqs
Dress | Sarah Seven
Suit | Bonobos
DJ | Cutmaster Music
Coordinator | Corazon Events
Our fierce and vibrant owner/co-lead photographer, Alicia, has been documenting weddings since the fall of 2012. Since then, she has photographed hundreds of weddings and has been featured nationwide in magazines like The Knot, BRIDES, Rocky Mountain Bride and countless online features (Martha Stewart Weddings, Green Wedding Shoes, June Bug Weddings & more). Her style is often described as moment driven, editorial, and light-hearted. Married with two children and living in the outskirts of Albuquerque, she proudly lives the simple life. When not out shooting weddings, weekends consist of all the home projects, tending to her garden, all the couch cuddles, and re-falling in love with our beautiful southwest state.