Words by Jenni
THE LOVE STORY
Liv and I met in January of 2017, waiting in line next to one another for a concert in New Jersey. We both lived in Ohio at the time, her in Columbus and me in Cleveland. We stayed in touch as friends after the concert, but the first time I went to visit her, I just knew.
We’re both lovers of any and everything adventurous! One of our first dates was picking out surprise tattoos for one another; we’ve been skydiving and scuba diving, and we love traveling to new places. In our spare time, we’re typically cooking, hiking, riding our bikes or playing ball with our two dogs!
I think I always knew I wanted to propose first, as Liv had been previously engaged, and she was the one to propose. I knew our relationship was different than all the others we had been through and wanted to make sure she had that chance to feel special. I actually found our photographer first, and he helped me pick out the exact place we would be married. There, I had her engagement ring made with naturally shed elk antler (a symbol of strength), blue opal & turquoise (peace and tranquility), and finally with redwood from our ceremony location. I proposed to her on the Susquehanna River at sunset surrounded by her best friends, pretending to have a photo taken, but in the picture was a handwritten note asking her to marry me. As she looked at the photo to make sure it turned out okay, I got down on one knee right behind her. I actually ended up kneeling all the way because I was so nervous, but of course, she said yes, and we had a huge dinner afterward to celebrate.
A few months later, on Halloween, Liv surprised me by proposing at home, dressed head to toe as a wizard and hiding my ring in a vase filled with spider rings. It was perfect for me.
THE WEDDING PLANNING
Neither of us had ever been to the Redwoods before, but we knew we wanted a non-traditional wedding in a special place. I think Liv was the first to see photos on Instagram, and we were absolutely in awe at how the trees looked like this mystical cathedral. I found our photographer Taylor first, who specializes in weddings and elopements in the area. From there, we chose Prarie Creek Redwoods, one of the main reasons it was home to old-growth coastal redwoods. The official name for these trees is Sequoia Sempervirens, which roughly translates to “forever living” in Latin.
As cheesy as it may sound, we’re both hugely superstitious and I loved the idea of our marriage having that same connection to the trees.
We wanted our ceremony to be intimate and focused on us without the worry of anything going wrong. We both dealt with anxiety and didn’t want extra pressure just to please other people. We chose to have just us, an officiant, photographer, and videographer for our ceremony. We kept everything very light, airy, and carefree since the main focus was on us and our environment.
We actually decided to have a reception a week after our ceremony, back in Ohio. We had focused most of our time, money, and energy into the ceremony, but still wanted to celebrate with friends and family (especially Liv’s huge Italian family). Almost everything we did for our reception was a DIY project: working with a local distillery to create a signature cocktail, designing and building our seating chart out of metal pipes, creating garlands for our tables out of eucalyptus and roses, even having Liv’s dad carve our card box out of a tree stump. We had a blast doing almost everything ourselves and saved a ton of money in the process.
I never wanted to get married before meeting Liv, so I didn’t grow up with a dream dress in mind. I looked at dresses once I realized I wanted to propose and stumbled upon Grace Loves Lace. I immediately fell in love with how romantic and simple their dresses were, but I didn’t think I could ever afford one. At some point, I found my dream dress was on sale for almost half price, and I knew I had to take the chance. They’re custom made to fit your body type, so despite thinking I was crazy for never having tried it on, it was absolutely more than I ever expected.
Choosing Liv’s suit was a little easier than my dress, but as with the rest of our vendors, we wanted to make sure they were LGBTQ+ friendly. We found Indochino and were so excited that we could design her suit top to bottom. We’re lucky to have a physical location nearby, where Liv had all of her measurements taken and chose to do linen for breathability, sky blue to fit our summery vibe, and cropped pants to reflect her style.
THE WEDDING DAY
Our ceremony day was by far the happiest, yet the most relaxed day of my life. We woke up and had our morning coffee together before Liv took me to get my hair and makeup done at a nearby salon. After that, we waited for Taylor and Kyle (our videographer) to meet us at our Air BnB for our first look and then take us to the ceremony location.
We hadn’t been to the exact spot beforehand because we wanted it to be a surprise, so once we arrived and met our officiant, we found a perfect place in the woods nestled between two massive redwoods. From there, we had our ceremony and then spent the rest of the day shooting photos. We spent a few hours in Prarie Creek, and from there we went to Fern Canyon, which is where Jurassic Park was filmed. Our last location was at Trinidad Beach during sunset. By then, it had been raining the entire day and we were soaked and freezing, but having so much fun that we didn’t even care.
My favorite moment of the day was definitely realizing Liv had no idea how to bustle my dress. In hindsight, I guess I should’ve had it bustled beforehand, but I wanted photos with the train since it was custom lace. I think Liv was able to get two of the five bustle points, and she spent so much time shaking out twigs and dirt. At some point, she actually had to wring my dress out because it was soaked and muddy as hell, but she was such a good sport about it.
My second favorite moment of the day was realizing that by the time we got back to our Air BnB, all of the restaurants nearby would be closed. Without even showering, we rushed to change clothes and drove the ten minutes it took to get to a nearby steakhouse, and the staff was SO incredibly kind and sweet to accommodate us. My hair was thrown up in a messy bun, and we literally inhaled our food after such a long day, but it was the perfect way to end our day.
I think the most important advice we can give is that you’ll never regret being true to yourself and staying authentic. Before the wedding, we worried if we made the right choice in having a separate ceremony and reception, but on the day of our ceremony, we knew it was perfect for us. Our moms and Liv’s dad initially felt a bit left out not being at the ceremony, but seeing how happy and care-free we were the day of the reception made it all worth it.
Our favorite decision was to create a video of our ceremony to play at the beginning of our reception. While we wanted both events separate, it was incredible to watch our ceremony back and see how happy it made our friends and family to watch it alongside us.
As much as it may feel differently, your wedding is only about the two of you and your love. I will never apologize for who I am and who I love, even if it means losing relationships along the way. My father and I haven’t spoken in three years now, and I didn’t even invite him to my wedding. While I was sad at first, the love I felt that day is more than anything I could’ve ever gotten from him. If you stay focused on the two of you, everything else will fall into place.
I think Liv and I were so united so early on in our relationship that it made the decision to get married that much easier. There’s something about knowing you have your best friend and backbone all in one person, and that you’re committing yourselves to one another through everything you face, both as individuals and as a couple. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of using the phrase “my wife.”
Accessories MVMT Watches
Bow Tie Jack & Miles
Cake Alice’s Piece of Cake
Catering & Reception Venue Strongwater Food & Spirits
Cinematographer Kyle Schwenning
Desserts From Scratch Cupcakes
Entertainment & Photo Booth Josh Staley Productions
Engagement Rings Staghead Designs, Brilliant Earth
Gown Designer Grace Loves Lace
Hair Piece Luna & Wild
H&MU Linden, Company Salon
Officiant Paul Marsh
Suit Designer Indochino
Transport Short North Trolley