Rachel + Ashley's Same-Sex Wedding in Seattle

I know this is what people always say after weddings, but this was truly one of the sweetest weddings I've witnessed. Rachel and Ashley are friends of mine--family, really (Rachel is my sister-in-law's sister), so naturally I bullied my way in to their wedding-planning-business and insisted on designing their invitations. And I'll tell you about those in a moment. First, I want to talk about what I kind of love about same-sex weddings right now.

While gay couples aren't anything new, their participation in the mainstream wedding scene is. As states are slowly changing laws to make their union a legal entity, these couples are blazing new trails because many wedding traditions simply do not apply. Questions come up pretty quickly in the whole business of weddings. For starters, who proposes? Who's name goes first on the invitation: the bride's or the... bride's? Does one walk down the aisle while the other waits down at the front? Should they both wear dresses? Which one of them gets to toss the bouquet (or remove a garter)? And who takes who's last name once married? For two grooms and their vow-taking ceremony, there are just as many questions. And it seems to me that there are exactly as many correct answers to all these questions as there are couples asking them. So guess what, you guys! They get to make up all their own rules. And I love that. 

But charting new territories aside, they also had millions of the same detailed decisions that anyone planning an important event has to make. For starters, there was no question that Ashley and Rachel's wedding would be in Seattle. They wanted a chic wedding in the city, but with a natural organic feel, too. Their wedding invitations needed to reflect that, so after reviewing a number of neutral options, we decided on real wood cards backed in brown paper bag kraft. These two exude modern style, so I designed a clean layout with a simple border, mixing an all-caps sans serif type for their names with a petite serifed type accented with italics, and we letterpress printed in navy blue ink with navy blue mailing envelopes. (They used a white gel pen to address, but another great option for addressing dark envelopes that also enhances the personalized feel is white, metallic, or light colored pencils.)
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ashley + rachel invite pic
The love-of-whiskey inspired urban invitations, by Real Card Studio, were letterpress printed on cherry veneer in navy blue.
Their wedding invitation host line read like most do these days--same-sex and traditional weddings alike--with the simple and inclusive “Together with their families”, since the couple paid for the wedding mostly on their own. Had one or more of their parents paid for a majority of the event, then those names would have been listed on the top “host line”. Listing parents’ names is only required when they are paying for, or hosting the event. Because they that pay for the wedding technically do the inviting as well.

As an etiquette junkie, I wanted to find a rule to follow for listing their names, even if it’s not a rule universally followed for same-sex wedding invitation wording. I was thinking either alphabetically or possibly by age, as you would do in a proper introductory manor. But they're pretty much the same age, so alphabetical made the most sense.
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sisters getting ready
Getting dressed for the big day with Best Sister, Alyssa. Rachel's jumpsuit by Nicole Miller.
Bridal shoes
Shoes by Louise et Cie.
Ashley dressing
Calmly taking in the view while dressing for the exciting day ahead. Ashley's suit by J. Crew.
pinning boutineers
Pinning Ashley's boutonnière before pictures, Rachel held a bouquet by Ballard Blossoms.

walking out of conservatory
Pre-wedding photos in the Conservatory at Volunteer Park.
Like many weddings these days, the couple asked a friend to officiate their ceremony, undoubtedly ordained via the internet. So the message was funny and crazy personal and engaging. The couple wrote their own touching vows and they shared communion in the form of a can of Rainier Beer, because Seattle. Overall their service followed the same flow and order of a traditional wedding.

Wedding programs were placed on each seat before the guests arrived. Digitally printed in dark blue on a tall kraft card was a simple order of service with wedding party participants listed on the front. Since the brides share all the same friends, they didn't have traditional sides that each person represented; Eschewing the usual title of "bridesmaids" for all, excepting Rachel's only sister Alyssa (Ashley is an only child). We needed a title to highlight Alyssa's elevated importance, and since "Matron of Honor" simply didn't feel right, I came up with the title "Best Sister", which everyone loved.
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Melrose Market
Ceremony and reception was held on Capital Hill's Melrose Market in Seattle.
processional
During the processional, the brides walked down the aisle together.
rings
Exchanging vows and rings while their (very funny) friend officiated.

recessional
Elated newlyweds held hands as they recede the aisle.
R&A
Big gold metallic R & A balloons beckoned guests to the dance floor.
After the service and during the recessional, the wedding party boogied, and the Best Sister rode piggy-back, down the aisle, letting everyone know that the ceremony was over and the party had now started. Guests lined up at the bar for their Rachel's Ginger Beer mules and iced tea while the DJ kept the crowd busy until dinner.

The reception was catered by local favorite food truck and restaurant, Skillet Diner, and we all dined on the most delicious fried chicken and corn bread that I've ever had followed by to-die-for doughnut holes. The couple and some members of the wedding party made the table centerpieces, wrapping jars with twine and placed them on rounds of fir tree. Throughout the meal, there were thoughtful and funny speeches by family and friends, plenty of roasts on Rachel, who took them all in great stride and enjoying every minute of it. And everyone danced late into the night. •

table
Table tops were decorated in winter white with baby's breath and cedar greenery displayed with candles on cut fir platters.
Skillet
Home cookin'. Fried chicken, coleslaw and cornbread catered by Skillet.
guests cheer
Family and friends cheer for the couple's first dance.
Liquid Fire
Guests took a traveler of whiskey home with them after the party.





wedding party - telephone
A game of telephone among the wedding party to keep the pose interesting.
david ashley rachel alyssa
When your very best friends are also your family.





rachel and ash holding hands
Rachel + Ashley / January 16, 2016 / Seattle, Washington
Vendor resources for this wedding in Seattle:

PHOTOGRAPHER: Julie Harmsen
BRIDE'S JUMPSUIT: Nicole Miller - Vow to Be Chic
BRIDE'S SUIT: J. Crew 
EVENT VENUE: Melrose Market Studios
PRE-WEDDING PHOTOS VENUE: Conservatory at Volunteer Park
CATERING: Skillet Mobile Diner
BAR: Rachel's Ginger Beer
FLORIST: Ballard Blossoms
INVITATIONS: Real Card Studio
DJ: DJ Res