• Real Weddings

    Raunn & Tim

    April 22nd, 2017

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    Raunn & Tim | Fitz Carlile Studio
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    Who proposed to whom? Tim proposed to me

    How / where did you get engaged? In our old apartment on Highland Avenue, in Bernal Heights, shortly after he walked in the door from one of those hellishly long work trips to/from South Africa

    Wedding date? April 22nd, 2017

    Venue? Tim’s best friend’s home in Sonoma

    Coordinator? Tim did much of the planning with a big assist from friends Paul & Jerry, who also hosted our family/rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding

    Catering? Eli Grace Catering

    Cake by? Moustache Baked Goods, and aside from it not being a bundt cake, they really delivered on our whacky chocolate bourbon bacon cake with chocolate-bacon buttercreme frosting.

  • Real Weddings

    Seaside Wedding: Michael & Barry

    Michael & Barry were married on August 6, 2016 at Gearhart Beach, Oregon.

    Who proposed to whom? I Proposed to Barry

    How did you get engaged? We went on a 4 day cruise through the San Juan Islands with friends for Barry’s birthday and in the sculpture garden in Roche Harbor, on San Juan Island, the question was popped.

    Wedding date? August 6, 2016

    Venue? Reception: McMenamins Gearhart Hotel, Wedding: Gearhart Beach, Oregon

    Coordinator? Amanda Wolf

    Catering? Gearhart Hotel

    Cake? Laurie Clarke Cakes

    Cake Topper? Sammy’s Flowers

    Photographer? Donny Mays Photography

    DJ? Spencer Crum

    Florist? Sammy’s Flowers (sammysflowers.com)

    Hair/Makeup? We are naturally that beautiful (none needed) LOL

    Macaroons? Didn’t have any

  • Real Weddings

    Santa Margarita Ranch Wedding: Alexis & Lisa

    Alexis and Lisa were married on February 20, 2016 at Santa Margarita Ranch in Santa Margarita, California. Photographed by Nadine Cheetah of Cheetah Photography.

     

    Who proposed to whom? I, Alexis, proposed to Lisa.

    How did you get engaged? I had a hotel room, lined the entrance with candles and in the room had 25 balloons with reasons why I love her attached to the bottom of each one. The ring was in a big gift box and when she opened it I took it and proposed.

    Wedding date? February 20, 2016

    Venue? Santa Margarita Ranch

    Coordinator? We coordinated and planned our wedding.

    Catering? Dickies BBQ

    Cake? Sea breeze cupcakes

    Photographer? Nadine Cheetah of Cheetah Photography

    DJ? DJ Brian Cheetah – DJ Cheetah

    Florist? Bought and put together our own flowers and centerpieces.

    Hair/Makeup? Hair and make up was done by Lisa’s sister Amy Friesen and our friend Ruby Rodriguez.

    This was a totally DIY wedding. We loved planning, building, and decorating everything. We would do it all over again if we could! – Alexis

  • Real Weddings

    Joshua Tree Wedding: Jeremy & John

    Jeremy Constantine Lucido + John Constantine Lucido were married on May 2nd, 2015 at Sacred Sands in Joshua Tree, California.

    First Dance.

    Who proposed to whom? I proposed to John.

    How did you get engaged? After 9 months of falling in love, new experiences, meeting friends and family, and planning the names of our future children, I asked John to marry me. I took John to Joshua Tree, CA to “take photos” for my magazine. After the photo shoot, I handed John my camera to take a look at the photos and as John scrolled through, he found a photo with the question and ring:

    “John, Will you marry me?” -Jeremy

    John said yes.

    Wedding date? May 2nd, 2015

    Venue?Sacred Sands

    Catering?Soho Taco

    Cake?Bring Me Sugar

    Grooms Suits?Topshop

    Grooms Shoes? – Stacy Adams

    Boutonnieres?EUCCA Floral Studio

    Photography? – Gabe Ayala

    Stationary?John Constantine Design

    Succulents?Haus of Cactus

  • Gratitude for Beginners

    The In-Laws

    I am an Uncle. It didn’t really hit me until I was married. Derek and I have been a family for 10 years now and I have always been considered a part of my (now) husband’s family right from the start. Not once did I ever feel like an outsider. But, when we got married I noticed a change. Not in them. They have all stayed the same. It was me. I changed. I didn’t realize until after we were married what I was holding back. I had a wall up that kept me from fully jumping on the “we are all one big family” bandwagon. It all became so clear to me once we were visiting my husband’s brother and family over the fourth of July.

    Just before that, right after the wedding, Derek’s sister and I were kidding around by text calling each other sister-in-law and brother-in-law but, to be honest I was so giddy from just being married that I did not realize how significant that moment really was.

