As you’ve surely heard by now, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. That means that same-sex couples who were wed in the District of Columbia or in any of the 13 states that allow gay marriage now enjoy the same federal rights that straight couples have always enjoyed. Excuse us, 14 states. After all, the Supreme Court also reversed California’s Proposition 8 ruling, making marriage equality legal there once again. And then there are the 13 countries around the world with marriage equality, plus two more that will have their own same-sex marriage laws go into effect in August.
Unfortunately, it will be a long, long time before the state of South Carolina overturns its constitutional ban on gay marriage. But despite the Palmetto State’s laws, gay and lesbian couples are getting married in Charleston. Interestingly enough, many of the wedding businesses we spoke to for this year’s Pride Issue have worked with same-sex couples in the past. Even if these ceremonies aren’t legally recognized by the State of South Carolina, they’re still happening. Regardless, though, these businesses aren’t taking a side in the debate. They work with couples in love.
This year’s Pride Issue has nothing to do with politics, although you know where we stand. We figured that since Charleston is such a popular wedding destination, and since married same-sex couples can now get federal benefits, that we’d put together a guide to gay marriage in Charleston. Just make sure to get your license somewhere else. —Susan Cohen
Rebekkah Epstein and Jackie Karam met about two years ago at Social. Rebekkah was intrigued right away by Jackie's humor and easy-going personality, but the timing wasn't right. "I was not in a place where I was ready to date yet," says Rebekkah. Four months later, the universe decided it was time for something to happen. — Kalyn Oyer
As soon as you have a wedding date set, you need to call up Sugar Bakeshop and make sure you reserve a spot on their calendar. But that doesn't mean you have to know exactly what kind of dessert you want yet. — Susan Cohen
The Unitarian Church in Charleston is a welcoming congregation that has long provided a home for religious LGBT families in the Lowcountry, so it's an obvious choice as a wedding chapel. In fact, a wedding between two women was one of the best that Sue Findlay, the on-site wedding coordinator, thinks she's ever been a part of. — Susan Cohen
Come to Tiger Lily prepared. Bring in pages from a wedding magazine or a tablet with your Pinterest board ready and waiting and Manny and Clara Gonzales will go from there to help you design your floral arrangements and bouquets. — Susan Cohen
Penny Reynolds believes that love is love. It doesn't matter if a couple is the same gender or not. "All that matters is that there's love involved," she says. — Susan Cohen
Prospective clients of Virgil Bunao must fit two of the wedding photographer's criteria: They have to be in love, and they have to resonate with his work. Unlike some of his peers, Bunao shoots primarily in film, and he likes to rely on natural light instead of off-camera lighting or flash. — Susan Cohen
LulaKate designer Katherine McDonald likes to develop a personal relationship with the brides who will be wearing her wedding dresses. When they come into her King Street store, she'll ask them how they got engaged, when they're getting married, and where. — Susan Cohen
Cru Catering has been voted best caterer by City Paper readers every year since 2001, and when it's your wedding, you're going to want one of the Holy City's best. Led by Chef John Zucker, the company helps clients build a menu and they're happy to deal with whatever dietary needs or preferences guests may have. — Susan Cohen
Mac and Murphy's Liz Macpherson and Ami Murphy want to get to know you. In fact, they ask the engaged couple to swing by their downtown stationery store a full nine months before their wedding date for a little chat. Macpherson and Murphy want to know all the deets: how you and your future spouse met, how you got engaged, where the ceremony and reception will be held, how many people you're going to invite. — Susan Cohen
Motown bands, party bands, bluegrass bands — OtherBrother Entertainment can cover practically any musical genre you can think of. The company supplies its clients with a long list of wedding bands and musicians, and they'll work within a couple's budget to come up with options. — Susan Cohen
When potential clients come in, Anna Devine likes to sit them down on a sofa and ask them what they're looking for, in everything from the shirt to the shoes to the suit itself. Do they want to wear something casual, formal, or something out of the ordinary? A bow tie or a real tie? — Susan Cohen