18 March, 2020 SHAWNA + VAL // LGBTQ VIRGIN ISLANDS WEDDING
We’re Shawna and Val and we’ve been together for 5 ½ Years! We currently live in San Antonio and are in process of moving back to the Dallas area. We spend most our time traveling for work and pleasure with our lil Shih Tzu’s- Baker Mayfield and Pendley. Our favorite thing to do is follow Sooner Sports! Shawna has not missed watching an Oklahoma Football game since she was 7 years old- so our Saturday’s during football season are spent watching college football or traveling to the games. Valerie’s wedding gift to Shawna was season tickets to the Sooner football games for the upcoming 2020 season.
We met in Dallas while dating other people. As soon as we met there was an instant friend connection and we naturally gravitated towards each other. We became best friends throughout the next year. After both of our relationships fizzled out we decided to take our friendship to the next level- but not without a lot of drama and BS from our exes first. LOL… its the lesbian way. Ha!
What is the first thing you remember about the other when you first met?
Shawna- That she was drop dead gorgeous!
Valerie- She walked around the corner in to my kitchen and you probably could have picked my jaw up off the ground. She was STUNNING- Tall and beautiful with long blonde hair and crystal blue eyes.
Both- The funny part about our first meeting is we were both in our minds thinking the same things about each other- “Why I am with this person and how do I find someone like her!” Of course we couldn’t share that given the relationships we were in. Once we decided to date we laugh about how we already thinking the same things without even knowing each other.
How did the proposal go down?
Valerie- Oh the drama with the proposal…. I mean I had no idea there were any issues but afterwards I got the full story. Let’s just call it RingGate! I will say I knew it was coming soon but I did not know that was the night or when she was going to do it…. well played, Shawna, well played!
Shawna- I ordered a puzzle made of photos of us from the time we had meet through current. I framed them in a large frame with the entire middle of the puzzle missing because it was made into a small puzzle and framed separately. When I have her the large framed puzzle i told her that a very important part was missing just like in my life. I then gave her the framed ring and told her that her being my wife was what was missing and asked her to marry me.
Valerie showed me a ring that she absolutely loved shortly after we started dating and I saved a photo of it on my phone. When I decided to propose, I had that ring designed. On the day that I had planned to propose, I went to pick up the ring only for the jeweler to tell me it was not ready. I called a friend and put the phone on the counter on speaker and told the friend that I may need bailed out of jail. LOL! It was Christmas time and the store was packed. I thought the young man behind the counter was gonna faint. LOL! They ended up giving me a loaner ring and promised to stay all night to have it ready by 10 am the next morning. I had to propose with a loaner ring and explain why to her but it all went well. 🙂
Was there a memory from your wedding that sticks out more than others?
Valerie- My serious moment was during our vows. Hearing Shawna tell me how she “Chooses” me everyday will stick with me always. We have been through so much in over five years and she has never given up on me, us, or our love! Her choosing me has never wavered and feeling the unconditional love is most secure I have ever felt.
My fun moment was the first requested song by our maids of honor, Regina and Chanda. Our bridal party shares a love of the movie Bridesmaids and it has been a constant theme leading up to the wedding. They requested Hold On by Wilson Philips and our entire bridal party had the best first (unplanned) wedding song and dance EVER! It was so fun to sing and dance with all of our people- the Perfect culmination of the entire wedding experience!
Shawna- My serious moment was when Steph took me down to the landing area near the beach to wait for the “first look” That moment that I saw Valerie absolutely melted me!
My funny moment would be after Valerie and I went into one of the bridesmaids rooms and i came out wearing her California Love hate and we requested the song and all danced to it.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to other couples planning their wedding?
Valerie- Don’t! Just Elope…. LOL!
Both- If you are doing a destination, have the wedding within the first few days and then enjoy your time with friends and family. We did it at the end of the week and we think it would have been less stressful to have done it the opposite way.
If you could change one thing about your wedding what would it be?
Not worrying so much about accommodating everyone’s each individual needs. We wore ourselves out trying to please people.
Why did you choose the wedding venue/location you did?
Shawna loves a white sand beach and blue waters. Valerie happened to see one of the weddings Steph shot previously at The Sand Dollar Estate. We did take a trip to St. Thomas to see the Sand Dollar but we were a bit disappointed. Steph’s pictures definitely made it look way better!! Shawna found The Beach House VI while we were there and although it was smaller, it was much more our style and had the most perfect setup with two villas and several amazing outdoor spaces, including a private beach. We felt it was the perfect venue to be able to enjoy our wedding week with our bridal party.
Did you run into any issues with vendors who were not LGBTQ+ friendly?
Not at all! As sad as it is to say, we feel like because we don’t look like a stereotypical lesbian couple (we are both feminine) we don’t typically ever have any issues being out and open whether in our everyday lives or when planning our wedding.
The only issues we ever have is when a straight guy wants to hit on us or tell us how we haven’t had the right dick yet- to which our response is maybe they are really gay and haven’t had the right dick yet. 🙂
Top 3 things that make a marriage last?
- Unconditional Love- Never Giving Up and choosing your person everyday!
- Intimacy- Make time for it, even if you have to schedule it! (Lol) This is the one person you get to share yourself with and its important not to lose the connection.
- Trust & Respect- We feel these go hand in hand. When you show your partner respect in all aspects of life, you will always have their trust!
What do you think makes it hard about planning a wedding without the support of your family?
Shawna- The absence of the people you love the most being there.
Valerie- I would agree. Our wedding experience was something I wanted to share with the people I loved most but had to learn to do what makes us happy and not what makes everyone else happy. You really learn who is genuinely supportive of you once you say you are getting married- that’s for sure!
Why’d you choose Steph to document your wedding day?
Because she is the best! Steph has a true gift to document the lives, Love, and story of the lgbt community in a way which is much different than your typical wedding photographer. We feel her connection to our lifestyle, support of our community, and advocacy of promoting love in all lifestyles is what allows her to accurately and genuinely showcase the love between same sex couples. The moments she captures are truly priceless and we wanted to make sure we had memories which would last us a lifetime. In our minds, Steph is the only one who could capture these special moments and share our love story in the most perfect way.
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