Honoring Marriage Equality In Your Wedding Service


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Honoring Marriage Equality In Your Wedding Service | A Practical Wedding

So, for APW Pride week, we’re brainstorming ways to honor marriage equality at our weddings. Some of us want to be really loud about it, sometimes we want to be slightly more subtle about it… and sometimes (us, cough, cough) we think we want to be subtle and then when push comes to shove, we decide f*ck subtle.

So this is an open thread for sharing ideas – from white knots, to statements in programs, to readings during the service, to giving your bouquet to your lesbian aunts. If you did, or are planning to do, something to honor marriage equality in your ceremony, share what you did! We’ll post a round up post of ideas in a week or so.

(And, please stay away from the should-you-do-something-or-not debate on this thread. That decision should be left up to each individual couple. This is *just* a thread to brainstorm ideas of what to do, if you’re choosing to do something.)

Picture: White Knots at Rachelle‘s wedding, shot by Elissa R Photography in Austin, TX

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 the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • Amanda

    We had three readings during our ceremony. One was an excerpt from the Goodridge vs. the Department of Public Health ruling, which legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. It’s a really beautiful passage about what marriage fundamentally is, and it was our subtle acknowledgement of those who can’t marry as we did.

    Here’s the excerpt we used:
    “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.

    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.”

    • KD

      We had that in our program! – and our officiant mentioned something subtle too.

    • Danielle

      Ooh, I really like this!

    • http://snippets.of.school.blogspot.com Brenna

      We used the exact same excerpt as our only reading, and it basically opened the ceremony.

      I’m from Iowa, and I wanted to use something from the Iowa decision, but the language just wasn’t as pretty.

      I will also say that I kind of wish now that we would have done/said more. We celebrated our one-year anniversary in Minneapolis, at Pride, and as I walked around, it made me wonder if as allies, we had made our perspective perfectly clear. I’m just throwing that in in case anybody is on the fence about how much to make marriage equality a part of your ceremony.

      • meg

        Yup. I realized I couldn’t get up there in front of friends who had been suicidal gay teens once upon a time, and not be REALLY clear about what I thought, even if I offended some older relatives (Shoot! I just broke my own rule!)

    • Eureka

      We used the same reading (our other reading was from the Velveteen Rabbit) but even more of it. And we also made a donation to the Human Rights Campaign.

      This is how we edited Goodridge:

      A reading from the November 18, 2003 ruling in Goodridge versus the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, majority opinion written by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall:

      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, … 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.” … 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. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.”

      Because it fulfils 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.” …Without the right to marry — or more properly, the right to choose to marry — one is excluded from the full range of human experience …. [And] the right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one’s choice ….

      That … couples are willing to embrace marriage’s solemn obligations of exclusivity, mutual support, and commitment to one another is a testament to the enduring place of marriage in our laws and in the human spirit.

    • http://www.roguebride.com Rogue Bride

      I love that reading. It’s perfectly subtle and so meaningful. Our marriage is about us, but marriage is also a political act as well as a personal one. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to put this in my list of ceremony ideas.

    • http://www.amandaesque.com Amanda C

      Hooray, we used this on the back of our programs as well! Below it, we had the logo for OutFront Minnesota, a LGBT rights group, and this text:”Amanda and Chris support the work of OutFront Minnesota to ensure a future in which everyone may marry the person they love.”

      With an awful, awful constitutional amendment on the ballot for MN in 2012 to define marriage as between one man and one woman (which is just political crap; there is already a law in MN against same-sex marriage), we thought it was extra important to identify a group that was doing good work locally, in case people wanted to get involved but didn’t know where to look.

      • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

        thanks for the tip. We are getting married in Minnesota in December, and I would also like to do something to support marriage equality. I’m just hoping my guys’ conservative family members don’t get miffed.

        And I sincerely hope Minnesotans have more sense than Mainers. I was in Maine and voted no during their recent vote to codify inequality. Looking forward to voting no in Minnesota and and encouraging everyone I know to do the same.

    • Maureen

      We had a version of the same reading. Our very old officiant was super basass and was really excited to read this before we said our vows. He even kept a copy of it to use in the future. Love it!

    • Jeannine

      yup. I used similar sections from Goodridge, edited them heavily and explicated why we were starting the ceremony with it and asked our officiant to use that to open the ceremony (just this past sunday! still excited). Since we’re talking wording here, even though it’s heavily repetitive of what everyone else has posted, I’ll include our version as well:

      As Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote in GOODRIDGE vs. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage:
      Working with the definition of civil marriage as articulated in Chief Justice Margaret Marshall’s majority opinion in GOODRIDGE vs. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH, the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, we find two important elements to what constitutes a marriage: First, the legitimizing role of the state. As Marshall writes: “Because there are three partners to every civil marriage: two willing spouses and an approving State, [m]arriage bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Tangible as well as intangible benefits flow from marriage. … In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.” End quote.

      We all recognize that such state-sponsored benefits and obligations are not inconsequential.

      But what we are here to celebrate and recognize is the second definition that emerges, in which civil marriage is described as, and I quote “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. ‘It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.’ 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 this definition of marriage, open to all, which we choose to enter into today.

    • Dragon

      We used a version of the Goodridge reading at our gay wedding this past Saturday. My brother explained what the reading he was about to do was, and then went off script to give a shout out to New York, which had passed the marriage bill the night before. Everyone cheered and then he read the quote.

  • Jess K

    Thanks for this post!! I have been thinking about this a lot recently and I would love to hear about what other people did – including different types of working during their ceremony!

  • Katie

    It was important to us to include some nod to marriage equality as my sister is a lesbian (who is lucky enough to live in MA, so she’s been married to her wife for 4 years now), and our officiant was gay. However, one side of my family is quite conservative (Catholic), so we did want to be somewhat subtle in our message. We decided to include the following on the back of our program. I really love this passage because (as it should) it speaks to ALL marriages.

    “Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. 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 fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a ‘civil right’. Without the right to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.”

    Margaret Marshall, Massachusetts Supreme Court, 2003

    • lolo7835

      We are having a similar issue and our family priest, while being very active with LGBTA ministry, didn’t think a nuptial mass was a appropriate place to make a comment any kind of social or political issue (not just this one). Which I can understand I suppose.

      Maybe we’ll put a subtle note in our program and we’re also debating making a comment during our speeches at the reception. I’m interested to see what folks have come up with.

      • meg

        I’m going to have to get my friend Kate to get on this thread. They wrote something subtle in their prayer during their catholic mass, about supporting all people who were oppressed and discriminated against, and supporting people’s right to love and marry… something along those lines. Not *political* per say, just ethical. Which I’d argue is exactly what this is, and ethical issue, so OF COURSE it belongs in church.

