Julie and Lou live in Arizona. But Julie grew up in Massachusetts, and her family is all in MA. So the couple decided to plan their wedding celebration at Gibbet Hill Barn in Groton, MA with plans for a gathering of their friends back in Arizona.
I love when LGBTQ+ couples can find me from another state through the magic of Google. I mean we all Google search all the time, sure. But for LGBTQ+ couples, planning a wedding long distance, it can be frightening to put your trust in an algorithm. How do you find welcoming venues and vendors, and how do you trust that they’ll really be there for you when you don’t get a chance to meet in person? That’s why I love it when LGBTQ+ couples find me, because I know I’ll take super great care of them.
For Julie and Lou, my taking care of them took on added layers of meaning.
We had several phone calls so they could share their story with me. Super cool women, both really into theater and their community. They wrote their ceremony in the form of a 4 Act play (how cool is that?!!!!).
They also created a labyrinth printed on a floor canvas which would be center stage in their ceremony. It was fun sharing labyrinth experiences and a mutual appreciation for the meditation, history and artistry inherent.
Julie and Lou learned quickly that we have a bunch of similar interests, which put them at ease and also fueled their excitement. Now that they knew we were kindred, they felt comfortable sharing that they were in need of an officiant…..but not an average, run-of-the-mill officiant. They were looking for someone who welcomed them as a lesbian couple, sure. And they were really wanting someone who connected with the depth and meaning of the ceremony they were creating, but that wasn’t religious. I knew just the person! I made the introduction, and they clicked!
Fast forward several months to the week before the wedding. The couple flew into town a week before their wedding. They had this planned beautifully!!!! Every darn detail. Julie’s family was so happy to celebrate all week with the wedding couple. More family that lived on the east coast, but not nearby, were planning to fly or drive up to MA. A select group of their closest friends / chosen family planned to fly in from Arizona a day or two before the wedding. Everything was scheduled and ready to go.
Enter Mother Nature.
Julie and Lou had to plan their wedding based on school vacation days (Julie’s a teacher). January in Massachusetts means snow. They loved the idea when planning. Arizona sure doesn’t have snow! How quaint and picturesque to have snow covered ground around the elegant barn setting of Gibbet Hill. What no one could plan for was a record-breaking snow and ice storm that lasted 3 days, and took out the power of half the eastern states!!!! Eight feet of snow and complete power outtages!!!! That meant that they had no power in their hotel or homes. There was no power at the venue. Refrigeration and catering had no power. Oh, and airports and roads were closed, so no traveling guests could get here!!!! There was a literal state of emergency.
Lou was holding it together pretty well, but Julie was a nervous wreck!!! Lou was in touch to ask if I was available a day or two after their scheduled date. The venue had no power, and no one was allowed on the roads, but they hoped to get generators and be able to host the celebration once the roads were passable. I realized, at this point, that the best thing I could do for this couple was soothe Julie. Gently I assured her of my flexibility and commitment, and further of the commitment of her loved ones to support them. Yes, I have 4 wheel drive and love to drive in the snow. No problem for me. But most importantly I refocused Julie toward the true meaning of all their effort. One way or another, one day or another, she will be marrying the love of her life. Even over the phone, I could hear Julie’s anxiety melt into tears of joy.
Two days later than planned, with several guests not able to arrive but the most important chosen family finding a way to get there, Julie and Lou had a gorgeous wedding celebration filled with all the nuance and meaning they’d intended. Julie’s Greek mother brought the wedding crowns from her marriage to Julie’s father and placed them on Julie and Lou’s heads while giving a Greek blessing.
Three of their dearest friends as well as Julie’s sister read from the play the couple had written. Julie’s nephew brought joy and comic relief. Remember that officiant I referred to the couple? Turns out she’s Greek as well, and when Julie’s mom wanted to dance Greek circle dances, the officiant was right there holding mom’s hand, singing the songs and starting the circle dances.
All kinds of unplanned things can happen in Life. It’s becomes a question of how you roll with the shifts. Julie and Lou rolled really well and had an incredible, intimate, powerfully moving wedding day. We became quite close through the experience, which brought even more meaning to us all. We pulled together like a family.