Words by Carianne & Gina
Gina and Carianne grew up 10 minutes down the road from each other in the same town in NJ. However, it took them longer to meet than one would expect. Gina is four and a half years older than Carianne, so by the time Carianne entered high school, Gina had already graduated. They both played softball for the same team and coaches, just never together. While they had brief run-ins when Gina would come back from college to watch her old team play, they never were properly introduced. It wasn’t until the summer when Carianne graduated from high school that the two formally met. Both were working as counsellors at a softball camp for the summer. Carianne still remembers the encounter and immediately knew she wanted to get to know this “cool older girl” more. They spent some time together and became friends over the summer before Carianne headed off for Ithaca college and Gina went to get her masters at Rutgers.
Fast forward two years and a bunch of texts that turned into phone calls, that turned into weekend visits, that turned into spending full weeks together when they were both home, and Gina finally realised what Carianne had been feeling ever since that first encounter. Before they knew it they had gone a year and a half talking to each other before making anything official.
They started dating long distance from NY to NJ, and even NJ to LA for a short 6 months, while Carianne finished school and started working in NYC. They moved in together three years later, got a cat, then a dog, and finally got engaged during a hike in Woodstock NY.
On their 6th anniversary, they tied the knot in Hackettstown NJ at David’s Country Inn.
Over those previous six years, they faced many of life’s ups and downs; the loss of loved ones, starting careers, coming out to their families, and growing up in general. Through it all they remained not only partners, but best friends. They both believe that has been the key to making their relationship last.
Their wedding was a romantic gathering surrounded by their family and friends. The wedding planning process was pretty seamless, and picking the venue was a Goldilocks tale. The first place they visited was too small and the second place was too fancy. When they walked into David’s Country Inn, tears filled both of their eyes and they knew right away that was the place they would start their forever. It felt like it was a big cozy living room that was warm and welcoming – perfect for a winter wedding. After the choosing the venue, everything else just fell into place. They had an enjoyable time picking out flowers, decorations, and especially the cake.
After the rehearsal dinner, the two went their separate ways and waited for the morning to come. They both got ready at the venue, relying on their bridal party to keep them away from each other until the first look. Everything went off without a hitch!
Both brides had their own anxieties, but they all went away the moment they turned around during the first look. After that everything felt like a blur of love, laughing, dancing and some champagne. Their good friend, Chelsea, officiated the wedding and had all the guests laughing at the right times and brought them to tears as the brides read off their vows. Carianne surprised Gina during their first dance as their bridesmaids stood around them holding candles.
It truly was a celebration of not only their love for each other, but of the love and support they have been given by everyone in their lives. They feel extremely lucky to have had nothing but love and acceptance from everyone around them and realise not all are as fortunate. Carianne and Gina got together before marriage was a federal law in the United States, but there was never any question in their minds that they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. It just so happened that the law is now recognised, and they are forever grateful to those who have fought hard to grant them those rights.
They chose vows that really represent not only their relationship, but what they consider to be the most important aspects of marriage:
Today I vow to love you for who you are, and who you are yet to become, even as time and life change us both.
I vow to respect and cherish you as an individual, a partner, and an equal, knowing that together we will build a life far better than either one of us could imagine alone.
Together we will build a home filled with learning, laughter, and love, shared freely with all who live there.
I vow to love you through the difficult and the easy,
I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as if they were my own.
As I give you my hand to hold, I give you my life to keep, from this day forward and all the days of my life.
As they get ready for their honeymoon, they are looking forward to a life together. They are excited for kids, a home with a backyard, and to change their names to D’Arnone, a combination of their maiden names. They know their marriage won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it.
Photography by Justin Johnson Photography