        • Kayakgirl73

          Please do have her join the conversation. I think this is important information as the nuptial mass can be hard to work around with all of it’s requirements and readings that are supposed to be selected from a certain book “Together for life” It would probably be possible to put something subtle into the “prayers of the faithful” section of the mass. (this the part where prayers for peace, the future of the “baby” family, deceased loved ones, folks unable to attend, etc. are often mentioned) I’m sorry I didn’t think of it before my wedding. I did try to avoid the readings where one spouse was being told to be subservient to the other.

          • meg

            Yup! She put it in prayers for the faithful. That’s the place you can go for it.

          • Beth

            Thanks for all the good thoughts… I know this thread is from awhile ago, but I am working on the program for our April ’12 wedding, and trying to figure out a way to integrate my support of marriage equality with the Catholic ceremony content. I was looking for that quote from the Massachusetts decision to perhaps include in the program. I did the same thing in working with “Together for Life” text and tried to pick the readings and language that didn’t state “man and woman” specifically. I really like the idea of including something about the oppressed in the “Prayers of the faithful”!!

          • Dana

            I came across this old thread today, the day DOMA was struck down by the SCOTUS!

            We are having a Catholic wedding mass, but my fiance and I both strongly support marriage equality. We are working hard to find Bible passages that will support this value, or at the very least, not explicitly contradict it. I agree with a previous comment that the nuptial mass is not the place to make political statements. However, I do want to point out for any other Catholics out there currently in the same boat as me — you are not required to stick to “Together for Life.” Those are just the suggested and commonly used wedding readings. The only real requirement that I know of is one Old Testament, one Psalm, one New Testament, and one Gospel. My parents shook things up in the 70′s by using a Psalm as their first reading in addition to the responsorial Psalm.

    • clampers

      Our pastor is gay too! I guess that is how we are honoring equality, although we didn’t choose him just because he’s gay, we chose him because he’s my friend and he’s a pastor.

  • laurabalaurah

    The ordained friend marrying us made a statement on our behalf right before our vows, reminding our guests that not everyone has the right to marry right now, and that we were marrying while being mindful and aware of that and supportive of this changing in the future. It was a really lovely point in the ceremony.

    I love the idea of collecting these suggestions!

    • Bonnie Fries

      We did something very similar…. had our officiant make a statement that we as a couple do not enter into this union lightly and feel blessed that we can be married when so many loving committed couples cannot.. and hope and pray this changes very soon!

      I know one of our gay friends in attendance said it was the only time he cried at a wedding is when he heard that :)

  • Danielle

    This is the very, very subtle thing we did: we included my cousin’s partner in our huge family portrait.

    It should be a given, right? But some/most of my family don’t consider their commitment a *real* thing. When everyone was rounding up the family for the photo, no one asked him to get in the group.

    I saw him standing to the side and it just about broke my heart. I loudly told him to get his butt into the picture because OF COURSE he is family. And no one can argue with the bride on her wedding day. ;)

    • http://theambershow.net Amber, theAmberShow

      Oh, I love this!

    • http://www.littlepieceseverywhere.com Sarah

      You are my hero.

      What a lovely lovely way to both 1. include him and make him feel loved, and 2. make perfectly clear to those members of your family who think otherwise that you know him to be family and their relationship to be real and totally valid.

      You. Rock. =)

    • Heaz

      That’s so sweet, I teared up reading that. I bet you’re his new favorite! :P
      Big love to you. :)

  • http://www.icookwithwine.com Melinda

    Love this discussion and the whole week Meg & APW team! It’s been really inspirational so far.

    Although we are a mixed gender couple, this issue affects so many of our loved ones (and everyone really, in terms of what kind of world we all want to live in) so we decided to respectfully request kind thoughts and hope for the future for all of those who rights did not yet mirror our own (at least in Pennsylvania) in our wedding program. Additionally, our vows were gender neutral.

    Looking back, I wish there was more we could have done, so I am excited to read other responses and hopefully share those same ideas with my sisters, friends, and other family members who may get hitched in the future.

  • http://tolombia.blogspot.com bino27

    We dedicated a section in our program to marriage equality and stated that in lieu of wedding favors, we made a donation to the Human Rights Campaign (as well as the Israel Religious Action Center, but for a different kind of marriage equality). On top of that, every year on our anniversary we make a donation to the HRC and will continue to do so until marriage equality exists all over the US.

    • Rymenhild

      Ooooh, I like that combination of donations very much. Pairing marriage equality for non-Orthodox Jews in Israel and for same-sex couples in America makes a great deal of sense. I’m scribbling mental notes…

  • KD

    One thing I would do now that our state (IL) is recognizing same sex civil unions, is to get “civil unionized” rather than “married” to show some solidarity. If you’re saying it’s good enough for my brother it’s good enough for me!

    If I weren’t already married that’s exactly what I would do.

    • Jessica

      I’m considering doing this. Of course, I’m going to research the legal ramifications first, which really drives home how much privilege I have to be able to make that choice. Then again, we haven’t started officially planning yet; now I’m considering scrapping the Chicago plan and getting married in NYC!!!

      • Harriet

        I just got married in Chicago, and we strongly considered getting a civil union–the only reason we didn’t go ahead with it is we didn’t have time to research the legal ramifications with respect to the feds. I think it’s a wonderful idea, though. If you do this, it would be great if you’d report back.

    • meg

      YES.

    • http://hopewanders.wordpress.com hopewanders

      For the same reason, we tried to do this in Washington State…and it’s not legal for hetero couples. Sigh.

      • meg

        Yup. I think that’s the next round of lawsuits.

      • Ally

        We also wanted to have a civil union in Washington but found it wasn’t legal for us because we’re a hetero couple. Very disappointing. We went ahead with the marriage anyway because we figured our allied voices as married individuals was likely more compelling than just if we chose to abstain from marriage.

        We also used the Goodridge vs. Dept Public Health as a reading (in addition to Tom Robbins and Rainier Maria Rilke–also gay). It was beautiful and really set the tone. No one complained, but many people came up to us and thanked us later for making our position clear–many of the most unlikely guests.

  • http://heart-of-light.blogspot.com Rachel (heart of light)

    Yay! Perfect timing – we need to get started on the ceremony.

    We have several family members and friends who can’t legally get married and it’s infuriating. I want to somehow incorporate our support for marriage equality into our ceremony but I also don’t want to come off as patronizing. I mean, we can get married and I guess I feel a little guilty about that and it makes it difficult to figure out what to say that doesn’t make us look like privileged a**holes.

    Really looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts and ideas.

  • Anon

    We were fortunate enough to marry in MA, a state that has marriage equality. We had an excerpt of Margaret Marshall’s opinion as one of our readings:

    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. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.” 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

    We had it introduced as Margaret Marshall’s statement in Goodridge v. MA. It went over the heads of of few older conservative family members but most of our peers got the reference.

  • http://www.treelovesjake.blogspot.com Theresa

    We wore the White Knots at our wedding, and invited all of our guests to do so as well. The hubs and I are very open about talking about marriage equality, and want to be supportive to our family and friends who are LGBTQ. I know that not everyone feels the same way we do, and we felt that the Knots were a way to open it up to our guests and start the conversation. We put the knots on the guest book/seat assignments table, so everyone could see and take one!

