Real Couples // Sugarloaf Mountain Wedding: Sally + Sophia

Real Couples // Sugarloaf Mountain Wedding: Sally + Sophia

Sally says, "Ours is a story of stars aligning... which is the moment that only comes when you've finally found the one you were meant to be with. On a gorgeous summer night in 2013, and among mutual friends, we met and spoke for the first time, and a lasting impression was made. Call it love at first sight. Whatever it was, it was enough for us to continue wondering about the other, until we (virtually) ran into each other again a few months later. After months of cyber-stalking, we finally met on an official date and have been inseparable ever since.

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6 Ways to Approach the Challenges of Being the Non-Biological Parent in A Two-Mom Family

6 Ways to Approach the Challenges of Being the Non-Biological Parent in A Two-Mom Family

I am typing this while our little dude naps in my arms. I know, I know, there are probably a dozen reasons why that will cause detrimental habits with his sleeping or may cause him not to go to college. But, for now, I am not worried about that. I just picked him up from daycare, and those cheeks burrowed on my chest are exactly what the end of the day calls for. One thing I have learned in eight months as a new parent is that there is an abundance of information, personal opinions, and stories about how things used to be in terms of raising a child that inundate us (and feed our anxiety) every day. However, with the abundance of information available about parenthood, there is a major gap in information and resources available for same-sex parents. I have thought about writing up a bit about our experience and chickened out a few times, but I struggled a lot with becoming a mom (by way of my wife), and I am hoping to give voice to the growing complexity and great diversity in what constitutes a family.

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Real Couples // Bohemian Brunch Surprise Proposal: Brittany + Kate

Real Couples // Bohemian Brunch Surprise Proposal: Brittany + Kate

Brittany hired me in May to do some photos for her small business in June. During our first consultation meeting, we got through all of the details, then she shared with me that she wanted to discuss a second June photography project. She had planned to propose to the love of her life, Kate, before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, together in July. My reaction was excitement since I love shooting live engagements. But once Brittany described to me what she planned to do, I started tearing up. She was planning a bohemian brunch in a wooded area, and was going to ask Kate, "Is forever long enough?" Brittany proposed to Kate on Monday, June 26th, at noon, and I was incredibly honored to be part of their special day.

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Real Couples // London Jewel Tone Wedding on a Chilly Day: Megan + Sarah

Real Couples // London Jewel Tone Wedding on a Chilly Day: Megan + Sarah

We met in Vegas! (Although not as sensationally as one’s imagination could paint.) We both work for the same company and met at a project Christmas Party nearly five years ago. Needless to say, we hit it off immediately. Unfortunately, it would be another two years before we found ourselves working together again, and our friendship and eventual relationship blossomed from there.

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Queer + Christian // Facing Internalized Oppression While Attending Church

Queer + Christian // Facing Internalized Oppression While Attending Church

For the LGBTQ community, when we internalize this oppression from the Church, it can cause us to act, feel, and think in the ways listed above and much more. Even when we become increasingly aware that the things on the list aren’t true, they can still lurk in the back of our hearts and minds. This is a dangerous and heavy load that we were not meant to carry. It understandably drives many of us out of church for good and sometimes away from God. But when I step back from the earthly powers that be and actually consider God, I remember that Jesus said this:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ~ Matthew 11:28-30

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Real Couples // Carmel-by-the-Sea: Jess + Karolyn

Real Couples // Carmel-by-the-Sea: Jess + Karolyn

This wedding between two incredibly talented Irish photographers on a cliff in Carmel was fairly unplanned in that they were married the day before they intended, in a city they didn’t plan, on a cliff they hadn’t seen before, but in the end it was perfect. Their home in Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK and Ireland that doesn’t have marriage equality, so they’d been planning their Big Sur ceremony so they could get married somewhere beautiful—to finally have a piece of paper that said they married. But the week of their ceremony, the storms had been brewing in Big Sur and didn’t seem like they weren’t letting up. Warnings of weakened bridges to Big Sur, the intended wedding destination, and pictures of washed away cliffs filled my inbox as I drove from the airport to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Karolyn and Jess realized that I was there an extra day, the one day it was expected to not rain, so they decided Carmel would be the place they would get married. They were married with the sun shining down on them, hands clasped together, over the rushing sounds of waves, while greenery was hanging off cliffs for as far as the eye could see. And this is the story of how they were  finally married. 

