Shannon and Ruth’s Intimate Wedding at Talula’s Garden by Viva Love Photography
Shannon and Ruth’s intimate wedding at Talula’s Garden and Talula’s Daily is a pure illustration of a cherished memorable gathering. This couple shares an apparent devotion to each other, which naturally shows through their charming glances, gestures, and dedication to one another throughout the entire day. The authenticity of their love shows through their wedding design, that captures the true essence of their relationship. This lovely celebration adheres true love, and it celebrates the joy of marriage! High spirits were in abundance throughout this wedding, and the joy can be felt through these vivid visuals captured by Viva Love Photography.
Here’s a note from the Photographer | Ian Shiver, Viva Love Photography: “It has come to my attention that after January 20th (and even now), the US could become much less of a safe space for the LGBTQ community, among many others. A couple whose wedding I am shooting next year asked me to photograph a separate city hall marriage before the new presidency, seemingly out of potential fear that their rights could change.
In support, I am offering free photography of city hall marriages of any LGBTQ couples who feel the need to get legally married before January 20th. I am willing to do this anywhere for travel/lodging. No one should have to make any decision out of fear.”
How They Met:
“We started seeing each other when I was living in Los Angeles and Ruth was in Philadelphia. We were long-distance from LA to Philadelphia for our first year, both flying back and forth pretty much constantly. We saw each other every other weekend. After that, I transferred to Washington, DC, and we continued to be long-distance, with me spending most weekends in Philadelphia for another two years. Finally, this past year I moved to Philadelphia full-time where we now live together.”
“Two days after Christmas, and after a lot of family time that had us running in a bunch of different directions, Ruth and I finally had a quiet morning alone together. We woke up, Ruth went downstairs to make the coffee, and when she brought it back up, she told me that there was one more gift that had been left out of my Christmas stocking. She handed me a very small gift, which was wrapped up in Christmas paper. I actually took her on her word that the gift was simply left out of my stocking, because that is completely like her to do! So I unwrapped the box without expectation as to what might be inside, but then I saw it was a jewelry box. I popped it open, and inside was a black diamond ring, nearly identical to one I had shown her three years prior. At the time, I had half-jokingly said, “Just in case you ever want to give me a ring one day…,” but then three years later, there it was in front of me. I, of course, said yes right away. Over breakfast, she played the song “I Wasn’t Expecting That,” which has since become one of our favorite songs. It feels very symbolic of our relationship, which from the time we met has taken us by surprise at many turns.”
Wedding Planning Experience:
“Our wedding planning was somewhat unconventional. Ruth made a rule for us early on to ensure that we wouldn’t let wedding planning consume our lives – and that rule was to only discuss our wedding one day a week. We chose Sunday, because that is typically our only shared day off. So, the other 6 days, we talked about anything and everything except the wedding. On Sundays, we tackled planning, reaching out to vendors, and discussing details with our families and friends. We told everyone else this rule early on too, and they all played along very well. Once in a while, my parents would be having dinner with us and go to ask us a question about the wedding, but then stop themselves and say, “Wait, what day is it? Oh, not Sunday…nevermind!” The rule was a complete stroke of brilliance and really did keep us sane. We never allowed the wedding planning to take over our lives, and that allowed us to spend the nine months between getting engaged and getting married continuing to focus on our relationship, rather than the one day we would spend solidifying it legally.”
“Just prior to the ceremony, when everyone was milling around outside on Washington Square, Ruth and I went alone to the bar area of Talula’s Garden and spent about 15 minutes completely by ourselves. We had a glass of champagne together and just talked and took in the moment. It was very calming, and a really special memory of the day for me because it gave us a chance to take a breather and just connect with each other. Some of my favorite photos of the day are from those moments – and at the time, we didn’t even know Ian was nearby taking them. You can see in the pictures how happy and excited we are, but also how connected and focused on each other. So many couples say their wedding day flashes by in a total blur, but this moment stands out crystal clear in my memory, and I’m so happy to have that.”
“Us! It was very important to us that we have an intimate and unique wedding that truly reflected us as individuals and as a couple. We love dining out, and one of our favorite restaurants has always been Talula’s Garden, and their sister-restaurant, Talula’s Daily. Those spots have been the site of several special occasions and date nights for us over the years, and as a bonus, Talula’s Daily is very small and only seats about 40 people, which was the size we wanted to cap our wedding. Once we secured the space, all of the details from that point really revolved around making sure the party would be authentic to us. For example, we have been together four years and already have a home together, so we didn’t feel the need for lavish wedding gifts or a registry of any kind. Instead, we asked guests to please make a donation in our name to any one of our three favorite charities: Human Rights Campaign, Back on My Feet, or Children With Cancer UK. We loved the idea that our wedding day, which was already going to be so special to us, and could help make a difference in other lives as well.”
“The other unique aspect of our wedding was the rehearsal dinner, which was not a rehearsal dinner at all. Ruth is an avid runner and marathon-enthusiast, so she decided that the night before she wanted our guests to participate in a 5K run instead of the traditional rehearsal dinner. We decided the party the night before would be a much larger gathering in order to incorporate more extended family, friends, and neighbors in the weekend’s celebrations. Ruth organized the 5k, which we dubbed the “Just Say Yes 5K,” and even had t-shirts made so everyone would match. We ran the 5K along Kelly Drive and finished at In Riva for a big, casual outdoor pizza party with about 100 guests. It was a blast, and the perfect way for many of our extended friends and family to be with us during our wedding weekend even though the wedding itself was set to be small.”
Wedding Planning Advice:
“Make it about you. It is your day.
Don’t invite anyone out of guilt or obligation. You know who the closest people are in your life. Include them, and only them.
Don’t feel tied to what you think is tradition or expected at weddings. We didn’t have a band or a DJ or dancing at our wedding, and it was perfect for us that way.
The one day a week planning rule is a good one to follow for sanity purposes!”
“It was a delight working with our vendors. As a gay couple, approaching vendors was probably the most stressful part of the planning process because we wanted to put it out there right away that this was a bride/bride situation, rather than a bride/groom. We didn’t want to encounter any negativity or discrimination during what is supposed to be such a happy time, so we were very careful to be upfront with our vendors in our first email or phone interaction. Every vendor we ultimately chose was so supportive and wonderful, we cannot say enough good things about them. I will never forget emailing Aimee Olexy of Talula’s Garden with a list of questions about having our wedding there – one of the lines was something like, “We are a gay couple, and we want to make sure we get married in a place that will be comfortable with us and inclusive.” Her response was simple, it said, “110 million%”. I teared up when I read that. It wasn’t just accepting, it was embracing, and that was so wonderful. Our other vendors were equally incredible to work with – I give every single one 5 stars for their work, attention to detail, and most importantly, their inclusivity.”