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Courtney & Kirsten – A Colorful, Intimate, Greenhouse Wedding

Shawnee Custalow photography lesbian gay same-sex black West Indian wedding USA Dancing With Her magazine

Courtney and Kirsten held an intimate, colorful wedding at the Vaughn House, with just 30 guests. They ditched the wedding reception, only hosting a ceremony.

Who are Courtney & Kirsten?

I am a special education teacher and Courtney is a licensed mental health professional! We bonded over our desire to create inclusive spaces for those who need it the most. We both come from West Indian families. I’m the daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, and her father is from Guyana! 

We are huge foodies. Pre-Covid, our favorite thing to do was go on dinner dates. We also genuinely enjoy hosting our friends for fun random nights in our home.

Where did the love story begin?

We met on Twitter. Crazy, I know! Good thing neither one of us turned out to be too loopy. We hung out in my tiny studio apartment the first time we met, thinking that that would be better than meeting for awkward drinks. We quickly knew this was something special.

Tell us about the proposal.

Kirsten: I planned Courtney’s proposal for months! I designed her ring myself with the help of Brilliant Earth designers and planned an elaborate cabin trip.

But then Covid!

So my close friend, a photographer, was in town and I said, “Grab your camera and meet me on the beach tomorrow!” I proposed on the beach under the guise of a sundown beach picnic date. 

Courtney proposed two weeks later after reading a beautiful poem she wrote at the Botanical gardens.

How did Covid affect wedding planning?

Like many couples, we planned a larger wedding, booked a venue, and canceled it. We didn’t know what to do!

We married my long-time dream of engagement with Courtney’s desire of a larger wedding to come up with our perfect little intimate greenhouse wedding with 30 guests. Couples therapy got us through this insane time in one piece.

Tell us about that incredible greenhouse.

When we first got engaged, I jumped on Pinterest as most engaged people do. We spotted this STUNNING greenhouse- clicked on it and were shocked to see it was less than three hours away! When we canceled our first venue and knew we had to downsize, my mind went straight back to this magical greenhouse. We booked it without even seeing it. Best decision we ever made.

What was the inspiration behind the theme of your wedding?

We really chose not to have one or two specific wedding colors but a range of colors! I wanted dark jewel tones originally. Courtney wanted something bright. So we went on the brighter side of jewel tones. Courtney’s sister, who passed away, loved the color emerald. So we put our sisters in emerald and our brothers in a funky plum suit. It really went well with how magical the venue was.

And, those dresses…

I am not a shopper! So I ordered my gown online from Russia from a fantastic dressmaker I found on Etsy. Courtney was the bride that needed the bride experience, but she was so lost on where to start. I planned a surprise dress shopping day for her, her sister and her friend! I booked two dress appointments, bought her some bride apparel, and served them brunch with mimosas before they went shopping! She was so surprised and had a blast!

Talk to us about the big day!

We got ready in the same downtown loft surrounded by our best friends and family. I was stressed out because we ran late, but when we got to the venue, all of that left me, and I saw nobody but Courtney. Courtney was in complete bliss the whole time. Completely unbothered and with tunnel vision. The venue was magical! Our own secret garden, where the magic happens.

Our fathers walked us down together. Courtney and her father’s arms locked and me with my father. Once we reached the top of the aisle, we hugged them and took each other’s hands to walk the rest of the way. It was a beautiful moment that left a lot of wet eyes. For us, it wasn’t our fathers “giving us away” but accepting that they raised us to walk our own path and letting us go forward.

We are glad we cut the reception and kept our guest list small!! Our wedding was two hours long: vows, champagne, photos, cake and the first dance. That’s all we needed! That night we got to change and really enjoy genuine time with our guests. That was so special.

Did you incorporate any family or religious traditions into the day?

I was raised Catholic. I took my first communion when I was eight. My mom even kept my gown. My niece wore my first communion gown down the aisle as she carried our rings around her neck in a golden snitch- yes, Harry Potter! Such a full-circle moment. My mom also blessed our rings with the holy water she keeps from church.

Photography by Shawnee Custalow

Cake Wild Flower Confectionery
Ceremony Venue & Decorative Elements
Vaughn House
Dress Boutique Studio I Do Bridals
Engagement Rings
Brilliant Earth, Adiamor
Makeup Lynchburg Makeup Artist
Officiant Dionna Knight, Rev. Calli
Zola Paper

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