When little lesbian girls dream of their wedding day, they probably envision it happening on top of a mountain in Southern California with zero actual family members and 300 members of their big queer “family,” many of whom they do not actually know personally. They probably imagine a 23-year-old comic-book writer / forever intern serving as their ring bearer, substituting a stuffed dog named Tinkerbell (she used to be a purse) for the traditional pillow. They imagine a 25-year-old Jewish vagabond flower girl whose primary relationship to flowers is a preference for floral print dresses tossing petals into the wind. They probably imagine a Wedding Officiant who received her certification on the internet for $35 and has questionable public reading/speaking skills. They probably imagine a banquet held in a cafeteria designed for rowdy eight-year-olds.
Well, this May, two very lucky lesbians saw that dream come true — AND THEN SOME.
This is their story.
Brendin, Autostraddle.com’s editorial assistant and merch girl, met Carrie 19 years ago in Mrs. Stevens’ Honors English Class in Hueytown, Alabama. They were only sixteen years old, and they’ve been happily together ever since!
In 2011, Brendin and Carrie moved from Florida to California, secretly hoping that one day they’d have the chance to legally marry each other in this fine state. When that finally became possible, Carrie decided that she wanted to propose to Bren — and that she wanted to do it as a surprise at Autostraddle’s A-Camp in October 2013. Brendin was working at camp and thus had no idea that Carrie was driving seven hours from Walnut Creek to Angelus Oaks, California, to propose to Bren on the last night of camp.
Everybody cried, it was beautiful.
So, of course, when Bren asked if we’d like to host the actual wedding at A-Camp May we were like OBVIOUSLY YES. Maybe we aren’t blood relatives, but Bren’s been a part of my and Laneia’s cyber-universe for something like eight years now, and has been daily working behind-the-scenes to make Autostraddle operate seamlessly for the last three. In other words: Bren and Carrie are a part of our family, and we wouldn’t miss their wedding for the world.
Although a variety of life factors have prevented the timely release of our A-Camp 5.0 Recamps, we had to get this wedding to you ASAP because y’all looked so cute. Let’s begin!
A-Camp May 2014 took place May 21st-26th in Angelus Oaks, California at Alpine Meadows Camp and Retreat Center. Bren and Carrie made an invitation for every A-Camper, slipping them into the mini-mailboxes A-Camp Co-Director Marni so lovingly creates every year.
Alpine Meadows is already an idyllic setting for a romantic wedding, but Aja‘s flower crowns and Bren’s paper bouquet added important touches to the ambiance of this formidable occasion. “Riese, I learned how to make origami lilies for this woman,” Bren told me. “Clearly there is nothing I won’t do.”
Furthermore, Interior Design Captain Leader Of All Things That Look Good, AB Chao, had spent the morning making Fire Pit #1 look like an official Wedding Venue and coordinating Serious Wedding Crafting.
As campers relaxed at the pool, visited the A-Camp Salon and otherwise enjoyed the spring afternoon, tiny mice/humans were preparing for the big show.
In Carrie and Bren’s luxurious honeymoon suite, which offered the couple the chance to remember what it was like to sleep in a twin bed and to share a bathroom with six other people, hair stylist Kara Hurston was hard at work on Carrie’s hair.
Then makeup artist Marla Verdugo worked her magic.
We were running a wee bit behind schedule, but were full of hope just the same.
Meanwhile, everybody gathered at the fire circle to blow bubbles in the air and eagerly anticipate this monumental event.
The brides looked fantastic.
As we were heading down to Fire Circle #1 a mere 20 or so minutes behind schedule, we heard the opening chords of Joan Jett’s “Crimson and Clover,” which was the song our Ring Bearer Grace and Flower Girl Vanessa would be walking down the aisle to. It seemed they had started without us!
A-Camp Co-Director and Photographer Robin Roemer, because she is Boss, immediately radio’ed DJ Carlytron and was like STOP THAT RIGHT NOW HOLD THE PHONE SERIOUSLY NO WE CANNOT START UNTIL I AM THERE WITH MY CAMERA JESUS ALMIGHTY. START OVER. START OVER.
So we started over, with Crimson and Clover:
I hear it was even better the second time. Vanessa threw flowers, Intern Grace walked down the aisle while feeling weird that everybody was looking at her, Tinkerbell looked amazing, and basically everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
Then Carrie walked down the aisle to the sweet sweet sounds of the classic 1986 hit “Take My Breath Away” which you might recall from Top Gun or from the Top Gun ride at Kings Island, where they play that song on repeat for hours on end.
The brides STILL looked fantastic.
A-Camp Co-Director Marni’s mother officiates weddings in Canada, and she’d sent over some examples of same-sex ceremonies she’d performed, from which Carrie produced a script for the A-Camp Wedding. They also told me I could “ad lib” but I didn’t want to like, ruin the wedding or whatever. From here forward, the script has been transcribed so you can re-experience everything blow-by-blow. The personal additions/adjustments I can remember making are indicated in italics.
Words of Welcome
On behalf of Brendin and Carrie welcome and thank you for being here. They are delighted that you are here today to share in their joy during this wonderful moment in their lives. By your presence, you celebrate with them the love they have discovered in each other and you support their decision to commit themselves to one another for the rest of their lives.
Address to the assembly
Today their relationship changes. All of us know it will grow, and become stronger and better. Indeed this day is a day of hope. A day in which Brendin and Carrie demonstrate their commitment, devotion, and mutual respect, as well as their faith and love in one another.
You who are gathered here as witnesses are called to give your support and encouragement as they unite in marriage.
