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Honoring Marriage Equality In Your Wedding Ceremony


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Honoring Marriage Equality In Your Wedding Ceremony | A Practical WeddingIn case you all have totally missed the news for the last three days: Gay Marriage is now legal in Iowa! Hooray! I’ve been very fond of Iowa since we spent time in the lovely Iowa city during our cross country move, but now I love-love of Iowa.

Iowa, and Iowans, a big wet kiss from me to you. MWAH! (That was a open mouth 18-month-old style kiss. Then I gave your cheek a friendly lick and smiled)

Given the good news out of the Midwest, and the not-so-great news out of California, I thought it was time to revisit our old dilemma: how can we make a statement about the importance of marriage equality on our wedding day? I’ve collected a short list of our ideas, and I would love if you would add your thoughts in the comments. Lets get a list going!

  • We are giving a donation of tzedakah in honor of our wedding day to a gay rights organization, most likely Lambda Legal, though there are a number of worthy organizations you could give to. Our rabbi has suggested that we give a donation of 3% of our wedding budget, I suspect we will give at least that much.
  • We’re planning to put a small statement in the program along these lines: “Meg and David believe that marriage is a universal human right, and continue to fight and pray for the day when we will be able to share the joys and privileges of civil marriage with all of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.”
  • Our Rabbi has suggested that we ask someone close to us to make a toast to us and to marriage equality during our Ketubah signing ceremony, when we will also sign our civil marriage certificate.
  • Finally, and most beautifully, our Rabbi has suggested that we add something small into our ceremony to honor our commitment to gay rights. In the Jewish tradition, at Passover, you spill a bit of wine from your cup for each of the ten plagues that the Egyptians endured before the Jewish people were given their freedom, to reduce our joy with recollection of the suffering of others. Similarly, our Rabbi suggested that as we drink the two cups of wine present in the Jewish wedding service, that we spill a bit of wine from that cup as a reminder that many of our brothers and sisters do not have the same rights and privileges that we are enjoying on that day. (A practical note: the wine is spilled by dipping your finger in the cup and removing a drop of wine, not by dumping it on the floor.)

I know some straight couples choose to not legally marry as a protest against the lack of marriage equality in the United States. That didn’t feel like the right choice for us. We’ve instead chosen to consciously make our wedding, and this blog, part of our activism. We happen to be getting married by two (both religiously married) lesbian clergy members, so our message will not be terribly subtle, though we’ll try not to bang everyone over the head with it, skillet style.

Now, I’m throwing you you, Team Practical, what other gestures can we make on our wedding days for marriage equality?

Photo of one of my favorite weddings of all time, as shot by the endlessly cool Our Labor Of Love

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    This is a beautiful post, Meg! I’m very proud and happy to be part of this community.

    I was thinking that one way to support gay marriage is to get hitched in Iowa, if you’re nearby. That way activists can add “look at all the wedding revenue doing the right thing and has generated in Iowa” to the list of reasons to legalize, and pragmatic activism works faster sometimes.

    But I love the ideas you post, especially the donation and the spilled wine. This is a lovely lovely idea. xo

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07132033849728447976 Meg

    My uncle, who is gay, is getting notarized for the day so he can perform our ceremony.

    We are also making a statement at the beginning of the ceremony (after my uncle welcomes everyone and talks about marriage a little) recognizing same-sex couples who are being denied the right to make the same commitment and letting our guests know that we continue to pray for the day that California will take steps toward fulfilling our nation’s promise of liberty and justice for ALL.

  • http://tater1112.livejournal.com/ tater1112

    We’re including a reading that is part of the text from the MA supreme court decision making gay marriage legal. You can find the whole text by googling. I like it partly because if my more conservative family members it shouldn’t offend. We’re also both atheists, so we consider our marriage very much to be a civil one.

    FROM GOODRIDGE V DEPT OF HEALTH (Mass. 2003):
    Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.” It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, ensures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data….Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition….It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a “civil right.”

    We’ve also registered for charities, one of which is Lambda.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18322614204354706684 Amelia

    Tater, I love that idea! I might have to steal it.

    As a New Yorker, I’m pretty annoyed that Iowa is now more progressive than we are (our highest court considered gay marriage and decided the legislature had to do it).

    We have a lot of evangelicals coming to our wedding, and I want them to understand that our straight marriage is NOT to oppress others, but I don’t want to beat them over the head with it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00490762244589785926 Lissy

    hmm, I dunno. I’m not sure I feel right saying anything during the the wedding itself. I feel like I’d be pushing my beliefs on other people. I know that it’s wrong to deny people the right to marry, but a lot of my family (like my dad who is paying for the whole thing) is very conservative and believe otherwise. While I think their opinion is wrong, I think saying so would probably offend them. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but I don’t think my wedding is the right place to make such a statement.

