While working as a flight attendant on an aircraft bound for London, Michael Holcomb didn’t expect to meet his future husband. Brian Henke, a business-class passenger on said flight, was just as surprised to find his true love thousands of feet in the sky. The pair chatted on the all-night flight and made plans to meet for dinner the next day. “Neither one of us was looking for a relationship,” says Michael, but that’s exactly what ensued once they realized how relaxed and organic their connection was.
Though they had discussed marriage during their seven-year relationship, they were “never sure about the how, when, and where,” explains Brian. “When the opportunity to marry was made more feasible through the Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage, we felt we wanted to make publicly permanent that which we already felt in our hearts.” While perusing in a jewelry store for a birthday gift for Brian’s sister, Karen, the couple found two identical rings they both loved. Shares Michael, “we saw this as a moment of fate and bought earrings for Karen and rings for ourselves!” Brian picked up the bands before proposing to Michael a couple of days before Christmas.
With just over a year to plan their nuptials, Brian and Michael focused on coordinating a collection of details that worked together to create the “magic” of the day. From the colors and fonts used in the invitation suite to the tablescapes and the way guests were served – ballet service – the duo infused their exquisite taste with an organic, yet elegant, wedding theme. “We reveled in the planning process and weren’t at all daunted by the overall task,” delightfully notes Brian.
Since their Jack Russell Terrier, Maisy, is such an important part of their lives, a watercolor painting of the pup crafted by a local artist graced postage stamps, save-the-date cards, and menus. “Maisy is ‘as old’ as we are… she has been with us nearly since the inception of our relationship,” confides Brian. “Incorporating her was as much a sign of love for her, as it was a symbol for our bond to one another.” Since both Brian and Michael’s last names begin with the letter “H,” a custom wedding logo featuring the initial surrounded by a laurel wreath was also highlighted on paper goods.
As loved ones arrived at the historic barn for the ceremony, they also discovered a large “H” enveloped in moss before entering the rustic, yet refined, space. The grooms – who wore stylish white tuxedo jackets and bow ties with boutonnieres composed of thistles and fronds – exchanged vows in front of a stone fireplace decorated with magnolia leaves and birch branches; the mantle was adorned with a laurel wreath to complement their wedding logo.
Brian and Michael agree that the memory of their family with them on their special day is one they will cherish forever. “The overwhelming sense of family and friends which surrounded us reflected the value and importance we place on them in our lives,” affirms Brian.
Guests found their seating assignments for the reception on monogrammed escort cards atop a table covered with lush greenery, orchids, and succulents. Attendees then entered a light-filled ballroom with round guest tables bedecked with vibrant centerpieces. “We used very rich colors in our floral displays,” explains Michael. “We took advantage of the early spring setting [and also] brought in a lot of masculine wood and mercury glass to warm up the space.” Sprigs of rosemary were placed at each place setting, as well as colored goblets in the same hue as the candle votives.
Clusters of low centerpieces, which embodied an organic essence, were accented with amber-colored tea lights and placed atop open-weave natural fiber table linens. Floral designs featured various seasonal arrangements: autumn-hued roses, calla lilies, and thistle were arranged next to springlike collections of peonies, tulips, and ranunculus blossoms. Summer-inspired details including succulents, moss-covered spheres, birch cachepots, as well as wooden bowls and boxes surrounded the arrangements. “We did not want any table in the reception to be exactly the same as another,” confirms Brian.
As Brian and Michael entered the reception, loved ones erupted in congratulations. “The clapping and cheering were like the most incredible hug and sign of love, respect, and appreciation from the people we value the most,” shares Brian. The newlyweds joined relatives at a long head table decorated with towering cherry blossom arrangements – a surprise to the grooms from their floral designer. “We wanted to continue the feeling of just how much our families mean to us. We wanted all of them with us through every step,” adds Michael. Pink, apricot, and lime-green florals and fresh fruits were interspersed with succulents and mercury-glass candle votives.
The couple’s simple wedding cake, displayed on a rustic stand sculpted to look like a slice of a tree trunk, featured layers of white and chocolate cake with a raspberry ganache filling. The confection was topped with a silhouette of the grooms holding a red Swarovski crystal heart above a replica of their beloved pup. At the end of the evening, guests enjoyed warm beverages from a coffee station as well as chocolate-covered pretzels decorated with M&M’s, sprinkles, and nuts. Surrounded by those who have supported them all their lives, Brian and Michael agree that their wedding was the consummate perfect day. "Literally, as cliché as it sounds," smiles Michael.