LGBTQ

Michelle + Alice: An Intimate Lakeside Madison Wedding

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Michelle + Alice had a laid-back and family-centered summer wedding overlooking gorgeous lake Mendota

When Michelle first approached me about photographing her wedding to Alice, she was up front that it was going to be a small shindig, and that they were only looking for a small number of photos, but one of the things that was most important to her was being able to have photos not just of her and Alice, but also of the two of them with Michelle’s 5 year old daughter, Maddie as well.

Michelle talked a lot about how special the relationship was between Alice and Maddie, and as a person who knows how pivotal a step-parent relationship can be (and so thankful that my kiddo has two amazing step-parents who love him dearly and who he loves just as much), it was so wonderful to see the really neat bond between Alice and Maddie.

On the day itself, both brides looked joyful and radiant (love has that effect on folks), and so damn happy and excited it made me smile from ear to ear! After the first look at Alice’s parents’ house, we headed over to a friends house right on Lake Mendota for the wedding ceremony! Right when I met Maddie, she dubbed me ‘her’ photographer, and proceeded to show me the dolls that Michelle + Alice made at her request that looked like the two of them (who Maddie calls Mama and Mommy, respectively). I was impressed by the ingenuity of the dolls, because, as Michelle pointed out, it’s actually pretty hard to find a butch lesbian asian doll, so they basically made one, and I’d say they did a pretty great job.

Once everyone had a little food in them, it was time for the ceremony. For what was to be a fairly short ceremony, I was moved to tears on more than one occasion as Michelle + Alice not only promised to love and care for one another, but also read their own vows to Maddie centered around family and unity. *I’m not crying, you’re crying*

The ceremony ended and as I packed up to head out, I still had that big smile on my face because Michelle + Alice’s wedding was a sweet reminder of how amazing love can be, and because I could tell these two awesome humans view love similarly to how I do, which is a thing you do, not just a thing you feel.

Enjoy the photos, and thank you for having me there to celebrate with you!

-Sam

 
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Sarah + Mabel: A Pretty Freaking Magical Northside Wedding

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Dinosaurs, Tetris, and Rainbows, Oh my!

From the second I first met Sarah + Mabel, I knew they were one of a kind, and that their wedding was going to be amazing. What I didn’t know was just just how much fun we’d have celebrating with Sarah + Mabel and their friends and family! We may or may not have danced the Time Warp during the tail end of the reception. ;)

The theme of the day was dinosaurs (yay!), Tetris (Mabel is a champion at Tetris), and rainbows, and it came together so beautifully! Seriously, check out those bouquets!

More than just an amazing wedding though, these two share a love that is so ridiculously pure and joyful that it’s hard to put into words, so I’ll let Sarah say it for me:

“We both love to make each other laugh. No one gets my sense of humor like Mabel does, and that's the main reason a mutual friend set us up seven years ago. Whenever I'm on the brink of tears, she knows the right thing to say to build me back up and make me smile. And going from tears to laughter is a wonderful thing. Whether cooking, on a roadtrip, exploring Madison or walking with our dog, we just make a great team!”

This type of love is something so special, it’s a joy to witness. We are so honored to have been able to celebrate with these two and their families, and wish them all the joy in the world!

—Sam

p.s. If you’d like see their AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL engagement photos, check them out here.

Here are all the kickass vendors (with links) who helped make Sarah + Mabel’s day so wonderful!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Warner Park Community Recreation Center

Officiant: Lindsey Joo (friend of brides)

Wedding DJ: Patrick with Kuhl Entertainment

Hair Stylist: Union Hair Parlor

Florist: Naly’s Floral Shop

Event Coordinator: Shantastic McAwesome (of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls)

Wedding Desserts: Cake by Bloom Bakeshop & Cupcakes by Looking Glass Bakery

Table/Chair Rental: Event Essentials

Catering: Working Class Catering & Blue Plate Catering

 
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Megan + Bri: An Intimate State Capitol Wedding

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This micro wedding was super sweet and colorful! 