    • TJ

      My whole wedding party wore white knots in support, and we set out a bowl of them (and a sign explaining their meaning) for our guests if they so chose. We got married right near the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case, so as the black half of a black-white couple in grad school for history, I used the anniversary as an opportunity to broach marriage equality more broadly, in a way my conservatively religious but proud-to-be-integrated family could understand; I tied my gratitude at being able to legally marry my super-white, Virginia-born boo to my support for people still denied the opportunity to marry their boo of choice.

      Of all the people at my wedding who surprised me by wearing one, my favorite was my husband. It took six years, but I finally turned him :)

  • http://peachyringsaredead.blogspot.com Ceej

    We just started drafting our ketubah for our Catholic-Jewish ceremony last night, and decided to exclude all gender-specific text. The BRIDE, Ceej, DAUGHTER of Papa Ceej, etc. There won’t be any mention of it anywhere at the wedding. We were inspired by the recent APW post on subtlety and just going ahead and making acceptance status-quo instead of something to be singled out. We’ll probably also put the Margaret Marshall quote in the ceremony programs somewhere, though it won’t be read (combining Catholic and Jewish traditions makes for a LONG ceremony, with little room for secular readings).

  • erin

    We had many gay and lesbian friends attending and participating in our various wedding celebrations. We made sure to keep all the language in the ceremony gender neutral and included some subtle references to the importance of having the right to marry. Less subtly, we asked for donations to a marriage equality advocacy organization in lieu of standard wedding gifts. Interestingly enough, all the people who donated are straight people with no particular tie to the LGBTQ rights movement- and all our gay friends gave us traditional wedding gifts!

    • meg

      I do think (and I’ve said this before), that language should be gender neutral when speaking in general, but it’s ok to be gender specific when speaking about specific people. IE, Cindy and Julia are wife & wife, David and I are husband & wife (though either couple could obviously use the term partner as well). But if I’m writing a post about weddings, I’m going to say “partner” or “spouse” because I don’t know if you have a wife or a husband.

      BUT. I took David as my husband during the ceremony… because that’s what he is! And that’s ok. What wouldn’t be ok is to say that all marriage is between a husband and a wife.

  • Kaitlin

    We didn’t have programs but we included this on our website area where we mention where we were registered:

    “We believe that all committed couples should have the right to marry. As a way of sharing in our happiness, consider making a charitable contribution to an organization that advocates for marriage equality.”

    We included a link to some charities via idofoundation.org. Quite a large number of our guests made donations in lieu of gifts, which was exactly what we were hoping for.

    Our officiant (an internet-ordained friend of ours) also did some subtle ad-libbing during the ceremony about how a lot of people weren’t even allowed to marry the one they loved. That was also cool but not planned.

    • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com Pluis

      That’s what we’re doing too:)

      We’re skipping out on a registry altogether (we both came with completely furnished homes and plan an intercontinental move soon, so there is no purpose to giving us stuff) and asking people to donate to charity instead. So far, we’ve chosen charities for marriage equality, gay youth emancipation and victims of domestic violence (specifically making sure that the organisation cares for male victims as well as female).

      We still need to speak to our officiant, but I definitely plan on making everything gender neutral.

  • http://www.thehandmadeevent.com Kari

    During our ceremony we had the officiant (my brother – go internet ordination) say this: yes, the popular quote of the day, but this is how we bookended it.

    And while Kari and Matthew are so happy with their decision to marry
    They also recognize those who cannot make that decision
    Who are still denied the civil right of wedded union
    And forbidden the social and legal benefits of marriage
    We have come a long way toward treating all men and women as equals,
    And yet, we acknowledge that we have farther still to go
    And more we can do to respect the choice to love, and be loved

    Quoting from the decision Goodridge v. Dept. Of Public Health (the landmark case that legalized same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts):

    Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. 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, the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a ‘civil right’. Without the right to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.

    The union of two people is a coming together for better or for
    worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.
    It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a
    harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not
    commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a
    purpose as any

    It is the hope of Kari and Matthew that no one should be excluded from a happy day like this one, and along with vowing to be together for the rest of their lives, they also vow to work toward and fight for marriage equality

    We also included my Aunt’s partner in our wedding photos (my grandparents do not typically include her) and the name tags we made for our welcome picnic had everyone’s “relationship to Kari/Matthew” and we put her down as my Aunt as well, instead of the “family friend” that some people got. Subtle, but hopefully she felt the love. Can’t wait to hear others suggestions as well.

    • Anna

      I’m SURE she felt the love. You are wonderful.

  • Amy

    We chose to marry in Massachusetts! Not my home state, nor his, way more expensive than all of our other options, and made our families travel. (Ok, it’s where we live now). Plus since it was, at the time we decided on a venue, the only state to allow marriage equality, that decided it. I talked with our rabbi about saying something about how we were glad to be getting married in a place and at a time where our friends would be allowed to do the same, but she forgot.

    • Contemplating

      We considered doing this, but we kept coming back to the fact that is was a lot of added expense for us and our guests for a lovely symbol that we weren’t sure would accomplish anything.(In our case that symbol wouldn’t really change the minds of our guests and no one we know is from any of the states where same-sex marriage was recognized)

      Then NY happened! We live in NJ so we’re considering having the ceremony at city hall in NY and then crossing the river to NJ for the reception. My intended was still on the fence about the value vs effort of this gesture (why not just do the whole thing in NY?). But then the Governor of NJ came out with a pretty obnoxious statement in response to NY passing same-sex marriage and that and the idea to send our local politicians copies of our programs, website, etc. convinced him.

  • Amy

    Getting married with a full Catholic mass didn’t leave us an awful lot of room for choosing our own (non-biblical) readings.
    Instead, we had a section in our program that talked about how we were blessed to be able to be legally married, and that we realized not everyone was able to share in this human right, and to support the achievement of universal freedom to marry we had made a donation to marriage equality. Did my mother’s super Catholic family love that? No However, none of them were callous enough to make an issue of it on the day.
    I didn’t make mention of this in our wording because it felt a little “so there!”, but it gave me great personal pleasure to donate the exact fee that the church “requested” we “donate” for them to perform our mass to Marriage Equality of NY. Because I’m a bit childish like that…

  • Amber

    Not during the ceremony, but we gave a donation to the Human Rights Campaign and mentioned that on the homepage of our wedsite and said we support marriage equality.

  • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

    As stated above, the white knots were an excellent way to show support but in a more subtle way. It was a joy to look around and see the little white knots on a wide range of people at the reception. We had several people come up and tell us that they loved the sentiment. I think it really started that conversation.

  • Chelsea

    We were going to give donations as favors to Fight Back PAC, a nonprofit aiming to legalize gay marriage in NY– but looks like we won’t have to, which is obviously wonderful! Instead we will probably donate to the HRC. I do hope, though, that this weekend’s trend will continue and mess up our plans and that it’ll be legal in the nation by our wedding in October 2012, but I guess we will have to wait and see.

