It’s Pride Month—a time in which multicolored food specials and cheerful parades abound. Capitol Hill’s rainbow crosswalks have a fresh coat of paint and the LGBTQ community is abuzz with excitement. And on June 4 it seems the jubilation peaked early with the ultimate celebration: a wedding. Haden and Megan, who prefer to go only by their first names, tied the knot at Elysian Brewing’s original—and recently revamped—Capitol Hill outpost. The couple, who hail from the South but came to Seattle to be a part of a more accepting community, entered and won the ultimate dream wedding from Elysian and Seattle Pride: be married by author, Queer Eye star, LGBTQ advocate, podcast host, aspiring figure ice skater...the singular Jonathan Van Ness.
While that's enough to make anyone with a Netflix account swoon, June isn’t entirely all rainbows and celebrations; it’s also a time to reflect on some of history's darker moments. This month marks the 50th anniversary of New York City's Stonewall riots. A year ago yesterday is the day of the Supreme Court decision which found that a homophobic Colorado baker did not have to make a wedding cake for a gay couple (who attended the Seattle nuptials). So, Elysian and Seattle Pride decided to throw one. There were five towers of cake. The industrial brewery turned into matrimonial bliss with a makeshift wedding aisle with a verdant arch—yes, there were laurels of hops in there too.
Dearly Beloved: A Wedding Recap
We are gathered here today...to be married by Jonathan Van Ness, who presided over a brief but sweet ceremony as Haden and Megan exchanged vows and said their “I dos” in front of friends, family, and yeah, a few strangers. And despite plenty of quips (Van Ness is a comedian, mind you) the Queer Eye star and officiant’s most memorable words were the heartfelt ones: "Someone once told me that love is about curiosity, not certainty. Nothing guarantees a long and happy marriage like two people willing to throw themselves headlong into the uncertainty."
Megan walked down the aisle to Tegan and Sara’s “Closer,” her flowy traditional dress punched up with pink, beaded sneakers and a peek of rainbow tulle at the bottom of her bustle. Leading up the vows, Van Ness ruminated on human connection, “about knowing and being known.” Then he turned to the audience, asking members to make their own vows to the couple; there was a resounding “We do” as guests promised to stand by the marriage. Haden and Megan exchanged untraditional vows (and a few happy tears) before Van Ness announced the couple as husband and wife and a confetti cannon rained cheer down over the brewery. Then American Idol darling Ada Vox belted what may be the most resounding quintessential post-nuptial tune to the newlyweds: Etta James's "At Last."
It's a Nice Day for a Pride Wedding
A very public wedding officiated by Jonathan Van Ness might sound like a fever dream concocted by a very devout Queer Eye fan, but it was actually the work of some of our city’s heavy hitters, chief among them Elysian Brewing and Seattle Pride. Quite obviously, the wedding venue was Elysian. By getting its start on the Hill in 1996, Elysian has intimate ties with the queer community that made its home in the neighborhood; CEO Joe Bisacca even jokes that The Cuff kept the brewery in business by helping make change when he miscalculated the register in Elysian’s early years.
“It has been kind of cool watching [Capitol Hill] grow up, watching it become what it is now. I wish it had retained a little more of its local color.” And that, among the various historical anniversaries at play, was what Elysian hopes its colorful wedding accomplished. “You can either stand back, take the money that tech is bringing in...or you can push back. For me, it’s pushing back with stuff like this, with arts and with music. Those are the things that are most at risk,” says Bisacca.
As anyone who’s ever downed a bottle of GLITTERis Pride Ale knows, Elysian and Seattle Pride’s relationship predates Tuesday’s wedding. After last year’s Supreme Court ruling “a lot of people in the community just felt really defeated,” says Seattle Pride President Kevin Toovey. “It was a chance to really take something negative and put a positive spin on it and take a stand.”
Wedding cake politics quickly led the two teams to the idea of putting on an actual wedding. And though weddings are often intimate affairs, Toovey points out that the wedding’s public nature is exactly what made it powerful. “I love that it is public because we want people to see it. For folks who maybe are feeling scared or threatened, it’s a sign of hope. For folks who want to push back [against policies that threaten the LGBTQ community], it’s the loudest message you can send.”
The loud messages continue all month long, with Megan and Haden’s wedding launching a whole slew of Seattle Pride events. Thunderpussy (!), SassyBlack (!!), and more local talent descend for a free festival at Volunteer Park this Saturday, June 8. Mini Prides in neighboring cities lead up to the main affair: the 45th Annual Seattle Pride Parade on June 30. It’ll be just as crazy as always; Toovey reports that they’re expecting record-breaking crowds. Just how we like it.
Stay tuned for more Pride coverage on the Seattle Met website.