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Nikki + Sue...Marriage without an Asterisk

After Nikki and Sue sealed their vows with a kiss, they invited their friends to head up to the reception site while they went off with their photographer to take some sunset photos. Being a little bit of a rule breaker (and an involved older sister) I followed Nikki and Sue onto these gorgeous cliffed pastures and watched them with so much love in my heart.

Nikki + Sue walking into the sunset. Photo Credit Alisa Tongg 2013

When I posted all my wedding trip pictures to Facebook, there was one picture that stood out as everyone's favorite. One of their friend's suggested in the comments that I should send it over to Freedom To Marry's Facebook page. So after the dust settled I did.

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage equality nationwide. Inspired by their love story too, they did a profile on Nikki + Sue and their wish for a marriage without an asterisk. You can read it here.

Cori + Todd and The Law of Conservation

In the early 2000’s Todd and Cori were both passionately involved in the local independent music scene. They became friends but didn’t start dating until Todd traded in the glamour of tour buses for safety goggles and a lab coat as he pursued a career in Chemistry and made time for dates on the ice skating rink. 

There's is a story of balance, of equals--a love that is supposed to happen. Ask any nerd and they'll verify, that when it comes to chemistry, the secret to success is in balancing equations. So of course, it made perfect sense that Cori and Todd chose to use an elaborate chemical reaction as their unity ritual to demonstrate the transformation of their relationship in their wedding ceremony. 

After they said "I do" and exchanged rings, they each added vessels filled with dry ice, a solid form of carbon dioxide, into an Erlenmeyer flask containing a purple solution (Todd's secret formula). The solution began to bubble and by the time they had sealed their vows with a kiss, the solution had changed into many different colors. 

As I watched the flask magically change from one bright color to the next, I couldn't help but think of how perfectly the Law of Conservation speaks to so many of our hopes and dreams around the marital relationship.  The Law of Conservation states that basically in a closed system (like a marriage), mass can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can (through balancing complex equations involving energy transfers, state changes etc.) be rearranged and re-purposed. Or in layman's terms: you get what you came in with, better like the essence of yourself, your partner and be able to adapt.

There's that old saying that, "the only thing constant in life is change." Unlike a typical one-phase unity ritual, this particular chemical reaction celebrated, beautifully, the ongoing ways that this couple will continue to be transformed under Love's influence. Congratulations to Cori and Todd as they start their married life together!

A special thanks to Bob Sanchuk and Chad Sebring over at Two Sticks Studios for capturing these amazing moments and for sharing them here. 

Dan + Lisa Love Their Modern Family

Their Story:
Dan and Lisa met via algorithm four years ago. Dan jokes that Lisa scored the highest on two very important tests: the compatibility test crunched by was the first, and his personally crafted and administered ”hotness” exam was the second.

Compelled by their connection, Dan asked Lisa to move in with him just three months later. At eight months, they bought a house together and the five children between them started to grow into a family. 

Nicole Leigh Photography
Last spring in Boston, while sitting side-by-side on a waterfront bench, in a dreamlike setting surrounded by a canopy of white lights, Dan surprised Lisa by pulling out a sparkling ring box and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. 

Their Ceremony: 
As Lisa and Dan prepared for their wedding day, they were determined to use their ceremony as a tool to honor their relationships with their five children.

Lisa's son Antonio walks her down the aisle. Nicole Leigh Photography
Shortly after making their own vows to each other, Dan and Lisa turned their attention to the children (who were also the adoring wedding party) and extended their promises to the family. When everyone gathered to participate in their Sand Ceremony, they each poured their sand from individually decorated vessels. 
Before the ceremony, the girls gather to admire the variety of styles to their sand pouring vessels.

Perhaps the most moving moment came, however, when the whole family gathered in a circle for the surprise reading of the List of Loves. As parents to this new modern brood, Lisa and Dan had written something for each child, a List of Loves that acknowledged and paid tribute to the unique attributes and gifts of their five children. Addressing each child as I read this Love List was definitely the most moving moment of the day for many present.
Sweet Isabella leans in to her mother's embrace as she listens to the things Lisa and Dan appreciate about her. Nicole Leigh Photography
There's something incredibly beautiful about being seen for who you are and being accepted. For Dan and Lisa, their ability to create a safe space of love, belonging and acceptance with each other has become the fertile ground on which each member of their modern family is whole-heartedly cherished and celebrated. It was an honor to witness the joining of this family. 
Hannah's gold sparkly Converse sneakers. Nicole Leigh Photography
Congratulations to Lisa, Dan, Lucia, Antonio, Isabella, Hannah and Isabel on your new, beautiful and lovely family!

Thank you to Nicole Leigh from Nicole Leigh Photography for being so generous and sharing these amazing images.