When talking to Sarah about her love for Laura, it was obvious their story is one for the books. From both of them only dating men before each other, to their joint bachelorette party, to being the first same-sex female couple married in their part of the UK, and the fact that they had a ‘flower nan’, they are one interesting couple. It’s no wonder these two brides run their own blog!
Tell us about yourselves:
We are Sarah and Laura, two wives who blog at sarahpluslaura.blogspot.co.uk.
Laura is originally from Idaho in the USA and I, Sarah, am from Reading, UK. We met at work in London in 2009, moved to Australia together in 2010 where we travelled for a year before returning to London. We settled in Birmingham, UK in 2013. Our blog features travel, reviews for destinations in the UK and beyond, stories about us, our experiences, and things we love – from food, to our cockapoo Bisbee. We also dedicate a whole section in our blog to preparing for our wedding and then the day itself. Without a doubt, our wedding has been a highlight in our relationship to date.
Tell us about your love story:
In our case, love didn’t come easy. We started new jobs in the same company on the same day. Rather than bonding over the shared experience, our differences meant our first impressions of each other weren’t positive. I was seen as a ‘sour-faced, stuck up, reserved’ British sales person. Laura was an ‘obnoxious, loud, overly upbeat’ American customer services advisor.
We started to work closer together and our initial judgements subsided. After six months we went from hanging out in a group, to spending all our free time together. A few weeks later we admitted we were more than just friends and never looked back!
As we had both only dated men before, the relationship and how quickly our feelings progressed was a shock to both of us. We kept things mainly between us until we were confident that it could be something serious.
From the start, Laura’s parents were amazingly supportive and welcomed me into their home in the USA. Initially, my parents were adamantly against our relationship. It wasn’t until four years later that Laura eventually got an invite to the house. Our relationship with my family is definitely an ‘It gets better’ story.
Our wedding signalled a public stand and declaration of our love. We were the first all-female couple to get legally married in the borough of Westminster. The wedding ceremony was in Idaho. Unfortunately same sex marriage wasn’t legal in Idaho until four months later, but it was the wedding of our dreams anyway!
Both families attended our Idaho wedding and since then things for us have gone from strength to strength. We even moved in with my parents for over a year to save for our house before moving to Birmingham. Today, both families play a large part on our lives and we couldn’t be happier.
As two brides, how did you decide on your bridesmaids?
We had a joint bridal party instead of each picking our own bridesmaids. Most of the people we considered are friends to both of us. It would’ve been hard deciding whose side they would be on.
My sister Fiona was the first pick. As an early supporter of our relationship she was a natural choice and it was important to have her there beside us.
Kate, our head bridesmaid, has known Laura since she was born. Laura and Kate lived in London at the same time before she met me, and we all became close when living in Australia in 2010. She even threw us a surprise Australian wedding celebration when we visited earlier this year!
Julia is a close school friend that Laura has known for 15 years. I had met Julia on my first trip to Idaho in 2009 and we got on easily. Julia is an illustrator. She was our first pick to do our invitations and all the personal touches at our wedding.
Alison is another of Laura’s old school friends – they reconnected when Ali moved to London. As Ali lived with us when she initially moved to the UK, we all became close. I chose Ali to help me organise my proposal when we were all in Idaho for Christmas 2012. Ali, and her husband Dave, are our travel inspirations and some of our closest friends.
Did you ever consider having groomsmen?
We decided to have the special men in our lives be ushers rather than groomsmen. It wasn’t a massive discussion. The ladies in our lives were our greatest support, being there through difficult times. Having them at the front was symbolic of their role in our lives.
What tips do you have for brides who are struggling to put together their bridal party?
Start by making a list of all the people you feel you can’t get married without them by your side. If you’re having an intimate wedding, like ours, divide the list up into different roles. Besides your bridesmaids and groomsmen, you can have special people in your life be ushers or participate in readings at the ceremony. If you are still struggling with wanting to give unique roles to the special people in your life, Pinterest is a great source of inspiration.