    If anyone has any advice? Something real subtle?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10624416622084736877 Justin

    This was a great post to read. I’m from Iowa originally and now live in California. I have to say there is a fair amount of irony that gay rights are currently less advanced in my adopted home than where I was raised. To be fair, California did legalize it the same way Iowa did, only California’s political system allows for more reactionary measure to be voted on by ballot. All the same, I’m hoping that Iowa’s legalization builds some momentum, and perhaps shames some parts of the country, who don’t want to be seen as being “behind Iowa”, into action.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10251842739396143871 Christina

    You continue to inspire me, day after day!! As a woman engaged to a woman, planning her own wedding, I am awed by your commitment to realizing the inequality around you. Not even my own sister does this! You are a gem, and reading your blog is a truly grounding force for me in this WIC-filled process called wedding planning. Cheers and most importantly, thank you for sharing! xo.

  • http://budgetbeautiful.wordpress.com/ budgetbeautiful

    We’re planning on donating to the Human Rights Campaign. We’ll probably just make a small sign stating something along the lines of we made a donation to x,y,and z charities in lieu of favors and explain a bit about the charities. My fiance was worried that his ultra conservative family might be offended, but once I explained how we’d do it, he felt better. It’s a cause that is important to both of us, and I would hope that our friends and family can respect that-even if they don’t share our views.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12977525202055990615 MaryKate

    I really like Tater’s idea…it is a well-written and very logical supreme court decision, and it doesn’t seem to me like it would offend anyone. Parts of it are actually quite beautiful. For those who might not want to make a verbal statement in their ceremony, why not have that printed in the programs (if you’re doing programs).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09301902783411290755 MLE

    We used the same passage from the Goodridge decicion that Taters posted as one of our readings. It may have offended some of my more conservative, religious relatives, but I’m guessing they were just happy we were finally making it legal rather than living in sin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Lissy-
    While most of our guests will agree with us, that’s something I think about quite a bit… I don’t want the few guests that disagree to be made so uncomfortable they can’t hear what we are saying or enjoy the service. I think a small statement in the program (just one line that people can ignore if they want) and a donation to make the action happen could be a really nice blend of subtle and meaningful. You need to do something that means something for YOU, but you don’t have to shout it from the rafters, not always.

    You guys are making me all teary!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09911176317513671623 Alice

    I love love love this post. It is especially interesting as I am Australian, where same sex marriage has never been legal anywhere, and where for a marriage to be legal the words “is the union of a
    man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily
    entered into for life” have to be spoken by the celebrant.

    I know of a number of people who haven’t gotten married because they disagree with it’s exclusivity (both from a same-sex exclusion and a polyamory perspective). However my fiance and I are going to, and I think this post will inspire discussion and thought, as we are both bisexual, and have gay friends.

    Also, to those that don’t want to offend conservative friends/relatives, consider it this way. Would you be happy to invite a gay person to your wedding and have statements made by a priest, for example, that made it clear that he/she/you thought that marriage was only for heterosexual people. Or does it bother you to invite atheists to a religious ceremony? Your wedding is YOUR WEDDING. If this is something that you believe in strongly and is a stance you are prepared to take openly, then what makes you happy and comfortable should be your consideration. But if you are not comfortable with making that statement publicly for whatever reason, then don’t. Simple as that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15103047512463828864 jamie

    you guys are so awesome.

  • http://weddingdressesmagazine.wordpress.com Wedding Dresses

    Ugh, it’s so weird that California, home to San Francisco, said no to gay marriage while Iowa is totally above the curve. Who saw that one coming? And I think it’s a sweet idea to make activism part of the ceremony. I bet the majority of the guests will be more than happy to donate or something.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18134825296733633815 October12

    Although I wish we had included soemthing a bit more overt in our ceremony, I did not wish to make those present who disagree uncomfortable. They far outnumbered those who support equality. It was a tough thing to swallow.

    What we did do: without hesistation or question welcomed our lesbian cousin’s girlfriend with open arms, she’s a member of the family. Our ring exchange text, all of the ceremony text, was written with absolute equality in mind. He and I are a team, so it was important to us to really put that out there for everyone present to see, and for the text to be able to be used by any of any persuasion, should they so choose.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00737705946633875864 Cheap Wife

    You inspired me! I have 2 gay people IN my wedding party and I am not thiking about adding that line to our wedding programs. Even if we are not donating $$, it shows where we stand. I LOVE this idea. Thanks for sharing what you are doing and giving me such a great idea!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00737705946633875864 Cheap Wife

    wow! I type so fast and mess up.

    I meant to saw that I am NOW going to use that line in our programs. I am very excited by this idea
    Thanks for sharing and giving me such a cool idea

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10211797571405802312 Rachel

    I love tater’s idea!

    As for offending guests, I’ve noticed that no one bothers to worry about who they might be offending when they read heavily anti-gay or anti-feminist marriage passages during their weddings. I’ve sat through several weddings squirming in my seat because I was offended by the content, but I also recognized that it was their wedding and they had the right to do as they wished.

