All photos courtesy of Kim Reilly of Studio K Photography
“When we decided to get married,” says Deb Leef concerning her recent nuptials with partner of 23 years, Arlene Kluizenaar, “Provincetown was an easy decision. We started investigating venues. Sage is one of the largest bed and breakfasts in Provincetown with an event room large enough to accommodate a smaller wedding with a buffet set-up.” The Inn is loaded with history too, as Provincetown’s first hotel, the Pilgrim House in the late 1700’s, visited by celebrities such as Henry David Thoreau.
Eight months prior to their May 17, 2014 wedding, the Pennsylvania couple traveled to Massachusetts to survey their proposed wedding venue. They quickly decided that Sage Inn was where they wanted to be, then started the planning process, from hundreds of miles away. “We planned everything long-distance,” Deb says, “by phone and emails with the help of Sage's amazing General Manager, Cathy Nagorski. She was able to hook us up with a photographer, florist and trolley company.”
The couple had actually had a lot longer to think about the possibility of marriage, though: 32 years. They first met in 1982 while volunteering with an ambulance corps in Westchester County New York, where they lived prior to moving to Pennsylvania in 1991 so they both could return to school. They both graduated from Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University in 1993, Deb with a Master's in Physical Therapy, and Arlene with a Bachelor’s degree as a Physician Assistant, and eventually a Master's of Health Sciences degree from Drexel University.
During this time, the nature of their future together was always on their minds. “We had discussed getting married or having a commitment ceremony,” Deb recalls, “but didn't really feel that it meant much. When the federal government decided to recognize same-sex marriage last year, we revisited the question more seriously and decided to take advantage of the protections marriage afforded.”
But there was a romantic side, too, including a most touching proposal. Deb explains, “Arlene proposed by holding our cat in her arms, kneeling down next to our dog and asking, ‘Will you marry us”?
Deb said “yes,” the contact with Sage was made, and because the destination wedding meant guests travelling from several states--New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, and Colorado—Save The Date cards were sent half a year prior to the wedding. Six months later, those 45 guests and the bridal party took over the entire Sage Inn. “Our guests filled all 19 rooms at the Inn,” Deb says.
For the ceremony, itself, Deb and Arlene chose a nearby beach location, Herring Cove, part of the National Seashore. “We used a trolley from Cape Destinations to transport guests from Sage to the beach for the ceremony.”
Their ceremony, conducted by Reverend Kate Wilkinson of the Provincetown Universalist Unitarian Meeting House, included a rose presentation. “It was in honor of those people who were with us in spirit such as our grandparents, Arlene's parents, my dad and uncle, and a good mutual friend of ours. We presented the roses to family members and friends who were significant to those being honored.”
The ceremony also included the couple reciting their personally written vows, at one point humorous. “Part of our vows,” Deb explains, “included promising to take care of each other as long as possible, and when the time comes, to find a nice place with tasty food, pillow-top mattresses and ‘Animal Planet’ for me, and the ‘Weather Channel’ for Arlene. These are long-standing jokes which our families and close friends have heard us say for many years, and when we spoke those words during the ceremony we could hear a few chuckles of recognition.”
In addition, Reverend Kate conducted a blessing of the rings, with the brides and their brothers joining hands to represent the uniting of the two families.
After the ceremony, the trolley delivered guests back to Sage for cocktail hour before the reception. “Hors d'oeuvres included hot artichoke and tomato cheesecake,” Deb says, “cold whipped bleu cheese and pear crostini and smoked salmon with apple chutney.”
Their buffet dinner included a Spinach Salad with Crumbled Blue Cheese, Toasted Pecans, Dried Cherries, radish, grape tomatoes and raspberry vinaigrette Tomato and Mozzarella Platter; and Sliced Fruit Planner with Mint Flecked Orange Infused Honey. Vegetables included Sautéed Broccolini with Tarragon and Smoked Butter, and Whipped Yukon Potatoes with Aged White Cheddar. Entrées included Seared Chicken Breast with Leek and Asparagus Saute; Smoked Pork Shanks with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce and Butternut Squash Ravioli with Vanilla Pecan Cream. Centerpieces and buffet arrangements were designed and created by Wildflower Florist. Beverages included frozen margaritas, Drambuie, and specialty beers, Stone Suede Imperial, Stone Imperial Russian Stout, and Stone Smoked Porter.
Then, dessert, by Dessert by Alana. “We had a dessert buffet which included assorted butter cookies,” Deb says, “and Linzer tarts, mini cream puffs and mocha mousse shooters in personalized shot glasses that we ordered online. They said ‘Stolen from Deb & Arlene's Wedding, 5/17/14’." They also had a beach themed mocha layer cake decorated with a sand colored mocha icing and white chocolate in the shape of seashells. “We did the traditional cake cutting and fed each other a piece,” Deb says, “but after 32 years, no there was no ‘smushing’ it in each other’s faces!”
Table favors for each guest included a seashell place card holder, luggage tag, a Provincetown souvenir refrigerator magnet, butter cream mints, small bag of personalized M&M's, and the mocha mousse shot glass.
Entertainment was provided by Zoe Lewis, and Deb says, “Zoe played during the cocktail hour and for our first dance, her deeply touching rendition of Bob Dylan's, ‘Make You Feel My Love’. Then she took a break before playing her 45-minute set during dinner.” During Zoe's break, the couple played downloaded music for the guests’ continued enjoyment. “We had fast and slow dance tunes, including oldies and current hits as well as group dances like the electric slide, cupid shuffle and chicken dance.”
Additional “entertainment” came in the form of the couple handing out prizes to their guests. “We decided to do something a little unconventional in keeping with an unconventional wedding,” Deb explains. “We gave out door prizes to some of our guests: gummy worms to the first guest to RSVP and the first guest to book their room; a stuffed plane from the Disney movie Planes to the guest who traveled the farthest; an alarm clock for the last guest to return their RSVP; and calendars for the guests who didn't return their RSVP's.” All events were photographed by Kim Reilly of Studio K Photography.
Instead of numbering the guest tables, the couple named the tables after women they considered significant: Edie Windsor, Ellen DeGeneres, Kate Clinton, Melissa Etheridge, Lily Tomlin, and Billie Jean King.
After the Big Day, Deb and Arlene spent several more days at the Sage Inn, on their honeymoon.
Sarah Howery Hart is a California-based freelance magazine writer, and author of the first in her series of murder mysteries, Catch ‘n Release: The Game. Avaliable now on Amazon.com!
Website URL: http://www.sarahhoweryhart.com