To Have Your Cake and Eat It Too- Ciara & Melinda’s Cake Tasting Adventure

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Ciara here, can I be honest with you all? I counted down for our special day. Now before you all say, “Awww, isn’t she sweet,” I must confess that I’m not talking about the wedding day (although I am counting down for that too). I had an official cake tasting countdown. See, for me, cake is a serious matter. Almost as serious as coffee. And I wanted to be sure that our guests experienced the best wedding cake possible at our wedding. So weeks prior to the cake tasting, I increased the intensity of my workouts to make up for the gluttony that would follow. One could say, “Ciara, how could eating bite-sized cake pieces equal gluttonous behavior?”

Let me explain…

For starters, let’s discuss how we arrived at the cake tasting stage. Earlier this month, our close friend, Mara, referred us to a potential wedding cake vendor. And after visiting their website, I immediately remembered tasting a sample (“a” sample, Ciara?)  Okay, since Melinda wants to call me out, I remembered tasting all the samples; and being really impressed with them all. We exchanged a few emails with the vendor and scheduled a complimentary cake tasting for two weeks out.

The Day Arrives…

And I’m ready. I flossed and brushed really well. I even ate a light breakfast. Minutes into our consultation, we’re greeted with two plates of four different cakes. Then Dayna, one of the owners of the company, asks one of my favorite questions,  “Would anyone like coffee?” I knew then we had found our wedding cake vendor. Okay, maybe not at that exact moment, but they certainly scored major cool points. For the next few minutes, Melinda and I are tasting different cake and frosting options; but Melinda is chipping off baby pieces of cake. Here’s where the gluttony comes in…

8.5 minutes into the consultation and my cake is all gone…

But Melinda’s isn’t. She’s had enough to determine her favorites and I’m left with a tough life decision, do I eat her cake and just deal with the gluttony later or do I let the cake go to waste? I thought about all the people starving in the world and decided the least I could do in that moment was not be wasteful. I said…

And ate her cake too.

 

You know what? I didn’t really need all that cake anyway, babe. Jesus might have been lookin’ out because I’ve got to fit into a wedding dress in 6 months! But seriously, this was one of the easiest decisions to make for me. Probably because I was well aware that the cake was going to be Ciara’s “thing”. It was honestly kinda cute to see her enjoy her favorite part of this entire process and I’m really glad we got the cake that she wanted. I guess this is how she feels when she gets me the purse, make-up, blanket, smashburger, that I wanted. It is a good feeling. 🙂

All of their cakes are made from scratch using the freshest ingredients and you can tell. The cake was delicious. We decided on a custom-designed, three-tier wedding cake. We cannot wait for you to see the finished product!

 

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Ciara & Melinda’s Feature Story on Black Lesbian Love Lab

Ciara gets down on bended knee in front of Melinda.

Photo Credit- S. Espinosa Photography

 

If you haven’t liked our Facebook page , chances are that you missed the feature story we did with  Black Lesbian Love Lab . We had such a great time doing this interview and wanted to be sure that all of our readers checked it out! So if you missed the feature story or if you have an interest in learning more about me and Melinda, definitely check this story out. Click here to read it.

Ciara & Melinda Make Creative Loafing Charlotte’s 15 People to Watch in 2015

Ciara Lilly, the mannequin, and Melinda Robinson

Photo Credit: Creative Loafing, Melissa Oyler

 

We are thrilled to announce that we have been recognized by Creative Loafing Charlotte as one of 15 people to watch in 2015.

It is an honor to share the list with some of Charlotte’s most amazing changemakers. If you’re in the Charlotte area, be sure to pick up your copy of Creative Loafing today. For our friends outside of Charlotte, you can check out our feature story online by clicking here.

 

 

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Today is the last day of 2014 and we didn’t want to end the year without acknowledging our readers. According to our WordPress stats, our blog was visited over 490 times in 2014. Most of our readers are from the United States, but we have devoted readers from other countries like: Jamaica, Japan, England, Africa, Poland, etc. We also have 11 subscribed followers of our blog! And last, but not least, on our Facebook page; which you can find here, we have 271 likes!

What do we have to say about that?

And we mean it.

In 2015, we purpose to share even more of our journey with you. You can expect more vendor spotlights, more updates concerning our progress and even some wedding planning advice!

