01 Aug VIRGIN ISLANDS LESBIAN WEDDING
There I am in St. Thomas…I woke up that morning and took a walk on the beach with my cup of coffee. There’s just something about a slow, quiet morning in a new place. I live for it. I’ve been traveling and photographing love stories for quite some time now. Every single wedding is fresh and the adventures never get old. When I am on back-to-back trips I am reminded of a time when I sat in a cubicle writing about how I imagined myself flying to new places, meeting new people, telling stories and making memories. Sounded so dreamy. So naturally, there I go…I’m quitting my job. Soon after that I’m photographing my very first conference and daydreaming of photographing one of the speakers at the conference. That person was none other than Kat Cole. A couple years went by and it happened! I photographed her executive lifestyle session in ATL and her wedding at Burning Man. Through knowing Kat, I saw [and liked] a picture of a cute couple on Facebook. They were Kat’s neighbors. Come to find out that couple, YEP you guessed it…Alex and Kris. Next thing you know I’m flying to Atlanta to meet them, stay at their place, go to ATL pride together and shoot their engagement session. We hit it off right away! Life is cool like that and it constantly leaves me speechless. Ahh this couple. This wedding. Morning mimosas on an island, snuggles and all of the sweet moments. So much love. Take a look at my weekend with the girls and their awesome crew.
How long have you been together?
Three and a half years.
Where do you two live? Tell us a little bit about what you both spend a majority of your time doing.
Currently, we live in the west side of Atlanta. We love this city so much – great restaurants, great people and an endless variety of things to do on the weekends!
We both have pretty demanding careers. Seems like we work constantly. But, when we’re not working, we love to spend QT with our sweet baby dog, hit up the local foodie scene, and give back to our communities through service with local nonprofits. Kris especially is quite the activist – she’s super involved in the Atlanta (and global) corporate LGBTQ scene. And we’re always down for coffee and chai.
What is the first thing you remember about the other when you first met?
I’ll go first (Alex), since I actually spotted Kris LONG before we met. I kept seeing this girl EVERYWHERE. I remember feeling electrically drawn to her – every time I saw her, there was an instant blaring neon sign in my head that I needed to get to know her. I didn’t believe in love at first sight until I met her, to be honest. She was so cool. Always surrounded by a group of people, always having the best time, while I brooded in corners. I would introduce myself to her over and over out at clubs, bars, you name it – and she never remembered who I was! FINALLY, after four months of me basically stalking her through Atlanta, we exchanged numbers and I won her over on a dinner date to Ecco. We’ve been inseparable ever since!
Kris: I remember seeing her at 10th and Piedmont, months before I could actually remember her name. She was always dressed so weird – like, tall leather boots with skinny jeans and a crop top and a snapback hat. I just didn’t get it. But I was drawn to her. Super intrigued. I thought she was so, so gorgeous. We were obviously (cosmically) attracted to each other from the jump and hit it off seamlessly. We had good conversation immediately. We honestly wanted to know everything about each other. When I asked her on our first date to Ecco (where we both ate nothing because we were so nervous) I remember feeling so anxious. I felt like there was so much riding on that date!
How did the proposal go down?
Kris took me to this AMAZING Persian restaurant in this cute, quirky spot in Decatur. We were on a double date, so I suspected absolutely nothing was going to happen. We had this incredible meal, talked for hours with our pals at dinner and decided to take a walk around the square. It was dusk, and it was springtime – there was this gazebo with all these string lights hanging from the ceiling. Kris is ALL about taking photos, so when our friends asked us to pose for a picture under the gazebo, I still didn’t suspect a thing. All of a sudden, in what feels like the fastest blur of my life, Kris was behind me, wrapping her arms around me, holding a box in front of me with the most perfect ring inside. I don’t think I said yes for like, a good 2 minutes. I just kept crying and asking: “Are you f*!%ing kidding me?” while people clapped and laughed and congratulated us. It felt so surreal. That night, we went out to the bar where we first met, and all our friends met us to celebrate. It was perfect. I later found out that, of course, Kris had planned the entire thing with our friends and I was the only one in the dark. 10/10 proposal.
Was there a memory from your wedding that sticks out more than others?
