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Joshua Tree Wedding: Jeremy & John

Jeremy Constantine Lucido + John Constantine Lucido were married on May 2nd, 2015 at Sacred Sands in Joshua Tree, California.

First Dance.

Who proposed to whom? I proposed to John.

How did you get engaged? After 9 months of falling in love, new experiences, meeting friends and family, and planning the names of our future children, I asked John to marry me. I took John to Joshua Tree, CA to “take photos” for my magazine. After the photo shoot, I handed John my camera to take a look at the photos and as John scrolled through, he found a photo with the question and ring:

“John, Will you marry me?” -Jeremy

John said yes.

Wedding date? May 2nd, 2015

Venue?Sacred Sands

Catering?Soho Taco

Cake?Bring Me Sugar

Grooms Suits?Topshop

Grooms Shoes? – Stacy Adams

Boutonnieres?EUCCA Floral Studio

Photography? – Gabe Ayala

Stationary?John Constantine Design

Succulents?Haus of Cactus

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Yes, we had an ‘engagement’ photo session.

We had an ‘engagement’ photo session with photographer Jeff Newsom.

Since we started talking about getting a photographer for the wedding it has felt a little nerve-wracking. I was not comfortable with the idea of being in front of, or followed by, a camera. Do we pose? Do we look at the camera? Do we stare longingly into each others eyes? Do we hold hands? Too many questions. And, at the wedding are we going to FEEL like the camera is watching us EVERY moment? It made sense that we, and by we, I mean I) needed a way to work that nervousness out.

Working with Jeff on an ‘engagement’ session felt like a way for us to get comfortable with him and him with us. Since Jeff is going to take part in our day we needed to feel like he was comfortable with us as well. Knowing he was sincere in his world meant we would then get real and honest imagery that showed the sincerity of love in our family.

When we first met with Jeff, he and his wife invited us to their home. That was a big deal. That showed us who he was. We looked at his book. He told us a little about himself and his life and we talked about our family and what we wanted. Jeff and his wife both made us feel right at home. We told him we would take a few days to think about it, but by the time we were in the car we had both decided he was the one.

We did check out other photographers. Looked at websites, read reviews and made calls to a couple wedding photographers that seemed like they might fit. Face-timed with one of them, but did not get the same easy feeling we got from Jeff.

When we finally booked Jeff we had decided that we wanted a family photo session and not an ‘engagement’ session. We have been together for nine plus years and it felt like ‘engagement’ just didn’t really fit our situation. We thought it would be more fun to have Leo and the dogs involved.

For the location we met Jeff at a field at Santa Margarita Ranch. After considering a couple of other locations — the beach, here at home, a winery or two (because wine!) — we decided on Santa Margarita Ranch – it just felt right. The place where we are getting married. There are big fields so we could have the dogs out running around. We could toss the football (I know right! A football.) with Leo and just feel like we had lots of room to roam around with the dogs off leash. Plus, it’s the Historic Santa Margarita Ranch. It’s beautiful!

So in the end I had nothing to worry about. The photo session was great. Jeff made us feel really comfortable. There is a very authentic way about him. I am much less nervous about that part of the wedding now. I can now let those nerves move over to the guest list RSVPs!

A few of the photos are below.

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Derek and David

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Santa Margarita Ranch Barn
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A Party Without Cake is Just A Meeting

poodleskirts the cakery
poodle skirts | | san luis obispo, ca

It is time, with 3 months to go before the big day, to make yet another one of “those” nearly irreversible decisions.  This one concerns our  wedding cake.  And though I freely admit to a mild case of wedding-decision weariness, it seems the wedding industry, which thrives on creating ever more  [costly] options from which brides and grooms must select, has been working overtime in the wedding cake arena.

Most alarmingly, the wedding cake decision now includes both the decision of whether to have a cake at all as well as whether to have not one, but two cakes — a more traditional “bride’s cake” as well as a more theme oriented “fun” groom’s cake.  Really?

There is no bride and having two groom’s cakes seems redundant, so we’re going to pass on that idea.

Our guide to getting to yes…


“The Traditional”

whimsical swirls the cakery
whimsical swirls | | san luis obispo, ca

COST:  Pricing generally is quoted per slice.  If you go the custom cake route, per slice cost starts at $5.00 and moves up from there.  It can easily top $10.00/slice for more complicated detailing, so buyer beware.


Naked/buttercream vs Fondant:  Not a hard decision for us.  A less formal and less fussy design suits us better.  Naked it is, with buttercream filling as a maybe.  However, buttercream and whip cream are not summer-temperature friendly, so be careful if your event is outside in the heat.

Tiered vs Deconstructed:  A tiered cake generally is [much] more expensive, and probably too “wedding-y” a look for our tastes.  The deconstructed option could allow for a smaller symbolic wedding cake while your guests are served from single layer versions.

Warning here – there is an additional “option-within-an-option” to consider.  An increasing number of couples are opting to have a mini-cake for each guest table.

