05 Jul PHILIPPINES LESBIAN WEDDING
How long have you been together?
6 1/2 years! Married AF under 3 months! (Brittany got me both 1 & 2 mo. anniv. surprises!)
We live in Davis – just outside Sacramento. Ever seen the TV show Portlandia? Its scary how similar Davis and that show are.
Anyway – when Brit isn’t working and A.J. isn’t attempting to finish her Ph.D., we spend a lot of our time as head-brewers of our family brewery, Athens Brewing Co., in Athens, TX. Travel is our main passion and favorite activity to do together! (If our destination wedding wasn’t enough of a give away!) We love to plan it and we love to do it! We enjoy hiking and try to incorporate nature and various adventurous activities (like paragliding, ziplining, & spelunking) into our trips. We might be guilty of completely spoiling our dog.
A.J. – I remember meeting Brittany as the President of the Plant Pathology graduate student group and she seemed so cool, funny, and put together- I immediately wanted to be her friend! Brittany and her group of friends were chill and didn’t take themselves too seriously, a rare trait in grad school! Her sense of humor and fun is definitely a major part of what first attracted me to her!
Brit – The first time I technically met A.J. was months before we really met. She was interviewing for the graduate program I was a first-year student in. She definitely stood out among the other candidates as she showed up with a massive black eye from playing rugby! It was another 6 months or so before she started grad school and I really got to meet her but I’ll never forget that black eye!
How did the proposal go down?
Brit – I had no idea A.J. was going to propose on our Hong Kong trip (I thought it would be on a trip to Singapore a few months later). But I knew she was up to something when she first told me to make sure I went to the bathroom before we went out (which is unusual but hey I drink a lot of water!) then insisted on wearing the backpack (which never happens). We got on the ferris wheel in a private car and it was simultaneously romantic and terrifying because I am actually a little freaked out by them. A.J. was so nervous and got down on one knee and hands me this globe – I was so confused and just thanked her for the gift. She opened it for me and there was a ring inside! Duh! Afterwards we went to this spectacular gin bar with an amazing view over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong. It was absolutely perfect.
Was there a memory from your wedding that sticks out more than others?
First of all – it was a week long so there are a lot of moments. Like everyone on the island having a unique animal sound!
A.J. – A funny one was being so excited to discover bioluminescent algae on our beach at night that I went running as fast as I could to tell Brittany about it, and tripped over a tree branch and went flying and landed flat on my stomach with the air completely punched out of me. It didn’t even hurt or slow me down, I was so excited about the algae!
A.J. -When Brittany arrived with me after walking down the aisle and the ceremony started. I was so intensely happy that even in that moment I felt wonder that I could be so happy. It was like I was literally radiating light. I was so joyful, and humbled, and proud all at one time. Brittany and I wrote most of the script and our vows together, and reading the vows was very emotional for me- because of how authentic and true it felt.
Brit – A serious memory was the first look, it was so intense and emotional. I didn’t think it would be like that but I couldn’t stop crying. Emily couldn’t even finish getting my make up on before the first look! A funny moment – when Steph wanted me to make A.J. laugh. It was after the intensity of the first look shoot and honestly I don’t remember what we were doing. But I ran out of things to do to make A.J. laugh while in a wedding dress on the beach so I hiked my dress up to my underwear line and crab-scuttled away along the beach.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to other couples planning their wedding?
A.J. – Plan your wedding for you. Make it revolve around something you love to do and don’t get too caught up in pleasing friends, family, distant relatives, etc.
Brit – try not to stress every last detail.
If you could change one thing about your wedding what would it be?
Not one. Single. Thing. It was surreal how perfect it was.
Why did you choose the wedding venue/location you did?
Tropical private island surrounded by coral reef – is there really a question? To be serious, we were set on a destination wedding with a small group of people. We aren’t in to the mega-resort/chain hotel scene so the Philippines worked well. We wanted somewhere private and nice, but within our budget – we didn’t think it existed. We found Small Bamboo and not only did everything about the island more than exceed every expectation – their philosophy also aligns well with our values of environmental consciousness- as an eco-friendly resort, focused on sustainability, locally grown/caught food, etc. They aim to be carbon-negative, which is pretty awesome.
Did you run into any issues with vendors who were not gay friendly?
Nope! Then again we only had one vendor, since the island was all-inclusive. In that case we made sure the owners understood from the beginning we were two women getting married, and they couldn’t have been more supportive! It was fantastic! We didn’t really look into how LGBT-friendly the Philippines was until we were planning the honeymoon part of our trip. Turns out the Philippines is a very gay-friendly destination with a lot of LGBT visibility.
Top 3 things that make a marriage last?
Open communication, humor, passion
What do you think makes it hard about planning a wedding without the support of your family?
In the 17 months we were engaged, a lot of things happened on both sides of our family leading to our families, at various times, being less than supportive. We have amazing friends and were fortunate to have their support when we needed it. Our families were, and are, supportive of us as a couple overall. Planning the wedding entirely on our own was hard at times, and there were many times we definitely wished for more enthusiasm. Wedding planning was so much fun and exciting for us but that excitement didn’t carry over to our families, which was hard because we wanted so much to share it with them.
3 songs that remind you of each other:
Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher – Jackie Wilson
Rather Be – Clean Bandit
One and Only – Adele
Why’d you choose Steph to document your wedding day?
We love the way she captures candid, intimate moments between couples- even in the midst of the celebration! Its unlike anything we had seen from any other wedding photographer. It was also a huge factor that she labeled herself as a lesbian wedding photographer- we both felt it would be so much easier to be open and feel comfortable taking pictures around her, especially since both of us are fairly unassuming and don’t usually enjoy being the center of attention. After meeting her, we felt like we connected immediately and we had no doubts she would be perfect to document our wedding! She was a total pro- and did a phenomenal job at making two super awkward scientists take romantic, gorgeous pictures while looking totally natural!
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