It was love at first pitch when Marni Kahn met Casey Brown at her company’s softball game. The two met through mutual friends, and as soon as Marni saw Casey’s hazel eyes, it was lights out, game over. They talked through most of the game in the outfield. Marni asked for Casey’s phone number that night, and five years later she proposed.
The couple chose April 10, 2010, at the Alto Rex Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Palomar in Midtown Atlanta.
“One afternoon, Casey and I went to the Hotel Palomar for drinks,” Kahn said. “We were sitting on the terrace taking in the city views and realized this could be a beautiful space to have our wedding.”
“We really wanted to make the event about us, and we took a lot of time to add personal touches to everything,” added Brown. “We tried to personalize every aspect of the night … signature drinks at cocktail hour, keeping the menu vegetarian and pescatarian.”
The place cards were hand-embossed, and the couple even designed their own programs. Cookies, modeled after their pet Labradors (Addie and Luke), were handed out as favors to each guest, with a pledged donation from the couple to Atlanta Lab Rescue.
“We had decided that our wedding environment needed to reflect our social practices and Hotel Palomar did,” Kahn said. “It’s a socially responsible eco-chic hotel that composts on hotel grounds, recycles, uses organic local products, and is pet-friendly. We had found the perfect space to share our wedding vows in front of our family and friends.”
The self-identifying queer brides walked down the aisle arm in arm.
“It was magical and magnificent,” Kahn reflected. “Looking out at our closest family and friends, feeling the touch of one another, and knowing that we were about to take something so private, our love, and make it public.”
— Nicole Walsh
Photo by Dominic Ramirez
JONATHAN & STEVE
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Jonathan Goldman and Steven Schessler discovered love in the grocery store. While pushing their respective carts through the aisles of Whole Foods Market, the couple had a chance encounter, which ultimately lead them down another, much more impactful aisle.
“You really can find everything you need there,” Goldman said.
The couple dated for three years before Schessler proposed in March 2006 while vacationing in Spain.
“I knew Jonathan always wanted to go hot-air ballooning,” Schessler said, “since he mentioned it when we first started dating.”
And so the perfect proposal was born. Shimmying through the skyline over farmland with the Pyrenees in the background, Schessler put a ring on Goldman’s finger.
“We happily put off planning for a good six months, with the intention of leaving ourselves a year for a September wedding,” Schessler says.
At the time, Goldman lived in San Francisco, and Schessler stayed in Atlanta to wrap up a fellowship teaching at Emory for another school year — a plan that could ultimately provide stress at a time meant for celebration and elation over the pending union.
The extended planning-free engagement helped the cross-country lovebirds to relish in the moment before diving into the details, which they were able to manage with the help of wedding coordinator Daria McGregor.
Schessler and Goldman tied the knot on the Magnolia Hall lawn at Atlanta’s landmark Piedmont Park. Goldman donned a Dolce & Gabanna suit with an Alexander McQueen shirt and Brioni tie with Schessler in a Hugo Boss suit, walking down the aisle hand in hand as strings played “Time After Time.”
The two were pleasantly surprised at how different, happy and excited they felt at the end of the day.
“We realized that while we need to continue to fight for marriage, equality and the recognition of our civil rights,” Goldman said, “all our emotions and memories of getting married come from the ceremony and reception that we designed to share with the ones we love in Atlanta, and that the laws we’re fighting to change can’t stop us from sharing our love.”
— Katie Gallagher
Photo by Aragon Photography
CAROL & KESHA
In April 2010, Carol Pondelick and Kesha McKnight tied the knot in an outdoor affair at the Greystone event space of the Piedmont Park Conservancy in Atlanta.
Choosing Greystone was the easiest decision in the planning process, McKnight said. Besides the elegant but relaxed setting, Piedmont Park offered a sentimental value for the two, who found it a safe haven when they were dating.
Most importantly, Carol always wanted an outdoor wedding, McKnight recalled.
“The terrace level where our ceremony took place was an outdoor oasis overlooking Lake Clara Meer and the pool on the grounds,” she said.
Both were heavily involved in the creative process and decision making that went into their wedding.
Sometimes the stressful times involved harsh confrontations. At a bridal show they attended together, the DJ called for the first engaged couple to win a prize. Their wedding planner, however, didn’t think two women should be qualified to win a prize.
When dealing with vendors who shied away from their marriage because of the unconventional nature, McKnight said simply, “It’s their loss. I told Carol, ‘Don’t let them off the hook! Ask them why they are being judgmental so that they can hear aloud how ridiculous it is.’ Most of them would hide behind their religious beliefs as a platform for prejudice. Carol responded with ‘I choose to serve a loving God, not a condemning God’ and left it at that.”
The McKnights’ experiences and excitement while planning their own wedding inspired them to start their own wedding planning business, Euphoria Affairs (www.euphoriaaffairs.com).
“We had so much fun in the planning process, met a lot of great people, and the industry is full of people that are excited and in love, which makes for a great environment for a career,” Pondelick said. “This is a way we can give back.”
— L.A. Jones
Photo by Olivia Peters
JENNIFER & BETH ANNE
Road trip to matrimony
Happy happening or deliberate decision, there are oodles of couples living in bliss who aren’t wed. That’s how it was for Beth Anne Higgins and Jennifer Lynne Brooks, who met at a campus ministry while attending the University of Georgia.
“I knew the moment I first laid eyes on Jennifer that I would be with her forever,” said Higgins. “I knew I would do whatever I had to in order to win her over. I knew that in time she would fall for me, too, and I was right.”
Higgins, a bridesmaid seven times over and maid of honor at her sister’s wedding, dreamed of walking down the aisle herself.
“I had always imagined it, but never thought it would happen,” she said.
Brooks had something else on her wish list, and got it five years later when they welcomed two children, Ezra David and Jaden Mary.
After they celebrated 10 years together, the women made it official with a wedding.
“We wanted to get legally married and we wanted the wedding to take place at a house on the beach,” Higgins said.
Provincetown, Mass., with its gay-friendly atmosphere and picturesque setting, satisfied both requirements.
Since Higgins was working on her law degree, Brooks, a high school graduation coach, handled most of the planning and found nearly everything online. They chose a Cape Cod vacation home as the venue and booked it nine months in advance.
“There are great restaurants, shops, beaches and historical sites” in Provincetown, Higgins said. “We went whale watching, and … it turned out to be one of the most amazing things we had ever seen.”
Now Jennifer and Beth Anne Higgins-Brooks have a special day to remember—“when we are old and gray,” Higgins said.
Right after the wedding, they welcomed a third child, Zion Moses, to their family.
— L.A. Jones
Editor’s note: Each of these stories first appeared online at EquallyWed.com. Visit the website to view photo albums and read more about how these couples, and many more from around the country, created their unique “Real Weddings.”