Megan + Bri met at a roller derby after party at Plan B, spent the evening talking about My Little Pony, and everything just clicked from there! They love spending time together fishing, hiking, watching PBS, and playing games, or cuddling with their two kitties, Little and Georgia! 

Their wedding was very intimate, with just their two sets of parents, Bri's sister, and Megan's aunt, and was absolutely lovely. Megan's dad bought a rainbow umbrella in case of rain, and while it wasn't originally part of the plan, pretty much everyone in attendance had their picture taken with the umbrella, even Judge Kloppenburg! 

It was such an honor to photograph their wedding, celebrate with them, and cheer with the bystanders at the Capitol building when they said 'I Do'! Congratulations to Megan + Bri! 

--Sam 

 

Here are all the vendors (with links) that helped make their wedding day awesome! 

Ceremony Venue: The Wisconsin State Capitol Building

Officiant: Judge Kloppenburg

Megan's Dress: Brandi's Bridal 

Bri's Suit: Men's Wearhouse

Rings: Family Heirlooms

Florist: Klein's Floral

 

 
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Representation Matters, Especially in the Wedding Industry

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Why it's important to represent more than just straight white couples 

Don't get me wrong, we love straight white couples! But if there is one type of couple that the wedding industry loves to represent, almost exclusively, it's straight, able-bodied, thin and conventionally attractive white couples. 

Here's the problem with that... When you only represent one type of couple, you leave so many other types of couples feeling left out and undervalued. I remember talking with a friend, who is also in the wedding industry, about her experience planning her own wedding and how as an African American woman getting married to a white man, she had a really hard time finding any wedding magazines, blogs, etc. that had any couples that looked like her and her fiancé. I've heard the same thing from countless couples we've worked with, and that fucking sucks. 

So, while checking my Instagram insights recently (I know, I live a very exciting life), I was overjoyed to see that out of my top 6 most liked photos ever on Instagram, 4 of them were of LGBTQ+ couples and 2 included people of color. This tells me two things... 1) That I have the right audience on Instagram for the type of work I want us to be doing (yay!) and 2) That people are thirsty for wedding photos and inspiration that aren't just straight, white, able-bodied, thin and conventionally attractive couples. People want to see wedding inspiration and wedding photos that look like them, and surprise, people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and orientations and gender expressions!  

We've had couples hire us because not all of the weddings we blog are of super skinny people. We've had couples choose us because we're so vocal about how much we love LGBTQ+ weddings, and so they felt very valued by us. We've had other couples hire us because we understand some of the unique challenges of a wedding day when one or both people in the couple suffer from a chronic, debilitating illness. We've had couples hire us because we have experience taking beautiful photographs of folks with darker skin tones. Other folks have hired us because of our work with Our Lives magazine or the fact that we're super cool working with non-binary and trans clients or because we're cool with poly or ethically non-monogamous couples. Ultimately, people want to know that a wedding vendor, particularly a photographer, is excited to work with them specifically. 

Recently, clients of ours shared a really powerful story with us. This couple has a family friend whose child came out as non-binary. They showed this friend and their child the blog post about Miles + Daniel's non-binary, queer as hell wedding (check out the photos here) and seeing a non-binary person (Miles) so happy and supported, celebrating a wedding, was really powerful for this kid. They said that it helped them see how they could live authentically as themselves, and gave them hope for what an adult life could look like as a non-binary person. I was brought to tears when our clients shared this story with me. Representation matters. It can make such a difference in ways you can't even recognize right away. 

As a small business owner, and as a human, it is so important to me that, to the best of our ability, we're representing those who are traditionally underrepresented in the wedding industry. That's why our focus has long been on diverse and offbeat couples. In particular, serving the LGBTQ+ community is important to me as a person who identifies as queer. That's also why we love the Offbeat Bride site so much! They do a great job of representing a wide variety of folks who don't get much love in the more traditional wedding industry. I want our business to be like that, but specific to photography. I want people to come to our website or social media pages, and be able to really see themselves in the images and stories they find here. 

