Wedding Inspiration: A Picnic and Party at Oakland's Lake Merritt

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Sometimes, true love begins with a booty call.

Mike Sagun and Jerry McLaughlin met at 3am on Grindr (gay dudes, you know what we're talkin' about). The two had just separately landed in their respective hotel rooms after a night of dancing at different New Year's Eve parties and were ready to call it a night—but not before closing out some messages on the dating site.


"I received a message from him asking if I wanted to 'hang out,' says Sagun, who was too exhausted to take McLaughlin up on his offer even though he was staying just a few doors down at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The two met up in the morning instead and, what "was supposed to be a morning one-off turned into five hours of laying in bed and falling in love." (Aww.) That night there was sushi, drinks, and jazz at Yoshi's. Five months later, the artist McLaughlin moved from Seattle to San Francisco to be with Sagun, a men's personal coach.

Despite jumping states, McLaughlin didn't believe in marriage. But after two years of dating...you know the story...he booked a trip to Rhoatan, Honduras and scuba lessons for the two of them to celebrate his honey's birthday. And then one night on the beach, "under the pitch black sky, speckled with millions of stars, we laid our beach towels on the sand. Along with a bottle of wine and two highball glasses from our bathroom, [McLaughlin] pulled out an oil lamp and a box of matches."

The wind was blowing, the matches wouldn't stay lit, and there was sand everywhere. McLaughlin gave him a silver bracelet inscribed with the words "Marry me, sweets?"

In the hunt for an outdoor wedding venue that was intimate and had character, the two decided on the historic Camron-Stanford house on Oakland's Lake Merritt.

Instead of renting chairs, the couple laid out blankets on the grass and assembled picnic baskets stocked with bottles of wine, cheese, bread, and grapes. They built the wedding arch themselves (it now lives in their backyard). Friends lent a hand in everything else including making custom pots with succulents for favors. Farmgirl Flowers took care of the boutonnieres and corsages. And another one of their close friends, Hopscotch owner Jenny Schwarz, made four custom cocktails including a riff on the negroni playfully dubbed the NeGrindr. The double chocolate cake was topped with a silly Lego couple made by friend in Seattle. Chris Nguyen, managing partner of Bruno's, spun their favorite deep house tracks; the lovebirds walked down the aisle to the XX's "Intro" and were announced husband and husband at the drop in of Chet Faker's "Birthday Card."

Following the ceremony, family and friends lined up to pin money on couple and dance in the Filipino tradition, and some loved ones even got creative—their moms made crowns, and other family members made sashes. "We made over a thousand dollars from that dance!" they laugh.

The couple set out to party that day, and party they did—thanks, in large part, to their choice of hiring a day-of wedding planner to help minimize stress and maximize celebration. "Lifting that pressure was a huge relief on our wedding day," says We felt like it would be a waste of energy to care about how the wedding turned out. The wedding is just a party. It was most important to us to celebrate our love and commitment with our family and friends."

Venue: Camron-Stanford house

Suits: Banana Republic

Ties: Tie Bar

Hats: Goorin Bros

Shoes: Converse

Boutonnieres and corsages: Farmgirl Flowers

Photography: Encarnacion Photography

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