  • Jen W

    First and foremost, we’ll be getting hitched in the great state of NY! Well, actually, that was a given as we’re both from/live in NY. But I am so damn excited to be getting married in a state where everyone can legally marry their chosen partner (less excited that there will be more competition now for fabulous secular venues since we’ve yet to book ours, lol).

    We haven’t started working on the ceremony yet (14 months out, I think we’ve got time), but we’re theater people with a lot of friends affected by this issue, so we’re very concerned about making our feelings known on the subject. We will definitely have something in the program, and will be suggesting donations to HRC or Lambda Legal on our registry.

    Been thinking about reading something during the ceremony that *isn’t* a reading from the Goodridge v. Dept of Health ruling, but I’m not sure what that could be. Would love any suggestions!

    • http://indiealbany.com irisira

      I am not sure if there is text of it online (yet), but what about an excerpt of Cuomo’s speech before he signed the bill into law?

      • ann

        You could also use the ruling from the case in San Francisco, I forget the name of it. My fiance and I are ultimately going with the Massachusetts case excerpt, but we considered something from there as well.

  • Sara

    We got married in DC, which has marriage equality (though we live here already, so I can’t say it was particularly difficult to do so). We used the standard vows and service that’s done in a courthouse so we couldn’t change much, but we did have the judge change the “husband and wife” parts to “spouse” and the “man and woman” parts to “individual”. It was a very small tribute, but present none-the-less.

  • http://www.midcitysaturdays.com Amy

    We also did the Goodridge vs. the Department of Public Health reading at our wedding. We listed it in the program as “Statement in Support of Equal Marriage.” I’d say a good portion of our guests had no idea what was going on, but many did. A friend referred it it as a “dog whistle” of sorts–meaning those who would appreciate it, would get it. It was important for us to do something given that three members of our wedding party do not have the federal right to get married, and given our beliefs. Someone noted that they saw our former boss and (Southern, I might add) Congressman nudging his wife and smiling with approval during the reading. We also did not have our celebrant say the name of the state we were in when he said “by the power vested in me” since the state prohibits same-sex marriage.

  • Alyssa

    My fiancee and I are getting legally married in DC, where we live, but we’re having our big ceremony and reception in Indiana, where we’re both from. A big part of that choice was because we wanted to have our wedding in a place where LGBTQ weddings are not part of the norm, and treat our wedding just like any other wedding (well, except awesome and OURS). We are going to have the Goodridge v. MA reading that a lot of people have mentioned, and some other references to the legal status of our wedding throughout the ceremony, but we both think the biggest thing we can do for marriage equality is get married in a state where we legally can’t, with a wedding that is pretty similar to most people’s weddings. Because in the end it’s just a wedding, not a gay wedding (like that great Liz Feldman quote).

    We’ve also chosen to work with vendors that are fully in support of marriage equality. Our caterers are a lesbian couple that would benefit from marriage equality in Indiana, and our photographer uses gender-neutral language and has discounts for same-sex couples. Our contact at our reception venue has been calling us wives from the get-go. In some ways where we spend our money is just as important to us as the words that we use to express our marriage.

    • Julianna

      Great reminder on vendors. We found many of our vendors through SoYou’reEnGAYged, as a way to make sure what money we were spending was funneled to support small businesses whose values we wanted to uphold.

      • meg

        Just a reminder, you can also find your vendors through APW. All of them have to sign a pledge to work with LGBTQ couples, or they can’t advertise here.

        • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com/ Kinzie Kangaroo

          You know, I didn’t know that signing such a pledge was a part of becoming an APW vendor. I mean, I figured (hoped?) that there was something like that, but I didn’t know for sure. High five, Meg! Yet another reason I dig hanging out around here…

          • meg

            Of course it is!

        • Marisa

          That’s awesome. I did not know that.

        • http://notjustbrides.blogspot.com Heather

          YAY MEG! I didn’t know this either.

    • Alicia

      My fiancée and I are doing a similar thing. We live in Illinois where we have civil unions but not marriage equality. The recent scotus ruling has us debating going to Iowa to get legally married but we are still having the whole ceremony and party in Illinois. We want to make a statement about how marriage is not just a piece of paper given to you by the government. It is about standing up, surrounded by your friends and family and committing your lives to each other. It is a commitment between two people. Gay people have had commitment ceremonies for a long time and the lack of marriage equality doesn’t undermined the commitment they make to each other. We are also donating in lieu of favors. We are purposely not choosing HRC as our charity because of their lack of inclusion of the trans community. We’ve decided to donate to Lamda Legal.

  • Gretchen

    We hadn’t really planned on making a statement in our service, but incorporated a subtle one in the end. My husband is black and wanted us to jump the broom during the ceremony. As we were writing our ceremony, I realized that I needed a way to personally connect to that tradition, even though it isn’t my cultural tradition (I’m white). We talked about how jumping the broom became a tradition in times when enslaved black Americans weren’t allowed to legally marry, so they adapted alternative practices to symbolize marriage. That resonates a lot with today’s struggle for marriage equality, and honoring that struggle throughout history was a way for me (both of us, actually) to connect to jumping the broom. During our ceremony, our officiant (my husband’s sister) introduced our broom-jumping with a brief history of it, and stated that we were jumping the broom in honor of all couples, past and present, who had been denied the right to marry. Absolutely no one mentioned it to me at the wedding–I even felt a little disappointed that we had been so subtle no one even noticed–but several months later one of my friends mentioned that it was one of her favorite parts of our ceremony!

    • Rasheeda

      I was scanning all the comments to see if anyone would use “jumping the broom” like we did. So proud that you guys did! I wrote about it in our program the same as you. I explained the tradition and (forgive me if I forget the exact wording) included in the program that ” Law has not always caught up with the hearts of the people in its society. Marriage and Love perseveres through all things”

      • Abby C.

        Oohh, I love that quote:

        “Law has not always caught up with the hearts of the people in its society. Marriage and Love perseveres through all things”

        Can I steal it for my wedding?

    • Harriet

      That’s really beautiful. I’m getting chills just hearing about it.

    • Shawn

      Wow, love this idea! I think by comparing the current struggle to ones in the past, it really helps some people connect with why all of this matters. I’m in an interracial relationship, too and it’s insane to think about how recently that was illegal! This idea really makes people think about how equally unjust today’s situation is. Thanks for this idea – I’m definitely going to remember it for when the time comes for my boyfriend and me :)

    • http://beautyofgray.tumblr.com/ Heather

      I really like this idea. I am also a white woman marrying a black man. I briefly considered Jumping the Broom, but we are not doing that for safety reasons (heels + train + long dress = impending doom), but I really wanted to make some comment about how it wasn’t that long ago that we wouldn’t have been able to marry either and how we support those who can. I looked for poetic language in the Loving case like everyone uses with the Goodridge case, but didn’t find anything that was perfect. Suggestions for how I can mix these two ideas??

