Words by Leigh
HOW THEY MET
I get really excited when someone asks me “How did you and Jessie meet?”. Over the past five years, I’ve told our story countless times, and yet it never gets old to me.
Let me rewind about eight years. I was living in Chicago, but spending the weekend in Indianapolis visiting friends. I was fighting with my girlfriend at the time and needed to get away. My best friend took me to a gay bar in Indy called The Ten, and I see this girl standing at the bar that I was immediately drawn to. It’s not my style to hit on random girls I’ve never met before, but I had a little bit of liquid courage, so I approached her. I hadn’t hit on anyone in years, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
Apparently, it showed, because the girl didn’t even give me the time of day. She said a few words to me but kept turning around to talk to her friends. I knew I was failing miserably, but I saw her phone sitting on the bar, and for whatever reason thought it would be a good idea to put my number in it. I put myself in her phone as “The Girl at The Ten Leigh.”
Needless to say, I went home alone that night, and the girl never called. I woke up with the harsh realisation that I should never hit on anyone, ever, ever again, and I should just go back to Chicago and work it out with my girlfriend. But I always wondered who that girl was.
Fast forward three years to 2013. My relationship in Chicago had failed, and I decided to move back to Indianapolis, where I knew absolutely no one in the lesbian scene, besides my best friend. I started putting myself out there and met some really cool people, one, in particular, being Jessie. I asked my friend for Jessie’s phone number and shot her a quick text. I will never forget her response… “Wait a minute. Why are you showing up on my phone as The Girl at The Ten Leigh?!”
Jessie was the girl at the bar that I had always wondered about, and after all this time, my number was still in her phone.
It was like a little light bulb went off for both of us. We started hanging out, just as friends at first, but it didn’t take long for that friendship to turn into something I don’t think either of us saw coming.
When we “met” in 2010, it just wasn’t our time. Jessie came into my life exactly when she was supposed to, five years ago. The past 5 years I’ve spent with her by my side have been the best years of my life. She is my absolute best friend in the world, and I have never felt more myself than when I’m with her. We’re just enough alike and just enough different that we’re able to teach each other and learn from one another every single day.
I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to be with someone who makes me a better person, who keeps me laughing every day, who reminds me that life is what you make it, and who loves me for everything that I am, without condition.
It might’ve taken a few years, but I found the love of my life, and I am forever thankful for that.
It was hard for Jessie to keep her grandmother’s ring hidden from Leigh. She hid it in the pocket of a snowsuit she was packing for their ski trip to Eldora Resort in Colorado on Valentine’s Day. Jessie planned to propose to Leigh on top of the highest mountain. When they got to the top of the mountain, Jessie started to unzip her pocket to take out the ring, but Leigh was too anxious to get back down to the bottom that she started to ski down! Jessie followed Leigh, who wiped out midway down the mountain, close to the tree line. Jessie knew she wouldn’t get another chance before they reached the bottom, so she tried to stop beside her, but also lost her balance and fell down! She was still strapped into her snowboard as she hopped over to Leigh on both knees and took out the ring to propose. Leigh said “yes” while holding on to a CAUTION sign on the side of the mountain!
Our engagement was for a little over a year and a half.
PLANNING THE WEDDING
We both enjoy the outdoors and knew that we wanted an outdoor wedding, surrounded by trees and nature. This sounds cheesy, but we love the scene in Twilight where Edward and Bella get married under all of the trees, flowers, and lights.
Neither of us had ever been to the Story Inn, but Jessie is originally from Southern Indiana, so we were looking for a venue in that area. We wanted our wedding weekend to be a little getaway for our guests, and Story was perfect. It’s a laid-back and peaceful small town on a dead-end road, and it was an ideal match to our personalities. All of the cabins were reserved for our guests, so we basically had the whole town to ourselves.
We did have one hiccup along the way. We had initially booked our transportation to the venue through Cavallo Bus Lines, but they went out of business (after 75 years) 2 weeks before our wedding! It worked out, though, because we found a local bus that was more affordable, fun, and much more our style, Doug’s Love Bus! (pictured in one of our photos and below)
To save some money, we partook in a few DIY projects, and Jessie gets all the DIY credit. She hand-painted, stained, and glossed two pallets to create a Welcome Sign and Photo Display with lights. She painted one of her old drum cymbals for our “Cymbal of Love” guest book and repurposed an old tom drum we found at Goodwill to match our décor. We also handmade our table cards. Rather than doing table numbers, we picked our favourite bands and used the band names for each table.