One of our biggest goals for 2015 is to attract more opportunities that allow us to spread our story across a larger audience. Beyond unveiling our wedding planning journey as a same-sex couple in the south; we want to reach those individuals that need to hear that it’s okay to love who you are and who you’re with, without any fear or shame. Basically, we just want to show evidence that love truly conquers all- our story speaks to that. So if you have ideas on how we can achieve this, like perhaps you’re Oprah and want us on Super Soul Sunday, then please contact us.

To each of you reading this, we wish you and your families, a prosperous 2015! May it be your best year yet! Thank you so much for playing a part in making 2014 such a memorable year for us!

 

Happy New Year,

Ciara & Melinda

Wedding Venue Where Art Thou?

Let’s preface this post by sharing some of the things we wish people would have told us before we started looking for wedding venues:

  1. Wedding venues are next-level expensive. And you will sincerely consider having your wedding at your house at least ten times before it’s all said and done.
  2. Venue shopping is a full-time job. And eventually all of the venues start to look alike.
  3. Buy a building. Yep, a building. Just think about it, you could rent out your space for special events and make more money for a few hours than some people make in a month. (Okay, I’m kidding, don’t buy a building. It’s not worth the headache.)
  4. Research. Research. Research. And start as soon as you can operate a computer. This should give you a good list of venue options that you can explore once you’re engaged.
  5. Master your poker face, because you will see venues that look nothing like what you saw online, and you’ll need to hide your initial emotions. Don’t let the shock show on your face.

 

Okay, now that we’ve covered that, we can share our weekend venue shopping adventure. It all started a few weeks ago when we compiled a list of two venues that we were interested in. To our credit, we had a longer list, but many factors like: price, availability, friendliness, distance, etc. shortened that list down to two. But we were unmoved, we were going to visit these two venues.

On Saturday, we voyaged to Concord to tour our first venue. And let’s just say, pictures can be deceiving. Luckily, we applied Tip #5 and maintained the highest level of professionalism. And although this particular venue wasn’t the look we were going for, we can say that the staff was kind and very welcoming. The next venue was in Morrisville and as soon as we pulled up to the venue, we fell in love with it. There were elements of both our personalities in this venue and, despite the price slightly exceeding our initial budget, it was all-inclusive.

 

We were ready to put down our deposit until…

We found out our wedding date was not available anymore.

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These memes say it best

So the wedding venue shopping adventure continues and we’re committed to finding the right venue that meets our exact needs! We have a few more prospects lined up and welcome any recommendations. We want to stay in the Charlotte or surrounding area, so just drop us a line if you have recommendations.

In the next few weeks, we’ll have a lot more to share with you. We’re working on a super cool project with our photographer, we’re creating awesome menu ideas with our prospective caterer and we’re interviewing great DJs to ensure that our wedding reception is a party you’ll never forget.  So stay tuned and thank you all for your support!

~Ciara

Vendor Spotlight: Six Cents Photography

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Contact Person: Michael Dickerson

Email: Mike@SixCentsPhotography.com

Services Provided: Photography- Wedding photography, portrait photography, landscape photography, fine art photography

Website: http://www.SixCentsPhotography.com

How we met Michael 

Last week, our event planner and amazing friend, Jameka Whitten, CEO of JSW Media Group, shared a message with us from Michael that read:

“I’m offering discounted wedding packages to all gay, lesbian and transgender couples who want to get married and have had to put up with this inequality bullshit for so long. I understand that I may lose some clients due to this, solely based upon their bigotry, but those are the exact clients I do not want or need. If you have a friend or family member interested, please send them my way. Thanks and please share. ‪#‎LoveIsLove‬

2.5 seconds later…

We were on Michael’s Facebook page asking ourselves, “Is this real?” To our surprise, Michael had posted another status that read:

“**UPDATE the first gay/lesbian/transgender couple wanting to get married who contacts me…I WILL SHOOT THEIR WEDDING FOR FREE. NO TRICKS. NO GIMMICKS. Share that. ‪#‎LoveIsLove‬

It was on… 

We immediately sent a Facebook message and email introducing ourselves. And it wasn’t long before Michael got back to us saying, “Hey Ciara, y’all win, congrats!!!  I will contact you tomorrow and find out some more details.”  

