René + Dawn| Depoe Bay, OR

René + Dawn were friends for close to twenty-five years before they became a couple. René describes “we’ve been through so much of life together and always expected to retire to the beach as little old granny besties”. Having grown up in a more sheltered religious context, both René and Dawn had never accepted the idea of being in a relationship with another woman until their adulthood. In 2020 and 2021, the pair realized their connection was more than a friendship, and they decided to officially date. 


When they were ready to take things to the next level, René and Dawn took turns proposing to each other! René restored a vintage coffee grinder, which combined two of Dawn's favorite things (coffee and antiques) and tied an engagement ring with a ribbon to it. During a morning beach walk, René presented the gift, surprising Dawn with a thoughtful proposal she didn’t see coming. A few months later, the couple took a detour on their way home from a weekend trip to Seattle at a little coastal town they loved visiting. Upon entering the hotel, René discovered a stunning bouquet of her favorite flower, pink roses, sitting in the room! In the early morning, René was awoken to twinkle lights throughout the hotel room and Dawn with her guitar in hand. Dawn proposed with a song she’d written months before, can you imagine anything more perfect?

After beginning wedding preparations, René knew she didn’t just want a dress, but the “full bridal experience”. She was nervous at first about being accepted in a bridal shop as a queer and plus size bride, but after speaking to stylist Stephanie over the phone, all her worries were gone! In preparation for the appointment at Charlotte’s Weddings in Portland, Oregon, René shared her dress inspiration photos, and Stephanie pulled a wide assortment of dresses for René to try on. René describes that moment she put on her dress, “I felt like a bride and it was completely overwhelming in the best way”. She said yes to ‘Vera’ by Justin Alexander Signature with a custom layer of glitter tulle added for all the sparkle and shine.

René and Dawn were married on January 1st, 2023 at Depoe Bay, Oregon right on the beach, surrounded by their closest people. They were happy to choose a more intimate wedding on the beach as they could relax in a meaningful place and enjoy all the sweet and fun moments together. René loved having her brother walk her down the sand to a kazoo serenade, and having a family prayer before the ceremony started. It was hard to pick a singular favorite moment between their flower petal confetti cannon after the ceremony or the ring her wife surprised her with. René reminisced on her and Dawn’s children giving the sweetest speeches, and how thankful she was for such a perfect wedding day.

When asked what advice she would give to brides, René said:


“Weddings are about you and your person. Have honest conversations about what is most important and don’t let the expectations of others lead the way. The wedding is going to be a sweet memory whether it’s a black tie affair or courthouse elopement. It’s a big day, but it’s one day in a whole lifetime of days you’re building together”


Thanks to René and Dawn for letting us be a part of your beautiful story! We wish you two a long and happy marriage! 



Venue: Depoe Bay, Oregon

Photographer: Aaron Courter Photography