Yay New York, For Me


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Yay New York, For Me | A Practical Wedding

I’ve been struggling all weekend to put words around what happened at Yay New York on Thursday, and for one of the first times in my life, I’m feeling a bit like words are failing me….

When I left for New York, I thought I was just throwing an event. I’ve thrown a lot of events in my day, and I knew it would be exhausting, but somehow it would happen. I was still a little anxious about the technical details. Would the couples like it? Would enough people come to the party? Would the vendors work together well? But mostly, I figured it would be just like going to a wedding, mixed with throwing a party: I’d work my ass off, I’d get a little teary, and then I’d dance. This was manageable. This was not what happened.

The first sign I got that this was not going to be like any other event I’d thrown is when the boys showed up for their wedding. We hadn’t talked to Cory & Aaron extensively, but we were excited to get to help them get married. I went out and sat down with the couple and Genevieve from Cheerleader for Love (the woman is incredible, by the way—if you’re looking for a civil officiant in the tri-state area, look no further) to talk with them about their ceremony.

I was sitting there—enough of a marriage equality activist that I had thrown these two weddings and a party from across the country—and suddenly what was at stake hit me like a freight train. Cory & Aaron were young, tremendously excited and nervous, super in love, and the sweetest human beings you’d ever set eyes on. And suddenly I realized that we, as a country, were denying them a basic civil right… for no reason other than our own bigotry. I don’t know how it’s possible for something to hit you that hard emotionally when you already believe it, but I was almost blown over. Watching Genevieve talk to them about signing their civil marriage license for New York State, watching the way they tightly held on to the paperwork, I realized how these legal marriages were about dignity. About respect. About civil rights. I realized what we were doing there. It was big.

And what unfolded in that space was bigger. Each couple walked down the aisle, full of visible anticipation and excitement. Each couple signed their legal paperwork. Each couple was toasted by people who loved them—people who had flown in from all over the country to watch this unfold.

But that wasn’t the only magic thing that happened in the room on Thursday. The APW community also came to life there in a way that I couldn’t have imagined was possible. The team of vendors in the room during the day became like family (more on the whole team of vendors tomorrow). There was Callie and Alessandro of calin + bisous photo, who we all fell a little in love with. They had humor and laughter and willingness to dance. Mark and Raven of Leah and Mark, who employed wry humor and lifted and carried and worked their asses off. Emily of Emily Takes Photos, who’d flown across country to manage everyone and everything. Ang of Lowbrow Events, who was willing to do any task asked of her and would make you laugh while doing it. Genevieve of Cheerleader for Love, who was vibrating with excitement to lead those ten minute ceremonies. Lauren of Suburbalicious Living, who was just there because she believed in the APW community. Amber of The Amber Show, who stepped in at the last minute to be our gofer and bring us coffee and give us hugs. Alex of Federov Foto, who was a quiet ninja with the camera. String Theory Trio, who made it through horrendous traffic to play music we didn’t even know we needed, and who stayed just to bond with us. Eric, the amazing documentary filmmaker, who got everyone to be their most honest selves. And of course Elizabeth of Lowe House Events, who’d dreamed up and thrown the whole event with me. When we all toasted on the patio between the weddings and the reception, there was a quality of talent mixed with love surrounding me greater than I’ve ever felt.

Yay New York, For Me | A Practical Wedding

And at the end of the night, when everyone had left, Whitney Day DJed just for us as if the room was still packed, and we all danced and laughed and hugged. And I thought, this is what it’s like to work with people who love what they do, who are doing what they are here to do. They will give their all to an almost empty room. They will open their hearts; they will work themselves to the bone; they will do it for love.

And that party. That epic, epic party. First of all, I may never have a party without a Confetti System Piñata ever again. The moment that it broke and confetti flew everywhere was magical. I had just finished making an off the cuff speech about marriage equality, and suddenly we were celebrating. All these Team Practical faces that I knew through the comments were suddenly dancing all around me, suddenly friends. And then the floor emptied, and it was me, and about ten long time readers and some staff, and there was a web of tinsel and we were dancing between it, and it was like APW had come to life. Because the APW community had come to life. You guys threw that wedding with your tote bag purchases and LAMBDA Legal donations and your good wishes.