I want to give so much gratitude to our amazing clients, and thank all of you for putting your faith in us to tell your story in a way that is authentic to you. (I'm not crying, you're crying). 

-- Sam 

p.s. If you have any suggestions for us on how we can continue to strive for that goal, please drop us a line!

Ann-Marie + Yasmine: A Fancy BBQ Picnic Wedding celebration

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These two had a BBQ Picnic Wedding celebration with Fancy AF Dresses, Sock Puppets, and a Little Surprise for Guests During the First Dance! 

Ann-Marie + Yasmine (Fraggle as her friends call her) originally got married in April of 2016, but have been planning a celebration of marriage event for the last year or so! They wanted a laid-back, BBQ in the park kind of wedding celebration, with good friends and family, plenty of great food, and fancy *AF* bridal gowns! 

Spoiler alert: They nailed it! 

In addition to some seriously stylish dresses and amazing food, these two also had some awesomely fun sock puppet kits as their party favors for guests; How cool is that?! 

AND during their first dance? You guessed it, they rickrolled the hell out of everyone, and it was awesome! Particularly since I very non-ironically love the song 'Never Gonna Give You Up'. 

We are thrilled to have been able to celebrate the wedding of these two amazing individuals! Congrats you two!

-- Sam 

 

Here are the vendors (with links!) who helped make their day awesome! 

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Village of Belleville Community Park

Officiant: Dan "Canada" Killem (a family friend)

Event Coordinator: Gette (a partner)

DJ: Darkstone Management

Bridal Gowns: Both from Vera's House of Bridals

Florist: Blooms by Brandi

Wedding Desserts: Hubbard Ave Diner

Catering: Smoky Jon's BBQ

 
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Mary + Tanya: A Romantic Downtown Madison Wedding

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A sweet and enthusiastic wedding celebration!

Mary + Tanya met at a New Year's Eve Party in 2016 and started dating after their first real hangout at the Crystal Corner Bar on Willy Street (a Madison staple!) I think the story of their engagement, in particular, really tells you just how excited these two were to start their life together! The couple took a vacation to Florence, Italy, and even though Tanya had a ring waiting back home, and a proposal planned involving the their kitten, she was so excited that she spilled the beans about the proposal one night in Florence, after a particularly romantic Rick Steve's "Renaissance Walk," audio tour. They picked out a placeholder ring at one of the many gold and sliver shops along the Ponte Vecchio and celebrated by eating gelato everyday until returning home. 

That enthusiasm carried over into every aspect of their engagement (check out these FREAKIN' ADORABLE engagement photos by clicking here) and into their wedding day! We see a lot of amazingly in love couples, and you could tell how incredibly devoted Tanya + Mary are to each other in how excited they were to see each other for their first look, how they held hands, and looked at each other all throughout the day, how they both teared up during their wedding ceremony, and how much they danced and laughed and celebrated at the reception! 

It was an honor to celebrate with them, and we are wishing all the happiness in the world! Congrats Mary + Tanya! 

--Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) that helped make their wedding day awesome! 

Ceremony Venue: First Unitarian Society

Reception Venue: The Madison Concourse Hotel

Wedding Dress: Brandi's Bridal 

DJ: Jukebox Bandstand (Austin) 

Cupcakes & Cake: Bloom Bake Shop

Catering: The Madison Concourse Hotel

 
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Mary + Tanya: A Cozy and Colorful Engagement Session

 
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A super fun Session on Willy Street 

Have I mentioned before how lucky we are when it comes to our clients? We seriously work with the best couples (not that I'm biased lol), and Mary + Tanya are definitely another exceptional couple on that list! They were so fun, quick to laugh (a trait I love in other humans), and were so sweet and intimate with each other, that they were just a joy to photograph. The session included running into a coworker of mine canvasing to make sure people are registered to vote (hi Jane!), a 'stolen' scarf and some gifted mittens, and the world's quickest wardrobe change behind a random house on Willy St. With adventures like that, how could we not be excited about their wedding next May?! 

