By Anthony Costello, Dec. 4, 2014.
Gone are the days of same-sex couples whisking away to another state to elope, only to return home with a legally insignificant piece of paper.
However, this old romantic notion of dodging full-scale wedding planning and politics in favor of a more simplistic, streamlined and intimate matrimonial experience is just catching on within a community that was not afforded this option until Oct. 17.
Enter the pop-up wedding.
According to I Do Events LLC, a pop-up wedding is an intimate wedding for just the two of you and up to 12 guests. And, get this, the venue, a minister or officiant, photographer and all the other details are arranged and taken care of for you. All you have to do is show up.
“I started getting into weddings because there’s a need for people that want a wedding experience, without necessarily a large wedding,” said Marisa Tristan, I Do Events LLC founder. “It’s an alternative of going to the courthouse and we thought it was such a great idea to offer a wedding experience to couples whether it’s a second marriage, deployment or short notice (within 90 days).”
I Do Events proudly offers all couples a variety of options, from a stress-free pop-up wedding to a supersized ceremony of the century. Additionally, Tristan, who helped found the International Pop Up Weddings Association (IPUWA), and her small team of assistants performs most of the research, planning, coordinating and reserving that couples face when planning a wedding. And, according to Tristan, finding vendors and venues that are same-sex friendly is a point of pride for them.
Flowers, a cake, wedding decor and a champagne or cider toast are among the items included in the wedding packages I Do offers.
She estimates that I Do’s weddings typically run between $995 for a pop-up wedding with 12-20 guests, to $5,000 for a full wedding with 100 guests or more.
“We like to keep it intimate,” she said, and try to keep it under $5,000.”
Jeremy (Jae) Chant and Luis Gonzalez
Local couple Jeremy (Jae) Chant and Luis Gonzalez, who met in 2012, were considering the idea of eloping until Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban was overturned.
“We had a quick out-of-state ceremony in mind so it could be official,” Chant said. “… but now that it’s legal we can have it here.”
After more than a decade of friendship, Chant turned to Tristan, whom he met in the performance group AZ Gender Outlaws, for help from I Do Events.
While the couple has the color theme set for the wedding, Tristan and her team of assistants are handling the brunt of the planning.
“She is definitely taking on all of it,” Chant said, “Marisa is a big proponent of getting the venue down first before getting the rest of the pieces together.”
“But it’s not just about Luis and I, it’s about making sure everyone else has a good time, too,” Chant said. “I think that what I’m most looking forward to is having all my friends and family in one place and celebrating that with them.”
Still, as the big day approaches, Chant said he’s feeling a mixed emotions, including anxiety and excitement.
“All the details have to fall into place and I’m a little bit of a perfectionist,” Chant said.
Chant’s fiancé, Gonzalez, is a little more at ease about their upcoming nuptials.
“I’m not really stressed about anything,” Gonzalez said, “I just want to find the right tux.”
Courtney and Lindsay Cornelius
Another Phoenix couple, Courtney and Lindsay Cornelius, were originally married in a California courthouse, but they’ve been waiting quite some time to have their official ceremony at home in Arizona.
Lindsay, who always preferred to get married in Arizona where she was born and raised, enjoyed the couple’s California wedding, but ultimately wished she could’ve experienced that moment in her home state.
“It was an exciting day and experience, but knowing I’m driving back to Arizona where my marriage isn’t recognized is a big deal,” she said. “My excitement kind of dissipated when returning to a state, that I was born and raised in, doesn’t recognize it.”
With the same-sex marriages now being recognized in Arizona, the brides knew it was time to finally have the big wedding celebration that they had always dreamed of.
Initially, Courtney took it upon herself to make arrangements, but found herself overwhelmed with all the details. According to Courtney, it was at that point she attended a bridal honeymoon expo, opted for a wedding planner discovered I Do Events.
“We don’t have to worry at all, it’s a huge safety net and weight off our shoulders,” she said, “The second we talked to her about what she does, services she provides … we instantly felt relief that she’s doing all the work, that everything is running on time, runs smoothly, we can just relax and enjoy the company of our guests. So it was a huge relief.”
Courtney shares some of the same feelings as Jae Chant about the big day, but is ultimately excited to walk down the aisle.
“Walking down the aisle is going to be crazy, but I’m not too stressed about having this group working for us,” Courtney said. “Especially now that we’re married, we really want the whole big party of it and see each other in our dresses … just all of it.”
The Fight for Marriage Equality Continues
Both couples agree that I Do Events, and other companies like it, are integral for same-sex couples in these early stages of marriage equality in Arizona, especially when these couples are still being denied services and venues.
“You hear about it all the time, people being denied the right to do things, like the lesbian couple that couldn’t get a cake from a bakery because the [owners] didn’t agree with their marriage,” Chant said.
In the first few weeks that same-sex marriages were performed in Arizona, there were only a couple reports of discrimination. One such example, according to local and national news, was when Phoenix wedding planner/minister Rev. Susan Latimer, of affordableweddingminister.com, rejected Kenyata White and Crystal Allen after discovering they were a lesbian couple.
“I don’t think it’s good for Arizona to have [businesses] that only cater to one group of people,” Courtney said, “I think companies that are both straight- and LGBT-friendly, without discrimination, is hugely what Arizona needs.”
Tristan said, for her, it’s all about watching couples tie the knot — which never gets old.
“I love helping people get married, I love being there on that day and seeing the love that’s between them,” Tristan said. “At the end of the day seeing the look on the couple’s face, and receiving a thank you from them … that’s when it’s all worth it.”
For more information on pop-up weddings, visit idoeventsllc.com or ipuwa.com.