  • Meghan

    This was not a decision based in any marriage-equality principles, but our officiant is a dear friend who is gay and had happened to just get engaged to his partner. We asked him to say this during his welcome:

    “Meghan and Colin understand that marriage is a commitment between two people who love each other, no matter what gender they may be. While they are celebrating their right to marry each other, they also want to recognize the people whose right to marry has not been yet granted; many of whom have helped make Meghan and Colin the people and couple they are today.”

    Other than one “husband” and one “wife” in our vows, we also tried to keep the language gender neutral, both in the stuff we wrote with our officiant and in our readings and songs.

  • Kate

    Very timely for me, thanks APW! A one-man, one-woman constitutional amendment is going on the ballot in our state (Minnesota) next year, so my fiance and I have been talking about this a lot, keeping in mind that we actually maybe just might have the power to influence some votes. We’re definitely doing a note in the program. Copy isn’t finalized yet, but the current draft is:

    “To our fellow Minnesotans:
    By marrying today, we will receive a number of legal protections and privileges afforded to married couples. We believe that every couple, regardless of sexual orientation, deserves the opportunity to have these protections, and to have their commitment recognized in the eyes of the law. For this reason and many more, we sincerely hope you will join us in voting against the marriage amendment on next year’s state ballot.”

    And we’ll also do a page on our website, which will very likely include the passage from the Goodridge Massachusetts verdict.

    • Claire

      As a fellow Minnesotan, I applaud this bold and specific call to action. Wow. Powerful.

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      omg. That’s wonderful! We’re getting married this December in Minnesota. I think this may be something we can include! I am totally bookmarking this post. I will be voting no, of course, but I can’t believe I’m going to have to vote on this issue at all.

  • Sarah Beth

    We registered for donations in our honor to a few charities, including HRC and the It Gets Better Project.

    Also our officiant is an amazing Unitarian Universalist minister, and she refuses to sign marriage licenses until she can sign them for same-sex couples as well. Most couples just get a friend to sign their marriage license at the ceremony, but at our minister’s suggestion we will go to the courthouse to get it signed.

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      Our officiant is an Episcopal priest, and she also said she is more comfortable having us get our license at the courthouse. So we’re eloping in a few weeks to do so and doing our big service and celebration in December :-)

  • Jess

    Like a bunch of people who have already posted, we has the expert from Goodridge vs. Dept of Public Health as one of our readings. I think that it is subtle enough that what it is about goes over homophobic relatives’ heads, but meaningful to those who get it.

  • IMG

    My partner and I are getting married in October in Maryland, where same-sex marriage is not yet legal. Our rabbi will not sign state marriage certificates for any couple, gay or straight, until it is. Additionally, we’re incorporating a passage into the Seven Blessings (I guess it will be blessing 8) about the kiddush cup being slightly less full because our marriage is not sanctioned by the state. Finally, the first question on the “FAQ” section of our website asks “Is our marriage legal?” and then refers guests to all sorts of information about marriage equality.

    • leigh

      We did a similar thing. Added an 8th blessing stating that we this cup of wine could not be emptied until all of our friends and family, around our state, country and world could enjoy the same privilege of marriage. We have way too many LGBT close family and friends to have acted like it’s normal that we could enjoy certain benefits of marriage while they can’t.

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Mrs. Christina McPants

    We had our gay wedding last month, so it was pretty much solely about marriage equality. =) We also included the Massachusetts Supreme Court reading and when our officiant asked our guests if they would do everything they can to support our union, we also asked them to do everything they can to support marriage equality. Thought it was a nice touch.

    It’s actually been really surprising to me how having a gay wedding has touched others. Both my mother and my wife’s mother have had people come up to them and tell them how much seeing our wedding photos meant to them and how it viewed their way of seeing themselves/their gay relatives.

    Just goes to show that marriage equality really does happen through being out, open and living your lives that way.

  • Carrie N

    We did two things:

    1. We registered for donations to Freedom To Marry.

    2. We referenced marriage equality in our ceremony, during the explanation of the breaking of the glass (it was an interfaith wedding, so we needed to have an explanation anyhow). The part that referenced marriage equality stated:

    The shattered glass is a reminder to all in attendance that the world is replete with imperfection and it’s imperative for all to partake in Tikkun Olam, which means, “repairing the world.” Carolyn & Anders are very aware of the multitude of blessings in their lives, and the opportunities provided them. Not all couples are allowed the privilege of such a ceremony. It’s important to Carolyn & Anders that their joined lives be part of Tikkun Olam, of repairing the world, and today, they stand together not only for each other, but for a world they want to see flourish.

    It wasn’t overtly political, but everyone we spoke to about it got the message loud and clear.

    • Lizzie

      We’re also registered with Freedom to Marry and we asked in our invitations for people to join us in making a contribution. I had a moment of pause about it when I imagined a couple of my cousins receiving it, but any doubt I had disappeared when a high school friend called to thank me for it when she got the invitation.

    • Bethie

      I absolutely love that idea of breaking the glass! I’m Jewish, but not really religious, so we had not planned breaking the glass – but this idea makes me want to!

      • meg

        I don’t want to get into this beyond this statement… but as a jew, I wouldn’t encourage you breaking the glass, lovely as it is. There are mixed feelings on this, but many jews are very uncomfortable with non-jews using this tradition. So maybe use the language, but not the action. Or do it, but be aware!

        • Hypothetical Sarah

          But Jewish and non-religious is still Jewish, right? I understand your general objection to co-opting traditions, just not here specifically.

    • meg

      Lovely! Though I would point out that most gay jews can get the ceremony, since reform Judaism marries gay couples. What they can’t get is the legal rights.

      • Carrie N

        Yes, that’s true. In the context of our ceremony, I think the key aspect of that line is that the wording was “such a ceremony,” rather than “a ceremony,” since it was clear that this particular ceremony was a legal one. That said, “ceremony” could easily be replaced with “legal union,” or something a bit more overt and accurate.

  • Sara

    The fiance and I are still debating just what we want to do. We were both raised Catholic, and our family members are still in shock over the secular ceremony that we’re planning, so my fiance doesn’t want us to further blow their minds by making any loud statements. I, on the other hand, figure if we’re already going to shock and confuse them on at least some level, why not add one more?

    So far we’ve agreed that I’ll put a page on our website explaining what the white knots mean, why I’ll be wearing one, and where to go for further information or to make donations. I also want to incorporate at least a short, subtle quote into our programs. I’m particularly enamored by “Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.” – Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, AD. 524. It’s not the loud statement I would make if the choice were entirely mine, but I think it’s a good compromise between screaming from the rooftops and keeping quiet for the sake of our Catholic grandmothers (who, honestly, won’t likely interpret the line as anything other than a cute romantic quote.)

    The jury is still out on whether we want to invite guests (via our webpage) to come wearing white knots, or whether we should put them out in a basket with a sign.

    • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com/ Kinzie Kangaroo

      Personally, I would put out a basket. My reasoning for that is twofold:

      1) I am *always* running late when I am going to a wedding. Trying to find that one shoe that goes with the other I’m already wearing, wrapping the gift, signing the card, printing out directions, etc — even though I would have huge intentions to make/find my own white knot and wear it, I just might not be able to make it happen as I’m sprinting out the door. The white knots are already there? Hell YES I’ll put one one. Maybe even two.

      2) There might be some people who are wary of showing up wearing a white knot, not knowing if they would be the only one who is doing it. That shouldn’t stop anyone, but it could. But if people arrive, see other people taking and putting on white knots, they might be inspired in solidarity to put a knot on themselves. And how cool would it be to see a sea of white knots floating around your celebration??

      Good luck!

      • Sara

        That’s absolutely what I’m thinking…I want anyone who wants a white knot not to have to bother making or getting one ahead of time, and not to worry about whether they’ll be the only one making a statement. The fiance’s on the fence about putting out a sign and basket, though. There are some conservative religious family members on his side, and, unlike me, he’s more inclined to be quiet on an issue than upset his grandma or parents. Also, one of his groomsman is still of the impression that being homosexual itself is a sin…never mind same-sex marriage!

        While he doesn’t mind debating controversial issues, at least with friends or family members in his own age group (he’s far more deferential to his elders), my fiance feels uncomfortable making our wedding into a forum for that kind of debate. He hasn’t even decided for sure if he’s wearing a white knot himself.

        I’m hoping the fiance comes around, because I really don’t think the white knots or a little sign will cause the level of controversy or offense I think he’s picturing. People who don’t like them don’t have to wear them, and most people know where we stand on the issue anyway. Maybe I’ll go ahead and make a little sign and leave it on the coffee table for awhile…see if he decides it’s acceptably unobtrusive :)

        • TJ

          Mine was also apprehensive, but it meant enough to me that I decided to do it anyway and just kept my mouth shut about it. I figured that by not bringing it up, we wouldn’t have the chance to argue over it and have it turn into A Thing that he opposed just because I bitched about it. Plus, I figured that he probably wouldn’t notice the day of the wedding, with everything else going on.

          The only reason he noticed? Everyone else in the wedding party was wearing one except for him, his brother and our roommate. It made him feel like a big enough ass (“what kind of person actually says that other people can’t do this if they want to?”) that not only did he put one on, he made them, too.

          As for our guests, I haven’t heard a single negative word about our bowl of white knots. Not to mention that some of your guests will surprise you by wearing them, and praising you for it.

  • R.

    I have been thinking about this a lot. I really hate the idea of getting married in a state that doesn’t permit all couples to wed, but we live in California and that’s where we’re getting married. I only hope Prop. 8 gets overturned before our wedding!

    We are planning to invite our guests to donate to a gay rights organization in lieu of a gift. I was thinking Equality California, but if anyone has any thoughts about why they chose the particular organization they chose, I would love to hear it.

    I also like the Goodridge excerpt, particularly because I’m from Massachusetts.

  • marbella

    We had a Catholic ceremony and as such, there wasn’t much we could do to discuss marriage equality directly in the service. However, each reading we chose (Jeremiah 31:31-32 and Philippians 4:4-9) focused on love and trust in God, and avoided anything suggesting marriage should be strictly between a man and woman.
    For our gospel reading, we particularly chose Matthew 22:35-40, as I believe that ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ specifically tells us everything we need to know about marriage equality.
    We also chose vendors who were LGBTQ friendly.

  • Abby C.

    Yay for this thread!

    Marriage equality isn’t an issue just for LGBTQ couples – in the world outside the US, it’s an issue for couples of different ethnic groups/skin colors, religious backgrounds and gender associations. Since my fiance is (East) Indian and I’m Caucasian-American, only 50 years ago we would not have been allowed to marry in all states in the US, so the issue of marriage equality for ALL couples is one that tugs on our heartstrings.

    We’re getting married in Dubai, a place where gay marriage is definately NOT going to be even up for discussion any time in the forseeable future, and legal marriages in Dubai between Muslim and non-Muslim couples requires formal conversion of the non-Muslim partner to Islam. (We have several family members on the groom’s side of the family that have dealt with this.)

    What I want to do is include a statement acknowledging that not all couples in the world who wish to marry are legally allowed to do so, and have our officiant offer a prayer that one day the world will be a more just place. It’s probably the only prayer I’d be comfortable including in our ceremony. Unfortunately, we are using a local officiant who married two of our devout Catholic friends (we don’t have much choice) and we have not yet met him or been able to determine how open to this he will be. Le sigh.

  • A-L

    We were more on the subtle front, since we wanted a distinctly religious service rather than discuss it as a civil union. That being said, we chose biblical readings that were more inclusive. The first was Genesis 2: 18-24. And for the people wondering, what…Genesis 2? Yes. Even though the passage discusses how Adam and Eve are joined in marriage, we chose a translation where God says that everyone needs a partner (lots of editions say that a man needs a wife or some such). So for a very traditionally heterosexual passage, it was a way to be more inclusive.

    Our other passage was Colossians 3: 12-15. This was a passage about how we should treat each other. And it was read by my lesbian sister.

    And lastly, our pro-gay pastors used inclusive language as well. So though there wasn’t anything terribly overt, we did try and be more inclusive with our service.

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      thanks for the biblical reading ideas! Glad I’m not the only one into marriage equality who is also having a religious service :-)

  • alice

    This probably falls into the “subtle” category, but how about using readings by LGBTQ authors? I’m thinking of incorporating a poem by Mary Oliver, either as a ceremony reading or in our program. I’d like to use something from the book “Thirst,” and explain that Oliver wrote the book after the death of Molly Malone Cook, her partner of some forty years.

  • RachelLyn

    I am so happy about this post as I can share having just been married two weeks ago. We got married in Provincetown, MA, which is a gay vacation destination (and where my parents live). I really wanted to be married in a place where gay marriage is legal, but getting married in Ptown made a subtle and not so subtle statement. Everyone who came to my wedding, including the conservative relatives, had to spend some time and some money in a town that is itself openly gay. They got to experience a beautiful place that is full of the beauty of everyone’s love (we were one of five weddings in a very small town that weekend and the only straight one). Ptown feels a bit like pride every day and there are expressions of LGBTQ love everywhere. We also had a lesbian rabbi, although that is not why we chose her. And the woman who did my hair is trans, not that anyone knew but Omygoodgod my hair might have been one of the best parts of the day – and certainly one of the parts that received the most compliments. Most of our vendors were gay and all of them were LGBTQ friendly. Choosing gay and LGBTQ friendly vendors is an important if very subtle way of supporting marriage equality.

  • Victoria

    These ideas are awesome. I’d love some more specific ideas on language. Incorporating something verbally or written in my ceremony is really important to me, but my partner is very worried about being too political and making this the focus of the evening. Any more ideas on language would help me pitch it to him. Thanks!!