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Real Couples // Natural History Museum Engagement: Jess + Karolyn

Real Couples // Natural History Museum Engagement: Jess + Karolyn

I was enjoying swimming in a sea of accents as the bustling group of tourists funneled their way into the Natural History Museum in London. Karolyn and Jess told me about their engagement story as we walked through the crowd. They pointed at the staircase and told me it happened upstairs, a small private corner of the museum all to their own. This is where they got engaged, this is where they come to remind themselves of how it all started. This is where we took photos in loud whispers, in the echoes of the monumental stone walls, before wandering out into the rare sunlight of London for a walk in the park. 

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Real Couples // Austin Engagement: Kristin + Delilah

Real Couples // Austin Engagement: Kristin + Delilah

We met at a bar in Austin, where we found ourselves sitting at a red picnic table with a mutual friend, drinking Lone Star Tallboys. Kristin cried over her beer because she didn’t know how to tell her conservative family that she was questioning her sexuality. Delilah listened and shared her own coming out story, trying to comfort Kristin by divulging vulnerable details about her journey. That night was the first of many that we would spend talking for hours. We started dating a couple of months later. It was the first time either of us had been in a serious relationship with another woman. We faced several challenges during our first few years together as we both became more comfortable being ourselves and living more authentically. We created a home where we are fully loved, respected, and accepted. We’re passionate about being social workers and love our quirky Chiweenie, Noodle. We plan to get married this October, exactly five years after meeting at that red picnic table.

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Real Couples // Long-Distance Love Story: Jen + Amy

Real Couples // Long-Distance Love Story: Jen + Amy

Amy: I lived in California, Jen lived in Chicago. A mutual friend introduced us, and our distance apart couldn’t hold us back from experiencing an instant, electric connection. I bought a plane ticket to meet her in person, and as each day passed, we posted a hand-crafted number to count down to our first meeting. We had a little over a month to learn everything we could about each other, and by the time we physically met, so much care and trust had been built.

Jen: By the time the countdown ended, we had learned so much about each other and had grown so much closer. In addition to the daily countdown, we were also sending each other letters and packages and accidentally staying up until 3am on 6-hour Skype calls! We had fallen for each other, and meeting each other in person only validated everything we had been feeling. Amy and I also started an Instagram account and blog to keep sharing with each other through the distance.

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Real Couples // Virginia is for Lovers: Hana + Kaity

Real Couples // Virginia is for Lovers: Hana + Kaity

Sometimes I dream about the kinds of wedding I’d love to shoot. Those in distant places, like Africa or Asia, with simple details and big landscapes. I often think it would make me a better photographer, to have a portfolio with these weddings. But I’ve come to realize the kinds of weddings I want to shoot are the ones like this. 

We met Hana and Kaity a little over a year ago and quickly became friends. Their wedding day was full of genuine, real love. They asked to have their closest friends and family present for their first look. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but afterwards I looked around and saw that we were all crying. It was my favorite part of the day.

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Queer + Christian // It's Okay to Congratulate Your Friends Even If You Disagree With Them

Queer + Christian // It's Okay to Congratulate Your Friends Even If You Disagree With Them

Since being engaged and now married to my wife for the past six months, I would say that the word “congratulations” has trended in my life. Used to express good wishes on a special occasion, I’ve come to really appreciate how this one word can express love and expand a sense of community when spoken over those who are celebrating an important time in their lives. Given the influx of “congratulations” to my wife and myself, it has also made the lack of this expression glaringly obvious and painful by those in our lives that we love. The pain is increased in knowing that some justify their lack of “good wishes” because of their Christian beliefs that being gay is a sin, and marriage is only legit if it involves one man and one woman.

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Real Couples // Love and Activism: Bianca + Christina

Real Couples // Love and Activism: Bianca + Christina

Going to a protest as a first date was fitting for these two Chicago land activists who are planting seeds of change all around their community. Bianca and Christina are passionate about making this world we live in a better and equal place for all. Love just happened naturally and sprouted fast for these two. They may even admit that it was L-O-V-E at first sight for the both of them. As they approach two years of being together, it still feels like fireworks and butterflies to them.

