The couple: Valeria Carranza and Lauren Wetherell, both 28, moved to the Washington area in 2009. Valeria is the executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Lauren is a social worker with Montgomery County Child Welfare Services. They live in Silver Spring.
The wedding: Aug. 8, 2015, at Jackie’s Restaurant in Silver Spring. The couple felt connected to Jackie’s since it was where Valeria had organized a meeting in 2011 with LGBT leaders in Montgomery County to focus on marriage equality at the state level.
When they met: The pair met in 2005 during their first week at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and exchanged numbers. Though they never called each other, they were friendly throughout college. The second semester of their senior year, they were out with friends at a bar. “I leaned in and I kissed her and that was it,” Lauren says. “That kiss sealed everything.”
First date: Lauren took Valeria to a state park in central Pennsylvania for a hike. She knew Valeria liked peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches so she made her one the night before, not realizing the bananas would spoil. “They were pretty gross,” Lauren says.
The proposal: The couple each wanted to propose to the other. They invited 40 friends to their house for brunch. “Some of our friends thought we were getting married that day,” Lauren says. An hour in, Valeria proposed and Lauren proposed immediately after. “There were still elements of surprise,” Valeria says. “We hadn’t seen each other’s rings.”
Wedding theme: An interactive, retro modern party
Number of guests: 75
What made the event special: The ceremony incorporated a ring warming, where their wedding rings were passed around in a pouch and guests could offer a silent wish or prayer. The poem “Resignation” by Nikki Giovanni, an activist whose work they admire, was recited, and seven blessings were read by friends and family. “We referenced the marriage equality decision in Maryland and the Supreme Court decision,” Lauren says. “We acknowledged the fact that we have very loving family and friends and not all LGBT couples have that. We spent a moment where we sent positive energy their way.”
Twist on tradition: The women each walked halfway down the aisle with their parents and then walked together the rest of the way. “I didn’t see it as our parents giving us away so much as having our parents by our side to show their support,” Valeria says.
Favorite moment: Both women say their first look—when they each held a giant hot-pink balloon to block their views, then released the balloons to reveal their dresses, hair and makeup—was their favorite part of the day. “We wanted an element of tradition so we didn’t see each other’s dresses until the day of the wedding,” Valeria says.
Cost-cutting tips: “Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate,” says Lauren. “What’s the worst someone’s going to say? No?” They turned to people they knew whenever possible and formed strong connections with vendors they met. “People are willing to help you if you ask,” Valeria says. Through Valeria’s connections, they arranged a rehearsal dinner at the White House bowling alley and brought in food from Corner Bakery.
Casting cake votes: The couple set up a table where guests could vote for who would get cake in their face. Lauren ended up with more votes—and cake smooshed in her face.
Elements of surprise: During wedding planning, Valeria wanted to have karaoke at the event but Lauren nixed it. Lauren arranged to have the DJ surprise Valeria with a karaoke machine. Valeria belted out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’ ” The DJ brought out a limbo stick, which was an unexpected hit. “Everyone was dancing the entire time, including family members I didn’t know could dance,” Lauren says.
Gowns: Lauren wore an A-line gown with satin on the bottom, lace on top, by Allure Romance; Valeria’s dress was a strapless ruched fit-and-flare gown by Modeca Collection.
The honeymoon: A trip to Portugal
The details: Cake was provided by La Baguette de Paris; event planner, Anjie Henry of Blue Canary Events; flowers, Jason Gedeik; hair, Dry-on-the-Fly by Drybar; lighting and master of ceremonies, Miguel Castaneda of Extreme Events & Entertainment; makeup, Christina Suh of Suhreal Artistry; music, DJ Freedom Ortiz; photography, Sarah Williams of This Rad Love; tailoring, Anytime Alterations; videography, Carol Havelka.