Kirkland businesses offer ceremonies and more for same-sex couples

Dec. 9 marks the first day marriage licenses, obtained by gay and lesbian couples on Dec. 6, will go into effect. - Contributed
Dec. 9 marks the first day marriage licenses, obtained by gay and lesbian couples on Dec. 6, will go into effect.
— image credit: Contributed

The Kirkland community is making sure same-sex couples will have an opportunity to have a wedding this Sunday, instead of simply going to City Hall.

Dec. 9 marks the first day marriage licenses, obtained by gay and lesbian couples on Dec. 6, will go into effect.

“We’re doing (this) because we worked so hard for Ref. 74 that this is the natural extension,” said Rev. Marian Stewart of Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church.

The church is offering group ceremonies at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday. The wedding package only costs $25 but includes a champagne toast, cake, a reception with a DJ, two photographs and allows couples up to 20 guests.

Stewart thinks the church will reach maximum capacity and couples are still inquiring about the package less than one week before the event. But surprisingly many of the couples do not belong to Northlake Unitarian.

“This is in no way a money maker,” Stewart said, who is a lesbian herself. “We are doing a service to the gay community, which has been historically marginalized and this is a service to say, ‘we welcome you and we’ll celebrate with you.’”

But the church is not the only Kirkland organization open to offering LGBT couples an easy, yet meaningful, wedding.

VOWS Wedding and Event Planning, a Kirkland-based business, has partnered with the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle and will offer a higher-end experience on Dec. 9-10 from 3-10 p.m. The $1,000 wedding package includes a private ceremony with 20 guests, an officiant, music, photography and decor; and the shared ballroom reception will include a champagne toast and a wedding cake served at the couple’s private table with other food and drink available. The Four Seasons will provide a special rate for the couple’s hotel room with valet parking as well.

Katy Griffiths, owner of VOWS, said it was important to her for same-sex couples to have a wedding that was more special than a courtroom “I do.”

“It’s a personal thing for me: my sister’s gay. We put a wedding on for her, and being a wedding planner, I felt robbed at the end of the wedding because she couldn’t sign the marriage license,” Griffiths said of her sister’s wedding before Ref. 74 passed. “It was a frustrating thing, (it) not being recognized by the state.”

About four couples have signed up for the package, but it is open to about 10. Griffiths notes out of the four, one mother made a great gesture when she bought the package for her son and his partner.

Gina Rayburn’s son Jordan has been with his partner for four years and they have wanted to get married for a long time.

“They called me when the law passed and asked me and dad to be witnesses for a marriage license,” said Rayburn, of Carnation. “But then I found out about Katy’s package and thought it would be so cool to have a real wedding. This is a really big deal.”

When Rayburn gifted the package to the couple, they were understandably very happy. Rayburn thinks the wedding package is a great concept for couples who have waited a long time for Ref. 74 to pass.

But same-sex couples need not rush into marriage for a good deal. Kirkland-based GuGuLy Event Planning is offering 74 percent off a “mini GuGu wedding planning package” that can be used between Jan. 10 to March 31. The package is usually priced at $1,200 but one gay or lesbian couple could win the package for $312, which provides five hours of service to consult on budget planning, vendor management and confirmation, rehearsal and scheduling.

GuGuLy event planner Lydia Rapidah-Johnson will pick one couple based on a 100-word email to, detailing why that couple  deserves the discount.

“I’m really glad Ref. 74 passed. I think it’s about love. It’s about two people and how they want to (live) their lives and move forward,” Rapidah-Johnson said.

The Heathman Hotel in Kirkland will offer a Right to Unite rate for same-sex couples looking to celebrate their first night as a married couple.

The Right to Unite rates include 15 percent off the best available one-night stay or 20 percent off a two-night stay. A bottle of Domaine Chateau Ste. Michelle sparkling wine and a bed with rose petals sprinkled on top will be offered with the rates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through June 30, 2013.

“We believe all couples should be able to enjoy a romantic getaway with their special someone and wanted to be part of this historic celebration,” said Heathman general manager Troy Longwith.


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