One especially unique role at our wedding was instead of a ‘flower girl’, we had a ‘Flower Nan’. We really wanted Laura’s 90 year old Nan, who flew on her own from the UK to the USA for the wedding, to be part of our bridal party. (She stole the show, she was so wonderful!) Our Mums were walked down the aisle by our ushers, so they stood out.
How did you decide on your joint Bachelorette Party location and who to invite?
There was never any thought of having separate Bachelorette parties because we have so many joint friends. And at the end of the day, as well as being wives, we are best friends. So really as two brides, if we had been on separate nights out, we would have just been wondering where the other one was, and wishing she was there!
Heading to Idaho for the wedding, we knew we had to have a connecting flight somewhere. Most of the party flying out with us from England had never been to the USA. We thought about New York but after suggesting NY and Vegas to our guests, Vegas got the vote.
We had also been to Vegas before, so we had a rough idea of what we wanted to plan. As a party capital it was easy to book tables, a limo, group transport etc. In general, Vegas offers so many options that we could do things as a large group or break up into smaller groups.
The invite was open to all / any guests. As part of our save the dates we pointed people to our wedding website where we had put a rough itinerary of our Vegas plans. There was an option to select ‘join us’ at the bachelorette. We had a deadline date for confirmation so we could sort out rooms if people needed to share.
Who planned the activities?
Mainly Laura, although we took suggestions and requests. When it came to seeing a show we put out options to the group via a private Facebook group. The one that ended up being the most popular – a drag show!
We had two evenings that we had requested everyone attend. The first was a dinner and limo ride to the Las Vegas sign (for group pictures!), The second was ‘Pink Night’ where everyone had to wear something pink. That night we hit the bars and a club to dance the night away.
Other plans were made by the pool where everyone seemed to meet in the mornings. We tried to leave things flexible as we knew it was an expensive trip for everyone. We didn’t want to completely take over their holiday.
What was your favorite part of your Bachelorete Party?
Well as two brides, can we pick two?
The first was a really simple moment in the Mirage pool. The weather was beautiful and we all had giant strawberry daiquiris by the pool. In a single moment Laura and I were able to watch all of our family and friends laughing, getting on, and having a great time so far from home. It was the best feeling.
The second was Pink Night. The whole night was hilarious! It was the night I had imagined a bachelorette would be. My Mum and Aunt wore massive pink capes. The boys all rocked pink outfits and we all wore personalised matching sunglasses. Laura and I rode a mechanical bull (though not for long!). We spent most of the night in a bar that played hit song after hit song, and I just remember not wanting it to end.
What are your tips for anyone planning a bachelorette in Vegas?
Stay calm and don’t plan too much for everyone. Vegas is synonymous with drinking and gambling for a reason. Set out your expectations of what you want everyone to attend early and explain why it is important. We told everyone that we wanted a group photo at the Vegas sign, so they had to be there.
Don’t leave it too late to book group things. While there is plenty of choice of limo companies and restaurants, you don’t want your decision to be made for you so book early. Also when booking get people’s payments upfront. There is nothing worse than trying to sort out money while trying to keep things fun.
On that note, ask someone else in the party to take the role of sorting out money. Even at dinner. As a bride you don’t want to be sorting out the bill at the end of the night. It’s stressful!
Bridal showers are standard in the US, but not at all common in the UK. How surprised were you to have a mini bridal shower?
It was such a lovely surprise to have a bridal shower shower thrown for us while we were in Vegas by our bridesmaids. We weren’t expecting it at all. It was especially amazing as we had planned most of the bachelorette party ourselves.
Our bridesmaid Kate organised the shower at a gorgeous poolside restaurant. She brought mini cupcakes that tasted like delicious cocktails! Fiona created a quiz about us which was touching and funny for everyone to take. She also put together a beautiful album of photos from our childhood, and then ones since Laura has been around. It had an inscription that read how she was so happy to be gaining another sister! Tears all round.
