CHAPEL HILL — The two brides were married in a traditional ceremony at United Church of Chapel Hill last weekend.
In spite of the fact that both had her own notions about wedding details like gowns, flowers, cakes, rings, vows and honeymoons and both, like most brides to be, had girly inclinations about their dream wedding, Jenny Shultz, 31, and Shannon Thomas, 46, made it to the altar unscathed, with their relationship intact and with all that wedding stuff worked out.
Many couples opt to write their vows these days, but Jenny and Shannon found that everything they came up with was somehow already covered in traditional words like "for richer, for poorer, for better for worse."
"I wrote, like a book, all the same things already said in the traditional vows," Shultz said. "Finally, we both just laughed because we realized that the traditional vows had been working for years. They were tried and true.
"It may sound funny to say we are both brides and we are claiming tradition and making it applicable to two women instead of using different stuff, but what we're doing is seeking the sanctity of marriage for us. Shannon and Jenny, two people coming together."
Shultz, an associate pastor at United Church, said that when she was interviewed in 2009 for the position at the church, she planned to say that she and her partner would be moving to Chapel Hill and that she would be an openly gay female pastor.
"What I found funny was that United Church was more concerned about my Baptist background than about my being gay," she said.
Shultz graduated from Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, a school supported by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, not the Southern Baptist Convention. Thomas is the music minister at a Lutheran church in Raleigh, but she is also licensed to preach.
Inviting the families to the wedding was like drawing a line in the sand, Shultz said. The only parents at the wedding were Shultz' father and stepmom.
"Our families have shown their support in any way they felt they could without compromising their own faith traditions," Shultz said.
"We are similar people," Shultz said. "The biggest difference is that she is older, but this does not relate to our relationship. We both love the outdoors, we both dress nice, not boyish. She loves movies and social media. We love reading at the beach, and we value experiences over things. A lot of money is spent on vacations, experiences, rather than the next big thing. I was an athlete and played college basketball at Kentucky. I see myself as all girl and think it is great not to feel stereotyped."
About marriage vote
What about the impending vote in North Carolina on changing the constitution to ban same-sex marriage?
"As an ordained lesbian pastor in an open and affirming church, I wonder if people really want to put this kind of discrimination into the constitution," she said. "We should not lose sight of the fact that this vote comes down to whether or not we want to codify discrimination."
When the newlyweds return from a honeymoon in Hawaii, they plan to have a civil ceremony in Washington, D.C. This is important to them, Shultz said, because they plan to have children as soon as possible.