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Real Couples // A Family Affair: Toni + Amy

Real Couples // A Family Affair: Toni + Amy

These brides wanted to spend a night with their closest humans...despite the fact that some of the most important people in their lives didn't approve or show up at the wedding because of the fact that the couple is gay. Toni, our black bride, was married to a white man, and her family was fine with that. But after she divorced, she later fell in love with Amy, and it has caused a rift in her relationship with her parents. Despite this, the couple stayed true to themselves and celebrated the love that they KNOW is right for them.

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Autostraddle Stories // Is Love Enough?

Autostraddle Stories // Is Love Enough?

One of the downfalls, I think, is how few cultural representations we had to measure our relationship against, no bar with which to size up our own emotional truths and figure out what was left wanting. All around me, and inside our little cocoon, was suffering. Every queer or LGBTQ+ identified person I knew was pursued by the shadow of mental illness, a harsh result of the culture than denies our existence in one breath and villainizes it in the next. And we were not excluded, our soft holding cocoon became an echo chamber, our issues and unhappinesses playing out over each other, a battle for breath in a finite space. My love for them began to wane and lose its voice under the onslaught. (Lesbian Bed Death seems funny until you experience it yourself. It starts to unravel at the thread of the bedsheets. Why doesn’t she want me? Doesn’t she love me enough to try?)

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Elopement Inspiration // Bommer Canyon Hip Outdoor Wedding

Elopement Inspiration // Bommer Canyon Hip Outdoor Wedding

Molly and Liz are a real couple. We approached them after visiting their super adorable home. We knew right away we loved their style, and they would be perfect as our models. They really went beyond the call of duty and even asked their friend Katy, who is actually going to marry them next year, to be a part of this with us. The laughs are real, and we couldn't have asked for a better couple. Our goal was to showcase a DIY wedding with a ton of style. When we designed the table, we used the couple's dishware and rented a few pieces to make the decor feel special. When we got to deciding what to wear, they both asked if they could make it more personal and wear their favorite jean jackets and fedoras. We wanted to show how you don't have to be traditional to be beautiful.

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Real Couples // Two Awesome People: Alex + Kris

Real Couples // Two Awesome People: Alex + Kris

How long have you known about yourself?

A- I knew when I was 12 years old. I knew immediately when I laid my eyes on Laura, this perfect girl who wore hoop earrings with her bikini, that I wasn’t straight. I didn’t know what I was, but I knew I wasn’t what the church told me to be.

K- Jeez I don't know...kindergarten or first grade. I didn't know what to call it. I didn't have words—I just knew that I liked girls better than boys. I remember having my first crush on a girl when I was in first grade. I just liked her so much more than a regular friend. 

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Real Couples // Seattle is for Lovers: Allie + Angie

Real Couples // Seattle is for Lovers: Allie + Angie

Recently I have been getting more involved with my engagement sessions and spending the whole day with my couples. When we are hanging out we really get to know each other and create photos together that reflect real aspects of their lives. So I spent all day with these two, and we had a blast. We started the day chillin' at their home and then eventually adventured out to Rattlesnake Ridge. They met at a bar, so it felt only natural to end the night at a few bars. 

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Real Couples // A Motorcycle Engagement: Sarah + Nicole

Real Couples // A Motorcycle Engagement: Sarah + Nicole

As a wedding planner, I (Sarah) get asked a lot of etiquette questions, but my mantra is — whatever makes you happy and reflects who you are. As a couple, Nicole and I have applied this to our own wedding planning. We've decided on a destination wedding in Italy (and honestly don't care that we can't legally marry there because our best friend is officiating and the good ole USA has granted us that right) because we like to eat and Nicole says the best meal of her life was in Positano. While I don't mind bigger weddings, for my own, I want to have time to hold each guests hand, look them in the eye and thank them for being a part of our lives. 40 guests makes this totally doable. We focus on our relationship and the love that surrounds us — that's what the heart of a wedding is about! 

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