    I obviously don’t want to upset any guests, but I think a clear gesture of your feelings is completely fair.

  • http://wedlog.jeffandcara.com Cara

    We’re planning to add a “Civil Rights” tab on our wedding website that explains our commitment to marriage equality as a civil rights issue with a link to donate to HRC. I really like the spilled wine idea. And my family is mostly from Iowa originally, so I might modify the above idea and have someone read part of the Iowa Supreme court decision during a toast.

    Great Post!!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Rachel!

    Honestly, I have little regard for whether or not someone might be offended by something like the gay.

    We used the following reading at our ceremony (taken from Plato’s Symposium):

    Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.

    To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original human nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. There were three sexes then: one comprised of two men called the children of the Sun, one made of two women called the children of the Earth, and a third made of a man and a woman, called the children of the Moon. Due to the power and might of these original humans, the Gods began to fear that their reign might be threatened. They sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them.

    It was at this point that Zeus divided the humans in half. After the division the two parts of each desiring their other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind.

    Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. Those whose original nature lies with the children of the Sun are men who are drawn to other men, those from the children of the Earth are women who love other women, and those from the children of the Moon are men and women drawn to one another. And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00490762244589785926 Lissy

    In reply to Rachel’s comment, I have a problem with that too.

    I think saying anything at a wedding that will make people squirm in their seats is wrong … for us. I understand wanting to incorporate things that are important to you in your wedding, but for us, it would be completely out of character.

    There are a lot of things I believe in, but I quietly believe in them. I don’t like conflict, I don’t like debating. I try not to discuss anything related to religion, politics or other controversial issues unless someone else brings them up. If I have something to say, I blog about it. Blogs can be easily ignored.

    So if I were to put something in my ceremony voicing my opinions on any of my beliefs, it wouldn’t feel right.

    Our ceremony is going to be about us and only us because that’s the type of people we are.

    I do get uncomfortable during ceremonies where they discuss things that go against my beliefs, and I just want everyone to be comfortable.

    I often do a horrible job of explaining myself, so I hope no one takes anything I said the wrong way :-/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07175871681836515445 Sarra Bess

    Hmmm. I was a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my best friends last summer, and her marriage ceremony involved the word “obey” (as in, the woman has to obey the man). I almost walked off the stage and didn’t come back. Interestingly, that experience has made me want to put a blatant comment about legalizing equality in my (hypothetical) marriage ceremony, rather than something more subtle. I don’t know a single conservative person who would give one thought to how uncomfortable they might make the more liberal people at their wedding feel (as my friend didn’t), so I’m not terribly inclined to avoid offending them.

  • Amy

    While I don’t disagree with your views – I disagree that a wedding is the time or place for promoting a political viewpoint of any kind.

    It also sounds like your Rabbi has a particular agenda and is using your ceremony to advertise it (why does your Rabbi not also suggest supporting other worthy causes?).

    There are many causes deserving of attention and many forums for discussion of important issues – and they are perhaps more meaningful because these actions and beliefs last a lifetime and are done even when no one is watching. Sensational and gratuitous declaration of what is a very hotly debated and contentious issue at the moment does not even necessarily do justice to the strong feelings you have about marriage equality.

    I don’t think weddings should be deliberately provocative – even with the best intentions in the world. Just another point of view to add to the discussion…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17780331196723830632 christina

    thank you meg, for this post. it’s truly amazing.

    your wedding should reflect YOU and your values and your wedding is the PERFECT time to support marriage equality and LOVE for all.

    it’s your wedding after all, what other people think of you is none of your business…and hooray to you for supporting what is important to you and your fiance.
    xox

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Hey Amy-
    I think I’ve been pretty clear for a long time: we are members of a LGBTQ temple, so yes, both we and our Rabbi have very clear views on the subject. I’d go so far as to say we both have a agenda. That said: our Rabbi suggested that we give a 3% donation of our wedding budget to charity. We chose Lambda Legal.

    Second of all: bringing up marriage equality in on our wedding day is a necessity, because it has 100% to do with what is happening in that moment. We are being married in a state and in a country where many of our fellow human beings do not have the rights we are exercising. It’s not saying “hey, I believe no one should go hungry, I’m getting married now.” I do believe that no one should go hungry, but it has little to do with my particular wedding. I’m being married by a Rabbi and a dear friend, both of whom do not have the same civil marriage rights that I do, in a congregation of people (our community) that don’t have the same legal rights as we do. So do we want to say something? Heck yes.

    That said, I’m not sure you read my post carefully. I’m very cognizant of exactly what Lissy is talking about. Our actions do not have to be shouted from the rooftops. Lets break it down:
    - We’re giving to charity. Privately. I’m making the suggestion here because some other people might like to do likewise. It is, however, something we are choosing to do because it feels ethically right to us, and we will not share that in any way with our wedding guests. We don’t feel we need to.
    - We’re planning on putting one small line in our wedding program, which people can choose to look at or ignore.
    - Someone will make a toast to marriage equality when we sign our civil certificate. The only people present will be ourselves, our parents, our siblings, our rabbi, and two witnesses.
    - Spilling the Wine. This is one small moment in a 45 minute service. This will be our most public act, if we do it. But let me be clear: we will not be doing it because it is a public act, but because as part of a prayerful religious service that is deeply meaningful for us it is important for us to add one small prayerful gesture, that is between us and God not us and our guests, about one of the things we care most deeply about.

