Destiny and Halley celebrated their love at their mountaintop wedding, surrounded by all their favorite people. They wore beautiful gowns and had a quick change into classy suits for their reception.
How did your love story begin?
When we met and first started talking, there was a painful amount of “Does she, doesn’t she.” We crossed paths during work, both working at the same place but in different departments. A friend of Halley’s worked with Destiny, and he ended up playing middleman between us for nearly a month before Destiny finally worked up the nerve to ask Halley on their first adventure (we were both pretty unsure about whether it was a date).
It was perfection, as Destiny’s dates have continued to be – a stop for coffee, Mediterranean food for dinner, and a movie at a theater that has serves drinks and has big comfy couches instead of chairs. Halley spent the whole time trying to bravely inch closer to Destiny on the couch, but it wasn’t until they sat in a car overlooking the Berkeley marina that night that she finally admitted her feelings out loud. Thankfully, it was mutual.
Tell us about the proposal.
There was never a question of whether we were going to get married. “I love you” was said after weeks of dating. “I’m going to marry that woman” was a sentence our friends and family heard early and often.
Six months in, on a trip to Oahu, we saw a woman performing on the street, and Halley whispered to Destiny: “I want her at our wedding someday”. We picked out rings together, then hid them away in our sock drawers until the time finally came to ask the question. We knew a wedding was a guarantee. The question was only who would ask first.
Then Halley quit her job, and we took a trip to Southern California to celebrate. We visited some family at UCLA, and Destiny insisted we tour the campus. Her cousin led us around on tour, casually ending it in the botanical garden. On a bench in the garden, Destiny handed Halley a pair of earphones and said she’d made a recording for Halley to listen to. It was Destiny’s voice in her ears, telling the story of all the adventures we had been on together. It ended with an “Oh yeah, I almost forgot” telling of our trip to Oahu and a brief mention of a singer whose name she claimed she couldn’t remember.
When it ended, Halley took out the earbuds, smiling and thoroughly confused. There was a camera on us, Destiny looked nervous, and suddenly a guitar was playing behind us. Halley turned around to see that same singer, flown out from North Carolina and playing one of our favorite songs. When Halley turned back, Destiny was kneeling in front of her, holding a box with a ring Halley hadn’t seen since the day she picked it out. Halley smiled, waited, and finally said: “You have to ask me, you know.” Destiny laughed and nodded and breathed out the question, “Will you marry me?”
Then it was Halley’s turn, and the pressure was on. Destiny had pulled off the perfect proposal, quiet and intimate and impossible to forget. Halley knew Destiny wanted something public and exciting, and she started planning. She reached out to some of Destiny’s closest friends and family and planned a day when a few of them could all meet in one spot. Halley chose a significant place to them both and more or less in the middle for the co-conspirators.
The day came, and it did not go as smoothly as Halley had hoped. We were out there early to shop for business attire for Halley’s new job, or so Destiny thought. We were wandering around killing time until everyone arrived, and Halley was on her phone more than usual (texting about arrival times, though Destiny didn’t know that). Minutes before everyone was in place, Destiny was hangry and ready to leave. Halley stopped, right in the middle of a very crowded plaza, so she could read what she said was an assignment she’d been asked to do by her new boss. She started reading a letter that started off like it was for her boss, but as it went on, Destiny started to figure out what it really was: a proposal.
She looked at Halley with panic in her eyes and said, “No, not here, please not here!” To her, we were alone in public, and she couldn’t understand why this was the chosen moment. Halley continued reading, and when she got to the part about the love we’ve received from our friends and family, she gestured around.
Destiny looked up, only to realize we were now surrounded by loved ones. Three of Destiny’s best friends, her parents, sisters, and grandma, and Halley’s mom and step-dad had come out from their hiding places in the surrounding stores. They stood smiling, filming, and crying as Halley reached the end of her letter. She knelt in front of what suddenly seemed like the whole city and asked Destiny to marry her. Despite how hangry she had been, Destiny said yes with tears in her eyes, and Halley stood up to hold her, surrounded by the sound of cheering from their loved ones and strangers alike.