    On the 4th of July we traveled down the coast to visit Derek’s brother Ryan, his wife and daughters. They have a huge Fourth of July party every year and we had never been. They invited us to come down when they came to our wedding. We had never really spent any time with them at all since we have been a couple and I admit I was a little nervous about it.

    They, along with their neighbors, throw this big July 4th celebration. Water ballon fights, BBQ, music, the whole nine yards. It was a fantastic time. But, the moment that stood out for me was the moment his daughters, Megan and Melissa, doused me with water balloons and called me Uncle David. I can’t for the life of me remember the exact way it was used but I remember hearing those two words “Uncle David”. I still get goose bumps every time I think of it. It was probably no big deal to them. They were having a blast and in the moment I was happy to engage and get them back with a few water balloons I had in my hands. The moment was significant. I was an uncle.

    Now, who knows. They may have always thought of me that way. I did not ask and I am OK if they did or didn’t, but I felt different in that moment. Going forward, I am an uncle — their uncle — and not just to 2, but to 5 kids. [Well, kinda, 2 are still kids; the rest are adults.]

    I started to think about what that has meant to me. Derek and I were together for 10 years before we were married. We pretty much kept to ourselves, as a family, with occasional visits until his mother passed away two years ago and we moved in next door to his sister. Why did I keep my distance from family emersion until I was actually married to Derek? Partly ,I believe, it’s a mechanism of safety. Could have something to do with being an only child. A hold over from a past where relationships came and went for whatever reason.

    What struck me the most about this revelation was what I had been missing. I had raised my shields and kept my distance from family politics and engagements. I allowed myself to think that his family did not see me as a member of the family but, as “Derek’s gay lover with a kid”. I did that — not them. I placed my own internal homophobia on them and now I’ve decided to let that go.

    So here I am on the other side. A husband, father, brother in-law and uncle.

  • Baby Showers & Adoptions

    Two Dad’s? No Problem

    School Registration

     

    Sometimes it’s the small stuff.

    This past week our son brought home yet another school form for us to complete with the same information we’ve provided too many times before.  [Why not request this information digitally,  password protect it, and then update on an as-needed basis… different discussion for another time].  I have lined out “mother” every time before with varying degrees of frustration.

    This time I got angry.  This time was different.  After all, we do live in California, we expect better.  But it’s also because despite recent strides in marriage equality, we are witnessing just how quickly progress can be rolled-back and countered.

    This time IT was not “just a little thing”, or a “meaningless detail”.  IT is part of the same continuum on which both North Carolina’s and Mississippi’s recent discriminatory and bigoted legislative maneuvers sit.  While a very great distance separates this form’s lazy and parochial typeset from these new state laws, a gateway to learned hate and discriminatory behavior is right there on the page, and I could not ignore it this time.

    Not long after I snapped a picture of the form, our son noticed the image sitting on my screen and asked me why it was there.  I was both glad for the opportunity and bothered by the need to have something to explain.  When I had finished, he seemed satisfied, and said, “hmmm, why doesn’t it just say parent or guardian”?  That is a good question.  Or why does it assume there are two parents?  Why doesn’t it just simply ask for emergency contacts and let me define their relationship via another blank?

    This form has no doubt been pulled out and photocopied many many times, and given the perpetually overworked public school staff, I continue to feel a need to limit my concerns and objections.  But learning does not happen only inside the classroom.  Waiting silently to be treated differently is unacceptable.

    For LGBTQ families, being treated with fairness and simple dignity are issues that show-up in big and small ways every day.  It was our experience planning our wedding that prompted David and me to open Taylor Street Favors.  Much like our son’s form, signing up for wedding sites or shopping online usually required one of us to be listed as “the bride”.  Same-sex couple selections were buried in drop-drowns — if at all — and were limited in selection or accented with rainbows.

    We are so not about rainbows for our wedding.

    We knew we could do better – and we are.  Taylor Street is a site where no one is excluded.  We welcome and support those who treat others with respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual-orientation, or religious affiliation.  Discriminating on the basis of who we love is wrong.  Excluding a family because there are two moms or two dads is wrong.

    I’m sending a note along with a copy of the form to the school’s principal and asking her to look into what can be done to have the district revise its forms.  As Ellen Degeneres said earlier this week, this is not politics, this is human rights.

    We deserve better.


     

  • Weddings & Receptions

    Yes, we had an ‘engagement’ photo session.

    We had an ‘engagement’ photo session with photographer Jeff Newsom.

    Since we started talking about getting a photographer for the wedding it has felt a little nerve-wracking. I was not comfortable with the idea of being in front of, or followed by, a camera. Do we pose? Do we look at the camera? Do we stare longingly into each others eyes? Do we hold hands? Too many questions. And, at the wedding are we going to FEEL like the camera is watching us EVERY moment? It made sense that we, and by we, I mean I) needed a way to work that nervousness out.