--Sam 

 

Sarah + Mabel: A Northside Engagement Session

 
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Sunsets, puppies, and tetris.... oh my! 

These two super sweet ladies were a blast to hang out with (and to photograph)! They met six and a half years ago, when they were set up/introduced by a mutual friend, and have been together ever since. While we were taking their engagement portraits, I got to hear about one of their first dates, where they made moussaka (a kind of Greek lasagna) together, and how they decided to become vegetarian at the same time about 5 years ago. I got to hear about how Mabel loves Tetris, and how they named their new ‘puppy’ Leo, after a blind mathematician, because he’s also blind (and a super sweet 9 year old ‘puppy’ at heart!). We took some photos with Leo (the newest member of the household) and then headed over to Governor Nelson State Park to take advantage of the seriously gorgeous weather. They were so fun to hang out with, and not only am I glad I got to know them a bit better, but I’m so excited we’re photographing their wedding next year!

--Sam

 

Tiny Dinosaur

 
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Tiny Dinosaur at the Hot Summer Gays event at ROBINIA Courtyard

I got to experience three firsts on 8/19/2017; I got to check out Robinia Courtyard for the first time (it's awesome!), got to attend my first Hot Summer Gays event (if you're in Madison and you're queer and you haven't heard of Hot Summer Gays - click here for more info!), and got to see my friend's band, Tiny Dinosaur, play for the first time! 

As I was telling Allison, the band's guitarist and song-writer, after the show, going to see a friend's band for the first time is always nerve-wracking because, well, what if you don't like it?! Well thankfully, that was not a problem. They killed it with lyrics like "It takes a tiny amount of effort not to be a shitty person" (so true) and the beautiful song Hello Neighbor, which threatens to make it onto every mix make in the next two years. #sorrynotsorry

You should definitely see them live, and check out their work here: https://tinydinosaur.bandcamp.com

Here are some pics from the set, and of the scene at Robinia Courtyard! 

--Sam 

p.s. Check out the cutest doggo pride shirt at the end!

 

Fruit Fest 2017

 
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Madison's own LGBTQ Music festival 

I love Fruit Fest, and I was so excited that I was able to go this year, because most years we're already booked for a wedding, but when the stars align and I'm able to attend, it's always a good time. 

Fruit Fest is Madison's annual LGBTQ music festival, and the acts are always wonderful, the vibe always nice, and the Plan B parking lot always colorful! Enjoy the photos, and if you're around for next year's Fruit Fest, come say hi! 

--Sam

 

Miles + Daniel: A Queer as Hell, Non-Binary, DIY Wedding!

 

Miles + Daniel and the technicolor wedding! 

I would expect no less from two people as cool as they are!

Miles is a spectacular and colorful non-binary person (they/them pronouns), and is one of my favorite humans on earth (being a former roommate of mine, and just generally magical), and Dan has become another favorite of mine in the time that I've known him. He has even second shot on weddings with me when Rob had a schedule conflict!

Miles and Dan met at a Books in the Buff reading (if you're in Madison and they ever do one of these again, check it out!) and they've been inseparable ever since. When they decided to get married, they knew they were going to do it their way, and that was that. For the past year, they've been hand-folding rainbow colored origami cranes and flowers to decorate their yard with for the wedding day. They opted out of exchanging rings, and instead exchanged a beautiful mask (for Miles, from Dan), and a kick-ass Alien cane (for Dan, from Miles). Mile's metal antler headpiece was the star of the day (by the end of the night, nearly everyone had tried it on). More than 10% of the guests were wearing Kilts (mostly of the alternative variety). Instead of a wedding party, they had their guests link arms with them and walk them up the aisle! They didn't really dig the 'husband' and 'wife' labels, which also didn't really apply to a non-binary individual, so Miles opted for 'WifeKing' as their official married title, and Dan opted for 'Champion' as his. I love this so much! 

