Spider House hosts Spider Hitched! marriage equality ceremony

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Evan Conroy, left, lead stylist of Haute European Salon, and his husband Jeremy Durnford, general manager of Spider House, are the organizers of Spider Hitched!, a free community marriage equality celebration that will take place Saturday. The event will host individual wedding ceremonies and feature drag shows, live music and professional photography.

Photo Credit: Tess Cagle | Daily Texan Staff

When news of same-sex marriage spread across Austin, Spider House Cafe immediately began planning wedding ceremonies, ordering rainbow-themed party favors and recruiting drag queens for flower girls.

In honor of same-sex marriage, Spider House Cafe will be hosting Spider Hitched! – Love and Marriage Equality for All, a free community marriage equality celebration Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. The event is free to the public and involves individual wedding ceremonies, drag shows, live music, professional photography, toasts and cake.

Spider House general manager Jeremy Durnford, who married his husband in San Francisco in September 2014, said the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has not only been important for Spider House but also himself.

“Now my marriage will mean something to the state of Texas,” Durnford said. “This means a lot to us.”

UT alumnus and Spider House art director Shelley Hiam said they’ve been pleased with Austinites’ response to the event and some couples-to-be had never been to Spider House before putting their name on the list. Durnford said guests should expect everything from traditional to over-the-top — and lots of rainbows.

“The whole response reiterates how diverse Spider House is,” Durnford said. “Everyone is welcome here and this really drives that point home.”

Couples who signed up for the event will each have a five minute wedding ceremony performed by Spike Gillespie, who Austin’s A-list voted Best Austin Officiant in 2013 and 2014. Marketing director Adrienne Lake said Gillespie was clearly the officiant the event needed, as she has provided weddings to same-sex couples for many years.

“Over and over I kept hearing the name Spike,” Lake said. “Spike, Spike is the best. I know so many people who are friends with her or think so highly of her. It sounds like this is her dream come true.”

The night will open and close with drag shows provided by Austin International Drag Foundation. Durnford said Haute European Salon, where his husband Evan Conroy is the lead stylist, will provide on-site hair styling for the couples prior to the ceremonies.

Hiam said the contributing businesses make it possible for the weddings to be complimentary.

“I think that’s one of the coolest things,” Hiam said. “Couples who show up early can get their hair done, and after that they’ll have a private session with Katrina Barber, a photographer who is also donating her services.”

Ben & Jerry’s requested that Spider Hitched! be the last stop on their tour, where they are giving out free ice cream samples of BBQ Peach and Bourbon Pecan Pie to help decide the official Texas flavor.

Hiam said many local businesses were eager to be a part of the event as well. Flowers for the weddings will be provided by D. Sweetpeas Custom Floral Design, and Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop will provide a three tiered wedding cake. DJs Fine & Dandy (with Kate and Andy) will be the official wedding DJs.

“There’s been a lot of really amazing local support,” Hiam said. “The community involvement is big. It’s kind of this free thing that everybody in the community has come together to do.”

In line with their hopes to work with the community, Lake said a portion of food and drink sales from Saturday will go toward the LGBT non-profit Austin Pride.

“More and more events like this will be coming up in the LGBTQ community,” Lake said. “Our celebration will be a great kick off for what’s coming up.”

Durnford, Hiam and Lake all agree there will be a lot of happy tears on Saturday night. Durnford said Spider House is passionate about marriage equality, and the celebration will be a true reflection of the community.

“Nowhere else in Austin is doing anything like this,” Durnford said. “This place certainly holds a special place in my heart.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a factual error. It has since been updated.