We won, we won, we fainted (not really, but we were close)… 

When we spoke with Michael, we knew he was a God-sent. He took a genuine interest in us and making sure that our special day was special. He was compassionate, professional, kind. Our entire conversation with Michael was a breath of fresh air. And the truth is, people like Michael restore our faith in humanity. They encourage us, strengthen us and give us the confidence we need to live authentically. And here’s the beautiful part, Michael’s act of kindness is completely selfless. In fact, when we mentioned how we would like to spotlight his company on our blog, Michael emphasized how he wasn’t looking to gain anything from this. He saw an opportunity to use his position in the world to make a difference, to take a stand.

On our special day, Six Cents Photography, will provide all of the photography for free. And if you take a look at his website, you know the photography will be beautiful. But beyond the free photography, Michael has given us a gift that will stick with us long after our wedding day. He has given us confirmation. His act of kindness confirmed that no matter how much hatred we encounter in the world, no matter what people say about us, love always wins. And God will send you people, like Michael, as a reminder when you need it the most.

Setting Up Our First Wedding Registry

Where we’re registered: Target

Training: 

I don’t know if it was due to the recent death of Amendment One or just the fact that it was a Saturday night but I drug Ciara out of the house at 8:30 PM to set up our wedding registry! Like many engaged couples, we thought Target would be a great place to start. When we walked up to the registry desk I made sure to say that “we needed to set up our wedding registry” to avoid any awkward moments or confusion. The customer service lady didn’t bat an eye. While we were setting up our registry on the red phablet (Phone/Tablet, think iPhone 6+) there were options to designate ourselves as “bride”, “groom or “partner”. It seems small, but I was really touched by that. To me, it meant that Target was ready for us and we didn’t have to “explain” anything. We could just walk in, get scanner training and be on our way to a happy marriage. So, the customer service lady gave us a quick training on how to scan as well as what things we should and shouldn’t scan. So by the end of the training we were pros! The customer service lady sent us off with a heart felt (and kind of loud) congratulations and we were off,  determined to scan until our hearts were content, but there was only one problem…

We didn’t know what we needed

Let us explain… We have been together for 5.67 years (according to Melinda’s calculations) and have lived together for the majority of that time. So we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Last year, we moved into our first house together and purchased a lot of the items you traditionally ask for as newlyweds. Now that we’re getting married, we just didn’t know what to ask for. Seriously, are you supposed to get stuff that you would never buy for yourself because of the cost, or things that you keep forgetting to pick up, or just things that you REALLY need to survive, or just stuff that you want for fun? What are the guidelines, here? 

So we had a few moments like these… 

Ciara: Babe, I think we should ask for SoniCare toothbrushes

Melinda: Really, toothbrushes? 

Melinda: Oh! Maybe we should ask for a pack of air filters, we are getting low on those…

Ciara: Um, I think we can handle that expense. 

Ciara: Can we put a big screen TV on our list? 

Melinda: This is not a Christmas list, babe

So as you can see, your girls were struggling… 

But it wasn’t long before we snapped into our wedding registry groove. We shifted our approach to not only think about items we needed, but items we wanted as well. I think we developed a good system by asking for things that just “say” Ciara & Melinda. Things that you all would know were connected to our collective and individual personalities. So, we were finally able to shed the discomfort of asking others for something and started our voyage down each aisle.

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Eventually the scanner shut down and a message popped up that said, “Ya’ll are doing too much.” JUST KIDDING. This didn’t happen. All in all, we had a great time and no big screen televisions were added to the registry. Yeah, it was a lot of fun! It kinda felt like that moment when you have an extra paycheck in the month and you feel like you can get WHATEVER you want (muahahaha) and then you walk into the store and can’t really find anything you REALLY want to buy. So our Target Wedding Registry is pretty random and kind of light, but never fear, we are developing several options for your shopping pleasure! 

Next up- The honeymoon registry…

Our First Wedding Expo

“I wonder what it’ll be like.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been married before.”

“Do you think they’ll be nice to us?”

Our minds were filled with questions and our hearts were bubbling over with excitement. We were on our way to our first wedding expo! And we had no idea what to expect. Here we are, two lesbian women planning a wedding in the South, with no real clue of where to begin.

We walk up to the registration table and are immediately greeted, “Hello! Are you here to sign in? Please sign in here as we’re raffling away prizes throughout the expo.” “And who’s the bride?”