What was dress shopping like for both of you and your bridesmaids?
Dress shopping for us was surprisingly easy. After seeing plenty of same-sex weddings where the two brides looked like they were going to different weddings, we decided to go together. As we are each other’s best friends, we knew there’d be nobody else whose opinion we trusted more than each other. We are so glad we did it this way, as it was an amazing experience!
We booked in an appointment with David’s Bridal in Boise. After the assistant got over the surprise of having two brides marrying each other (not that common in conservative Idaho, where it wasn’t yet legal) she was lovely and incredibly helpful. We had Laura’s Mum with us for support, and luckily things worked out pretty effortlessly.
With arms full of dresses we headed to the changing rooms. It was quickly evident what styles we preferred, and within the hour we had narrowed down our top choices. Even though we picked similar strapless styles I think we complimented each other rather than looking the same. Laura had a birdcage veil, while mind was a mid-length veil worn down my back. On wedding day, Laura had her hair swept to one side, while mine covered both shoulders. We both felt beautiful and that is what was important.
The bridesmaid dresses were even simpler. We had wanted to buy the dresses for the girls, which is the custom in the UK. Plus, all our bridesmaids were travelling so an extra cost didn’t seem fair. We had picked our colour, a deep purple, and knew we wanted them to be knee length with pockets. With that description I did a Google search. We quickly found a dress at a reasonable price, that met the criteria exactly and so we bought them. Luckily they fit perfectly.
How were your bridesmaids throughout your planning process at the wedding?
As we only had one bridesmaid living near where we were getting married, we relied heavily on our wedding planner. That said, our bridesmaids were quick to offer help and advice. They were so excited and supportive the entire way.
Julia recommended our band, designed and printed our wedding invites, etc. Kate did our maid of honour speech, organised our bridal shower, and kept us going with countdowns. Alison took on the role of Pink Night organiser in Vegas, which was amazing. Fiona kept my family organised and calm, which was no small task, and allowed us to focus on everything else.
Once we were in Idaho, all the bridesmaids helped with the food shopping for our stay at our wedding location. Then at the venue, they helped organise room allocation and food preparation. Really they allowed us to be part of the experience, rather than having to worry about looking after everyone.
What are your favorite memories of your bridesmaids from your wedding day?
Our professional photo session. We had our pictures taken before the ceremony (after our first look!) so that everyone looked their best and could then relax and enjoy the day. That time together; laughing, joking, pulling poses, and just hanging out was perfect.
When getting ready, they did each other’s hair and make-up. There is one photo where they were all doing up the bow on each other’s dresses. It was posed, but it really captured the mood of the day.
The pictures we had with each of them individually were also sweet moments. We took a ‘pretty photo’ and a ‘pretty silly photo’ with each of them. We gave each bridesmaid a copy of their photo as a thank you.
Do you have any tips for how bridesmaids can be supportive to their bride(s)?
As every bride is different, I think the key is communication of expectations. I think if you know a bride well enough, you will know when things are getting stressful for them. Offering support early is key.
Laura and I are very different when it comes to planning. Laura will have to-do lists for everything. The bridesmaids knew that if they were being asked to do something for Laura it was because she really needed help. The best plan of action would be doing it quickly to make thing easier for her. and I will do things as I think of them or last minute. For me, they needed to sense check if I had thought of things. Although Laura had given me my own to-do list so I was covered. (ha!)
Also on wedding day things change. Often plans that have been in place for months need rearranging. For example, our florist didn’t have bouquets for the bridesmaids, which we were expecting. So be ready with solutions and suggestions. Always be calm. Always say that you’ll look into it even if you have no clue how you’ll make it happen. That taking on of responsibility means the world. No bride should be stressing on their big day.
What do you think of Sarah + Laura’s love story? Share with us in the comments.