• Real Weddings

    Trish & Greg Tie The Knot in Arroyo Grande, CA

    April 28th, 2018

    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography.
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography
    Trish & Greg | Cheetah Photography

     

    When did you know you were meant to be together?

    Greg and I were friends in high school but we both had significant others so after graduation in ’08 we broke up with our SO’s and started hanging out more. I actually ended up moving to Fresno for a bit and Greg would drive up every weekend and either take me back to Bakersfield to spend the weekend or stay in Fresno with me. That’s when we knew this was something special!

    Who Proposed To Whom?

    Greg proposed to me.

    How / Where Did You Get Engaged?

    He took me to Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach at sunset to one of the outlooks (where he asked me to be his girlfriend 8 years ago) it was our 8 year anniversary of being together. He said “let’s go closer to the edge I think I see an otter way out there” I walked close, he stayed back and I turned around and there he was on one knee with the ring!

    What was your Wedding Date?

    April 28th 2018

    Venue?

    Cypress Ridge Pavilion in Arroyo Grande, CA.

    Did you have a Coordinator / Planner?

    My mom and I basically took that job over and did everything ourselves but Jodi (day of coordinator at cypress ridge) was my day of and she was amazing!

    Did you have a Theme / Color Scheme in mind or did you wing it?

    We wanted it to be very simple but pretty. We picked a color called silver sage which is beautiful very neutral and then tan and gold for accents!

    Catering?

    Cypress Ridge provided an amazing dinner.

    Did you have a special cake made?

    We did!! It was by Pardon My French in Grover Beach, CA it was simple with a vanilla buttercream outside and the inside was salted Carmel with some gold splatter on the outside.

    If Yes, what was your Cake Topper?

    A gold cursive “ALWAYS” (because I had to incorporate Harry Potter SOMEWHERE in this wedding) 😂.

    Photographer?

    Nadine cheetah of Cheetah Photography!! Seriously such an amazing woman and so helpful and fun to be around! I couldn’t have chosen better!

    Dj?

    DJ cheetah (Brian Cheetah Nadine’s husband) also so fun to work with and so into doing what we wanted and not starting us in a different direction even though we had some crazy songs we wanted played!

    What was your song?

    ‘Only one in color’ by TRAPT.

    Florist?

    Lori Boe Florist!! She only made my bouquet the girls bouquets were homemade by my mom.

    Hair/Makeup?

    Hair was done by Melissa Martinez of Indie Salon in Arroyo Grande and makeup was done by Lindsay Nettleton of Bakersfield!

    Any advice for couples planning weddings today?

    Don’t get too caught up in the planning. There is always going to be things that you can’t control (like the weather) you only get to do this once and planning is so much fun. Enjoy it and make sure you and your fiancé are planning some things together, it makes for awesome memories! Also it’s a little time consuming but I highly recommend making your own playlist. It adds a personal touch!

    What was your favorite part of your wedding day?

    Dancing!! Just looking around at all the people I love in one spot, all here for us, smiles on their faces and just having the time of their life. That was my favorite part!

    Anything Else You’d Like To Share?

    Take it all in! Don’t be stressed. This day goes by so fast. Just enjoy every minute!

    ——————–

    Photographer: Cheetah Photography | Venue: Cypress Ridge Pavilion Cake: Pardon My French in Grover Beach, CA Flowers: Lori Boe Florist | Hair: Melissa Martinez of Indie Salon | Makeup: Lindsay Nettleton | DJ: DJ cheetah

  • Real Weddings

    Alex & Tristan

    June 24th, 2017

    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    TristanAlex11551-2
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography-3
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Alex and Tristan |Heather Nguyen Photography

    Who proposed to whom? Tristan proposed to me on the Santa Barbara Pier on our anniversary.

    Wedding date? June 24, 2017

    Venue? Edwards Barn in Nipomo, CA.

    Edwards Barn is a product of three historic redwood barns on the central coast that were dismantled and reassembled into one by David and Mavi Edwards. A beautiful location filled with rustic and vintage elements. It is truly unique central coast wedding venue located in Nipomo, CA.

    Catering? Edwards Barn also catered our reception.

    Cake? Cakes Cathedral.

    Serving the Central Coast of California, Cakes Cathedral works closely with their clients to create intricate, sculpted masterpieces into a “less is more” confection your guests will love.

    Cake Topper? Plum flowers arranged around an initial K.

    Photographer? Heather Nguyen Photography 😊

    DJ? Dj Solstice.

    Florist? Darlene Romero and Rebecca Arnold.

    Hair/Makeup? Hair – Alyssa Rivas, Makeup – Myshel Gordon.