How long was your engagement?
The engagement was supposed to be about a year and a few months. In January of 2019, we booked our venue for April of 2020. The venue offered weekend packages, arriving on Thursday evening, having the wedding Friday afternoon, and leaving Saturday morning after breakfast. We figured it would be plenty of time to plan and didn’t want to rush things too much. Little did we know, the world had a plan for getting us an extension on our planning period, whether we wanted it or not.
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
Finding dresses wasn’t hard for us, and we did it the way we do everything: together. We never even considered shopping separately. We figured the first look was as much about makeup and hair as it was about the dresses, so what was the harm in seeing the dresses beforehand? If we shopped separately, we’d just spend the day wishing for the other’s opinion anyway. Destiny’s dress was elegant and hid some tattoos she didn’t want to show; Halley’s was backless and showed off the tattoos she’d hurried to have done in time.
The real challenge was once we decided we wanted to change into suits after the ceremony. Neither of us is the type to adhere to tradition, and we’re big on unique fashion and making statements. It took months of searching and far too many mall trips (the COVID postponement worked in our favor on this one), but finally, we found our outfits. Destiny wore a long-sleeve white shirt with an untied bow tie, and Halley wore a sleeveless, backless tuxedo top with the bow tie done up. We entered from a patio above our guests, posing up top to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit ‘N’ Tie” before dancing our way down the stairs. We rocked both outfits, but the suits made definitely made the statement we were hoping for.
Talk to us about your wedding day!
Our wedding day was truly everything we could’ve asked for, especially given the state of the world in 2020. We woke up early together in our room at the venue and wandered down for breakfast. Running into all the family and friends who stayed onsite with us. We hugged all our parents as we found them and smiled seeing our moms eating breakfast together for the first time. Later we got ready in the same room. With a curtain drawn across the middle so we wouldn’t see each other. We heard our bridal parties laughing on either side of the curtain and spent the entire morning fighting the urge to cross over and be together again. After hair and makeup was done, we took photos separately with our bridal parties. Then switched sides to put the final touches on our looks.
A little while before the ceremony, our photographer guided us to the upstairs patio for our first look. We turned and reacted exactly the way anyone might expect us to. Halley gasped and mouthed wow, while Destiny stood back and looked her up and down in awe. We did a little spin and took some photos, then did a walkthrough of the venue together to see it all set up before the day took off and our focus could be pulled elsewhere. It was better than we could’ve imagined, light and colorful and so full of the love we aim to share everywhere we go.
Then it was time to head to the nearby ceremony site in our chariot for the day. A 1960’s renovated red VW bus with a convertible roof (which would double as our photo booth later in the night). We rolled to the site in the back of the bus, holding each other and staring out the window at the passing trees, trying to take everything in. We were let out one at a time to gather with our bridal parties in separate tents, knowing the next time we saw each other would be in front of a huge crowd of loved ones, on the edge of a mountain and the next step in our lives.
Destiny walked first, with her mom and dad escorting her and looking unbelievably proud. Halley was next, barefoot to feel the earth beneath and grinning with her dad at the magic of those moments. One of our best friends served as our officiant, a yoga instructor, and a certified breathwork coach. She spoke about our history, our love, the roles we serve for each other as spider-killer and PJ-maker, and the way we brighten the world around us by being who we are together.
Destiny’s aunt read a short speech on behalf of her three sisters, one of whom passed away a few years back and another who couldn’t make it because of the pandemic, all of whom have played big roles in our life as a couple. She quoted a song from Hamilton, a play we all adore and holds a lot of significance to us. When we each read our vows, our audience cried, then laughed, then cried again; we cried and laughed and cried with them. Halley vowed never to miss a chance to remind Destiny how incredibly loved she is; Destiny vowed to stand by Halley long after this life is over because one lifetime together would never be enough.
Our officiant led us all in a collective deep breath, asking us to tune into our surroundings: the trees and nature around us; the perfect weather and sweeping forested valley below; the love between us, our bridal parties, our guests. She smiled at us, and her voice broke as she pronounced us married, and we didn’t hesitate to lean in for our first kiss as wives.
