Offbeat partners: Evan & Cassandra

Date and location: 10/21/2023 at The Noble, Saint Louis, MO

Our transgender lesbian wedding at a glance

We were high school sweethearts! I asked Cassandra on our first date because I wanted her to take me to prom, but I planned to split up when she left for college in the fall. We've been glued together for eight years now. While she was away at college, we made long playlists of love songs so we could share them as an “I love you” note. We used a lot of songs from those playlists when picking music for the wedding day.

I was raised by wedding planners, so we had plenty of help throughout the entire process. I grew up loving weddings and planning my own since I was 11 or 12, so my 2010-2015 Pinterest boards are hilarious. In all those years of planning and changing trends, I was always consistent in loving very formal weddings with lots of quirky personal touches. This remained true with our creative black tie dress code. Dress up and look your best but be yourself!

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I loved planning and brides so much growing up that I work in the bridal industry now! I'm a bridal consultant and makeup artist, which made the “wedding planning is my personality” phase much easier. Everything was smooth sailing in planning the wedding I'd planned a hundred times in my mind.

At about the halfway point of our two-year engagement, Cassandra came out as a trans woman. We were so excited for Cassandra to get to be her truest self on the big day. It made the full overhaul of everything we'd already planned feel invaluable.

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Tell us about the transgender lesbian wedding ceremony

To start, we made the decision to have private vows with just us and the photo/video team so that we could feel safe to unmask without an audience. We exchanged vows before our ceremony which really helped with the nerves once we got started.

I don't know if she knew this, but I had written a draft of my vows years ago when I knew I wanted to marry her at 19. They were beautiful and personal, so we're having our handwritten vows framed with our preserved bouquets.

Our ceremony was eclectic, family-oriented, and maybe a little silly. We chose to use love songs we listened to together for our procession and background music. When the songs for our bridal marches were chosen, we noticed they reflected the voices of each other. Cassandra walked down the aisle to “I Hear A Symphony” by Cody Fry, which represented my perspective of all the big emotions she makes me feel and helps me understand. I walked down the aisle last to “Krystoff Lullaby” from Frozen the Musical.

It was a much softer love that leaned into us growing up in love. Our ceremony was delightfully eclectic. Our wedding was officiated by a family friend, the dad of a friend in my bridal party who got married the next weekend, who happened to be a rabbi. We blended some Jewish traditions, starting our ceremony with seven circles, which represented creating a new world and life together. We included a reading from the Bible for our Christian families.

Next, we recited simple yet poignant vows written by our officiant and shared a brief moment to look out at our friends and family gathered to celebrate with us and of course show off our new bling. This was followed by our favorite part and a total crowd-pleaser, our unity ceremony… together we crafted a unity peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

I actually got the original idea from an Offbeat Wed article when I was in high school. They made a unity deli sandwich. Our rabbi said it perfectly encapsulates the blend of our personality – “nutty and sweet”! We assembled our sandwich together, and both took a huge bite. This was the moment we considered a unity glass of milk because we might have bit off a little more than we could chew.

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We returned from our snack break for our final rituals. One of my cousins is a historian of Black American history and gifted us a brief explanation of the history and reasoning behind the African American tradition of jumping the broom. Jumping the broom for us was defiantly choosing our path while still being able to acknowledge and honor where and who we came from. Just before jumping the same broom as my parents from their wedding, we both attempted the Jewish tradition of breaking the glass. I say attempted here because I missed and stepped on Cassandra's foot instead! She was a good sport about it. Luckily she succeeded in breaking the glass on her side.

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“You may kiss the bride!” was so much more satisfying to hear at the altar of two brides. We stomped, kissed, and counted to three to jump over the broom into our life together. We walked back down the aisle hand-in-hand – so excited I forgot all those little tips we bridal stylists tell our nearlyweds! “Soft smiles. Flowers down, pause in the middle of the aisle for a photo.” – all gone completely from my mind. All we could think about was “Cloud 9” by Beach Bunny in the background and the announcement of Mrs. and Mrs. Lee!

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Tell us about the transgender lesbian wedding reception

Our venue, a retired bank built in the 1920's, was an all-in-one deal: a space for the ceremony, a lobby for cocktail hour, and the main hall for the reception. They kept the bank vault door open, through which couples could make their grand entrance into the reception.

We danced to Smash Mouth's cover of “I'm A Believer” and then went straight into our cake cutting. We kept it pretty simple with the cake, mostly because Evan forgot to order the cake until two weeks before – a five-inch heart-shaped cheesecake. Neither of us really like cake, so we opted for one of our favorite desserts instead. Our mini heart was topped with a nod to Cassandra's Chinese heritage, a double happiness.

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We think we can all agree: wedding food can be a little disappointing. It was super important to us that dinner was an enjoyable experience for everyone. Our caterers were so flexible with our menu choices, and it turned out great.

At cocktail hour passed hors d'oeuvres were chosen with little nods to our personalities. A potsticker as another nod to Cassandra's Chinese heritage, chicken and waffles as a nod to soul food and Evan's Black heritage. To please as many palates as possible we had three food options: a crusted salmon, a Cornish hen, and a vegan mushroom ragù. Our menu was a hit!

Our DJ was incredible! He kept us nearly captive on the dance floor. Every time you wanted to take a break or grab a drink, he would play yet another banger. We got the party vibes we were hoping for!

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

We hate to call it a challenge because it was truly one of the most positive and beautiful things about our lives, but the timing of the wedding put a lot of pressure on us both. Both of us had to come out in our own way. I wasn't really out to my family yet, and they had never had to grapple with me in queer relationships before. So when Cassandra came out as trans, I got to come out too.

Of course, a transition is always a lot. Cassandra was still sorting out what womanhood meant for her, and she had to learn it while also being a bride. We wrestled with postponing our wedding so many times just to give her more time to work it out for herself without the deadline, but we knew we were ready to be married as we were. Our promise to love each other through every phase of life was too important to us, so we pressed forward.

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With the decision to move forward as a beautiful bride made, a few plans needed to be changed. We needed to be sure all vendors had corrected names and pronouns and were ready to move forward with us as a queer couple. The planning fell to me, and it was paramount to me that Cassandra felt as beautiful as she looked. Working in the bridal industry came in handy to pivot everything together. Her dress was ordered just in time and our makeup artist was able to add her to the contract no problem. There's so little representation for same-sex couples and trans nearlyweds, so we are so happy to add some much-needed spice to our vendors' portfolios.

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Transgender lesbian wedding vendors:

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