ERIN + JOANIE // PENNSYLVANIA LGBTQ WEDDING
We live just outside of Atlanta, GA. Joanie and I are both explorers at heart. In our spare time we most often find ourselves in the car heading to a new town or hiking trail or local brewery. We are the proud Mommas to two smooshy faced love-bugs, Clyde (boston terrier) & Maddie (frenchton). If we aren’t out adventuring, we are most likely cuddled up under lots of blankets getting all the puppy snuggles we can handle.
Erin: We met at a local brewery on a Wednesday after work only to find it was closed! My first memory of Joanie consists of three things; she was wearing sneakers with work pants (hysterical), she was all smiles and BEAUTIFUL, and most memorable – her butt. Ok, that last one probably needs a little explanation. The entrance to the brewery was at the top of three stairs, Joanie went first only to find that the door was locked and wouldn’t open. OMG, Google let us down! The brewery was closed. While she came up with a quick plan B…I benefited from the eye level view of her tush! 🙂
Joanie: Your smile. Most beautiful smile that could light up the world along with your humor and laughter. Where were we? New Jersey Beer Co. I knew this could be a forever relationship as we met at a local brewery. A brewery that Google said was open on a Wednesday and it was not!
We live in Atlanta but our families are in other states. Instead of trying to decide which family to spend Thanksgiving with, we booked flights to Aruba for a week! We got to town on a Friday and on Sunday morning, while sipping bloody marys on our balcony, Joanie gave me a present with coloring supplies and a custom coloring book she had made. It was the coolest thing! The pages were drawings of photographs from various adventures we’d been on. I’m going to blame my obvious vacation brain for completely missing the fact that the last page had my new initials, “ES” instead of my then initials of, “EB”. As I flip through the book remembering all the pictures, Joanie disappears and then comes back with one more page. Written on this final page was, “Erin, will you marry me?” in the middle of a mandala design. She also was very sneakily recording all of this…day after beach hair, sleepy puffy eyes, high pitched voice and everything. She was shaking as she took a knee and I immediately started crying…still not sure if it was sand in my eye or a sudden bolt of light from the enormous rock she flashed in front of me. It was so incredibly creative and 100% us. On our 1 year anniversary we’re going to make a fresh batch of spicy bloody marys and color that book together…maybe even make the trek back to Aruba to do it!
Joanie: So, I had the ring for almost 4 months before I proposed. We were in the middle of moving from NJ to GA so the timing of the trip to Aruba was perfect. Erin loves coloring and drawing so I took that concept and worked with someone on Etsy (thank goodness for Etsy!) to create a coloring book capturing all of our trips that we’d taken together for the first 2 years of our relationship. It was the best surprise and happiest day besides our wedding day, ever! The video is on YouTube 🙂 , https://youtu.be/pH-a0nHp9kE
Erin: I think Joanie pouring our Unity Ceremony beer down her dress was absolutely hysterical! oopsie.
Joanie: The funniest part was earlier in the day, both of Erin’s grandmom’s hearing aide batteries failed, and because I wear two I had extra batteries. So I saved the day for them, however, the hilarious part is that 5 minutes into the ceremony one of my hearing aide batteries died! I should’ve learned from them and changed my batteries, LOL! It was priceless.
Erin: our first look, 100%! It was really special to escape the noise and commotion of the day to have a few minutes with my girl. It gave us a chance to connect with each other and remember what the day was really about.
Joanie: I agree, the first look! I couldn’t stop laughing…all day. I remember thinking, as I walked a LONG way on uneven ground with my eyes closed and holding Steph’s hand, that she better not let go or else I would totally wipe out! I loved standing back to back and holding Erin’s hands and just imagining how beautiful she looked and hoping my stomach would stop flipping from nervousness and excitement. Turning around and seeing her, I don’t think I could smile any bigger. She looked perfect and magical.
If you’re going to plan a wedding 13 hours away from your home, be prepared to make a LOT of trips back and forth. Also, I was told by multiple people to not sweat the small stuff. I pride myself on being pretty laid back and didn’t think this was going to be an issue for me. Let me tell you…things get CRAZY! Repeat after me — do. not. sweat. the. small. stuff! Our audio went out in the middle of our ceremony. Our perfectly picked entrance songs for the wedding party were mixed up. Our most adorable ring bearer picked his nose for most of the day. Joanie stepped on and ripped my bustle out before the reception even started. Guess what? The day was absolutely PERFECT! Yeah, Erin nailed it. I also think that you just have to remember to trust each other and communicate. Plan it together and find ways to split up the work, try not to get frustrated. Remind yourself and each other how AMAZING the day will be and for god sake, if people offer to help you, let them!
It went by so fast! If only there was a way to turn 1 hour into 2, we didn’t want the night to end!
We wanted a laid back but naturally beautiful, with a dash of romantic, venue. I think Joanie was sold on the venue before we got out of our car during our initial visit. It was the perfect mix of outside and inside space. Everything was in one place – getting ready, ceremony and reception! Lancaster was also a great semi-middle location for our family and friends. Also, did you know Erin’s family vacationed there as a kid and I grew up less than 2 hours away from the venue?! Fate knew we would be together at some point!
We were very fortunate to have not had any issues with vendors. I’m a firm believer that (most of the time), if you don’t give people the option of having an issue with something, they won’t. We made it a point to make sure all vendors we spoke with knew up front that we were a lesbian couple. If we didn’t get the warm fuzzies from the initial interview, we just moved on to someone else on our list! At the end of the day, love is love!
Erin – I’d like to think that a few of the things that have contributed to the success of our relationship so far, will help ensure a lifetime of mutual happiness. For me I’d say it’s important to listen twice and speak once, never underestimate the power of a big hug and remember to put each other first.
Joanie: Open communication, support each others dreams and aspirations, and above all else just love each other.
I believe most of us grow up doing everything we can to make our families proud. Deciding to commit to someone for the rest of your life is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. It’s only natural that we seek love and approval from our families in times of big decisions and milestone moments. Joanie and I are very fortunate to both have supportive families who love us wholly. If I had to do this without the support of my family, I can only imagine the incompleteness I’d feel. I think in those moments, it’s very important to hold on tight to the ones that are there and do support you. Just as coming out is an individual process all members of the LGBT+ community go through, our families and friends have their own process. Some need a bit more time than others. It was this view that got me through a difficult period with my own family. But with time, patience and persistence I’ve found all of us to be in a really good place. I love them, they love me and they absolutely adore Joanie.
1. Tyrone Wells – Running Around in My Dreams, first song Joanie sent to me when dating.
2. Cranberries – Zombie, A favorite song of Joanie’s to scream sing at any given moment.
3. Ellie Goulding – What Are You Waiting For, Erin is notorious for finding one part of a song and literally scream singing it out of the blue…both with the music or at a completely random moment. This song is on regular rotation.
4. Luke Bryan – Roller Coaster
I wish all vendor choices were as easy as Steph, she was the first vendor we booked! We had both followed her work for quite a while and loved her style. So often I’d look at wedding photos and just couldn’t get past how “posed” everyone looked. With Steph’s work, it was completely natural! After working with Steph it’s clear why! We were completely at ease with her the moment she walked in the door. It was literally like we’d been best friends since grade school, one of those friends that doesn’t need to knock when they come over to visit. They just walk right in and open the fridge, grab themselves a beer and toss one over to you before you even ask for it.
2ND PHOTOGRAPHER: Olivia Schultheis
PENNSYLVANIA LGBTQ WEDDING