Monica stood with her brother-in-law Terry, waiting to walk down the aisle, rocking back and forth on her heels, uncertainty flashing on her face. “You made the right call,” I whispered, “The hat suits you way better than the wig. You look like you, and there’s no better person to be on your wedding day.” A smile flashed across her face and she strode confidently down the aisle with Terry, took her place at the altar, and turned around to see her beautiful bride Katy walking up to meet her.

Katy & Monica, physical therapists who met on the job, said “I do” on September 1, 2019, at a private estate owned by one of Monica’s bridesmaids. When I arrived for the rehearsal the day before, the ladies and their wedding party were already celebrating in style, with drinks in the pool. Katy practiced walking in her sparkly Jimmy Choos while still wearing a bikini and towel, with the rest of the wedding party laughing and dripping in the sun.

On the morning of the wedding, both brides and all their attendants milled about the main room of the house getting hair and makeup done, all laughing and having a good time together, but once Katy’s dress was on, she stayed tucked away in the “princess closet” so Monica wouldn’t see her all dolled up until the ceremony.

Once they were both standing at the altar, tears in their eyes, a dragonfly landed on Katy’s dress and stayed there for most of the ceremony. Afterwards, Katy shared, “The dragonfly symbolizes good luck, strength, peace and prosperity. Dragonflies also represent change, so my hope is that the ever-changing winds of the future will carry us to unexpected and beautiful places.”

In addition to the dragonfly, Katy & Monica’s ceremony was absolutely beautiful and emotional. The lovely brides stood in front of a metal arbor decorated with flowers and stained glass art created by Katy. The band played a sweet song of reflection, and multiple readings were shared by family members of the couple, including an expert from “Union” by Robert Fulghum, and a very fitting piece from “The Velveteen Rabbit,” including this snippet that was referenced through the night:

“[You don’t become Real] all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Later during toasts, Monica’s Maid of Honor, Cindy, who was affectionately called the “Best Lesbian” all day, talked about how she and Monica had been friends since freshman year of college. Here they were, three decades later, and Monica had found her forever person who loved her so much she was Real. At 50 years old with a double mastectomy and hair lost to chemo, Monica looked perfect in her white suit, dabbing away Katy’s happy tears during the toasts.

Katy’s sister Molly’s toasts were equally heartwarming, as she got everyone laughing and crying. She teased Katy for all the sisterly mischief they got into as kids, and shared how Katy was the opposite of the Grinch, with a heart three sizes too big and so willing to love and serve everyone. She felt like no man could ever be good enough or loving enough for her sister… but she’d never considered that a woman could be, until Monica showed up in Katy’s life, and matched her in the amount of joy and love they have to give.

If you couldn’t tell by this point, Katy & Monica’s wedding day was beautiful and emotional, and the toasts were an incredibly important part of the night. I mean, there were 7 toasts and 2 toast songs! And while that might sound miserable sitting in a banquet hall, it was the most enjoyable part of a wedding I’ve experienced yet. Everyone was hanging out in the living room, huddled onto couches and hugging their partners, while Katy & Monica sat in front of the fireplace listening to their favorite people tell stories about them and celebrate their love. It felt like family.

Mushy-gushy stuff aside, these brides really had a fun party vibe! Their guests were invited to the home an hour before the ceremony started, to enjoy some pre-ceremony drinks by the pool. After the ceremony, cocktail hour opened up, with some scrumptious appetizers including shrimp. Monica had eight of her students on site to help me all day (bless them, it was a hot one), and they shuffled all the ceremony chairs to the dinner tables set around the pool deck.

For the start of the reception, the wedding party and couple made their big entrance, and the brides went into their first dance, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli. The buffet opened up and guests were treated to food by the chef of Amante’s pizza, another friend of the couple. After dinner and toasts, Katy & Monica cut the gorgeous, gold-detailed cake, tossed a bouquet off a balcony together, and enjoyed special dances with their families. The band took over from there and entertained the guests with a rock variety.

But before the night was over, Monica wanted to shake out her New Orleans roots, and the couple led their guests in a Second Line parade around the pool deck, with parasols, handkerchiefs and rainbow flags raised in celebration. I’m so thankful that Katy & Monica trusted me with their wedding day, as this was my first LGBT wedding and will forever be a beautiful and special memory for Beauty & the Budget Events.

The Vendors:

Venue: Private Estate, Chapel Hill, NC

Wedding Coordinator: Beauty & the Budget Events

Photographer: Kivus & Camera

Caterer: Amante Pizza

Baker: Danielle Kattan Cakes

Florist: Bloomin’ Rose Flowers

Officiant: Jake Horowitz

Band: Tea Cup Gin

Videographer: John Hayes Films

Hair & Makeup: Wedded Kiss