We’ve been together for three and a half years. We met at a queer dance party called Night Crush. Three days after Ari moved to Seattle for a three-month travel nursing contract. Ari was only supposed to be in Seattle for the summer, so we decided to keep things “super casual.” Within three months, though, we had moved in together. By six months in, we had adopted our first dog, gotten a shared phone plan, and matching tattoos. It was pretty clear early on that we were in this for the long haul.
We first decided to get married on the night of the 2016 presidential election.
We were absolutely distraught, of course, and one of our many fears was that we would lose our marriage rights. In between sobs, Ari accidentally blurted out that we should just get married because what if we weren’t going to be able to anymore? The next day, we talked about it again, calmingly, and realized that we wanted this, regardless of the political situation. We chose an acquaintance of ours. A queer person of color who has his own small jewelry design business, to help us design our rings. Deciding that either one of us could pop the question when we felt so inspired.
For Kat’s birthday, a few months later, we went on a weekend trip to the San Juan Islands. Which are a few hours away, and our favorite little escape from reality. Ari planned a picnic near a lighthouse in a state park and made a cute queer playlist of artists we love. We were the only people around, just us and the ocean, little seabirds and seals. Kat kept asking why Ari wasn’t eating anything and was taking FOREVER to eat the stupid little cheese rollups. All while Ari got more and more anxious.
Finally, Ari pulled out the rings and told Kat that they wanted to be together forever.
Neither of us really remember exactly what was said. Except that at the end of it, Kat said, “Are you proposing to me?” Ari said, “I’m trying to,” and then burst into tears. We both laughed, cried, kissed, and took a bunch of selfies. It was perfect.
We were pretty relaxed about the whole wedding planning thing until a few months before the wedding, when we started getting stressed out with everything there was left to do. We were so lucky to have our loved ones by our side the whole time. Supporting us and helping us plan everything, and offering to take things off our plate.
Finding the perfect outfits was a nightmare. First, we had to decide what we wanted to wear. We both are androgynous and wear a lot of menswear, but we didn’t want to be twinning all night. Kat decided to wear a suit, but she’s only 5’1″ with a juicy booty, so there’s no way she could have bought one at the store. She had her suit custom made by Duchess Clothier, a Portland company that makes suits for all kinds of human bodies. Portland is three hours away from Seattle, so it was a lot of driving back and forth for fittings, but definitely worth it. Her shoes were from Tomboy Toes, who make dapper shoes for tiny queer feet.
Ari, who is non-binary, wanted to wear something that felt genderless. They found a jumpsuit from ASOS, but it needed some significant adjustments. Ari has had top surgery, so we had to find a tailor willing and able to take the garment entirely apart and put it back together for a flat chest. As well as make other alterations, like cutting off the sleeves and bringing in the pants legs, so it looked less like a gown. This was more challenging than you would think. It involved lots of crying and pledges just to wear a garbage bag instead. But the end result was everything they dreamed of.
Ari wanted to wear silver oxford flats, but they would only ship to the UK when they found the perfect pair. Luckily, one of Ari’s friends lived in England and was kind enough to buy the shoes and mail them.
We wore matching earrings, and Kat had a pocket watch that Ari bought them as a wedding gift. Ari wore a triangle necklace that Kat gave them the night before the wedding and a very special necklace that Ari had made out of one of Kat’s wisdom teeth. Normal people stuff.
Kat doesn’t like being the center of attention; and found the idea of saying vows in front of one hundred and thirty people really horrifying. But we still wanted to write our own vows to exchange privately. The morning of our wedding, we sat in bed and read our vows to each other. It was one of the best parts of the whole day. We laughed and cried, and it was the perfect way to center ourselves on what really matters before getting into all the craziness.
We had a big wedding party. Kat’s side was her sisters and friends she’s had since childhood. Ari’s side had their siblings and some of Ari’s closest friends from the various places they lived over the last fifteen years. Our dogs, Pizza and Brown Cow, were there, too, all dressed up for the party.
We all got to the venue early to hang out and get ready. I’m pretty sure that half of the people there had a role in getting Kat dressed. There’s a picture of Ari’s little brother kneeling on the floor to help Kat get her pocket watch on right that pretty much sums up how sweet and helpful all of our people were. Ari’s friends were doing the equally important work of handing them paper cups full of champagne and trying to force Ari to eat a mini bagel. Then we took pictures as a couple and with our wedding party. After weeks of a heatwave, it rained on our wedding day (of course), which made getting pictures done a little tricky. But the skies cleared up just before the party started, and we made it work.
