With this political climate, we may have a great deal of self-doubt, worries about the future, and concerns as to where we as an LGBT community will be if others keep making decisions about our lives.
So when it comes to positive statements and affirmations of our humanity, we need to embrace and share them as much as we can. We dwell on and see so much negativity, but for me, one three-word phrase that always brings it all back onto the right track toward hope is “LOVE IS LOVE.”
Bradley Matthews and Michael Bollinger had such a moment that we at Instinct felt we needed to share with as many people as possible.
We're two gay men living in Seattle and JUST got married September 1st! We had a magical wedding in the forest…right near the majestic Mt. Rainier.
We thought it would be great to share, especially with this month being full of notable LGBTQ celebrations (October 11th National Coming Out Day / LGBTQ History Month / October 18th National Spirit Day) and maybe their nuptials would offer timely inspiration.
The two men had been partners for the past nine years, six of those years living in New York City and a handful more in Singapore. With their move back to the continent and new locale of Seattle, Washington, they realized it was time to make their partnership official and they had the place, America's Pacific Northwest. Their new home of Seattle and their love was something they were looking to share with friends and family.
Bradley and Michael started looking for the ideal spot shortly after settling down in Seattle and found the Copper Creek Inn in Ashford, Washington. Their union would be the inn’s first same-sex wedding and we’re not sure we’ve seen a more magical scene.
The wedding was in the middle of a forest. The dinner table snaked throughout the trees/moss, creating an enchanting, magical effect, encapsulating the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Before we say any more, get your tissues ready, prepare your heart to be filled with love, joy, and happiness.
“this day represents a pubic confirmation of that already strong bond”
The wedding was not just a beautiful thing, a union between two men, but it was also an event that brought together many different people to celebrate love. The ceremony had two co-officiants: Bradley's brother, a devout Catholic with five children and Michael's sister, a devout Mormon with five children. Guests included a broad political spectrum. One example is that Michael's dad is a former police chief from Florida and a proud Trump supporter. The grooms were very happy that all put their political and religious views aside to celebrate their love.
We did not hear the full vows in the video, but one of the groom's vows referenced how he had come so far from being a gay man feeling lost in his teens with NO role models on successful gay relationships/weddings, sneaking peeks at his mother's magazines, to having his dreams come true.
Here's another excerpt from one of the vows:
One of my earliest memories when I first came out, like many people facing that realization, was the feeling of being lost. Not with who I was, but how my life would unfold. As a gay man, I had no examples, no aspirations of what a happy couple looked like or whether I would even be able to achieve that happiness that we all longed for. The idea of marrying a good man, possibility of a family, having the stability and life we have had seemed unfathomable.
The world started changing, the nation’s heart opened and all while your arms were making me feel safe, your smile was brightening my darkest moods and all I wanted to do was make you happy – I was falling in love with you. For 9 years and especially today, I can confidently say you have made so many of my dreams come true. I am the luckiest person to have you by my side.
Another tissue please.
In talking with the happy couple they pointed out some of the other differences in their marriage, some we saw in the video
- Travel has always been a very important part of their lives. They wanted to incorporate that into the reception and had people sit at different parts of the table named after the 30+ countries the grooms had been to together.
- Hung on trees throughout the venue were pictures of the marriages that had grown to love, respect, and appreciate, creating real 'family trees' lining the trail to the ceremony
- Their choice of a destination wedding was a little bit different than others, as their families, mainly in Florida and California, needed to travel to them and into the Great Northwest, to a destination they wanted to share with all.
- Instead of throwing a bouquet, they threw a boa.
- They were introduced to guests after the ceremony while RuPaul's Covergirl played. The DJ created a mock RuPaul's Drag Race lip sync battle between our wedding parties.
Other DIY projects– Bradley wrote the calligraphy on all place cards; inside each guests' place card was a handwritten letter detailing our favorite moment with each guest
– The 9-foot alter arch was a DIY project made of driftwood; made by our wedding planner
We think our destination wedding has a timely message to inspire others, especially those needing to know a fairytale wedding between two men still is possible even if our current polarized political climate.
We love the Pacific Northwest. We're actually going to be in Portland, Oregon this weekend, Boise, Idaho next weekend, and Seattle from December 19th until the new year.
Would a setting like Michael and Bradley's be your choice?
What destinations are you considering when thinking about tying the knot?
Have you had a destination wedding? How did it go? Any regrets? Best thing ever?
Here are some more pictures of this fairy tale destination wedding, followed by the credits mentioned above.