How did you meet?
Katie: I moved to Albuquerque in the late summer after graduating college in a small Midwestern town. I was 22. A friend moved down with me and we were determined to have a good time. Every night was a night out—every good-looking guy a potential conquest. Simultaneously, I was starting grad school and getting to know my new peers. We had a small cohort of seven and we were quickly a tight knit group. KC was one of the seven. I realized about three weeks in that I had a crush on her.* I had only dated cisgender men and didn’t (yet) consider myself queer, but I was open to the possibility and decided to go for it. On her* birthday, KC had planned a birthday get together at a bar near campus. I showed up in little white shorts and high heels, my “on-the-prowl” outfit. I had a flirty/nerdy birthday letter for KC and I made a point to talk up all of KC’s friends.
KC: She definitely wore her “game-on” outfit to my birthday! My friends were like, “Damn! Who is that?” And I said, “Just my straight friend from school.” They said, “Uh huh, yeah right.” And they were right! I was getting out of a bad three-year relationship at the time, staying on a friend’s couch. So it was improbable, right? An emotionally damaged queer and a straight chick. But it totally, totally worked.
What about the proposal?
KC: There wasn’t so much one proposal. We went back and forth. Should we get married? Shouldn’t we? And sometimes I thought, “Hell yes, we should get married!” and Katie thought, “No.” And other times, I was a no and she was a yes. It was never about whether or not we wanted to be together, but ambivalence about the institution of marriage. What we knew for sure was that we wanted to start a family, and to be as legally secure as possible, we wanted to get married. Honey, do you remember when we decided about Door County? Like when we decided for sure to get married and made it real?
Katie: Well, I sent you a pseudo-proposal in the mail (from our house to our house) on Valentine’s Day this year. We had been together 8.5 years at that point and had brought it up, on and off, for years. But I think we had firmly decided that the laws were dicey enough in Wisconsin that we needed to get married before having a kid. I don’t remember what exactly I wrote in the note. Knowing me, it wasn’t terribly sappy. We decided to go for it. And then we promptly forgot about it and didn’t talk about it again until later that summer, when we figured we should probably plan the thing if it was ever going to happen.
When did you know you were meant to be together?
Katie: I am not a “the exact moment I knew” sort of person. But. The moment I knew we had a serious connection was on our first accidental date. I was out with other grad students at a bar and invited KC with less than pure intentions. Despite all the reasons in the world not to come, KC came out anyway. At a certain point, the other grad students drifted to another bar, leaving us blissfully unaware of their absence. We danced. The minute our hands touched, I knew there was serious chemistry. But knowing we’d be together for the long haul? That took years to calm my previously relationship-flighty mind.
KC: That night at the bar! I was not officially broken up with my ex, though we were separated and it was imminent. I have a hair trigger for guilt, so when we kissed that night by my car and I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt, that’s when I knew. I mean, I was looking for the guilt and there was nothing. It shocked me and I knew that meant it was right. And I made sure my parents had a chance to meet Katie too. They came into town maybe a month into our dating, but we lived in New Mexico and they live in Virginia, so I thought I’d better jump on it. Part of it was to show them what an amazing person Katie was, and part of it was to show them that this was what queer relationships could be like—important after my last girlfriend.
Wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
KC: I definitely knew I didn’t want to deal with wedding planning. Or, I knew that it freaked me out. I knew there needed to be drinks. And good food. And that it would be non-traditional. Oh! And I knew I didn’t want to see Katie in her dress until we were getting married. Which is pretty traditional.
Katie: We knew, based on the short timeline, budget, and everything else that this would be a small gig. We couldn’t possibly pare down our large, eclectic, scattered friend group to “only essentials,” so it pretty easily became an “immediate family only” affair. We didn’t realize how upset certain family members would be by the lack of an invitation, so we widened the guest list a bit and wound up with 17 total. KC’s mom took the lead in planning (thank god). Neither KC nor I are particularly awesome in that role and KC’s mom thankfully is. I guess the moral of that story is: Wait till the last minute, be kind and open-minded about people’s intense feelings about your special day, and let someone who knows what they’re doing run the show.
What surprised you about planning?
Katie: I was naively surprised at how invested certain family members were. I didn’t realize how staggeringly important our wedding day would be to our family members, nor did I realize how much what we did on our wedding day would matter to anyone who wasn’t us. It turned out that this level of investment from our families helped create the joyful and perfectly executed experience we can all look back on now. Without it, our wedding would have been much smaller, far less organized, and way less memorable.
Is there anything you wish you knew?
KC: Actually, no. There’s nothing I would do differently if we did it again. I might have one less whiskey the night before the wedding. Anything that happened unexpectedly on the day—that it was hot, that Danny forgot the book for the readings during the ceremony, that Aunt Peggy’s blues ringtone went off at just the right time, that we rehearsed for three minutes on the deck that afternoon, all of it for me just gave the day texture, made it feel alive.
Any advice for couples planning now?
Katie: Let go a little. No one remembers the details. They remember the overall feeling and tone of the wedding and you can’t micromanage that. Also, remember that people get weird with weddings, so try not to take peoples’ various opinions and suggestions too personally. That being said, it’s important with queer and trans weddings to set expectations with your guests about what will happen/what pronouns are being used so they can get fully on board. Your day shouldn’t be about your family’s reactions to your love; it should be about your love. So help your more traditional guests out by preparing them ahead of time with what to expect. We did this in a pre-vacation email and reinforced our choices in our wedding program.
One last thing. If you’re going to splurge on anything, splurge on a talented photographer you like. It’s an intimate thing, having your photo taken (several hundreds of times) and the memories created in those photographs will be the most tangible artifacts of your wedding. Don’t skimp on this facet of your big day.
KC: The photographer is SO important. I had no idea, but Katie did. She called one guy and asked how he felt about queer weddings and he said, “I’m a professional photographer. I’ll photograph whatever.” No. Do not choose a photographer who gives you these kinds of vibes. You want someone who sees you, who gets you. Katie found Jen, loved her aesthetic and loved her on the phone. Don’t settle for someone who will photograph “whatever” because you are not whatever. And let people contribute to you and the day. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Letting people participate is a way of loving them and relating to them. And you can let go and just be there. Like Katie said, though, we sent out an email ahead of time letting our family members (who are all straight and all either currently, formerly, or soon-to-be married) know what this wedding means for us. I knew that if anyone referred to us as bride and bride (even on the front of a card) that I would die—I’m trans and don’t identify as a woman. But I hadn’t been very open or explicit about that with my family before, so it was a good (and necessary) opportunity to do that. I guess I’d say do what you need to do to make sure you are recognized and seen and present on your wedding day.
What was your favorite part of the wedding day?
Katie: My favorite parts of the day were when I turned the corner and saw KC standing there with our siblings, all of our family members (some of whom are notoriously late) sitting there at the correct start time in the sunshine. AND when our photographer Jen stole us away for a special magic hour sunset shoot.
KC: I have two. Sitting on the concrete dock by the water that morning writing our vows back and forth. No wait, I have three. Seeing Katie for the first time when she came around the corner and “down the aisle.” She was stunning and I had no idea what her dress would look like or that she would be wearing that headwrap. And Bach’s Cello Suite #1 was playing, which was the perfect soundtrack for a moment that slayed me. And when Jen, our photographer, stole us away for photos before the sun went down. It was intimate and playful and involved just a little trespassing.