During planning for the wedding day, and in talking about wedding details, Miles and I also noticed that there wasn't a good gender-neutral term to replace 'Bride', so Miles, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the definitive, gender-neutral replacement for 'Bride' was 'PRIDE'. You're welcome! 

Miles + Dan are two individuals who live their life openly, proudly, and without reservation. Their love and care for each other, and their friends and family is amazing, and truly, a picture is worth a thousand words here because I can't begin to describe the awesomeness of their wedding, and also the two of them as people. 

The wedding day was perfect, and ended in the queerest way possible; A double rainbow. A very fitting end to a very colorful wedding! 

--Sam 

p.s. Miles will be writing a guest blog post about navigating the wedding industry as a non-binary person, so stay tuned! 

 

Here are the wedding vendors (with links) that helped make Miles + Daniel's day amazing: 

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Their house

Officiant: Chris Marshaus

Event Coordinator: Karen Corbeill

Photobooth: Peek-a-Booth, handmade by the amazing maker, Karen Corbeill 

Hair: Janet Lust

Headpiece (Antlers): Idolatre Clothing Co.

Majora's Mask: SkinzNhydez

Wedding Desserts: The Chocolaterian Cafe

Catering: Banzo

Table + Chair Rental: A La Crate Vintage Rentals

Papercrafts: Handmade by the PRIDE + Groom, and super nice friends

 

Come In From The Cold

 

Do you ever feel like a tourist in your own life? 

And not in a fun "Oh isn't my life exciting?!" kind of way. More like a feeling of maybe not quite fitting in, or just being on the outside looking in. 

I have a particular affinity for a Joni Mitchell song called "Come in From the Cold", and of course the lyrics are amazing, because Joni Mitchell is a ridiculously talented artist, but also because a chorus proclaiming "All I ever wanted was just to come in from the cold..." really speaks to me in a way I can't quite put my finger on. 

This vague 'outside looking in' feeling persists in most situations, and has, for most of my life. Feeling like a guest instead of at ease when visiting family in states I no longer call home. Not feeling queer enough in LGBTQ spaces because I'm married to a man and so it isn't apparently obvious that I'm not straight. Feeling a little out of place in the leadership team at my 9-5 work because I don't have a college degree, don't own a single power suit, and am not particularly good at networking. Feeling like an outsider in creative circles because I get nervous around large groups of people, particularly people I feel are considerably more talented and successful than I am, and so have a hard time not just reverting to quiet observation instead of interaction.

I don't know what makes that feeling go away. I thought it would be achieving some measure of success, so I would feel "legitimate", but, unless I just haven't hit the right level of success yet, I don't think that's it. So, if it's not success that makes imposter syndrome go away, then how does one overcome that uncomfortable feeling of not belonging? Asking for a friend. (Just kidding, all my friends have their shit together way more than I do, or at least are very confident in not having their shit together). 

I wish I knew what the magic combination of success, confidence, talent, and stick-to-itiveness is that makes one feel like they have a definitive right to take up space in circles they would be otherwise welcome in, save for their own inhibitions and fears. Since I don't have that recipe yet, I'm just taking it one step at a time. I'm attending regular creative entrepreneur meetings, I'm having fun with our photography clients and continually learning better ways to serve them, I'm attending Pride parades and equality marches, I'm doing my best at my daytime work to not feel like a fraud, though I draw the line at purchasing un-ironic power suits. And what else can one do really, besides keep moving forward? 

What do you do that helps you when imposter syndrome comes on strong or when you feel like an outsider? If you do nothing else, just remember that you're not alone. 

--Sam