And what I learned is that with weddings, you really do have what you need. We had a room and we had love, and that was everything we needed and more. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

Now, let’s go fight to make this legal in the whole USA. Because then? Then we’ll really party.

Pictures by Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor)

(That’s obviously not it. We’ll be bringing you party and photobooth pictures this week, along with wedding grad posts from each of the couples, and yes, a video. Stay tuned.)

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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  • Melodious

    What a way to start off the week! Congratulations to the newly married couples! I wish you all the love and happiness you can pack into your lifetime, then just a bit more…until the seams are near to bursting.

    And Meg, you are one badass chick.

  • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com Pluis

    “And what I learned is that with weddings, you really do have what you need. We had a room and we had love, and that was everything we needed and more.”

    You’re so right about that!

    I look forward to the Wedding Graduate posts, and I love how this event seems to have touched just about everyone who heard from it, you, the vendors, the couples, all of us readers..

    Lovefest, *yay*!

  • http://www.lovelyatyourside.com Lovelyolivia

    This is awesome. I am so proud of everyone involved! While reading the liveblog last week, I was in tears…this is so amazing. Great job, everyone!

  • http://www.printablepress.com Kimi

    I just got teary. And I do not get teary.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/sparrowgrey?ref=si_shop sparrowgrey

    Awesome post, Meg! I think your reaction makes total sense, even if it caught you off guard a bit. Wanting equality for everyone, studying the concept and trying to change the rules still leaves marriage equality as an abstract concept. I think it’s possible to study and fight something all our lives but to see how it relates to human beings in such a powerful way is something very different. I remember wanting marriage equality and seeing the necessity of having it, but it wasn’t until I saw this article that something clicked for me. I saw the faces and the people behind this fight. Knowing that there’s so many people who don’t get to share in the awesome kind of love and support that comes from marriage really irks me.

    And APW’s live blogging had the same effect on me. Seeing how excited and in love the two couples were and how everyone was there to support them once again light that fire inside telling me that everyone should get to experience that because it rocks.

    Congrats to Meg, the vendors and the entire APW community for pulling this off! And an especially enthusiastic congrats to the newly married couples!

  • http://engineerbaker.blogspot.com Caitlin

    If the liveblogging didn’t make me wish I had flown out for the party, this just did. Oh, to have been there…

  • http://jeremyandkathleen.blogspot.com Kathleen

    Oh, how I wish I could have been there! xoxo!

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    Oh, Meg. You rock. Thank you for doing what you do. (And thanks to all the AWESOME vendors and people who helped make this party happen. I wish I could have been there!)

  • Manya

    Meg and Team:

    Oh, how I wish I lived somewhere nearer to New York so that I could have strapped on a pair of sequined heels and a matching sequined dress and partied my ass off with this awesome community… It’s funny, as you wrote about preparing for this event it made me think of a person preparing her own wedding: anxiety about the technical details, worry about the vendors getting along with each other… etc… Worry doesn’t just mean that we’re uptight, it means that it MATTERS. We have trouble letting go because we CARE and LOVE and hold on tight to our vision… our fervant hope that it will be special enough to honor a love so great.

    However, in true APW (glittery) fashion, it sounds like the magic came together (as it always does when we are doing the right thing with all our hearts), and everybody was able to let go and enjoy the magic when it did unfold (or rain down in a magical shower of confetti!).

    To you and all who made it happen… when will we really learn?: “Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose.”

    • http://www.blushcelebrations.com bec

      Manya, you are such an eloquent writer! And you love Friday Night Lights too, which makes me want to hug you! Random, I know. :)

      • Manya

        I’m from Texas & Friday Night Lights Season One was a perfect piece of wonderful. Hugging you back!