  • http://sarahandspenser.blogspot.com Sarah

    We’re currently planning on having a white knot set up next to our programs at the ceremony, with a distinctly not so subtle “In celebrating our marriage today, we recognize that many do not have the right to marry the people they love. Please join us in wearing white knots to show support for marriage equality.” The wording may still change a bit, though.

    In happy news, we realized Friday night that with marriage equality in NY, every same-sex couple on our guest list can now legally marry in their state! There are still several non-partnered LGBTQ-identified people still living in states without same-sex marriage, and marriage equality at the state level currently means nothing on the national level, but it was still neat for us to realize that change is coming.

  • Shawn

    Sorry, this is off topic, but I just noticed that Style Me Pretty featured an engagement shoot of a gay couple today. I just wanted to say how awesome it is that APW is out leading the way with creating a dialogue and being inclusive of everyone. And it just made me excited to see that a website that doesn’t take issues like this on as proactively as APW does, is subtly featuring maybe a little more diversity. It gave me hope and I thought that it was like this discussion here – people are addressing it in their own ways and some are willing to take more affirmative steps than others, but the tide is shifting.

  • http://www.thehandmadeevent.com kari

    Victoria – I think that the language doesn’t have to be strident or political. I think that you can use whatever language you were going to have your officiant say about the nature of love and marriage and expand that include that you wish it for everyone, or that it is a right that you hope everyone will be able to share. You can also just go off a reading that doesn’t mean to address this point but leads into it. We had the following quote by Robert Senghas:
    “Each of us was brought into the world without any decision of his own; each of us was stamped with the condition of mortality from the moment of conception. And so, of the three most significant events in our lives, birth, marriage and death, it is only in marriage that we have the full power of personal decision.

    and then continued that our personal decision was to get married to each other and that everyone who loves each other should be able to make that decision for their own relationship.

    I don’t think you have to jolt the proceedings with a big video from the Human Rights Campaign (although that would be awesome, and some of them are really powerful) but you can still make sure it ends up in your ceremony.

  • http://www.thehandmadeevent.com kari

    Oh, another thought. When we did our vows, we had questions (I guess in place of the traditional “Do you vow to love, honor, obey” stuff) that we both answered with “We Do” (instead of individual “I do”s but those would work too). In those statements of marriage consents our questions included:

    “Do you pledge to work for the welfare of others, with all of your compassion, wisdom, and skill . . . to remember the harmfulness of ignorance and anger, and to recall the kindness of all other beings and your connection to them?”

    “Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other, and to share it with all beings? To take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other’s potential and inner beauty as an example, and to radiate this love outwards to all beings?”

    I think that during these questions – or your own vows/ statements of intent you could mention something about vowing to work for the rights of all citizens to be treated equally and all love to be as valued and recognized as yours. Something like that.

    I feel like my vows are coming off very pious, but we also talked about Cardinals baseball and “The Amazing Race” so I think the service can include anything!

    • Victoria

      Thanks so much for the ideas. We are using all gender neutral language, and are having the officiant (my step-dad!!) talk about marriage as love between two people, rather than “man and woman” etc. If it were up to me I would have a big HRC video, but alas I realize that probably won’t happen. After more discussions this week (thanks to all these awesome posts) we’ve decided that the best thing for us is to put a statement like Megs in our program with a poem by Hafiz. “Victoria and H believe that marriage is a universal human right, and will fight for the day when each of their friends and loved ones has the same legal rights that they are exercising here today.” then:

      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?”

      Thanks again to all :)

      • ART

        I realize this post is two years old but just had to say that is one of my FAVORITE Hafiz poems! This is on my short list for potential readings :)

  • Cayenne

    One thing I remember from a sermon on marriage equality: many people use religious arguments against same-sex marriage even though legal marriage is entirely a civil issue. People can make that point in their wedding by either doing what people do in France (everyone goes to the city hall marriage, and then to the church for a religious ceremony if the people involved are religious) or during a church wedding a different person than the minister can do the legal part off to the side.

    We haven’t decided on much of anything, but this appeals to me both because it is recognizing the marriage equality issue and because doing the legal part separately says that the fact that we’re doing more means our marriage means more than just the legal deal of getting privileges for the price of money being a mess if we broke up.

    • meg

      Yes! Agreed! Though, I never would have gotten a religious marriage that wasn’t open to people of the same sex, since justice is a pretty key part of my religious and ethical underpinnings. That said, this can still be a powerful point (even though many religious views accept and include marriage equality)! And obviously, for some folks, their religions haven’t caught up with their personal views… yet…. so separating things can be a good solution.

    • Aurélie

      Just a clarification: city hall and church (or just city hall or, more and more, city hall and non-religious ceremony) are definitely what we do in France.
      But we still don’t have marriage equality. We just have a “civilian pact” for all sorts of couples, inclunding brothers and sisters (yes, that’s plain weird)… And more and more “straight” couples go that route since it doesn’t have all the “luggage” of a wedding and you still have some advantages (taxes and all) but not as much as for married couples.
      Closing the parentheses. :)

  • http://hodoeporicon.blogspot.com Stacey

    We went fairly subtle with our expressions of support, but sometimes I wish we had gone bigger. A very dear friend and her wife, who had just celebrated their 2-year married-but-not-legal-in-their-state anniversary were great helpers and our best man came out as bi less than 6 months later. I wish we had put our feelings about marriage equality out there a bit more, if only for them.

    That being said, though, we carefully chose scripture readings that were gender-neutral, made one of our registered charities Lambda Legal, and placed the following statment in our programs, right under a memorial statement for my grandparents:

    “In Solidarity
    We appreciate your support today as we join our lives together in the eyes of the law and the
    community. We continue to support same-sex couples who have been denied that opportunity.”

  • Hypothetical Sarah

    Eleven months out, our ceremony and program are still very much in the fuzzy idea phase. I just wanted to say how much I love threads like this with ceremony ideas and wording from Team Practical. It’s been emailed to the boy and bookmarked for later action!

    • Anna

      Amen. Meg you’ve brought to light an extremely important aspect of the ceremony that might have otherwise been overlooked. Your commitment to equality brings warm fuzzies to my heart.

  • V

    Our ceremony opened with the following greeting:

    Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever you believe and whomever you love, you are welcome here. So and so wish to thank each of you for your presence, both today and for the role you have played on their path. They thank you for your love and support, and for being here to enhance the meaning of this important day.

    Our officiant delicately emphasized “whomever your love” but there wasn’t any specific mention of marriage equality.

    My husband and I also wore white knots. I made the mistake of assuming people would notice them and ask their significance… which would offer us the chance to provide a more personal response than perhaps a program text or posted sign. Unfortunately my white knot blended in with the white dress and my husband’s spent much of the night pinned to his jacket sitting on the back of his chair. I don’t think anyone besides the wedding party actually noticed.