    So no, I’m not suggesting anyone do anything just to be sensational or provocative. I do, however, think that in a service reflecting (hopefully) your most core values, you can find a calm and quiet way make a meaningful gesture about equality, as it has to do with your personal marriage, if that is important to you. Hopefully that clears this up for you.

    Meg

    PS – Which is to say, Lissy, I think you are on the right track. Do what is right for you. It does not have to be loud, it just needs to be true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00409541531549254367 Tris

    Awesome post, Meg.

    We’ve actually struggled a bit with this– before we were engaged, we’d talked about NOT getting legally married until everyone could do so. Then, when everyone could in California, we got engaged, spread the word, started wedding planning. We all know what happened after that.

    So, here we are now. We decided not to “break off the engagement” because by that point, both our families and friends had poured so much energy into the whole thing. But, sometimes I think we should still have the “wedding,” and make a point of signing the ketubah and NOT signing the legal documents. I don’t know what we’ll end up doing though.

    We did decide to ask the best man’s mother, who has “religiously married” to her partner for 20 years, to officiate, and to say a few words about love and open mindedness and understanding. We’re still working on the exact wording: I don’t necessarily want it to be subtle, but I don’t want it to be in-your-face offensive.

    One thing we ARE doing is hanging lots of photographs all over the reception site. Some of these happen to be of us and our friends protesting in Berkeley wearing shirts that say “No discrimination in the Constitution” and “I DO support equality in marriage.” We are also having a “family tree” and hanging photos of our nearest and dearest from the branches of the tree that we cut for our huppah, and we are including pictures of our same-sex friends and their families. We will have some sort of written thing that says we believe the defining elements of a “family” include love, respect, commitment, and so on, regardless of what our sad little Supreme Court has said.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13077342485544422525 Becky

    Human Rights Campaign has a wedding registry option on their website! We did this and put a statement on our website: “Recognizing our love and commitment through marriage is an amazing privilege that is still denied to many of our peers and fellow citizens. We would like to use our happy occasion to help others have this same opportunity.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10795119468340273821 Tea

    Nicely said. If one believes that marriage is a right deserved by everyone, then the day one takes advantage of this right is absolutely an opportunity to acknowledge that others are not allowed to do the same. These are beautiful ways of doing so (for those inclined). I wouldn’t think for an instant that Meg is being manipulated.

    I’ve considered getting married in Canada for the same reason (which is less dramatic for me than it sounds as I have family there). Also a moment of silence, in the ceremony, to acknowledge those who are not currently allowed to wed.

    Thanks for mentioning the topic, and some wonderful ideas for how to address it in a personal way.

  • Megan

    Yay Iowa! I’m from Iowa and very excited about this! Hopefully the rest of the nation will see gay marriage as a positive and not something only for the ‘liberal states’.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Also-
    I know you all haven’t met me in person, but you must sense that I’m relatively hard to manipulate. I am often one of the more forceful people in the room. In a lovely way ;)

    Also, be nice to my Rabbi please. She is wonderful. She also has this URL, so whatever you say, be cognizant (as one always should be on the internet) that you are saying it to her face.

    Thanks.
    Meg

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Oh for goodness sakes, people. I have not at any point suggested that you share the nature of your charitable contributions, no matter what they might be, with your wedding guests. In fact, I’ve suggested that it’s personal and you DON’T need to share it a number of times on this site (and on this thread).

    Sorry. People are not reading this clearly, and I’m getting frustrated.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06769772752651985025 Elizabeth

    I know it’s a small gesture, but we’re having this beautiful poem by Hafiz read at our ceremony:

    It happens all the time in heaven,
    And some day
    It will begin to happen
    Again on earth -
    That men and women who are married,
    And men and men who are
    Lovers,
    And women and women
    Who give each other
    Light,
    Often will get down on their knees
    And while so tenderly
    Holding their lover’s hand,
    With tears in their eyes,
    Will sincerely speak, saying,
    “My dear,
    How can I be more loving to you;
    How can I be more
    Kind?”
    –Hafiz

    • Alexandra

      This brought tears to my eyes. It is sooooooo beautiful.

      I think a wedding is the perfect place to say something. How many times do people say: ‘It’s your wedding. Do what YOU want.” I can make a statement if I want. My sister who is my best friend is gay. Other friends are gay.