Address to the couple
We all know marriage is more than two people standing up here repeating vows. There is an art to any creative activity. So too in marriage. Part of the art of marriage is finding room for the things of the spirit. So to you two I say continue in your search for the good and the beautiful in this life. Part of the art of marriage is being flexible. So in your marriage cultivate flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour. Part of the art of marriage is to comfort each other and strive to be each others best friend. Most importantly, develop the capacity to forgive and heal your differences day by day. Always remember that your love can prevail. It can be the miracle that invites you to learn, to blossom, to expand your horizons.
This ceremony today is a most serious covenant made before all of us as witnesses. From your new marriage relationship can come the nurture and strength you two need to face the world. Only from this moment on you will face the world together in a new way.
The expression of intent
Brendin, you have chosen Carrie to be your wife. Will you love and respect her? Will you be honest with her always? Will you stand by her through whatever may come?
If so please answer: ‘I will’
Brendin: “I will!”
Carrie, you have chosen Brendin to be your wife. Will you love and respect her? Will you be honest with her always? Will you stand by her through whatever may come and however many boxes of Autostraddle merchandise she crams into your apartment?
If so please answer: ‘I will’
Carrie: “I will.”
And do you both promise to be
adorably cute together super fucking cute forever?
If so please answer: “We do.”
Brendin & Carrie: We do.
The affirmation of family and friends
Now, in the spirit of joy and affirmation, I want to ask the campers present a question:
Do you, the campers of A-Camp 2014, give Brendin & Carrie your blessing and support, wishing them a wonderful life together?
If so please answer:
We do. FUCK YES!
Everybody: FUCK YES
The Exchange of Vows
Carrie and Brendin, we now come to your vows. May I remind you that saying your vows is one thing but nothing is more challenging than living them day by day. What you promise today must be renewed tomorrow and each day that stretches out before you. Will you now please turn and face each other and hold hands.
Brendin, please repeat after me:
I Brendin, choose you Carrie to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, to love and to cherish, and to be faithful to you alone. This is my solemn vow.
Now, Carrie, please repeat after me:
I, Carrie, choose you Brendin to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, to love and to cherish, and to be faithful to you alone. This is my solemn vow.
The giving and receiving of rings
May I have the rings please.
Brendin, please repeat after me:
Carrie, I give you this ring, that you may wear it as a symbol of the vows we have made this day. I pledge you my love and respect, my laughter and my tears. With all that I am I honour you.
Now, Carrie, please repeat after me:
Brendin, I give you this ring that you may wear it as a symbol of the vows we have made this day. I pledge you my love and respect, my laughter and my tears. With all that I am I honour you.
Now, Brendin & Carrie will do an second exchange of rings. They will give one another the rings they originally gave one another almost 18 years ago in a tiny college dorm room in Alabama! They have written their own vows for this exchange of rings.
Brendin, you may go first.
“I remember when I bought this ring. I got up early because they were having a sale at Wal-Mart. And even with a sale at Wal-Mart this was all I could afford. It’s 1/20th of a carat. At the time I was embarrassed that it was so small, but now I think it’s fitting.
Because how much I loved you then, which was a whole lot, I mean I went to Wal-Mart for you…”
“It’s 1/20th of how much I love you now, today. And how much I love you today is a fraction of how much i’ll love you tomorrow and the next day and all the next days.
I think this is where I’m supposed to promise some things:
I promise to hook up all our electronics and put together all our furniture with a minimal amount of cursing.
I promise to be your big spoon except when I need to be the little spoon.
I promise that when I need to be a little spoon, you’ll always be my big spoon.
No one has ever made me laugh as much as you… or cry as much… clearly.
You are my Smizmar, you are my lobster, you are my EVERYTHING.
I can’t wait to love you for the rest of my life.”
“First of all, you look very hot.
I have wanted to do this for so long, and here we are — finally. We have been through so much together. We have been through times when we were young and had a lot of money and life was easy. And lately we have gone through a time where we don’t have as much money and it certainly hasn’t been easy. But one thing has never changed and that’s you — you’re it. You’re the only person I have ever wanted since I was sixteen.”
It means so much more to put this ring on your finger now than it did 18 years ago, which I didn’t even think was possible. I will always love you. I think you are the most amazing person in this world and I am so proud to be your wife. I can’t imagine ever being happier than I am right now, on this mountain, with you and the rest of these wonderful human beings. But I know that I will be. Every day that I am with you is the best day of my life, no matter what happens. And I hope you know that. Nothing could ever keep us apart. If my mom couldn’t do it, then lord knows nothing else can.
I promise to keep you in constant supply of Diet Pepsi and to warm your freakishly cold feet. And I promise to love you.
By the way, this ring also came from Wal-Mart and is also 1/20th of a carat. And I gave her this ring first! I locked this down first.”
Now may those who wear these rings live in love all their days.
Affirmation of the marriage
Now may the love which has brought you together continue to grow and enrich your lives.
May you meet with courage the problems which arise to challenge you and may your relationship always be one of love and trust. May the happiness you share today be with you always and may every word you have pledged here be a living truth in your lives.
Declaration of Marriage
Brendin and Carrie, we have heard your promise to share your lives in marriage. We recognize and respect the covenant of marriage you have made here this day before each one of us as witnesses.
It is my honour and delight to declare you henceforth married… for reals.
You may now kiss the bride.
Introduction of the couple
It is my pleasure to introduce to you Brendin and Carrie, the first ever A-Camp brides!
Then it was time for the recessional, as guided by my favorite musician of all time, Taylor Swift.
Everybody felt gay and full of love!
Then we headed back to central camp to prepare for the banquet and reception.
It was our great honor to make Brendin and Carrie’s wildest dreams come true at A-Camp, and we look forward to talking about it again in our recamps, which’ll exist at some point in the future, we promise. You can look forward to pictures from the banquet and reception too.
FYI, confirmed as of this afternoon that they are still together. I think this one is forever, y’all!