  • Weddings & Receptions

    Your Wedding Day Time Capsule Awaits

    “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” -Dr. Suess

    We all know Dr. Suess is right, we just don’t necessarily act on this knowing, especially when in the midst of wedding planning.  And while beautiful wedding day photos and a professionally edited video are wonderful to look back on too, they do not re-connect us emotionally in the same way as a personal message tucked inside a wedding day time capsule does.

    I’ve collected a few ideas to help you incorporate some type of time capsule into your wedding day.  Confession, we did not do this on our wedding day – not because we decided against it, but because we were not aware of it.  [And I absolutely am sufficiently cornball/romantic to have included this.] So heads-up, David. I am thinking of including some version of this into our lives now – almost 2 years post wedding day.

    There are two ways couples usually incorporate the time capsule idea into their wedding day:  “Day of” ceremony time capsule or a Guestbook time capsule.

    “Day of” Time Capsule

    Supplies:  A box & paper.

    Really, the supplies required do not create too high a bar, even for those of us who are DIY-averse or flat-out-of-time.  We have some options on Taylor Street for boxes & stationery that will not only add symbolic significance to the occasion, but also create a true wedding day keepsake.  A shoebox with blank paper or note cards, however, will do just fine.

    Boxes:  Both of these keepsake boxes could first be used for your wedding reception, so they would not only be pulling double duty, they would have the added significance of having been a part of your wedding day itself.

     

    9742-i_tin-box-with-aged-finish-and-blackboard-panel-displaye7f78743c9cbe49c5f9b080822500074__76898-1457381049
    Tin Box with Blackboard Panel Display

     

    9611-33-i_vintage-inspired-wood-case-with-hinged-lidc95734588dbfdba04e83603ee0386dc0__07793-1461195286
    Vintage Inspired Wood Case with Hinged Lid

    Paper:  There are many awesome stationery alternatives available for you to consider.  We have a few for that would work well, like these:

    1177-04-c95459b25d93970e1309ec2d79b01d223f5
    Dandelion Wishes Note Card
    1065-0432dec75297c30d45d75290b7be2541c9
    Fleur De Lis Note Card

    The directions are straightforward. You each write a love letter to your soon-to-be spouse, expressing your feelings on this day — your wedding day — what you are most excited about, your hopes, what is most important to you about this day, and why & when you fell in love with him/her. You know, the emotional kind of “stuff”.

    [And this idea is really awesome for a blended family ceremony – including your children in on the time capsule by adding their own notes makes it even more memorable.  And, it creates a potential family tradition with the opening of the time capsule and its periodic updating.]

     

     

    Guestbook time capsule

    This version has you asking guests to write you a note on a postcard you provide and drop it in your “time capsule” to be opened on your 1st anniversary.  This invites your guests to participate in a way that a guest book signature does not.  Here are a couple of ideas for collecting your postcards.

    93711deaf93273fcf41e069519339bce58a5__57204-1511287399
    Acrylic Box Card Holder

     

     

     

    112436__21423-1480321261
    Wine Barrel Card Holder

     

    Kick it up a notch:  So a year has passed and you’ve opened up your time capsule on your one year anniversary.  You’ve read your letters over a glass of wine and eaten what remains of your wedding cake.  So now what?! Here are a few ideas for what to add for “the next time” — regardless of what time capsule option you decided on — for your 5 year anniversary, 10 year, … or whatever year you agree to re-open it.

    1. Take a picture of the two of you with the time capsule the day you open it up & include it for the next time;
    2. Include that day’s front page from your local paper or print-out from your favorite news source;
    3. Write about:
      1. The hardest moments you faced as a couple your first year;
      2. Your favorite memory of year one;
      3. A goal or prediction for the next time you open your time capsule;
    4. Write another personal note to each other.

    You get the idea, there are lots of things you could include.  Just don’t make this list so long that it gets tedious.

    Close it up, store it somewhere safe.  Done.

    This may become a ritual that you continue the rest of your lives or it may be something you enjoy once and set aside. Regardless, your notes to each other or notes from your friends & family will become something you will be able to look back on, reflect & reminisce when you do happen upon it – especially after it has gathered dust for years.  Your children may also enjoy the opportunity to glimpse a bit more about you as well, in your own writing and in your own words … “when you were young”.

    Life goes by pretty fast and if you are like me, unless we force some pauses along the way to reflect and reconnect, we miss some awesome & inspiring moments, unique opportunities to really connect with each other.

    Your time capsule may help you both re-connect, to a younger you and to each other.  Sweet.