      There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the inequalities in our world. Do religious people stop themselves from offending atheists when they pray and invoke god at all their events? Do old-fashioned people stop saying words like “submit” and “obey” in their vows for fear of offending progressive people. They don’t give it one thought. So, why should we? After all, it’s “OUR” day. Let’s celebrate us and celebrate everyone who wants to be married!!

      This site is life-affirming. THANK YOU!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    I think small gestures are just right.

  • (LIA)

    Absolutely beautiful ideas. I think your choices reflect your mutual commitment and passion- which is what YOUR wedding should showcase.

    I know that I have family members that would be offended by these sorts of gestures also, but are my gay family and friends any less important? In truth- I’m closer to my like-minded loved ones than those who would be offended.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02715332569749966484 jessajune

    This is a beautiful post, with some lovely ideas. Thanks for sharing them!
    (Thanks also to Tater1112 – I am so remembering that for when I get married. Lovely.)

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com/ accordionsandlace

    Wow, wonderful, thoughtful post, but I have to say I get a bit frustrated at how these discussions often turn into the “should weddings be political” debate.

    First, love the spilled wine–it draws on Jewish tradition so well.

    Second, on the “spilled wine” note, I do think that progressives have an obligation to address these issues when getting married, because we are rejoicing while others are suffering. We’re entering into a deeply problematic institution, and if we are indeed allies of the LGBTQ community, then I think we need to find a way to “deal” with it. None of the things that Meg suggested are obnoxious or shoving anything down anyone’s throat, and I find it so frustrating that anytime folks do talk about marriage equality, there is this fear of offending. Basically, exactly what Rachel said. Progressives tend to bend over backwards not to offend while silencing themselves; no one else does us the same courtesy.

    Third, this isn’t a game. Families are torn apart, loved ones are denied hospital visitation rights, people are deported to terrible situations where they may die as a result of marriage discrimination. For those of us who care deeply about this stuff, it is important to find ways of expressing publicly how fucked it is and working towards equality, and we should not shut our brains off on our wedding days.

    Obviously, for those of you who don’t believe in gay marriage, none of the above applies. But for those of us who do–this issue is not about letting gay folks have their “special day” it’s about them being able to live their lives at all, and this is why it’s a big damn deal, and worth talking about, even if it makes your great-aunt nervous.

    Personally, we feel very lucky to live in Canada, so we’re not addressing the politics so much in our wedding because there isn’t much to fight here right now. But we are working hard to make our wedding inclusive and egalitarian nonetheless. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s not still profoundly heteronormative.

    Finally, marriage is political. Whether we like it or not. All folks like Meg are doing is acknowledging that straight on and addressing it. And again, in super sensitive, appropriate, not so monstrous ways. Choosing to ignore the politics of one’s wedding day doesn’t make them go away.

  • Anonymous

    Yay Iowa! I’d never thought of the idea of making some subtle statement at my upcoming wedding, but what a lovely idea. I’m very proud to live in Canada, where the law passed with no big controversy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04603937756401903984 Jeff

    This is all kinds of awesome. As a gay man, I’m always encouraged by our allies. ;-) My partner and I are planning to have a ceremony later this year, regardless of what happens to Prop 8. But of course hopefully it will have been overturned by then.

    What we may do is encourage charitable donations (in lieu of presents), not necessarily towards the marriage-rights fight, but maybe to a nonprofit that works on LGBT community projects, like Horizons Foundation here in San Francisco.

  • http://pepperedmoth.livejournal.com/ pepperedmoth

    I wore a claddagh ring for many years, including the early part of my relationship with my now-fiance. Instead of tossing a bouquet, I plan to toss my claddagh, with words along these lines:

    “The claddagh ring symbolizes the love, loyalty, and friendship that comprise strong relationships. I wore this ring in good health for many years, and only take it off now to wear my wedding band. Rather than inviting single women to fight over my bouquet, I’d like to invite everyone to stand up. Male, female, or other wise, taken, single, or otherwise, gay, straight, or otherwise . . . all of you are beloved friends, family, or otherwise and have taught me everything I know about love, friendship, and loyalty. Reach to catch this ring and know that all my good will goes out to you and your relationships, in any form they take.”

    Or something like that. Maybe a little less long-winded. Political enough to be obvious to my friends, but not so obvious as to offend my southern relatives.

  • http://www.seekandfinddesign.blogspot.com Katie

    I just stumbled onto your blog, and I think this is such a lovely idea. I’d love to incorporate one of these things into my own wedding. What wonderful ideas.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05750659066802561501 Erika

    Elizabeth, Thank you for the Hafiz poem! My husband and I heard it long ago in a yoga class, and I could never find the whole poem (until now). We included the ending parts (“How can I be more loving? How can I be more kind?”) in our vows last year. Thank you for providing the rest!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Oh, tossing your ring!!!
    You guys are just the coolest people ever.