Kris: For sure our vows. It was the one time during our whole wedding day that felt like it was just us, talking to one another. Then the next day, my father posted pictures of my vows that I had written to Alex on Facebook. Like, took pictures of the pages I wrote my vows on – so I got to read my vows again on my newsfeed. Which cracked us all up. He loved them so much, he just wanted to share them with everyone!
Alex: I have to agree – the vows were the most amazing part of the wedding, and smashing cake in Kris’ face. We had agreed beforehand that we weren’t going to smash cake. But I was a little drunk, and when is the next time I will get to smash cake in my wife’s face? Never. So I seized the day. I think my dad’s toast at the wedding is up there for best serious memory. It was a long road to get to where we are as a family, so having him pour his heart out to me and Kris as a couple was so emotional.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to other couples planning their wedding?
Alex: Well! I do this for a living. And I tell couples not to sweat the small stuff on their big day. But, on my big day, I sweated every little detail and spent so much time before the wedding freaking out about things that were inevitably going wrong. When I look back at the day, though, all I remember is the awesome food, and the perfect ceremony, and all of us getting in the pool for the afterparty, and my friends spraying champagne all over us in the dark on a beach in the Caribbean. I wish I could have heeded my own advice. Do NOT sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day, you’re married. That’s what the whole thing means, and it’ll happen the way it was meant to happen regardless of all your planning and stress. So on the day-of, give it over. You won’t remember the small stuff in a month.
Kris: Enjoy every minute. It goes by SO FAST.
If you could change one thing about your wedding what would it be?
THE SUN. WAS SO. HOT. The one thing we would (should) have done is gone the year before at the same time in June and scouted out where we had our reception, to see where the sun was in the sky. Once it set, it was perfect. But for the couple of hours that it was beating directly on us, we all melted!
Why did you choose the wedding venue/location you did?
We originally planned a big white wedding in Atlanta in November of 2016. We wanted 150 people, rooftop vibes, the whole nine. We were about to sign on the dotted line for a reception and ceremony, and after mulling it over, decided that money would be better spent on a trip somewhere beautiful to elope. We planned on a small elopement brunch. 10 people turned into 20. 20 turned into 40. Brunch turned into dinner. Funny how it seems to work out that way.
We chose St. Thomas because Alex went there as a child and had incredible memories of the sheer beauty of the place – and they have great restaurants and the clearest water you’ll ever see this side of the planet!
Did you run into any issues with vendors who were not gay friendly?
Nope! Everyone was super accommodating. We would even go so far to say that most of our vendors went above and beyond for us, which was refreshing and fantastic.
Top 3 things that make a marriage last?
1. Being honest with each other, even when there are huge differences in opinion or thought process. We’ve found that we have our best moments together when we’re totally vulnerable and raw. We believe in the power of communication, and in the power that lack of communication has to destroy an otherwise incredible relationship. So we talk, all the time, and we never hide things from one another, even if the truth may sting.
2. Remembering what actually comes first in your life – which is each other, and always should be. We have insanely busy schedules. We sometimes don’t see each other for weeks at a time besides when we’re sleeping and when we’re getting up in the morning to go to work. That can be totally draining if you don’t prioritize each other. Kris and I are of the very European mentality that regardless of what our family may face – careers, children, whatever – we are the core of that family and our intimacy and connection will always come first.
3. Challenge yourselves to never stop learning – about each other, about new places, new hobbies, cultures, whatever it may be. We are committed to being good global citizens, and learning as much as we can about the world around us together has brought us closer. Keep yourselves humble and explore together.
What do you think makes it hard about planning a wedding without the support of your family?
We were fortunate to have support of both sets of parents by the end of the process. When we first got engaged, it wasn’t as readily available. For a long time, we thought we would have to go through the entire marriage without it. However – time and love and compassion changes people. We are incredibly lucky to be where we are with both of our families today.
Why’d you choose Steph to document your wedding day?
Steph is not only a photographer, she is a dear friend. Someone we trust implicitly. We admired her work for a long time, so she was one of our easiest choices when picking wedding vendors! Capturing the story of the weekend was super important to us, and that’s 100% her niche. We’re grateful to have these lasting memories thanks to her!