    Looking back, I wish I had done more. It’s one of my few wedding regrets.

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      are you from the UCC? Because that’s almost how my church starts every service: “whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

      Beautiful opening you had there. Definitely bookmarking it for our ceremony.

  • Megan

    We printed favor cards (moo mini cards) with a photo of us on one side (just snapshots we had) and this wording on the back “Thank you for joining us to celebrate our love and commitment! In honor of our guests we have made a donation to Freedom to Marry. We hope that soon all committed couples will have access to the rights and privileges of legal marriage in the U.S. http://www.freedomtomarry.org” Each place setting got a favor card. Not as eloquent as some of the above options, but I straight forward way to share our values with everyone present.

  • ALKD

    One of the things that we have chosen to do is to add donation sites to our Amazon.com universal registry. Amazon.com gives you the option to load a toolbar button, “Add to Registry” to your bookmarks toolbar. It works very much the way that the Pinterest button does. When you go to a site & see something you’d like to register for, you click “Add to Registry.” Mainly, this is for items from other storefronts that you aren’t able to find on Amazon… however, it’s possible to use this feature to add the donation site from HRC.org, WhiteKnot.org, etc.

    Of course, it’s worth mentioning that HRC.org also lets you create a wedding registry through their own website… we chose not to do this because our families had already forced our hand into registering at 2 different stores (which there were many good reasons for that this thread is not appropriate to discuss), and the Amazon.com website allowed us to register everywhere else we really desired to be registered, also because we do not care if the money is donated under our names so much as we hope people will be inspired just to donate, period.

  • Ophelia

    Like many of you, we also included the Goodridge vs. the Department of Public Health ruling in our programs.

    What I don’t think was mentioned about was one of our three readings. We had our good friend read a lovely passage from Plato’s Symposium, written by Aristophanes. The piece is a beautiful story about the origins or love (famously and beautifully animated in Hedwig and the Angry Inch!). The story is that humans used to have four arms, four legs, and two heads, but Zeus grew angry with humans, cut them in half, and spread them around the world in a great flood. Now, we all going around looking for our so-called other half.
    We chose it because it reflects the way we feel about finding each other, but also because it talks about there being three types of humans originally – one made up of two women, one made up of two men, and one made up of a man and a woman. It was our not so subtle way of telling our near and dear that our love was the same as love by any couple, regardless of the gender make up of the pair.
    This was the part we used:
    “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.”

  • Pavlov

    I’m so glad to read all these comments! I love the Goodridge quote, but have already heard it at several weddings this year and don’t want to feel like a copycat. Has anyone come across a quote or reading that incorporates the same themes?

    I was raised by gay parents, and I’ve seen several options that are beautiful and subtle. However, for our ceremony, I’d really like to find a reading that is direct and unambiguous in addressing marriage equality. We’re having a secular ceremony, so I don’t think this will be a problem, but we won’t be working with any officiant who has objections to including this. If anyone has any suggestions for unsubtle quotes, I’d love to read them!

  • Marina

    Our Jewish wedding involved quite a bit of wine drinking (well, technically grape juice in our case) so we used the tradition from the Passover sedar of pouring out a few drops of wine to symbolize that our cup of joy was not full. I can’t remember the exact wording, but our cantor said something to the effect that while there are people who aren’t able to legally marry, our joy in our own marriage was just a little marred.

    As Meg has said many times, I wouldn’t encourage someone who’s not Jewish to use this Jewish tradition, but you could do something similar with any other element of your ceremony that symbolizes joy. Leaving one slice of cake uneaten? I don’t know.

  • http://craftosaurus.blogspot.com craftosaurus

    Early in the ceremony (well, about 10 seconds into a 5 minute ceremony), we included for the officiant the following: “We also recognize those who are still denied the civil right of wedded union and forbidden the social and legal benefits of marriage. We have come a long way toward treating all men and women as equals, and yet, we acknowledge that we have farther still to go.” The few people who may have disagreed didn’t say a word, at least to us, and we got some amazing thankful comments from a few other folks.

  • firie

    Marriage equality is also a hot topic in Australia. We have a federal marriage act which states marriage is between a man and a woman. Plus legally our vows must say I take you grooms name as my husband and I take you brides name as my wife. So we don’t have the option of being gender mutual.

    I am designing a post card which will basically say on this date we celebrated the marriage off bride and groom. This is a joyous event which should b a basic right off all people in Australia. I still have to work out the exact wording. I am going to have them on a table for guests to take if they want. I will ask them to put their name address and signature in them. Then I will bundle them up and send them to our local federal member as a type of petition.

    • Teagan

      that is a wonderful way of getting around a crap law

  • ellobie

    We weren’t specifically addressing marriage equality, but our one gay attendant thanked us after the ceremony for having the following in our ceremony:

    Let us build a home open to all of life’s potential, filled with respect for all people, and with loving affection, laughter, learning, compassion and a dedication to peace and happiness.

  • http://lloydandposey.blogspot.com sara

    This may have been mentioned already, but we had our officiant (my husband’s father) read a passage from the Goodridge decision. He read the passage, let it sink in how beautiful it was, and then quoted the source. I loved it.

    Here’s how it went:

    “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. It is an association that promotes a way of life…a harmony in living…a bilateral loyalty….It fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity.”

    This reading comes from the Massachusetts Supreme Court Decision upholding the right of same sex couples to marry.

  • Vickie

    I belong to an organization for GLBT Christians. One of the guys there posted a story about attending his best friend’s wedding. Knowing that he himself would never marry(he is Side B,) he felt a little sad during the reception, watching the bride and groom dancing. His friend(the groom) saw him standing on the sidelines, looking wistful. He left his bride, went to his friend, and asked him to dance. And dance they did.

  • Sara

    Someone may have already posted this (I didn’t read all 119 posts above mine) but Human Rights Campaign has a donation registry — http://hrc.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/Wedding_Registry_Home_Page. You get your own registry page and you can ask people to donate to HRC’s campaign for marriage equality in lieu of a wedding gift. You get your own page with space for a picture and a statement about why you support marriage equality, and you can then link it to your wedding webpage for your guests.

  • Leslie Dozono

    We struggled to find a reading re: marriage equality that fit what we wanted for our ceremony and I finally decided that I could just write something that incorporated our sentiments. My sister read it at the beginning of our ceremony and it was perfect. Happy for other people to use or share, though would love for it to be attributed to me.

    And better news since our summer wedding: marriage equality is on its way in Washington State!

    when a woman says to a man
    a woman says to a woman
    a man says to a man
    i love you. i promise.

    it is a moment that deserves witness
    others who say:
    we love you. we promise.

    pausing to recognize
    the risk of declaration
    and the faith of vows
    as fortunate and needed
    for in the midst of all we face
    alone and together
    how can we afford
    to quiet love?

    today we come together in promise
    to one day hear declarations
    not our own
    and say:
    yes.
    we have waited for this day
    to honor what we already witness
    to surround love with love.

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