Earlier this month, a lesbian couple in Kansas received an email from their wedding venue that left them devastated. Ali Waggy and Jessica Robinson had previously toured Grace Hill venue with the owners, fell in love with it, and then decided to proceed with planning their wedding. After months of communication, just as the couple was preparing to put down their deposit to secure a date, things took an unexpected turn.
“While our deeply held religious belief keeps us from celebrating anything but marriage between a man and woman, we desire to serve everyone equally and do not want to keep anyone from using our building who would like to,” wrote the venue co-owner, Amanda Balzer, in an email to Waggy. “Our hearts are to serve, regardless of race, creed, color, origin, sexual orientation, gender or marital status, while maintaining our convictions and beliefs as well.”
The story went viral after Waggy posted about the incident on her Facebook. “Imagine going to your dream wedding venue with your fiancé, kids & parents,” Waggy wrote “Seeing it, falling even more in love with it, deciding it’s it. Your parents coming over & making lists, coming up with plans. […] “Basically, ‘it’s illegal for me to tell you you can’t use it; so you can. We will take your money, but we’re not going to celebrate your marriage & want to make sure you know that.”
Now, the couple has gotten another surprise from a wedding venue— this time, a good one. The queer couple have been gifted a location to host their wedding, free of charge. After Joy Amore-Bishop, owner of Heritage Meadow Estate, heard what happened with Grace Hill, she stepped up and offered Waggy and Robinson use of her venue. Typically, this location would cost around $12,000, but Bishop wanted to give it as a gift to “overshadow any negativity” surrounding the couple’s happy day, she told local outlet KAKE-TV.
“Honestly it was like my mama bear heart that just wanted to wrap her in a hug and make her know that not everybody feels that way,” she said.
Waggy and Robinson are thrilled they get to keep their original wedding date at a gorgeous, inclusive venue.
“As it got bigger I knew that this wasn’t just about us, what happened to us or how we were treated. It was much bigger than that. It was about using our voice to speak up, even when it was scary with the hope to raise awareness of our experience,” Waggy wrote on Facebook.