“Meeee,” Melinda eagerly proclaims. The check-in attendant gives Melinda a plastic diamond ring to put on her finger to let vendors know she’s the bride-to-be. (That would be a light up plastic ring, thank you ~Mel) We laugh and head through the double doors, so far, so good.

Florists, Photographers, Caterers, oh my!

Let me start by saying that you do not have to dress up to attend a wedding expo. Melinda got the memo, Ciara did not. Ciara looked like she was headed to work on Wall Street; Melinda looked comfortable and appropriately dressed for the occasion. (I tried to tell you, babe)

Back to the story…

We walk in and excitement immediately rushes through our bodies. “Where do we start?” Melinda asks. “Let’s just go around the room, starting with this florist,” I suggest. We walk up to the florist and there’s a moment of silence, then the owner approaches us, “When is your date?” she asks. I’m thinking, “an introduction would be nice, but whatever.” (I know, right? She did just jump right into it, didn’t she?) Melinda answers and the next few minutes of conversation is best compared to watching paint dry. We thank them for their time and put their information in our “Not interested bag”. (Learned that tip from bridal blogs. You bring a bag with you even though they will give you a bag. This way you can sort your flyers and information automatically and just recycle the whole bag of ones you don’t need when you get home.)

The next vendor was totally different. She represented a local wedding boutique and immediately engaged with Melinda. I watched as Melinda’s eyes lit up with joy as she described the kind of dress she was interested in. And, inside, I melted. I melted because someone, a complete stranger, made us feel like we belonged there. She didn’t care about our gender, she saw the love and that was all that mattered. After a few more minutes of conversation, she and Melinda exchanged contact information (Using my handy, dandy Wedding Business card – saves you from having to fill out a gazillion forms at the expos) and planned a consultation for Tuesday.  You should have seen Melinda’s face.

So much cake…

I am convinced that wedding expos should have a dedicated workout room for the guests who have one role- test tasting. See, I was given this role  (“given”, babe?) and totally missed that it was a setup. Melinda had a plan to pass all the calories to me, so she could keep that slim figure of hers. And, well, I fell for it. Okay, let me be honest, I didn’t even put up a fight. Everyone and their mothers’ had free samples of food and wedding cake, what was a girl to do? (That food was really good, though)

In between all the cake eating, we stopped by to speak with a photographer who was really excited about us getting married. It started like this, “Who’s the bride?” Melinda raises her hand and says, “I am!” She, in turn says, “Congratulations!” “So wait, are you two getting married?” We both say, “Yep!” And that’s all it took. She’s like, “AWESOME! I love same-sex marriages. We have worked with a lot of same-sex couples and they’re great.”

We spent the next 20 minutes talking about venues, our wedding date, her boyfriend and finally the various packages they have. All of which were incredibly high, like who pays almost $5,000 for a photographer? Melinda takes the information, hands it over to me; I put it in my “Not interested bag”.

IKEA has a baby registry too…

So we’re wrapping up the expo and decide to check out the Groom’s Lounge upstairs. This is the place most grooms go to have a drink and watch the game while their wives-to-be plan all the wedding details downstairs. This was our first wedding expo, so I chose to experience it all with Melinda. Right as we’re making our way to the bar, Melinda spots the IKEA booth.

And it’s over.

Two sweet ladies take her under their wings and start telling her about the wedding registry they have. I just shift my attention to the Panther’s game until I hear, “And we have a baby registry too.”

In my mind I’m saying, “Ma’am, you are out of control.” But I decide to go with, “Oh! Baby steps, babe. Let’s get married first.” The other IKEA representative chuckles, “That’s right, first things first.”

I had to laugh. Sure, IKEA is trying to take all of our money, but these two ladies were genuine. They, like everyone else we encountered, did not see two women getting married. They saw two people in love embarking on this lifelong journey.

P.S. – We will have a wedding registry at IKEA. But don’t worry, we only have two light bulbs on our IKEA wish list- we’re not hard to please.

 

In closing…

We walked out of the wedding expo cheesing from ear-to-ear. (Seriously, we tried 17 times to take a picture where we weren’t showing more than 90% of our gumsWe gave each other a high-five and said, “We did it!” As we got closer to the car, Melinda looked over to me and said, “We’re getting married, we’re really getting married.” With all the joy my heart could possibly hold, I replied,  “Yes, we are. This is really happening.”

 

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What we learned from this experience…

Love will do the work. Just be true to yourself and to the love you share with each other.