     

  • Real Weddings

    Chuck & Marie

    September 16th, 2017

    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    chuck-marie-wedding-dj-cheetah-cheetah-photography-san-luis-obispo-apple-farm-monday-club-ca181-jpg-web_orig
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    chuck-marie-wedding-dj-cheetah-cheetah-photography-san-luis-obispo-apple-farm-monday-club-ca385-jpg-web_orig
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    chuck-marie-wedding-dj-cheetah-cheetah-photography-san-luis-obispo-apple-farm-monday-club-ca447-jpg-web_orig
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.
    Chuck & Marie |  Cheetah Photography.

    Who Proposed To Whom? 
    Chuck proposed

    How / Where Did You Get Engaged?
    San Diego on a gondola

    What was your Wedding Date?
    September 16th, 2017

    Venue? 
    Apple Farm & The Monday Club in SLO

    Did you have a Coordinator / Planner?
    No

    Did you have a Theme / Color Scheme in mind or did you wing it?
    Grey & Teal with a Bohemian theme

    Catering?
    The Bear & The Wren

    Did you have a special cake made?
    Sea Breeze Cupcakes made a beautiful teal drip/marble cake

    If Yes, what was your Cake Topper?
    Flowers

    Photographer? 
    Cheetah Photography.

    Dj? 
    DJ Cheetah

    What was your song?
    I chose you by Ryann Darling

    Florist? 
    Harbor Florist

    Hair/Makeup?
    Twig & Arrow

    Any advice for couples planning weddings today?
    Hire a Wedding planner

  • Real Weddings

    Megan and Ryan

    August 5th, 2017

    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | August 5th, 2017
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    meganryanwed969.jpg
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography
    MeganRyanWed2970
    Megan & Ryan | Heather Nguyen Photography

    Who proposed to whom?
    Ryan proposed to Megan

    How did you get engaged?
    Ryan proposed at Chamisal Winery in Edna Valley

    Wedding date?
    August 5, 2017

    Venue?
    The Grace Maralyn Estate & Gardens

    Coordinator?
    Molly @ The Grace Maralyn Estate & Gardens

    Catering?
    The Ribline

    Cake?
    Cupcakes by Ribline

    Cake Topper?
    A replica of our dog

    Photographer?
    Heather Nguyen Photography
    Second Shooter- Leana Myra

    DJ?
    Adept Events

    Florist?
    Costco

    Hair/Makeup?
    Kat Slay @ Luna Loft in Paso Robles

  • Real Weddings

    Shannon & Brent

    Who proposed to whom? Brent proposed to me.

    How did you get engaged? We had been happily living in sin together for two years and we were packing for a January weekend away at our favorite little hotel in Philadelphia. He was acting so oddly, I could see him perspiring a little bit on his face, pacing around our bedroom and I thought, Hmmmmmmmm, something is up. I was in our closet grabbing clothes to pack and I turned around to put them in my bag, and he was standing right behind me. He said, I can’t wait until we get to Philadelphia, I wanted everything to be perfect, but I can’t wait. I’m sorry. He pulled out a little vintage ring holder from his pocket, opened it up… and said, I love you, will you marry me? And of course, I said yes. Standing in our little closet, in our little bedroom, in our little house, it was perfect.

    Wedding date? June 10, 2017

    Venue? Sombrero Beach, Marathon Key, Florida

    Coordinator? Moi

    Catering? We had dinner reservations for two after our ceremony at the Butterfly Cafe on Marathon Key.

    Cake? No thank you. Key Lime Pie!

    Cake Topper? LOTS OF WHIPPED CREAM!

    Photographer? Oh we chose a cute, quirky couple that took all of the pictures

    DJ? No DJ, we were serenaded by ocean waves, the island wind, seagulls… and some little boy chasing after an eel swimming around in the reef just off to our right.

    Florist? Me again! I decided that I would make my own bouquet out of crepe paper flowers.

    Hair/Makeup? Me: Thanks to mother nature I had some fresh sunshine on my face, a few loose curls and mascara and done. He: Thanks to poor judgement with head protection and the sun, he was sporting a mean tan line.

