Take two of the most fashionable men in Philadelphia, put them in a beautiful venue surrounded by family and friends, and throw in a pastor who integrates faith and African American history, and you have the incredible wedding of Shaun and Shawn.
Know by us affectionately as “The Sha(uw)ns,” this couple was so in love with each other that it was contagious. The nervous energy of anticipation could be felt from the second the grooms started getting ready. Shawn donned these fabulous sparkly shoes that were the envy of everyone there. Shaun almost got choked up with emotion as he waited for his groom in the Hyatt at the Bellvue for their first look. We did some intimate portraits in the spiral staircase and then headed downstairs to meet the super-excited wedding party.
The Sha(uw)ns included their beautiful moms throughout the day — it was clear they had a wonderful relationship with them. So the moms, the wedding party, and the Sha(uw)ns hopped in a trolley and we headed to the Barnes Museum. The tree-lined grassy area was perfect for group portraits, and now it was Shawn’s sister’s turn to burst into tears! The emotion of the day made her laugh and cry at the same time, and Shawn dried her tears and giggled along with her.
We then snuck the grooms over to the Barnes’ reflecting pond for some more portraits before walking across the street to the Franklin Institute for one of my favorite shots of the grooms in front of the airplanes.
The ceremony was held in the Arts Ballroom and began with some incredible music from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Choir who sang on the steps of the ballroom to the guests waiting below. After the choir departed and the procession began, Shaun and Shawn walked down those same steps individually to meet their mothers at the bottom, who escorted them down the aisle.
The ceremony was incredibly meaningful, and one of my favorite parts was the way the grooms re-envisioned the tradition of “jumping the broom.” The pastor explained that during the slavery era in the United States, slaves were not allowed to be married, so they created their own ceremony of jumping the broom to commemorate marriage anyway.
Now, we live in an era where gay men and lesbian women are not allowed to legally marry in the state of Pennsylvania, yet Shawn and Shaun (and several of our other favorite couples) decided to make that religious and public commitment anyway. By jumping the broom, they celebrated their right to be in love and commit to a lifetime together, regardless of the fact that our laws are lagging behind.
The reception was perhaps just as meaningful as the ceremony. After heartfelt toasts, the meal was served, after which time the guests proceeded to the dancing area. The Sha(uw)ns commenced their first dance together as a married couple, closing their eyes, holding on to each other, and just relishing the moment. The mother-son dances were quite emotional as well. Then, all the guests celebrated like crazy as the DJ pumped up the music. Everywhere you looked was a smile, a laugh, a hug. Love was definitely in the air.
Shawn and Shaun, thanks for celebrating love despite our antiquated laws, and for inviting us to join in such a meaningful day. We wish you a lifetime of happiness together.