Whimsical Shakespearean Inspired Wedding

Finder Seeker

June 3, 2024

Jack and Hemlock met when they were 17 and 18, through talking about Shakespeare on Tumblr. This mutual appreciation was what inspired their whimsical and beautifully inclusive wedding day. Both queer and trans, it was important that their wedding felt like a representation of them, their love and their community.

Held in the lush surroundings of a venue reminiscent of a fairytale garden, their summer wedding was a really unique blend of vintage charm and otherworldly beauty. “Because we met talking about Shakespeare, we both love gardening, and we wanted a very whimsical wedding, we went for a loose Midsummer Night’s Dream theme”, they told us. “It offered a lot of opportunities for the aesthetics and colours we liked, an even mixture of the vintage and the magical to make something strange and charming. The fairy element also felt like a natural way of expressing our queerness, both as individuals and as a couple.”

The aesthetic drew heavily from the 2019 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre, with sets overgrown with moss and dreamy, unpretentious elements. They looked at a lot of Paolo Sebastian and Joanne Fleming dresses as inspiration for their outfits, as well as art by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Shirley Barber. Jack’s dress was reconfigured from their mother’s wedding dress, and Hemlock bought a new gown. They both worked with Elissa Marie Design on their outfits.

“My incredible dressmaker and designer Elissa was the mastermind behind the dresses”, Hemlock explained. “I gave her colour references and she hand-dyed all that tulle to get that watercolour effect, I can’t stress enough that she pulled exactly what I was dreaming about out of my head and into reality. Getting to collaborate on the flowers was such a delight but such a huge project. I put together some fabric flowers too and Elissa sewed everything on. I love plantlore and all the flowers featured have meaning: wild violets because they’re my favourite and are a queer symbol, sampaguitas for my Filipino heritage, snowdrops because Jack and I got together on the first day of spring. The iridescent wings are modelled on bee and cicada wings, and there’s even a little mallorn leaf from Lord of the Rings.

“We wanted a wedding that felt queer in every sense,” they continued. “Obviously in terms of representing us as queer people and our love as queer love, but also as a celebration for everything a little strange. We combed through all the conventional wedding traditions and discarded anything that didn’t feel true to us. At the same time it wasn’t just about rejecting tradition for the sake of it, because we both found a lot of beauty in all the minute rituals that make up different kinds of weddings. We wanted to invite our guests into our odd little world, but we also wanted them to feel comfortable and looked after, especially as many people travelled a long way.”

The ceremony, guided by their celebrant and Sheridan, was filled with personal touches. “We wrote our own vows and didn’t show each other before the ceremony,” they shared. “It was such an intensely magical experience, even more so knowing that it was something that could never be replicated.”

The reception was a feast for the senses, held under fairy lights that replicated the night’s sky. Jack baked the cakes while Hemlock designed and made the menus, place names and save the dates.

Planning a queer wedding as a nonbinary trans couple certainly presented some unique challenges, but Jack and Hemlock were really pleased to find vendors and suppliers who understood what was important to them and made it happen. “There are a lot of things about weddings that are extremely gendered,” Hemlock noted. “We often struggled to find vendors who were experienced or even comfortable working with nonbinary clients.”

“There were times when certain choices felt really loaded, for example choosing to wear dresses despite not identifying as women. There was pressure to conform to straight and cis expectations, but there was even more pressure to fit ourselves into the gender binary. We never wanted to make a big deal out of it, but we also found that whenever we didn’t introduce ourselves as being nonbinary, we would get misgendered. And then correcting people would always be awkward and stressful for both sides. Doing all of this in a climate where transness is extremely controversial was also very emotionally exhausting. Sometimes sending out emails to prospective vendors felt like playing Russian roulette!”

Despite the difficulties, Jack and Hemlock enjoyed the planning process, especially the early stages when they shared ideas and built a vision that blended their individual tastes. “Finding things that were a mix of what we both liked was very magical,” Jack said.

“It’s difficult to choose a favourite moment because we loved things for different reasons”, Hemlock concluded. “The ceremony was so beautiful and felt very sacred and exciting at the same time. We had a lot of fun taking pictures in the gardens and running around in our dresses. But there was a point where we got back to the venue after photos and the guests were downstairs having pre-drinks and canapes, and Jack and I and some of our wedding party hid upstairs in the chapel. Most of my siblings were in the wedding party and all of us can all get sensory overload and burnout from noise and crowds. I’d mentioned this to our venue coordinator beforehand, and she brought us all drinks and canapes up to the chapel so we had a few moments just sitting together in the quiet and chatting. I’ve got some great blurry, dark phone photos of my siblings sitting on the floor picking twigs out from my skirt. That was really special.”