Metro Weekly

Lesbians Rejected by Wedding Venue Offered a New One for Free

A lesbian couple who was rejected by one wedding venue has found another venue -- free of charge, thanks to owner's generous offer.

Lesbian wedding – Original photo: Sofia Hernandez via Unsplash

In a surprising act of compassion and goodwill, a lesbian couple in Kansas who was turned away from their desired wedding venue has been offered a new venue free of charge.

Ali Waggy, a preschool teacher, and her fiancée Jessica Robinson, who works in merchandising at Sam’s Club, had hoped to marry at the Barn at Grace Hill, in Newton, Kansas.

Waggy had always imagined holding her dream wedding at the picturesque venue. Following a tour they took earlier this month, she and Robinson were ready to put down a deposit to book the space.

Just hours after taking the tour, Waggy received an e-mail from Amanda Balzer, the venue’s co-owner, who said she wanted to let the couple “know who we are and where our heart is,” reports the Wichita Eagle. “[O]ur deeply held religious belief keeps us from celebrating anything but marriage between a man and woman.”

“I just started crying hysterically,” Waggy told the Eagle. “It was pretty awful and heart-crushing.”

She subsequently posted about the encounter on Facebook on January 8, including a screenshot of Balzer’s e-mail.

“Imagine going to your dream wedding venue with your fiancé (sic), kids, & parents. A venue you’ve been emailing back and forth with for months now & you finally get to see it in person. Seeing it, falling even more in love with it, deciding it’s it,” Waggy wrote. “Your parents coming over & making lists, coming up with plans & then when you email them one last question before asking for a contract; not the person you’ve been emailing, but the owner responds like this:

“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,’ not to mention we were going to hire them as our wedding coordinator too,” she added. “I’ve cried all night… People suck.”

The post garnered attention online, receiving more than 800 reactions, more than 800 comments, and was shared more than 600 times. The controversy also garnered attention from local news outlets.

Waggy and Robinson received a flood of positive messages supporting them, including a number of venues that reached out to them hoping to host their wedding.

One of those places, Heritage Meadow Estate, which is currently under construction in Derby, Kansas, offered to host the wedding — at no charge, on the date already picked by Waggy and Robinson.

In a subsequent Facebook post, Waggy praised Heritage Meadow Estate and its owner, Joy Amore-Bishop, for the offer, expressing her gratitude.

“Jess & I have witnessed comments & remarks from some of the most cruel, judgmental, close-minded people,” she wrote, referring to some of the negative reactions to her post. “But for every one of those hateful things that have been said, there have been a flood of caring, compassionate, & supportive people reaching out, sharing our post, & reminding us that we belong just as much as everybody else does.”

Speaking with Wichita ABC affiliate KAKE, Amore-Bishop said she wanted her gesture to “overshadow any kind of negativity that they may have felt in the beginning.”

“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,” Amore-Bishop said.

Waggy and Robinson are scheduled to be married in the summer of 2025.

“It feels even better that we get to get married somewhere where somebody, the owners like love us and support us and welcome us,” Waggy told KAKE. “And [Amore-Bishop]’s like going out of her way to make us feel like… good.”

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