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Kat & Jessie – A Backyard Wedding With Kids

Kat & Jessie – A Backyard Wedding With Kids

Lesbian queer wedding in Arizona Tucson USA captured by Allison Slater Photography (1)

Incorporating their children, and Jewish traditions, into the ceremony of their dreams, Kat & Jessie married in their backyard

Tell us about the proposal.

Jessie recreated our first date in downtown STL. We started at a hotel lobby bar, went to the restaurant 360 downtown STL for dinner, then veered from the first date, surprised me with a nighttime carriage ride, and proposed in the carriage in front of St. Louis Arch. Very touristy, very sweet. Since I am a planner, I tried to figure out when she would do it, but she really surprised me in the end. However, I did pick out and send her a picture of my ring after we had been talking for only eight days, and she got me the exact set. Soooooo lesbian, yes I know.

What led you to the venue, your house!

We got married at our Tucson house. I fell in love with AZ the first time I came out to meet Jessie. I wanted to share that feeling with our family and friends. So instead of a venue, we wanted to keep it intimate and outdoors so guests would feel more comfortable coming. 

We had our backyard renovated, and now we also use the property as an event space and Airbnb. 

Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?

I think I had a leg up on this being a wedding coordinator, but we did make the stamped nameplates and embellished my jean jacket with our last name Van Apeldoorn and Jessie’s football number on it. 

I also designed all of our wedding signs and menus, where we utilized QR codes for communicating our full menu with our guests while sharing our personal food stories on the signage.

Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.

Jessie’s outfit was easy because she is a tall porcelain Goddess. We knew she wanted a white tux and kept it sexy underneath. Instead of a traditional boutineer, our floral designer created her a floral piece she could wear that would elevate my bouquet. 

My dress was a little more tricky. I ordered a dress but then coordinated a wedding in Palm Springs and fell in love with the bride’s top. So I redirected my whole outfit four months from the wedding and ordered the Anna Campbell top. I am short and wanted a skirt with pockets, so I had one custom-made on ETSY. 

We both started with Badgley Mischka shoes and then changed into matching Nike white airforce ones for the reception.

Talk to us about the wedding day! 

I was fortunate to bring some of my favorite vendors from St. Louis to Tucson. Jessica with Adorist Events was my day of coordinator and made everything go perfectly. We decided to get ready in the morning to enjoy as much of the day as possible together. I know wedding day’s go quick, and I wanted to experience that together. 

We did separate to get dressed and did a first look at Mount Lemmon. Alison, our photographer, specializes in adventure shots, so we got to the perfect spot while we were both in heels to get some epic photos. 

Our guests were greeted with my specialty frozen drink as they reached their seats. Our ceremony was everything we dreamed of. My 18-year-old daughter Victoria was my maid of honor and Jessie’s sister Gina was hers. My 13-year-old son Landon walked me down the aisle, and my 7-year-old daughter Maddie and my 9-year-old niece Evelyn performed the poem “Everything I need to know in life I learned from my dog .” Our dog Birdie was even in the ceremony.

I also surprised Jessie by singing my vows. I had sung professionally for around ten years, but she had never heard me sing live. It was something from my past that I didn’t do it much anymore. I sang “To make you feel my love” by Adele with my spoken vows in a middle interlude. The only person other than the DJ who knew I would sing my vows was my 7-year-old daughter. So everyone was SHOCKED. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. 

We had Jessie’s best friend, Jodi Glassman, perform our Jewish-inspired ceremony. We both love the Jewish traditions of a wedding and were honored to have her marry us. *Coordinator tip: If not getting married in a church, have a loved one marry you. They will make your ceremony much more personal and memorable for years. 

After the ceremony, we went to the Sorella National forest to get our sunset shots. Allison is from AZ and knew exactly how to capture the landscape and lighting.

Our guests enjoyed an extended cocktail hour with fantastic grazing tables and passed appetizers. Jessie’s specialty drink was a huge hit as well. I had an ice sculpture louge made in her famous “SUPER J” logo from her football years. Guests would pour fireball on the top of the ice, and it would be cooled as it landed in a Dr. Pepper slushy with fireball-infused cherries. 

We arrived and were introduced to our reception. The decor was stunning at night with all the candles and hanging garden lights. 

Our meal was a combination of French and Meditarian food. Carte Blache catering customized the whole menu for our guests and us. We had our sides served family-style, and all of our entrees were served tableside. We wanted our guests to be able to try everything if they wanted to. 

After dinner, we did our first dance to “Alway’s remember us this way” by Lady Gaga, and it was sung by my 18-year-old daughter Victoria. That was also a surprise for our guests. 

While dancing with my son Landon, Jessie changed into her Tina Turner shimmy skirt and opened the dance floor with her lip-sync version of “Proud Mary” with all her high school friends as backup dancers. Jessie LOVES to perform with music, so I had a stage rented for her to spend the evening singing her favorite songs with all of her favorite friends and family. 

How did you incorporate Jewish traditions into your wedding day?

Jodi Glassman performed a ceremony that included Jewish traditions. We drank from a kiddush cup, and she incorporated Jewish blessings, which she explained to our guests perfectly. We also ended the ceremony with the breaking of the glass. 

What does marriage mean to you?

Marriage to us is the perfect combination of love and respect for each other. We both worked hard to get to the point in our careers where we could enjoy life with our families. We look forward to the day we can retire and just travel in our matching golden girl tracksuits. 

Photography by Allison Slater Photography 

Bar Draft Horse Mobile Events
Catering Cafe Ala Carte Catering
Cinematographer Tim Dulany Films
Day Of Coordination
Adorist Wedding & Events
Denim Jacket & PJ’s
Dress Designers Anna Campbell, Svetlana Nikitina
Engagement Rings Brillant Earth, Cartier
Entertainment Crucial Entertainment 
Florist Rich West Designs 
Flower Girl Outfits Sparkly Gowns, JJs House, Keds 
Hair Lindsay Murray
Ice Sculpture
Arizona Ice Art 
Makeup Looks by Lisa
Jodi Glassman- Family Friend
Photo Booth Fete Photo Booth
Planner | Stylist Kat Gaines Events
Rentals AZ Party Rentals, Red Diamond Rentals
Badgley Mischka
Eye Candy Confetti, Kat Gaines Events
Sound Hire
AZ Pro Sound 
Stationery Minted
Suit Designer
Little Black Tux
Venue Our Tucson Home 
Vow Books Cozy Comfy Home

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