    Working with Jeff on an ‘engagement’ session felt like a way for us to get comfortable with him and him with us. Since Jeff is going to take part in our day we needed to feel like he was comfortable with us as well. Knowing he was sincere in his world meant we would then get real and honest imagery that showed the sincerity of love in our family.

    When we first met with Jeff, he and his wife invited us to their home. That was a big deal. That showed us who he was. We looked at his book. He told us a little about himself and his life and we talked about our family and what we wanted. Jeff and his wife both made us feel right at home. We told him we would take a few days to think about it, but by the time we were in the car we had both decided he was the one.

    We did check out other photographers. Looked at websites, read reviews and made calls to a couple wedding photographers that seemed like they might fit. Face-timed with one of them, but did not get the same easy feeling we got from Jeff.

    When we finally booked Jeff we had decided that we wanted a family photo session and not an ‘engagement’ session. We have been together for nine plus years and it felt like ‘engagement’ just didn’t really fit our situation. We thought it would be more fun to have Leo and the dogs involved.

    For the location we met Jeff at a field at Santa Margarita Ranch. After considering a couple of other locations — the beach, here at home, a winery or two (because wine!) — we decided on Santa Margarita Ranch – it just felt right. The place where we are getting married. There are big fields so we could have the dogs out running around. We could toss the football (I know right! A football.) with Leo and just feel like we had lots of room to roam around with the dogs off leash. Plus, it’s the Historic Santa Margarita Ranch. It’s beautiful!

    So in the end I had nothing to worry about. The photo session was great. Jeff made us feel really comfortable. There is a very authentic way about him. I am much less nervous about that part of the wedding now. I can now let those nerves move over to the guest list RSVPs!

    A few of the photos are below.

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    Derek and David

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    Santa Margarita Ranch Barn
  • Weddings & Receptions

    Surprise Wedding in Hawaii for Gay Military Vets

    How do you surprise a couple with the Hawaii wedding of their dreams in less than 10 hours? All they had to do was #LetHawaiiHappen.

    Christian Alarid, 24, and Shayne Barnes, 27, went to Hawaii thinking they were taking part in a photoshoot for a marketing campaign. Hawaii’s Visitors and Conventions Bureau (HCVB)contacted the couple last year after they got engaged.

  • Weddings & Receptions

    Connect, Don’t Inform — Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

    CONNECT, DON’T INFORM — WRITING YOUR OWN WEDDING VOWS Isn’t that what a wedding is all about — connecting with the people you’ve invited? Why use language that is safe, familiar or politically correct but quickly forgotten by both you and your guests?

    Here’s what David & Derek say. This moment is, maybe more than any other moment of the day, intimate and heartfelt — there just happen to be a whole bunch of people around. Of course you can choose to leave these words to others, to your faith, to an earlier generation, but do so intentionally. Writing your own vows is not for everyone and it does add to “the list”. This can be, however, an authentically personal exchange that is memorable in part because you took the emotional risk of sharing a part of yourselves with friends and family.

    You can scour the internet endlessly for samples and snippets to piece together. A few of my favorite sources are: Offbeat Bride, A Practical Wedding, and the wedding vows section of Pinterest.

    Sources of inspiration: music, family, literature, nature, stillness, even video/TV. The last episode of Season 1 of Grace & Frankie included the following lines that were simple and beautiful, written by Robert for Sol:

    I love you for who you are and who I am when I am with you.
    From this day forth, I freely and joyfully join my life with yours.
    Wherever you go, I will go.
    Whatever you face, I will face.
    I will care for you should you become ill.
    I will comfort you would you feel sad.
    I will bathe in your joy.
    I am yours completely and forever.
    I take you as my partner for life, and I will give myself…to no other.

    I often am inspired by listening to Terry Gross interviews on Fresh Air. Recently, she interviewed Nadia Bolz-Weber, an awesomely unconventional pastor and founder of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. This interview was one of those National Public Radio “driveway moments” for me. Her perspective and observations resonate. Recent sermons and an excerpt from her book are on her website.

    Other things to consider…
    1. Check with your officiant.
    2. Do you want your vows to match in terms of tone and length?
    3. Length is not indicative of importance.
    4. Rehearse.
    5. Share beforehand?
    6. Emotional impact and when is it TMI.

    The words you choose will never be perfect, and this is not the point. As Nadia says in her book, Accidental Saints, “Human love is never pure or perfect. We just aren’t that kind of species. There are cracks in everything and even the most shining aspects of our lives — even love, or perhaps especially love — come with imperfection.”

    Damn, wish I’d written that.