The rationale is that the cake serves as a centerpiece substitute — reducing your florist bill.  True enough, but price out the cost of individual cakes before you happily bank your savings.  Cake bakers spend much more time decorating many small cakes than one larger cake – and will charge 3 to 4 times more as a result — easily tripling your cost per slice.  Depending on your guest count, those flower table-top centerpieces my start to look like a bargain.

Square vs Shaped:  I’ve spent considerable time reviewing wedding cake images from the world wide web and the more I viewed, the less I liked the over-the-top uniquely shaped designs.  Shaped cakes also are budget busters of the first degree.  Square is a more efficient shape to cut – serving more guests. This decision becomes much less of a concern if you decide on having only a small ceremonial cake and is a much bigger concern if you decide to have one wedding cake per table.

Standard Flavors vs Exotic: I say, go with what you know.  I’m a dark chocolate addict, and I’ve successfully converted my partner over to the dark side.  Our son, however is a vanilla hold out, we’ll figure something out.

Piped Detailing versus ribbons/berries/flowers:  We’ve all seen how intricate detailing can create a visual masterpiece.  Our view, a cake is to be consumed, not curated.  I want it to be appetizing visually and delicious, but mostly delicious.

“Cupcake Alternative”


COST:  Less than traditional cake, but guests may eat more than one.

By now, tiered cupcake holders, cupcake carts and designer cupcakes have become part of the normal wedding reception discussion.  Cupcakes offer a chance to provide a more varied selection, but often are more of a self-serve type dessert.  Many couples have paired a mini-wedding cake with cupcakes as an alternative to the deconstructed sheet cake thing.

“NO-cake Alternative”


Doughnuts, cookies, mini-cheesecakes, rustic-pies, fruit tarts, brownies, cinnamon rolls and ‘candy-bars’ all have supporters.  And for those with the budget to handle it, creating a dessert station with any number of these treats so that guests can choose their sugar-fix can be an awesome option.  Many of these options also are delivered to guests via a food cart for added fun and atmosphere.  I’ve not listed costs here, because quotes seem to be all over the board, which gets to another concern I have with some of these alternatives.  I very much value being able to make this decision and not feel as though I need to then worry about whether my artisan-mini-fruit-pie person is going to go out of business between now and wedding day.   These one-of-a-kind desserts are often prepared and supplied by fantastically talented – and over-worked – sole proprietors.

Our Decision

As it turns out, we easily agreed on a cake / sheet cake combo.  The ceremonial cake will lean toward “naked,” and it will not be tricked out – too much.  And it will be chocolate – dark.  We’ll be sure to post a picture.  Next up – play list…

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Gratitude For Beginners Post #2: Simple Pleasures


This practicing gratitude exercise is much more difficult than I had anticipated. In my effort to find a rhythm, a framework, topics, [anything!], I’ve scoured the internet (and my own well-intentioned collection of self-help, self-actualization and positivity books…).  I eventually found Marelisa Fabrega and her Daring to Live Fully site.  Maybe because her message is not too ooey-wooey, or maybe because she and I share an interest in Reiki, her writing voice and attitude clicked with me, and helped me to get unstuck.  She posted a series of gratitude prompts, and I plan to use some as a jumping off point — starting with today.  

I Am Grateful for These 3 Simple Pleasures

1. quiet time at 4:30 a.m.

Shout-out to my fellow 4:30 a.m.’ers.  I do not spring from bed at this hour.  It is not without a struggle that I slowly pull myself up and out.  Sometimes I am not successful and wait for a later 6 a.m. call-to-action.  But I am, nevertheless truly grateful for this quiet time of the day – often my only quiet time of the day.  I miss it when I don’t have it – and it shows…ask David.

2. morning walks with David and our dogs

As daily chores go, this one is complicated — involving multiple steps even before leaving the house.  It centers around a ritualized routine that I’ve given up trying to summarize for you as it is just too complicated and, I realize now, makes us sound batshit crazy.  Ultimately, David and I and the dogs end up on one of a few close-by routes.  Though sometimes David and I walk mostly in silence, more often we talk about the website, our son, wedding plans, aging parent issues, presidential elections — stuff.  What I am grateful for is the time together.  Time to enjoy our dogs.  Time that we are not distracted by our phones or our son.  Time that helps us to reconnect with each other, appreciate central California, and just talk.   A time that encourages us to slow down and be present.

3. right to marry the person I love

Just a few months ago we, and many inclusive, fair-minded adults around the U.S., were celebrating this giant step toward full equality as anything but a “simple pleasure.”  But really — when separated from the long and difficult struggle to achieve it — this right is the simplest of pleasures; one that most couples have not ever had to even think about not having.  It is so basic a right that it does not register as something to be grateful for being able to do.  I look forward to a time when same-sex couples need to be reminded to list the right to marry on their gratitude lists because it will have become so unsurprising and so unremarkable that it will be just as overlooked and taken-for-granted.

Next-up — finding three life lessons I am grateful to have already learned, I think.  

