A Backyard Wedding That Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage

It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today, we’re thrilled to share with you Joni and Gina’s story from Hillsborough, NC, and showcase a beautiful backyard wedding that celebrates same-sex marriage.

Gina and Joni met through mutual friends in the mid-80s and, after realizing they grew up within 30 miles of one another, these Great Smoky Mountain hometown girls became best friends. Over time, work took each to live in different cities, but they stayed in touch for 10 years. Eventually, the universe presented them with another opportunity…they were finally single at the same time, and, as they say, the rest is history!

On a beautiful fall evening, Joni decorated the area around their backyard fireplace with hurricane candles, rose petals, champagne and nosh. Gina thought they were just celebrating their 19th anniversary as a couple until Joni got down on one knee and proposed to her! She was blown away by the moment…and, of course, loved her engagement ring designed by Saturo via Hamilton Hill Jewelry.

Since same sex marriage was not legal in North Carolina at the time (2013), the couple planned a simple, no frills legal ceremony in Washington, DC for their 20th anniversary in October, 2014; they would immediately fly home the same day to have a ceremony and celebration with family and friends.

After looking online for wedding planners, Joni came across Grace Leisure Events Facebook page. Grace had a Human Rights Campaign equality symbol on one of her pages, so they felt very comfortable reaching out to her. As soon as Grace was on board, she helped connect them with other amazing vendors who were more than happy to help make their day special.

The wedding colors were grey, pink, lavender and blue, and the theme was their home. They created a line drawing of their house and a logo for the wedding, which was used on everything from the invitation to the wedding favors to little touches like signage and cocktail napkins. It doesn’t get much more personalized than that! The couple’s niece, Chelsea Madison, and her mother, Lee Nesbitt, own Crooked Condiments and prepared a fresh batch of apple butter for the wedding. They designed a custom label with a sticker on top that said, “spread the love.” All the charming details of the day were captured by Shane Snider Photography.

The timing of their wedding date was serendipitous: just eight days before, gay marriage became legal in North Carolina. A wedding they had been planning for a year suddenly became a reality right in their own backyard…literally. Gina and Joni built a life together and wanted to share their special day with friends and family at their charming home in Hillsborough, NC.

They were one of the first in line to get a marriage license at the Orange County Register of Deeds. It was only after the marriage license was in hand that they felt comfortable enough to cancel all of the arrangements they had made to be legally wed in DC. “We always knew that our wedding day would be special, but it was so much more,” shares Joni. On October 18, 2014, everyone celebrated Joni and Gina’s wedding and the historical significance that it represented.
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“Grace Beason was the perfect choice to help us plan for our wedding,” says Joni. “She helped us create our perfect vision of a romantic, elegant and fun wedding.”

Party Rentals
“Party Reflections did an outstanding job! They took great care in installing the sailcloth in our backyard and catering tents in a torrential downpour of rain,” shares Joni.

Hydrangeas and roses wedding flowersPLANNER Grace Leisure Events | PHOTOGRAPHY Shane Snider Photography | CATERER Mark Day Catering | MINSITER Jimmy Creech | REHERSAL DINNER Panciuto in Hillsborough, NC | SEAMSTRESS Laurice Aramoomie | SHOES Stuart Weitzman | JEWELRY Hamilton Hill Jewelry | MAKEUP Tonya Sink | VIDEOGRAPHER Green Hope Productions | FLORIST Watered Garden Florist | LIGHTING Get Lit | WEDDING PIE Mark Day Catering | INVITATIONS Ply in Chapel Hill, NC | CEREMONY MUSIC Tea Cup Gin | DJ Mitch Woodard | PARTY RENTALS Party Reflections | GUEST ACCOMODATIONS Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn, Durham NC

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