Jonathan Van Ness just became a wedding officiant two times over. Just a few months after performing his first service—he married Doug the Pug's parents in November 2018, after becoming ordained online, "like Joey from Friends!" he tells Martha Stewart Weddings—the Queer Eye star oversaw yet another ceremony. And while facilitating his first wedding was undoubtedly memorable, his most recent endeavor is particularly meaningful (and close to home). Van Ness partnered with Elysian Brewing, a newly-refurbished brewery in Seattle, to celebrate marriage equality (and kick off Pride Month!) with a contest of a lifetime. The prize? You guessed it: A paid-for wedding at the company's Capitol Hill brewpub, complete with a ceremony officiated by the inimitable Van Ness.
As for the lucky winners? Meet Megan and Haden, who first crossed paths in a packed Geology 101 class at the University of South Carolina. "Megan walked in late and looked up to all those faces—the only empty seat she saw was next to me. Seatmates turned into an intense friendship. On Valentine's Day, she took me on our first date—which I had no idea was a date," explains Haden. The rest, as they say, is history.
History also played a salient role on their wedding day, which took place on June 4th—exactly one year after the Supreme Court ruled on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case (the Court sided with the shop's baker, who ultimately refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple for "religious reasons"). For Van Ness, this anniversary is exactly why he decided to work with Elysian; and why Elysian invited the plaintiffs from that case, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, to the couple's wedding. "It actually all started last year with the nuanced Supreme Court ruling on the Colorado baker," he told Martha Stewart Weddings exclusively. "We wanted to celebrate marriage equality—and businesses that support marriage equality. That's really where this partnership started—and I'm so excited to celebrate marriage equality with Elysian."
As for his connection with the newlyweds (this marks his first time overseeing an LGBTQ wedding!)? "Haden and Megan are just an incredible couple and I'm so excited to be a part of their special day. We also have twin cats!" he laughed. That connection was obvious throughout the ceremony, which Megan, Haden, and Van Ness curated together. "We asked him to read a specific piece about Being Known," says the couple, who ultimately exchanged vows written by a friend. "They have been used to unify several people in our lives, and we loved them, so it was only fitting that we ask her if she would be happy sharing them so we could use them!"
While Megan says her favorite part of marrying her long-time love is "finally, after all this time, [getting] to call Haden my husband," Van Ness cites "being with the family and the couple—and being able to feel all the love" as an officiant highlight. "I just love love!" He was able to watch that love continue to unfold during the reception; Van Ness celebrated with the newlyweds during their party (and, along with Charlie and David, even helped them cut their rainbow cake!).
Clearly, the love was tangible on Megan and Haden's big day—which the duo never thought would be a reality. "There are so many reasons over the course of time that I never believed this could happen: First because same-sex marriage wasn't legal, then for obstacles like name changes and gender markers, and lastly for financial reasons," adds Megan.
Van Ness was simply thrilled to turn their big-day dreams into a reality. "They're so in love—I'm just really excited to have been able to spend some time with them and have a really fun day."