Lauren had struggled with the lack of acceptance from her family since her teens, when she was unwillingly outed by a member of her church. Lauren was Tara’s first same-sex partner, and initially. the relationship was kept secret from their friends – they worked together and didn’t want to risk losing their jobs. With time, patience, and a few tears, they gained acceptance from Lauren’s family, came out to their friends, and built a beautiful life together.
Tell us about the first time Tara met Lauren’s family, who are religious.
T: One of my favorite memories was getting to meet Lauren’s family for the first time. Lauren had struggled with coming out to her family, mostly because of their religious beliefs. Over a period of a few years, they became more accepting of Lauren as a gay woman and eventually opened up to the idea of meeting me (her partner at the time).
The first time I was invited to visit with the family, I was so happy, yet very nervous. When we got there, everyone was so welcoming and loving, especially Lauren’s great-grandmother, who is now one of my favorite people in the world.
Tell us about the proposal.
L: I was itching to propose to Tara for a while but was unsure how to go about doing it in the most perfect and unique way possible. Tara is the hardest to keep a secret or surprise from, so when we planned on traveling to Tennessee to visit my family (who Tara was meeting for the first time), I knew that there was no way that she would suspect it. We both love museums and exploring cities we visit, so I found the Knoxville Museum of Art and decided to propose there- just the two of us. I researched and discovered the museum was exhibiting an artist who had a piece that formed the shape of a large heart.
When we arrived at the museum that morning, I found the piece and then waited until everyone left that gallery. I’m always taking photos of Tara, so I told her to look at the artwork while I took her picture. While standing behind her, I very nervously took out a hand-stamped note I had made that read, “Will you marry me?” then snapped a photo of it with her and the heart in the background. When she turned around, I showed her the picture and then pulled out the ring.
We didn’t realize until after that, that one of the sweet museum employees had witnessed the entire proposal from the doorway, and when we turned around after crying and hugging, a group of the museum staff was there clapping and cheering for us! I hadn’t planned anything with them, so it was the best surprise for us both. It was the most perfect and special day.
Why did you choose to elope?
T: We were engaged when I was finishing my master’s degree, and we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a wedding. On our search for an alternative to a pricey event, we fell in love with the idea of an adventure elopement. We found Lunalee Photography on Instagram and were in awe of their work. Lunalee held a contest to give away a Colorado elopement, so we entered, and we won! We agreed that it would be a perfect wedding day for us.
We decided not to keep our plans secret from our friends or close family. We met a little resistance when we told Lauren’s extended family about our marriage, but most of our loved ones congratulated us.
Talk us through the elopement day.
We flew into Denver the day before the elopement and drove three hours south to Crestone, Colorado, to our Airbnb. The drive was beautiful, and the town of Crestone was remote, quiet, and very lovely.
The following day, we awoke to a beautiful mountain sunrise, went into the small town of Crestone, and had breakfast at an organic market. We came back to our room and had a short nap before getting ready for the ceremony. We had a stylist come to us and do our hair and makeup, and when we were ready, we had our first look on the rooftop terrace at our Airbnb. The views were breathtaking from the terrace, and it made for a perfect first look moment.
From there, we put on our hiking boots, jumped in our rental Jeep, and drove to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. With our photographers Christlyn and Erik, our videographer Remy, and our stylist Ashley, we hiked up the dunes to a gorgeous spot where we said our vows. We then popped our bottle of True Colours Cava Brut to celebrate!
We spent the next few hours running through the dunes and exploring the beauty of the endless sand with the mountain backdrop. On our hike back, we FaceTimed with our dearest loved one, Lauren’s mother, Jolie.
What does the future hold for you both?
We are beginning our journey of motherhood this year as we prepare to grow our family! Lauren will be carrying our first baby, and we will be using a fertility specialist and a donor bank. Life is so good, and we have so much more to come!
Photography by Lunalee Photography
Accessories Molded Dreams
Cake Voodoo Doughnut
Cinematographer Canyon Creation Studio
Decorative Elements Oxford Pennant
Dress Boutique Kathleen’s Bridal
Dress Designer Lotus Threads
Florist Blair Bailey Design
H&MU A Vow to Artistry
Location Great Sand Dunes National Park
Signage SNL custom Cue Card
Suit Designer Banana Republic
Wedding Rings Zales