We took back our bouquets and danced down the aisle to “A Good Night” by John Legend, laughing as our audience cheered so loudly the next city over must have heard it. Took our photos, including some absolute gems with Halley’s 96-year-old grandmother, who drove over ten hours to be with us. We rolled back to the venue in the VW, standing up out of the convertible top to greet a huge crowd still cheering.
Our guests made their way down to the back patio for dinner (after hitting the open bar), and we changed into our suits and sat together for a moment, embracing the fact that we were finally officially married. The venue brought us each our signature drink: Hennessy and coke and gin and (blood orange) juice. We grabbed some classy and dramatic photos in the downstairs game room before heading up for our first real entrance into the world as wives.
We strutted onto the patio to “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake, striking a pose together before dancing across to our table. A few of our friends read speeches that cracked everyone up and hit us in our hearts. We shared dances with our dads, then opened up the floor to start the party – and our lives – on a great note.
What does marriage mean to you?
Some people believe that marriage shouldn’t be necessary. That it’s just a vestige of old times, and that commitment between two people can come without a ceremony and a court document. We get where they’re coming from, and we love that there are so many different ways to spend a happy life with the person you love.
To us, marriage was always a guarantee because of what it would mean to each of us. To marry someone is to say that you are committed to being their partner for the rest of your days together. That you’ll stand by them in every moment that comes. It means being financially smart because your choices affect someone else now. And, it means remembering to let loose occasionally because love is nothing without a little bit (or, in our case, a lot) of fun thrown in. It means no longer worrying about impressing strangers but dressing well anyway because nothing feels better than your wife checking out your butt in new jeans.
Marriage means recognizing that disagreements will come and hardships will be faced, but everything will feel at least a little less scary knowing you have someone standing at your side through it all. It means trusting your wife to stay but never for a second taking for granted what you have together.
To us, marriage is like staring down a long path full of twists and turns. Knowing it will be hard at some points and exciting at other points and beautiful at every moment so long as you’re together. It’s taking your wife’s hand, smiling, and making that first leap together. With every bit of faith in each other through all the uncertainty and joy to come.
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Our biggest advice to other couples planning a wedding is to agree on what your goal is beforehand. Then keep it in mind throughout the planning process, so you don’t lose sight of what matters.
We had two goals going in. To gather people we love in a place we knew they would love to be and to spend a weekend celebrating us before we dedicated the rest of our lives to the same. At first, this kept us going through the less enjoyable bits of planning and even helped stop us from getting frustrated in the overwhelming moments (this is about the best parts of us, right?).
As COVID reared up and so many of our loved ones pulled themselves off our guest list, we leaned on our original goals to help us create a sort of COVID wedding mantra that kept our heads up. We reminded ourselves that it was okay if our grandparents, at-risk family members, and long-distance friends couldn’t join us for one weekend of celebrating a wedding. Thanks to their precaution, they would be healthy and present for years of celebrating our marriage.
COVID-wedding or not, it’s crucial to remember that this day about the love you share with the person who matters most to you. Things will go wrong. Some guests may not make it, some details may go sideways, but so long as you finish your wedding ready to start your marriage, you can check it off as a success. And remember, no one else knows your plans or the way things are expected to go, so if something goes wrong, there’s a good chance you two are the only ones who will even notice. Roll with it; everything can be edited in the final video anyway!
Anything you are glad you did? Or wish you didn’t do?
First and foremost, we’re glad we didn’t cancel. Not for lack of trying! We asked the venue for a refund, asked our insurance if they would cover us backing out because of COVID and postponement, asked ourselves if we could afford walking away from the nearly-full payment we’d already invested in the venue, and vendors. Every answer came up “no,” for a series of disappointing yet valid reasons. Once we accepted that a COVID wedding was our fate, we put all that energy into making the best of the situation. We’re thankful to this day that we did.
There are plenty of other little things we wish we’d done or avoided, things we hope other couples can learn from. We wish we’d made a list of everything we needed to bring to our getting-ready room that morning, so our bridal parties didn’t have to run around on scavenger hunts for our bow ties and vow books and specific white undershirts.