    Anything else you’d like to say?
    A little history of us. We met when we were in 2nd grade. We graduated high school together in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. He driving his 1989 Trans Am and sporting a moustache, that could be mistaken for a dirty lip and I with my acid washed jeans and hair lacquered half way up to Jesus. Yes, my friends, it was 1990. We never dated in high school, he hung out with much cooler people (upperclassmen) than I. He had no time for me, and even hung out with my older brother! Ahhh unrequited love. He reconnected with me in 2010 through the magic of Facebook. I was in the Navy in Virginia Beach and he was living in Pennsylvania, we were both newly divorced. He sent a message to me and I thought Go pound sand buddy, you lost your chance a long time ago. But he wore me down and I decided it wouldn’t hurt to be friendly. Besides, it was more than a little flattering that he was interested in me. But I was busy finding myself again after my divorce and wasn’t interested in any sort of relationship. So, we were just friends for a few years and dated other people. I finally retired from the Navy in 2012 and moved to New York to be near family and to figure out the next chapter of my life, about 3 hours away from Brent in Pennsylvania. We were still friends, communicating through text messages… eventually that turned into phone conversations that started lasting longer and longer each time we talked. We eventually decided that he would come visit me in New York, so he drove up to visit me early in January 2013. He stepped out of his car, thankfully not the 1989 Trans Am, and it was the first time we had seen each other since we had graduated in 1990. We spent the day together driving around the area where I was living, visited with my parents, and we went out to eat – our first date.  When he left the next day, we knew that was it. I knew I had finally met the person who set my soul on fire and made me feel deep comfort all at once, this was the love I had hoped for all my life. And he felt the same way. Yippeeeeeeee! I moved to Pennsylvania the following month to go back to school for Graphic Design and to live happily, in sin, ever after. 🙂

  • 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

  • Weddings & Receptions

    Wedding Photos and Our Wedding Album – Advice from a Groom

     

    dd-499

    Wedding photos have [finally] arrived!  Now that bills are paid (ugh) and thank-you’s are mostly written (I know, I’m sorry) we must decide on whether and how to create a wedding photo album.

    The “whether to” decision is an easy one for us – Yes.

    Digitals are great, but digital images are never going to be discovered by your children or grandchildren in the attic.  You will never just happen upon your digital images while sorting through a stack of books left untouched for too long. There is nothing special and almost no intimacy involved in gathering around a device to stare at images that are too small to appreciate.  Wedding photos are best experienced as part of a narrative — a story that unfolds in a deliberate sequence with one image building upon and informing those before, after and around it.

    So as David and I review our images, reflect on the day, and decide how we may want to remember the moments, the wedding album creation & production decision looms — influenced by budget, creative energy, available time, and technological know-how.

    I’ve summarized our wedding album website alternatives into 3 price brackets.  All of these websites have beautiful wedding album examples to get your creative juices going.  Disappointingly, however, none have a same-sex couple prominently displayed in their gallery. Time for some new images everyone.

    $$$$ – Custom design/print/bind service.  We select the basic layout and the cover, upload the images, provide suggestions for any copy we may want to include with particular images or on certain pages and then let someone else create and print.  Cost:  Wide range based on number of pages and cover type, but $600 to $1700 covers most of the options available.  Yikes.

    Two companies we are considering: blendedmotion.net & storybookpages.com

    Blended Motion is a turnkey provider, whereas Storybook Pages focuses on the design component and then allows you to select the print/bind vendor from a list of companies they work with.  Both of these companies work primarily with wedding photographers, but they have expanded their service to “retail” as well.

    $$1/2 – DIY design using templates/print/bind service.  We select from a wide range of pre-formatted designs, most with some customization available, upload the images in the size and position and order we want, then let them produce based on the paper and cover we select. Cost:  $200’ish to $750 covers most options available.

    This is a more competitive market space, and there are a number of companies.  Each of these 3 are worth considering – each with “a look” and particular software & production strengths.

    • Milk wedding focused, minimalist look, basic options, not a budget buster, quality product
    • Blurb oriented to commercial / professional productions, wedding albums as a side business, flexible design system with default templates for the novice
    • AdoramapixTemplate based with plenty of design flexibility, widest price range based on paper type, page count and cover material

    Note:  We are not considering BrideBox. Why? There was no “bride” in our wedding.  Might be a clever sounding name, but it’s not very welcoming to my husband and me.

    $ – DIY design using templates/print/bind service.  The primary difference between this price point and the category preceding is that these two providers are not providing a wedding specific product.  Their design flexibility is more limited and their production options far more limited. Their product, however, is considered high quality with very fast turnaround. Cost:  $100 and under

    • Apple Photo book we are an Apple family.  I was a reluctant convert, but have come to fully embrace (accept) the Apple way of life.  We have used this service before to make albums of family events and the results have been beautiful.
    • Snapfish & Shutterfly excellent for the novice/non-tech user, low cost, high quality, very limited design flexibility, quick turnaround.  You don’t have to own an Apple.

    We are going to go-down-the-middle and use Adoramapix.  We will share the end result when we’ve got it to show.  For us, it’s a good balance of cost, time spent and design flexibility.

    Whatever you decide:

    Don’t overspend/overthink. Better to get your favorite photos printed in a scaled down book than have no book at all.

    Do not let too much time pass.  Your wedding album project will get lost in the “to-do’s” forever…and the story you wanted your wedding photos to tell won’t be telling any stories at all.

  • 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.