Finding the perfect outfit was a different experience for us both.
Leigh: My sister set up appointments at three different bridal boutiques, and I spent a Saturday dress shopping with my Mum and sister. I had an idea of what I wanted but, I was open-minded. I found one that I really liked at the first place we went to, but I fell in love when I tried on the Stella York dress at the last boutique. My Mum and sister started crying when they saw me in the dress, and I knew it was the one.
Jessie: From the start, I knew I wanted to wear an alternative bridal outfit. I’m not really into dresses, so I was initially looking for a tailored suit. After realising those can get pricey, I shifted my focus to a more practical and affordable jumpsuit. I searched all over for the perfect jumpsuit, and just didn’t have any luck. I finally found a photo online of a beautiful Pnina Tornai jumpsuit and fell in love, but it cost upwards of $6,000. I continued my search but still had no luck.
One day, I was discussing my vision of the perfect outfit and showed my Mother the photo of the Pnina Tornai and she instantly had the idea that she would make it for me. I was hesitant at first, but I knew she was a talented seamstress because of all of the outfits she used to make for my sister and
THE WEDDING DAY
We actually ended up moving the ceremony to another location the day before the wedding. All along we had planned for the ceremony to take place in this wooded area they called the “sanctuary”. We were going for an enchanted woods (remember, Twilight?!) feel with hanging lights and flowers. When we started setting up, we realised that the mosquitos were way too bad to have the ceremony there! And the venue had already sprayed for bugs twice! We decided to move the ceremony to a more open area near the sanctuary, and we couldn’t have been happier with that decision. Everything was beautiful and more importantly, our guests didn’t get eaten alive by mosquitos!
Our favourite moment was our ceremony was standing across from one another, in front of all our friends and family, exchanging our own vows and sharing our love story, was just so surreal. Our ceremony was such a perfect reflection of us as a couple. There were tears, there was laughter, there were Led Zeppelin lyrics. It was so incredibly perfect.
My [Leigh] favourite moment was when Jessie surprised me and got up on stage with the band to perform a song she had written for me called “Fortune Teller.” I watch Jessie perform almost weekly but seeing my wife on stage at our wedding, in her white jumpsuit, playing a red electric guitar, singing to me, was just the coolest thing.
Leigh’s cousins, Jacoby and Jerritt, were the ring bearers and they walked down the aisle with the same ring pillow that Leigh’s mom used in her wedding 40 years ago.
The only thing we wish we would’ve done differently was to have a videographer. It would be nice to have video and audio of our ceremony, the vows, the speeches at the reception, the band, etc.
WHAT MARRIAGE MEANS
We love the saying “I’ll keep you safe. You keep me wild”. We’ve said it for years, and it’s hanging up on our bedroom wall. We’ve always had a great balance, always valuing our differences as much as our common ground.
Our relationship has always been strong, stable, and loyal. So, in all honesty, marriage doesn’t feel much different (yet). For us, marriage means spending the rest of your life with your best friend, growing and learning from each other every day, and challenging each other, through good times and bad. Marriage means commitment. Commitment to the life you’re building together, commitment to the “we” and not the “me.”
PARTING ADVICE TO OTHERS PLANNING A WEDDING
Don’t sweat the small stuff! The little details may seem important leading up the wedding, but at the end of the day, no one is going to remember the little things you spent so much time worrying about! Just go with the flow, don’t take yourselves too seriously, and focus on what your big day is really about, your love and commitment to each other.
Take a moment to look around and take it all in on your big day. Everything goes by so quickly and the day is such a whirlwind. It’s important to take some time to recognise and appreciate that all of your loved ones are in one place, for one day, celebrating your love.
*All vendors were women. When planning the wedding, Leigh & Jessie wanted to make sure they supported women-owned businesses.
Cake Windy City Dinner Fairy | Catering Story Inn | Ceremony Venue Story Inn | Celebrant Leigh’s Uncle, Doug Bradford | Entertainment That’s What She Said | Florist Eufloric Events | Hair Devin York | Makeup Danelle French | Photographer Nicole Speer Photography | Reception Venue Story Inn | Transport Doug’s Love Bus | Wedding Favours Magnets from Pure Buttons, Candy The Candy Emporium | Wedding Rings Moyer Fine Jewelers | Gown Designer Leigh, Stella York | Bridal Boutique Leigh, The Wedding Studio | Jumpsuit Jessie’s Mom, Beth Phelps | Bridespeople outfits Bella Bridesmaid