Carter is a social media addict with a prolific instagram presence featuring mostly pictures of Brooklyn sunsets; our dog, Austin; and our rabbit, Pico. She works for one of those trendy start-ups that lets her bring Austin to work half the week and drink beer at the office in the evenings. Jo is an industrial designer who builds custom chandeliers for a living and cardboard costumes for fun. She can also bring Austin to work the other half of the week. Austin is a lucky dog. Together, they play on competing teams in the Prospect Park Women’s Softball League in the summer and plan escapes to tropical locations in the winter.
Their story began on a snowy evening in an apartment on the Upper West Side at a dinner party hosted by a bunch of Smithies. They had their first kiss during a viewing of Mary Poppins and weathered a snowstorm with Dominos pizza… “Seven years (and five apartments) later, our taste in movies is still about the same and our taste in pizza has matured to artisanal Brooklyn thin crust.
After seven years together, they decided to get married suddenly and quickly. “Once we finally made the decision, it seemed silly to drag out the process.” Carter didn’t want an engagement band, but Jo did! Carter surprised her with it just before she had to run out to a work Christmas party. She was so excited to finally have it that she just couldn’t wait. It was fun to get to show it off all night with her work crowd!
Carter and Jo just happened to be at Stonewall Inn the day gay marriage became legal in NY State. Back in 2011, the running joke among their friends was “Uh oh, now you have to get married!” It took a few more years before they felt grown up enough for that step… Even though they know that they were both lucky enough to have friends and families that would have embraced the idea of a lesbian wedding regardless of what the legal system had to say. “It was a crazy inspiring experience to go down to the Brooklyn courthouse and apply for the license. There is satisfaction, gratitude, and a little awe knowing how monumental a thing it is to be able to sign a piece of paper and become just another married couple. It’s the juxtaposition of simple and profound that certainly added to the emotions of the whole wedding process.”
They planned the entire wedding in about six months. Once they picked the Mansion Inn as their venue, they quickly realized they were not the only people who wanted to get married there. The choice became: small early spring wedding or wait two years! Waiting two years seemed ridiculous so they opted to act fast and keep it small. “One huge advantage to having a smaller wedding is that you can feasibly do a lot of diy elements. And you can spring for fancy components that give the whole event a more luxurious feel.”
They wanted a wild; bring-the-outdoors-in kind of feel with a ridiculous amount of greenery and big white peonies. They wanted a volume of arrangements and were crazy enough to do it themselves.Their abundant, over the top plans meant that they needed 200 paper peonies. It took two months to make them – each flower took an hour and a half. “We worked on them together while we watched re-runs of Criminal Minds and asked each other all those crazy life goals questions they tell you to discuss before you tie the knot.” Carter and Jo didn’t do a “first look” but opted to get ready together. They took photos outside and around the Mansion Inn. The day was brisk but bright. Instead of stiff posed family photos, Rob, their photographer, dragged a settee out into the woods and they posed everyone against it.
The Mansion Inn owns an old mill across the road and they took advantage for some beautiful sunset photos before desert. After dinner they switched on their pre-planned Spotify playlist for dancing. The Mansion staff packed up and left at some point that evening, but since half the party was already sleeping there anyway, the party continued much later. “We loved this about the Mansion Inn– we didn’t have to take the after party elsewhere when the venue kicked us out at 10 or 11. We fell asleep with the fireplace crackling away in our room.
The couple wrote their nondenominational ceremony themselves. One of their close friends who knew them almost from the moment they became a couple, officiated. They wrote their vows together and read them in a back and forth flow of promises and expressions of love. “I think we made everyone – including ourselves – cry.”
They made their wedding into a four-day affair. Jo and Carter came up two days early to finish up all the last minute details. The couple of days ended up being really wonderful to have. “Having moments to just be together and share prosecco alone in a hotel room anticipating everything to come with this calm, building excitement was wonderful.” Later that night, after all the guests had gone home and they went to their room – the Mansion Inn staff had the fireplace crackling away in the bedroom and had moved some of the flower arrangements into the room and left all the cards next to the bed.
Jo’s “maid of honor” was her sister, Jess. Carter’s “best man” was her brother, Micah. They wanted to keep it simple with their intimate wedding day.
They are just about to go on their honeymoon! Instead of trying to plan both events simultaneously, they opted to wait a little. They planned to go to Mexico for Dia de los Muertos and Halloween! “It has really been nice to have something else to look forward to and plan to fill up that little vacuum that happens after the wedding is over.”
My strategy was to sort of announce it right off the bat in any emailed inquiries so it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone and just hope for the best. Ultimately all of our vendors were just wonderful people and we could not have been happier.” Completely by accident, they discovered that the Mansion Inn was opened and renovated by a gay couple! For the most part, they didn’t deliberately choose their vendors based on this, however. With one exception: Carter carefully selected Bindle & Keep for her wedding suit. She knew she wanted a custom tailored suit and she wanted a company that would understand the masculine fit she wanted without her having to get into long awkward explanations. This choice made a huge difference – traditional suiting vendors haven’t caught on yet in the way they deal with customers. “What might have been a painful, frustrating experience was one of our more enjoyable parts of planning the wedding.”
They didn’t change their names. “Honestly, I didn’t want to change mine because I am working to build my career and didn’t want the change in name to have any affect on that. We will probably have to figure out what to do about this when we decide to have kids. Before that I don’t think it matters that much.”
I would have taken more time to choose out my dress. I rushed choosing it because I didn’t think I had time. Also, I lost 5 pounds from stress just before the wedding so the dress didn’t fit very well.
On one hand, the couple wished they had been able to invite a few more people. But at the same time the intimacy of their wedding was so perfect and they would have missed keeping it this way.
Take time to savor every moment. You rarely get so many people you love together in one space to have a party with you. This is a fantastic opportunity to do so. Do everything you can to get to enjoy it!