We had a cocktail hour before the ceremony. People could have a chance to socialize a little, take a polaroid, sign the guestbook, and get a drink. Instead of having a formal procession, we just decided to head up there together (including Pizza and the Cow) when the song started playing. It felt more true to us than making things super formal.
Our brilliant and beautiful friend, Skylar, officiated the wedding, and it was the best ceremony we could have imagined. It was so funny, so sweet, and so authentic. We feel so lucky to have had our ceremony performed by somebody who loves us so much. Someone who truly understands who we are and what our relationship is all about.
After Skylar said a million nice things that made us cry, Ari read an excerpt from a poem called Royal Heart by our favorite poet, Andrea Gibson. All about opening yourself up to being in a relationship and being willing to go all in. Knowing that it won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. The last few lines say, “Baby, throw me. Throw me as far as I can go. I don’t want to leave this life without ever coming home, and I want to come home to you. I can figure out the rain.”
Then we did a little repeat-after-me section, exchanged our rings, and that was that! Looking out at our guests and seeing so many people we love, smiling and crying and just radiating love towards us was an unexplainable feeling.
After the ceremony, we got right into dinner and dancing. There was a photo booth upstairs that was a huge hit. You know queer people don’t mess around when it comes to photo booths. People got printouts of their photo strips, and we got a copy, too. There are so many hot and funny pictures from that photo booth, and we’re so glad we splurged on it.
The one low point of the day was the food. It wasn’t that great to begin with, and then it ran out really fast, due to a catering disaster. Luckily, our families jumped in to save the day, before we even knew there was a problem, running out to grab cheeseburgers and egg rolls and ordering a dozen gourmet pizzas. Honestly, watching all our friends dancing around, feeding each other slices of pizza was really funny and cute, so it all worked out in the end. We had tiny pies for dessert because one of our first dates was eating pie on a blanket in the park, black and grey cupcakes, and the amazing rainbow cake.
That’s pretty much it – we danced until midnight and then went home and ate leftover pizza and champagne naked in bed. I wouldn’t change a thing about our day (except maybe picked a different caterer). It really was everything we had imagined.
After the wedding, we went back to the San Juans for a few days and got tattoos of our wedding poem’s last lines. Kat’s say: I want to come home to you; Ari’s say: I can figure out the rain. Then we went to Michigan and had a casual, fun, outdoor party (no ceremony, just dancing and picnic-style food and booze). Ari’s family and Midwest people who couldn’t make the long trip to the west coast were all there, as well as Kat’s sisters, who came along for round two.
Neither of us ever thought we wanted to get married – until we both suddenly felt otherwise!
For us, marriage is important for a few reasons. Partly, we wanted the legal recognition of our relationship. Ari volunteered for years with the marriage equality campaign in the state of Illinois. With a fantastic group of activists. During that time, they learned a lot about how the law benefits married people. Passing property and money to your partner after death, tax breaks, insurance issues, and the ability to be with your partner in the hospital, or help make healthcare decisions if your partner is incapacitated, to name a few.
The rights of queer and trans people are under attack in the United States. This administration is literally trying to strip trans and non-binary people of our civil rights and delegitimize our very existence. While marriage equality is not as pressing an issue as the death rate of trans women of color. Or unequal access to health care for queers, etc., being married legally protects our relationship and our lives to a certain degree.
More importantly, though, we wanted to be married because we wanted to make that commitment to each other. Being married hasn’t changed a lot in our day to day lives. It’s pretty much the same as not being married, only cuter, because we get to call each other wife. It feels different, though. It feels special. Marriage, for us, is publicly declaring our commitment to each other. Not through cisheteronormative rules about having kids, monogamy, or settling down. But by standing up in front of everybody we love and saying that we are for each other, we’re in this for life, and our love is worth celebrating.
Photography by Chelsea Terry Photography
Cake Maggie Matthews
Celebrant Skylar Audesirk
Ceremony & Reception Venue Canvas Event Space
Day of Coordination Sherrina Sezto
DJ Reverend Dollars
Hair Red Chair Salon
Jumpsuit ASOS, tailored by Nordstrom
Lighting Stokes Productions
Rings Joseph Keith Jewelry
Pet Accessories Flowers and Frosting, The Dapper Dog Shop
Shoes Tomboy Toes, Zalando
Signage Kate Bernatche, Emily Shine
Suit & Shirt Duchess Clothier