We wish we’d spent an hour together at the photo bus right after toasts so we could grab photos with everyone. Not just the people who happened to find us when we wandered nearby. Wishing we’d eaten more and caffeinated less before the ceremony and taken a moment to try at least one of every appetizer we served so we wouldn’t feel left out when our guests rave about how good they were. We should’ve held a watch to keep track of time. Delegated more tasks to our bridal parties and listened closer when our stylist explained how to take our hair down at night without ripping some of it out. Heck, we wish we’d somehow managed to stop the whole pandemic before it started.
When we focus on all these “should have’s,” we fall down a spiral of viewing our wedding through a lens of anxiety and overthinking. If we spend all our time digging into the negatives, something else will always turn up. Something that may not have even been negative if we hadn’t worked so hard to view it as one. We’ve learned by now to focus on what we did right: we showed grace and understanding to every guest who couldn’t join us; we followed all COVID precautions and kept our guests safe; we stood by each other through everything, each other’s presence doubling the good and halving the not-so-good.
Our décor looked amazing, and our outfits were on point. Our family and friends were so happy we still get random texts about how fun the wedding was. We made many decisions for that weekend, and at least 95% of them went exactly as planned, so what’s the use in focusing on the 5% that didn’t? Regardless of how anything turned out in the moment, it all led to the married couple we are now. There’s no room for regrets when we think about it like that.
What was your aisle, recessional, and first dance songs?
We spent months and maybe too much effort solidifying our playlist for the night. Music plays a significant role in our lives, and we know the power it has to set a vibe and send a message. It was important that we chose right. We finally settled on the perfect list of songs and looked forward for months to hearing them that day.
Our aisle songs were a coincidence of titles we love to laugh about. Destiny’s song was “My Song” by H.E.R., and Halley’s was “Yours” by Ella Henderson. Our conversations went something like this:
Can you play My Song?
My song, Yours?
No, My Song, not yours. By H.E.R.
Which her? Both our songs are by a ‘her’.
It was like our own wedding version of “Who’s on First.” Destiny chose “My Song” because H.E.R. is from the same town, and the song speaks to her love of singing: Let me sing my song, I know this is my home, all that I’ve been wishing, I found what I’ve been missing, you were right here from the start, so let me sing my song. “Yours” hit home for Halley, the way she curls up in Destiny’s pajamas at night when Destiny is away on a graveyard shift. I wear your winter coat, the one you love to wear, so I keep feeling close to us beyond compare.
Our recessional plan was to dance back down the aisle to “A Good Night” by John Legend: But everything’s gonna be alright, I think I just met my wife. You know it’s gonna be a good night. I think I just met my wife. Our first dance would honor Destiny’s past love of *NSYNC and our shared love of Justin Timberlake with “Until the End of Time.” ‘Cause I’m gonna love you girl, to the end of time.
Our DJ had some other ideas.
“My Song” echoed beautifully as Destiny walked down the aisle with her parents. As “Yours” started to play, Halley’s face fell, and she looked panicked at her dad. The DJ had somehow pulled up an instrumental version, wiping away all the words that meant so much. Before she had the chance to get upset, Halley’s dad started quietly – and badly – singing his own made-up lyrics. He kept it up the whole way down the aisle. Both of them trying and failing to hide how hard they were laughing. Crisis averted.
We danced off the aisle to John Legend as planned, but when we stood for our first dance, it wasn’t Justin in the speakers but a song we’d chosen and thrown out months ago. We thought about stopping and demanding the right song, but in the end, we just came together and danced it out, bowing at the end and laughing over how little it really mattered. When we watch the wedding video and relive all these moments, everything looks perfect, not a single misstep to be seen.
Photography by Lex and the Lotus
Cake, Catering & Venue Forest House Lodge
Cinematographer Cevana Palmer
Florist Kevin Tulabut
Gown Boutique David’s Bridal
H&MU Jo-Anna Santo
Officiant & Decorative Elements Brittanie Calilan
Photo Booth You Can’t Help But Smile
Rings Shane Co, Emi Grannis