On Feb. 8, the inaugural Say I Do Soiree will open its doors to Richmond. The first event of its kind in Richmond, Say I Do Soiree will give LGBT couples and businesses the opportunity to discuss same-sex marriages or life events in a relaxed, no-pressure atmosphere. The business-to-customer event will feature desserts, cocktails, raffles and a runway contest.
Say I Do Soiree will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 8, 2015, at the Renaissance Hotel. The Moulin Rouge-inspired event feature live burlesque performances, live musicians and a special performance by the wonderful Emme St. James and Her Jazz Gentlemen.
There will be two raffles held that evening. Proceeds from the first raffle will benefit Equality Virginia, a nonprofit, advocacy organization that provides nonpartisan education and outreach. The second raffle, "Bling, Sparkle and Bubbly," will allow attendees to purchase a glass of champagne with a raffle ticket. The winner of the raffle will receive $500 gift certificate for custom created jewelry by Jay Sharpe.
Leading up to Say I Do Soiree, people can participate in the "Runway Contest" on social media. To enter the contest, they can upload an image of them with their loved one and a brief paragraph of their love story. The winners of the contest will walk at the end of the same-sex fashion show and will be married at the end of the runway during the event.
LGBT designer Rony Tennenbaum of Adolf Jewelers, title "Equality" sponsor, will showcase his unique collection of same-sex wedding jewelry and will give a brief presentation titled "The New Etiquettes of the Rainbow."
Say I Do Soiree is produced and presented by Ayana Obika, founder of Gratitude Rising Events, and friend Tammy Freeman, founder of the Say I Do LGBT Wedding Expo. According to Obika, Freeman has hosted several same-sex wedding expos in Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Maryland. When Okiba attended some of the expos in northern Virginia, she noticed that several couples in attendance were from the Richmond area.
Sponsors for the event include: Adolf Jewelers, lead "equality"; James Limousine, The Boathouse, lead "rainbow"; Jay Sharpe, "Bling, Sparkle, Bubbly"; The Renaissance, Leap Lighting, Hoot Media, Sweets & Soirees, Lou Stevens Glam Squad, in-kind event; and Urban Set Bride, Le Grande Dame, 707 Menswear, fashion show. Entertainment is provided by Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside, host; Kelli LiMone; Deanna Danger; Melody Magpie; Lo Torres; Emme St. James and her Jazz Gentlemen; and DJ Rometti.
For more information on Say I Do Soiree or to purchase tickets, visit the website here.