  • Anonymous

    As a Christian and an Evangelical, this is most definitely a thought-provoking post. While I do not agree with gay marriage, my wedding will not be shoving the Biblical command that marriage is a God-ordained institution between one man and one woman down the throats of my guests. To do so, especially when I know that there are gay friends and supporters in the audience, is downright rude and uncalled for. Just because I do not agree with their lifestlye choices does not mean I don’t count them among friends. While it may be mentioned in passing, to involve it in the ceremony, the toast, and in lieu of gifts is pushing the line, especially considering that those Christian Evangelicals came to your wedding to support you and your husband to be, and bought you a gift. . .and you plan on throwing it in their faces that as a thank you you donated a large sum to a charity that goes against the foundations of their moral beliefs? No one said that you must bow to these beliefs or cater your wedding to them, but if those relatives donated funds to Focus on the Family in your name, wouldn’t you be upset/offended? As strongly as you feel for the “oppressed” unmarrieds of this world, Christians feel just as strongly about gay marriage, not because it is a hate issue, but because our God has called it an abomination unto Himself. If you can’t respect your guests without offending their views (as little as you agree), I question that you are as tolerant for the positions and beliefs of all as you claim to be.

    • Anna

      Being gay isn’t a “lifestyle choice”

      Meg was just asking what other gestures can be made on our wedding days for marriage equality…

    • Heidi

      I just went to an Evangelical Christian wedding and the values were most definitely “shoved down my throat”.

      Including
      – she had to promise to obey her husband and listen to him, he just had to promise to treat her “Tenderly”
      – when the pastor talked about their goals and their life together- it was all about the groom and his career.
      – marriage was a covenant between a man, a woman, and God (mentioned several times)
      – they were encouraged never to discuss any of their problems with anyone else (this was creepy)
      – “who gives Julie to be Ben’s wife?”, the father responded I do.
      – the first year of marriage is always about servitude

      I was squirming in my seat the whole time because this was so against everything I believe, but I stayed because of social pressure (to walk out would be rude). I was engaged at the time and I thought if this is what marriage means, I’m done I don’t want any part of it. To sum it up, it was incredibly against my moral beliefs.

      For the sake of your progressive guests, it would be great if your ceremony was not like this. Sometimes Christians think they are doing things that wouldn’t offend anyone, but in reality are extremely offensive. I am not saying you are this way. ON THE OTHER HAND it is your marriage and your wedding and you should do what you want having a ceremony that reflects you and your values. After all, if you are entering a commitment- you should be crystal clear about the type of commitment you are entering.

      That is why we feel the need to include something about marriage equality in our wedding. I feel extremely hypocritical participating in a legal right that not everyone has. I feel like if I don’t mention it- people may think or may feel that somehow I’ve agreed to the status quo- because I’ve agree to enter into the institution. I want to make sure that for at least that day, people know what marriage means to me, what our commitment is to each other, and the roles we intend to play out.

      I hope this makes sense and thanks for listening.

    • CC

      I know this post happened a long time ago, but just in case people are still reading it or happen to come across it:

      Please DO NOT say that Christians all feel the same way about gay marriage!

      I am a Christian, and as such I follow the teachings of Christ, namely “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

      It is that spirit of love which contributes to my passionate fight for marriage equality for all. And I am not alone in this — thousands upon thousands of Christians nationwide support the same civil rights for the LGBTQ community.

      Please, do not attempt to speak for all Christians. I am a liberal, Christian, environmentally-conscious, human rights-focused, feminist woman, and I am not the only one!

      Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17408330635479725781 withasigh

    Anonymous, did anyone suggest that the donation would be given in the names of their guests, or as a thank you to their guests?

    You can say it’s not hate all you want, but hate means different things to different people. I think that if you choose to listen to the God of Leviticus (particularly a Chapter of Leviticus that says you can’t have sex while the woman is having her period!) to justify denying a group of people a fundamental human right then I think your actions are either crazy or hateful. If people are allowed to justify anything they do today with words in a book from thousands of years ago and the rest of us don’t get to call it what we think it is–hate–then I don’t see how we can ever overturn things. I guess I could understand this if there was some kind of outside justification, like if the exercise of said right harmed anyone at all, but no such outside justifications exist.

    Then again, I suppose it’s a lot easier to think this isn’t hate when you think that being gay is a choice and that gay people are not oppressed with respect to being denied the right to marry.

    All that said, this will be a non-issue in 20 or so years as today’s older generation passes on and is displaced by a younger generation that believes in marriage equality.

  • April

    I think if a couple wishes to make a statement about marriage equality on their wedding day, that is certainly their choice and I applaud them.

    While I personally do believe in marriage equality for ALL, I wouldn’t share that belief during the ceremony or list the charitable orgn. I’d donated to on a program. Just not me.

    Our close friends know our stance on a variety of personal and political topics. No need to advertise it.

  • Amy

    Meg,

    I appreciate your response to my comment – my feeling when I read your post and the comments was that there was not much consideration that amongst other readers of your blog there may be those who did not think that promoting a commitment to a cause – marriage equality or otherwise – should have a place in a wedding ceremony. Although I have read many posts on your blog, I didn’t know what kind of temple you attended – but your commitment to marriage equality has certainly been obvious – and I think that your decision to include the ideas you outline in your post in your wedding is entirely your decision and more than that, you feel it is right to do so.

