Lesbian couple offered free wedding venue after ‘heart-crushing’ religious rejection

Stock image of a lesbian wedding, with one woman wearing a dress and carrying flowers, and another wearing a black suit jacket

A lesbian couple from Kansas have been offered a wedding venue for free after a “heart-crushing” rejection from their original space due to the owner’s religious beliefs. 

Ali Waggy and Jessica Robinson from Wichita, Kansas shared their shock and disappointment in early January after they found a “dream” location for their wedding, only to be informed that the owner’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” prevented her from “celebrating” same-sex marriages. 

The couple had been in communication with The Barn at Grace Hill in Newton, Kansas since the beginning of their engagement in July, with Waggy saying she chose the venue because “their barn is beautiful”. 

After several back-and-forth discussions, however, the venue’s co-owner reached out to Waggy on 7 January to tell her that although she and her fiancée could legally marry there, the owner had to make her religious beliefs clear so they could “move forward in the most authentic way possible”. 

Sharing a screenshot of the email to Facebook, Waggy wrote: “Imagine going to your dream wedding venue with your fiancée, kids and parents … and 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.”

Waggy explained that the ordeal had been “awful and heart-crushing”, and that she’d had her heart set on the venue since before she had got engaged. 

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Luckily, another venue stepped in, and in an updated Facebook post on Thursday (18 January), Waggy explained that there is now a “happy ending” to the story. 

Waggy said she received a message from Joy Amore-Bishop, the owner of Heritage Meadow Estate in Derby, Kansas – who offered the couple the venue for their wedding for free, a setting which would have cost around $12,000 (£9,400).

“We get to keep our wedding date we had planned, and the venue is even more gorgeous than we could have ever dreamed!” Waggy wrote on Facebook. “We are so incredibly grateful for her and her generosity.”

Amore-Bishop told local news outlet KAKE-TV that she wanted 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,” the Heritage Meadow Estate owner said.

Waggy added in her Facebook post that she hopes their experience “raises awareness” around discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

“It was about using our voice to speak up, even when it was scary, with the hope to raise awareness of our experience and save as many people as we could from feeling ‘uncelebrated’ in what should be one of the most exciting times of their lives,” she said.