Van Le and Stacie Gawrysiak’s paths led them to a spectacular scene last year exchanging vows cliffside in Big Sur, California, but where that path began was quite common for numerous Atlanta lesbian couples over the years – they met through mutual friends at My Sister’s Room.
They had their first date soon after meeting in fall 2004, but it took a few months to get on the same page with the terminology.
“She wouldn’t even call me her girlfriend for like six months. She would say ‘my GF.’ She would never say the word ‘girlfriend,’” Le told Georgia Voice, laughing.
Flash forward to summer 2014, with the relationship having long been established. Gawrysiak surprised Le with a trip down to Brunswick, Georgia and a stay at the treehouse community The Hostel in the Forest. Gawrysiak had more surprises in store, like when she asked Le if she wanted to go skinny dipping in the lake – Le later said she should have known something was up by that point.
“Under the stars and the moon and on a floating dock, she asked me to marry her,” Le said. “And I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ probably like 10 times before I said yes. I was in shock. It was so magical. There was a full moon, no cell service, no distractions … no clothes.”
Gawrysiak’s plan was in motion for a couple of months by that point, but she knew she had a promise to keep to Le before proposing.
“I had to ask her dad before I asked her. Dude, that was tough,” Gawrysiak said laughing.
Big Sur was an easy choice as a wedding location for the couple, continuing their mutual love for the outdoors.
“It’s basically where the forest meets the beach. The venue just spoke to us because it had those elements that we were really looking for, which were something quiet and intimate but also just beautiful, magical grandeur,” Le said.
“There is a big difference between the ‘groom’ side and the ‘bride’ side,” Le said. “The groom side gets ready in like one hour and they start drinking immediately.”
Everybody was ready and the ceremony was set to begin when, 30 seconds before Le was to walk down the aisle, her matron of honor (and oldest sister) stepped on her train and the entire thing ripped off. However, that sister was also a surgeon, and she immediately put her skills to use.
“She ran inside and got her emergency sewing kit and sutured my train back on,” Le said, but the haste had a price that the couple can’t stop laughing about while recalling it nearly a year later. “Because she was doing it so fast, she stuck me in the ass. Everybody heard me screaming, even Stacie on the other side.”
That would be the only hiccup of what the couple described as a fun, emotional day. And just like Gawrysiak had surprises that day in Brunswick the previous year, Le had one as well. After Le and her father finished the father-daughter dance, they did the whip nae nae and the stanky leg together.
“Imagine an old Asian guy in a tuxedo, he maybe weighs like 80 pounds, and he’s doing the whip nae nae with me,” Le said.
After that, it was Le’s sisters’ turn to surprise as they did a choreographed dance to Jessie J’s “Price Tag,” from the famous final performance in the movie “Pitch Perfect.”
Like many couples who have experienced a wedding day together, they say it went by in a blur because so much was happening. But they were able to soak it in the following day.
“The day after was almost as good as the wedding day because you’re way more relaxed,” Le said.
“You feel free!,” Gawrysiak chimed in.