    It is your blog – and so it stands to reason that the ideas expressed are your own, but insofar as there is a comment section attached, I wondered if anyone reading it who thought, hmmm that makes me uncomfortable, would feel able to join in the discussion.

    Everyone needs to be true to themselves, and their principles – especially when beginning a marriage – my point is that not everyone thinks that these issues should be addressed at a wedding. Some people, even if they wanted to follow your example would be very likely to upset their guests and others who may agree with you in many ways, do not share your views about marriage equality at all. Your readers may fall into these categories as well as including those who agree with you very much – and as well as expressing my own thoughts, I wanted to open up the discussion a bit more. To ask the question “what other gestures can we make on our wedding days for marriage equality?” is to exclude those who disagree with you.

    I am sure that your Rabbi is very lovely – and I would never try and offend anyone on the internet or otherwise, I hold that you can be respectful – and even like a person very much whilst not agreeing with them – I don’t think that a person as a religious leader should attempt to promote an agenda of their own – even with the full agreement of the participants in a wedding – it is true that you do not seem like someone easily manipulated though, and I never thought you had been coerced in any way! Just that the number of times you use the phrase ‘Our Rabbi suggested’ makes it sound as if your Rabbi’s suggestions are not so balanced – even if they were in response to your question ‘how can we make our wedding about marriage equality’

    Whether private, or low key – or anonymous, you are choosing to use your wedding to promote a cause, the scale of the actions is not what I was referring to when I used the word provocative – more the intentions and the sense that it is appropriate to do anything at all – however large or small.

    Many people give a donation to charity on the occasion of their wedding – and some do let people know which charity – or not as they prefer, I don’t actually think it is matters if you choose to do it either way. By telling people you have given to a charity, perhaps they will be inspired by your generosity – or alternatively there is the theory that the highest level of giving is when no one knows at all. However, I think printing statements in programs (once people have seen it, they know what they have read whether they look away or not) or including it in the religious ceremony is more problematic.

    I think we shall have to agree to disagree – but I think it is always productive to realize we don’t think the same about these things, and I find it interesting that people make choices as you have done.

    I do take offense, in a comment about hate and the forms it takes that withasigh refers to women not having sex during their periods so disparagingly. Many women follow this practice, it is very important in Jewish culture although obviously it is not observed by everybody – but to use it to make a point about an issue that you consider anachronistic is a bit insulting. Perhaps some research about this topic and the role it plays in women’s lives and in marriage would be a good idea before you mention it so flippantly again. Choosing not to have sex when you have your period really doesn’t harm anyone. I hope the same generation that welcomes marriage equality over the next twenty years also respects other peoples cultures and practices, however unfamiliar.

  • H

    i agree, it is ironic that withasigh so flippantly pretends to understand the bible while trying to look like they’re on the moral high ground talking about what hate is. personally, i find such treatment of the bible hateful! so is there really a clear line here? what IS clear is that there is a chasm between opinions in the matter of relgion, and who can marry, one that i feel sociey is not ready to bridge. the only way forward i see is tolerance. even as members of this blogging community, we need to respect the values of each commenting individual. we don’t know each other! and to meg, while i’m here commenting on your blog… i must say i love your contribution to the wedding blog community! i do not agree with all of your political stances, but i respect that they are yours. similarly, i hope that we can respect the opinion of anonymous, as anonymous has presented their opinion courteously, even though i realise very few of you here will agree with that opinion.

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com/ accordionsandlace

    I have to say that it sounds like Meg’s rabbi is being held up to a much higher standard re: not pushing “agendas” on people than, oh I don’t know, the world of evangelical ministers. For the second time–marriage IS political whether we want to admit it or not, what Meg and her rabbi are doing, is admitting it and treating it as important. The anti-gay marriage folks on the other side have no qualms whatsoever about bringing politics into it, yet they don’t get called out in the same way because it’s come to be expected.

    Also just because this space is a “community” doesn’t mean that the person running the blog, writing about her own wedding, should have to censor her own views. That’s nuts. This is something that makes me crazy about the wedding world–we’re all supposed to be so damn lovey dovey, and never admit that weddings are complicated, political, sometimes stupid, sometimes insane. Even when Meg posts things that are critical of the wedding industry she gets called out. Is she not allowed to take a stance on anything? Are we all such delicate flowers that we can’t handle it when she expresses her opinion? If she were a fundamentalist Christian writing about how she will promise to “obey” would she be getting called out in the same way?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Look guys,
    At this point, I feel like I need to close the comments. We’ve gotten to a point that this discussion is no longer constructive. Yes, me asking “what else can you do to support marriage equality?” was a limiting question. On purpose. I’m not interested in airing the views of people who don’t believe in gay marriage on my blog, in the comments or otherwise. You are absolutely entitled to your views, but I find them hateful, and I’m actually religiously opposed to them (very few people take a pro-gay marriage religious stance, but I do) and don’t want them discussed in on this corner of the internet that is, in the end mine.

