Listless to Blissful: The Non-Traditional Bride(s)
Amanda Lehman-Faber said she was never “that girl” — the girl who dreamed and imagined every little detail of her wedding day.
“Now don’t get me wrong: I love hosting fabulous parties and attending weddings, but I did not believe I would ever experience my own,” said Amanda. “Perhaps, it was never feeling as if I would find that person, or even if I did, that I was not able to have the dream as a lesbian. It didn’t help that after being out for 10 years, my family was not very accepting and I never imagined they would be in attendance and supportive if I were to get married.”
“I told her if you’re going to regret this for the rest of your life, then show up,” said Amanda. On May 29, 2016, “It was like a wedding miracle happened. She was able to see and experience our love and how happy we truly were. She said to me, ‘How can I deny that?’ I feel like she shared in something important in my life.”
Moving to New York City as a teenager helped Amanda overcome the “small town mentality” that kept her from realizing her own happiness.
“I knew I could not live my life like that. It’s not easy to be as open and genuine and authentic as I am,” said Amanda. “I am still hesitant, but I am not going to not live my life. I’m not going to cheat Jamie from that experience either. Her family is supportive, and that is really appealing to me.”
Jamie admits this part of Amanda’s life wasn’t always easy to handle.
“I am so fortunate to have such a supportive family and it was what I had always known. It is always tough for me to understand, but I knew it wasn’t anything I could hold against Amanda. In fact, I admired her strength in the face of such adversity and that did not stop her from living her truth. That said, it is wonderful to now have her family’a support. They have been really great,” said Jamie.
Amanda and Jamie met six years ago in NYC at a “Broadway Prom”-themed birthday party under the most ironic circumstances. As the room sparkled with sequins and crowns, Amanda said it was clear Jamie was not planning on attending prom that night in her boots and black jeans.
“I guess the old saying is true — opposites do attract. She works in finance and was one of the more recent transplants into New York City. Our instant connection was real despite my love for all that sparkles and shines and her love for the grunge of the East Village,” said Amanda. “I always felt like I could be myself with her and knew early on into our relationship, there was no one else I wanted by my side on this journey we call life.”
In April of 2014, Jamie pulled off the most amazing surprise proposal.
“I just knew I wanted to spend my life with Amanda, but this specific weekend was one of the few I felt I could truly surprise her since I used the excuse of my birthday,” said Jamie. “This was not easy with Amanda. I had to create a new email address and remember to delete texts messages, which I never do. I bought her ring from my fabulous cousin, Sarah Markle, at Thomas Markle Jewelers in Texas and had it sent to our friends apartment in Brooklyn so Amanda wouldn’t see it. I gave the excuse of wanting to go to City Winery to do a tour of their winery for my birthday that was a couple days after the proposal.”
And, of course, Amanda said yes.
“But you saw that one coming. So, now what? Neither of us had been that girl that had their wedding day all planned out since we were little kids playing dress up in our mothers’ heels,” she said, adding that they took an annual trip to the sunny beaches of Mexico, which was “a meaningful place to us and I liked the idea of a beach wedding.”
Some of her family members including her mother, a Catholic woman from the Deep South, were not in favor of her marriage to Jamie.
But something didn’t feel quite right, and while Amanda said she was hesitant to have the wedding in Michigan initially, she realized just how important it was to Jamie, who was worried her extremely supportive family members would not be able to make the trip.
“In the end, it was perfect because it allowed many of my friends and even my family, who have started to come around seeing how happy I am, to be able to experience our new home and life in Michigan,” said Amanda.
Rules of Engagement
“One piece of advice we can offer is to try to avoid too many life changes and decisions at the same time,” said Amanda about their choice to relocate, build a house, start new jobs, plan a wedding, and survive the loss of her beloved father all in the course of six months.
“Our relationship was certainly tested, but it forged us together as we divided and conquered an incessant number of decisions. It also helped to have the support of our amazing friends and family.”
One of those friends recommended Cafe’ Cortina in Farmington Hills based on the intimate setting the couple was searching for. Having their wedding and reception at a full-service restaurant also allowed them to reduce the overall decisions and vendors they needed to engage. Amanda’s Type A personality allowed her to stay organized and track ideas throughout the planning process using Pinterest boards, Etsy, binders, and iPhone notes.
Amanda and Jamie knew their style was “rustic chic” and agreed on a neutral color palette of sandstone, champagne and gray.
“I really tried to pay attention to unique details that captured us as a couple. We added personalized touches from wooden decor to photos of us around the cafe to create a warm environment,” said Amanda.
The next step was selecting the look for the bridal party. They wanted something mismatched yet cohesive with shades of color. They attempted to achieve this look themselves by hand selecting dresses, but ended up choosing the Jenny Yoo Annabelle convertible dress that can be worn in a variety of styles.
“We selected three different colors in sandstone, mink and shadow gray. It achieved the unified look yet gave enough variety for our large wedding party of 15 to look and feel amazing,” said Amanda.
As for her own dress, she said it was difficult. Accustomed to a life of glamorous costumes in theater, she said she “likely tried on more than 50 dresses at various NYC bridal salons. It didn’t help that I also had to have a costume change, or two, on my big day.”
Amanda found the perfect jumper from BHLDN for the cocktail hour, and a strapless A-line Watters Too ballgown for the ceremony. She completed her wedding wardrobe with a rhinestone sweetheart open back dress at Nordstrom online for the reception. Jamie wore one simple, yet beautiful, ethereal dress.
Amanda said their primary focus was trying to keep the wedding personalized and meaningful for themselves and their guests.
“For me, it was all in the details. We spent a lot of time organizing and preparing the weekend experience for our guests from the host hotel location to the coordination of events and transportation. We took pride in the food and music — we had a friend play live guitar during cocktail hour and created both dinner and dancing playlists. We kept the speeches and vows short and sweet but spent time making sure they were meaningful and personal,” she said.
For entertainment value, the couple performed a surprise first dance telling their love story.
“We did not want to miss a moment of time with our loved ones, so we hosted a rehearsal brunch, welcome party, and a farewell brunch the day after. We had heard from so many how your wedding day is over in the blink of an eye and they were right. Making it a weekend celebration was one of our best decisions,” said Amanda, adding, “It was easy to get caught up in all the planning and lose sight of what was really important — love. Due to the fact I hadn’t dreamed of the perfect wedding, I never understood why people referred to their wedding day as the best day of their life. Even leading up to it, Jamie and I had a few moments questioning what on Earth we were doing adding all this stress into our busy lives for something that lasts one day. Once again, we were wrong. It truly was the best day of our lives.”