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Surprise Wedding in Hawaii for Gay Military Vets

How do you surprise a couple with the Hawaii wedding of their dreams in less than 10 hours? All they had to do was #LetHawaiiHappen.

Christian Alarid, 24, and Shayne Barnes, 27, went to Hawaii thinking they were taking part in a photoshoot for a marketing campaign. Hawaii’s Visitors and Conventions Bureau (HCVB)contacted the couple last year after they got engaged.

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Marriage Equality vs. Kentucky

Maria Blevins of Morehead, Ky., waves her sign at passing cars during a protest on the lawn of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. The rally, held by the Rowan County Rightas Coalition, brought roughly a hundred people to celebrate same sex marriage. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Maria Blevins of Morehead, Ky., waves her sign at passing cars during a protest on the lawn of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. The rally, held by the Rowan County Rightas Coalition, brought roughly a hundred people to celebrate same sex marriage. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Dear Ms. Davis,

I am sorry you have decided to not perform your job with the state of Kentucky and postponed the celebrations of a number of your residents.  I understand you are to process marriage license requests, issuing these to applicants from your state, not first determine who is worthy of being granted a license based on personal views.  You have not been asked or instructed to insert any particular requirements based on religiously held beliefs, have you?  You are paid to do your job with tax dollars, not church donations, right?

The individuals you are refusing to serve are not attacking your religious views, asking for your blessing, or inviting your church to be involved.  They simply are asking you to do your job as a public servant.

The U.S. Constitution is the rule of law in our society; we are not ruled by a collection of religious teachings.  Religious liberty is a guaranteed right in the U.S., and acts of civil disobedience have played an important role in our nation’s history.  But if you truly believe that what you are being asked to do is a violation of your faith, then I do not understand why you would want to stay in a job with clearly defined responsibilities that are in conflict with these cherished beliefs.  This makes me wonder what other motivations you may have.

We remind our son to use words to express his feelings.  In that spirit, know that your actions hurt.  Your decision to not issue marriage licenses is a form of disapproval.  Gay men and women are equally worthy and legally entitled to the rights and protections of a civil marriage license.  That issue has been decided.

I wish I knew how to help you appreciate that I sincerely do not believe same-sex marriages are a threat to your religious teachings or concept of marriage.  I believe quite the opposite.  There are many different meanings and interpretations of marriage and yours and mine do not have to agree for us to coexist.   To me, marriage is a defining ritual in our society, it’s much more than sex.  It includes friendship, child-rearing, companionship, and most importantly – a public declaration of love and commitment.

David and I strive for our business to be an outward expression of our desire to help encourage, inspire and celebrate declarations of love and commitment in all their diversity, including yours.  What are your actions an outward expression of, Ms. Davis?

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3 wedding tech-trends we WON’T be following, and 1 we WILL

1.  Using a drone or a GoPro

Pitched as a way to achieve, “never before possible shots,” or video that is “impossibly cool,”  both of these newer additions to the wedding scene deliver. It seems the type of “cool” achieved, however, may be more of a Keeping-up-with-the-Kardashians cool than a Guardians-of-the-Galaxy cool. If you are considering this for your wedding, better add to your to-do’s making sure your drone pilot is trustworthy, familiar with your wedding site and experienced. [And how do you gauge experience with drones?] As for the GoPro…just where are you thinking of mounting this thing? One bride placed it in her bouquet… .  We have placed our trust in an experienced photographer and look forward to the stills.

2.  Emailing wedding invitations 

Our view – we are not sending out notices for the next PTA meeting. Quicker, easier and cheaper is not always better. There are advantages to a digital resource for sure — so we will send out invitations and have an online version too. The digital equivalent will provide information for hotel reservations, directions and updates as needed. No, we won’t be using Facebook to send out invites either. If you don’t know someone well enough to already have, or be able to easily obtain, their physical mailing address — maybe reconsider whether they ought to be invited.

3.  Live-streaming the wedding

Oh my. Those who’ve done this say they do it for friends and family who couldn’t make the event, but oh-so-much wanted to be there. That may be, but if your wedding is important enough for someone to attend, they will. What about those who are too ill or too frail to make the journey, you ask. I imagine those too ill or too frail to attend may also be too unfamiliar with the technology requirements necessary to make viewing a reality. More importantly, however, you have asked people to attend to be a part of the moment – in effect helping you create the memory by participating in a day of scripted and unscripted moments. A camera lens is a one way communication device — those at the other end are adding exactly nothing to the excitement and joy of the day. Your wedding is not a sound stage. For those exceptions — dear friends and family members who truly can not make the journey — set aside time to visit and personally share photos from your wedding. You’ll have fun adding commentary as you re-experience the day and your loved one(s) will get to participate in a way that is meaningful to you both.

Our one tech indulgence – a video booth

An updated version of the photo booth – this has us very excited. We have not figured out how to make this happen, but the idea of friends and family taking a few moments to record a personal greeting, a toast, or whatever they wish sounds fun and, we hope will bring out the kid in everyone. Stay tuned for how we will pull this together.


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