    And for those who are worried about how the Christian Evangelicals attending my wedding will feel, please don’t worry. There will not be any. Just piles of gay friends and open minded loved ones. That makes it no less important that any statement that we make be small and tasteful, but it won’t be likely to change hearts and minds, as we tend to surround ourselves with very open hearts.

    There are lots of good ideas on this thread, so lets end it here. If you don’t want to make a statement about marriage equality during your wedding (whether that is through a private donation or a public statement in the program) that’s fine. The point of this thread was to gather small and tasteful ideas for those of us that do.

    Meg

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Actually,
    I want to say one more thing. I really resent when people make the comment that Christians think gay marriage is wrong. That’s flat out not true. Maybe you think gay marriage is wrong, that’s fine. I, however, come from a extremely religious mainline protestant Christian family, who have been fighting for gay rights for the last 20 years. The church my parents attend, and every church I walk through the door of not only believes in Equality and Gay Rights, but FIGHTS for equality and gay rights, because that is what they feel the Bible teaches.

    Long story short – religion tells us to speak up for what is right, not be quite because we are afraid of offending people with truth.

    Meg

    • Tobysmom

      Meg

      What an incredible post. I have found your blog and advice inspirational. My partner and I are getting married in ma – at the state house itself. We want to celebrate our commonwealth for it’s inclusion all marriage equality and will use an except from Goodridge, a statement on our program and ask contributions to HRC. I also love including a passage on the three parties of a civil marriage – the state and two consenting individuals.

      Cheers to you and your courage- it’s a badass to be a straight ally and to especially stand up to the irrational thoughts of pre progrmaed bride zillas

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  • Claire

    Meg,
    I was delighted to discover your blog when I started planning my marriage. My husband and I placed a bowl of White Knots next to our guestbook, with a sign that read:

    EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO TIE THE KNOT
    The White Knot is the symbol for marriage equality. All loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows. Please wear a White Knot to show your support for marriage equality, and full equal rights under the law for everyone.
    WE BELIEVE IN MARRIAGE EQUALITY

    The majority of our guests, both straight and gay, happily pinned on a white knot. Some guests did not, and we respect their choice. Some guests came to ask us about the ribbons we were wearing, and we were happy to explain what the white knots symbolized. My husband and I thought it was beautiful to see so many of our loved ones wearing this symbol of support on their lapels, and love how it was captured in our photographs.

    More important to me, was how my parents, siblings and nieces (ages 12 – 4) sat with my husband and me the night before our wedding and helped us cut the ribbons and tie the white knots. At first, my Dad (a very conservative Christian missionary) thought “marriage equality” meant the husband and wife would be equals in their marriage. I pulled up the whiteknots.org website and explained what marriage equality meant to us. I was worried he would be offended and walk out, but he just said a quiet, “Oh.” and then went back to helping my young nieces tie knots. That memory is priceless to me.

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  • TJ

    I know that this is an older post, but I wanted to share how I’m including my commitment (which is unfortunately not shared by my fiance, who remains indifferent) to marriage equality in our wedding day.

    Next to the table with our programs, I am placing a small basket full of the above-mentioned white knots. Next to that will be a small table tent that says what the knots symbolize, and that we will donate $1 to the HRC for each guest wears a ribbon in support of marriage equality.

    People who don’t want to wear one don’t have to; people who do wear one know that their show of support will be matched financially.

    Any guests who find the gesture distasteful can go F themselves, and should they speak up, will just as politely be told as such. I don’t need their teacups.

  • Allison

    This may be coming way late in the game. But here in MN recently, we have been fighting a Bill to amend our Constitution to say that marriage can only be between and man and a woman. In our activism, we have learned that the only way to get people to vote against the Bill, is to tell our families, friends and coworkers, no matter what their beliefs are, that this is WRONG.

    The problem that we experience so often is that for people that do not know any gay people, they have no interest in voting against the legislation. Regardless of how conservative or liberal they may be. But if we can point out our amazing friends, who have helped make our day wonderful, devoted their time and effort, and have enriched our lives even though they have no legal rights to the same luxuries, maybe our families will understand. They will then have a personal connection to aide them when it comes time to vote yea or nay. For our upcoming wedding, we wouldnt even think about subtly placing a sentence in the program defining our beliefs. We will be making a loud and proud toast right in the middle of the reception, where we will tell everyone how much we love and cherish our gay friends that are present (and in committed relationships mind you, supporting and loving us despite our unequal rights being flaunted right in front of their faces), and how much we need everyone’s help to earn them the same rights that we now enjoy.

    Our outspoken-ness may not appeal to everyone, and it may not be for every couple out there, but we feel that it needs to be done in our circumstances.

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