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    I am still so sad I missed out because of my trip. I still feel like I should have cancelled to be there, but I’m glad I got to hang out with everyone a little the day before. This whole thing was so amazing, and I’m so proud to be a part of a community that was able to put something like this together. Meg, you are incredible to take something like this on and make it so beautiful. Seeing all the APW vendors come together in this was fantastic.

  • http://www.christytylerphotography.com Christy

    I’m totally outright crying on my bus ride to work while reading this. It truly is amazing what you all did. Wish I could have been there to dance in the confetti and love too!!

  • http://ktmade.blogspot.com Katie @ ktmade blog

    Thank you, Meg. I have so many thoughts that I can’t really put into words. As a lesbian planning my own wedding in VT (where it’s also legal), this is so close to home and at the same time, I feel ashamed for having gotten complacent about marriage equality. It’s been legal where I live for a while, and I’ve allowed myself to get wrapped up in my own life and forget about broader implications and all of those who can’t get married and of course the lack of federal recognition. I think also I just stopped thinking about it at some point because it was tiring to worry about and talk about. But I’m ashamed of that. And I appreciate you bringing it back to me and reminding me of both my opportunity and my responsibility to effect change.

  • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

    This makes my heart happy that it happened and so sad I couldn’t be there. But the happy outweighs the sad by leaps and bounds!
    I know everyone woke up the next day with confetti in their unmentionables and joy in their hearts…

    • http://abouttobe.wordpress.com Mary

      You aren’t kidding. When I got home and stripped off my dress we found confetti in my dress and even in my bra. Mark was like, “What were you doing at this party!?” :D

      • http://www.thehandmadeevent.com kari

        Mary – you were dancing! That’s it, I can vouch for you. (Although did you limbo? That might have gotten confetti everywhere)

  • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

    Meg, you did an amazing, amazing thing for so many people last week. First for the couple who were married, but also for everyone who was able to attend, for those of us following along, and for yourself (I mean, it’s pretty impressive what you pulled off there). Any and all feelings of overwhelming love and happiness (and exhaustion) are completely justified.

    And I can only IMAGINE the party when we quit denying this basic civil right in our country. I WILL be celebrating with you when that happens.

  • http://abouttobe.wordpress.com Mary

    I haven’t commented in a long while but I was at the party and I just HAD to second Meg’s every word. (Even from work – shhhh!) It was absolutely magical. I think I’m STILL on a Yay NY high.

    As I left the party I grabbed a small handful of very-danced-upon confetti and threw it into my bag. I think I will put it in a little baggie and save it until the day that every couple everywhere can do this. And I will take that confetti and toss the hell out of it again.

    • Brytani

      That is such a great plan! Hopefully that bag won’t be waiting for too long.

    • meg

      Sniff. I promise a very big confetti drop when that happens. Also, Mary, email me a few sentences about what the party was like for you, for tomorrow’s post? Yes?

      • http://abouttobe.wordpress.com Mary

        Absolutely! I’ll send something to you tonight after I get home from work.

    • http://emilytakesphotos.com Emily

      Mary~ I was a bucket of (happy) tears at this event, as well as a few times in the days following. I thought I was all cried out when Meg forwarded your comment to me, and well, this was just the sweetest thing and I’m totally tearing up again. What a beautiful sentiment!

      • http://abouttobe.wordpress.com Mary

        Aww. I may have teared up a little bit writing it haha. Sorry we didn’t get to formally meet at the party! I’m sure I saw you around though haha!

  • april

    Brilliant. Just completely and magically BRILLIANT. Well done, Meg & Team APW!!!

    I am moved beyond words, even more so now than last Thursday when I kept jumping onto APW to read the Live Blog updates – just giddy and with an emotional lump in my throat for everything that was happening! Can only imagine what it must have been like to be there. For now, I’ll have to be content with photos and updates this week… can’t wait to hear more!

    This amazing, loving and genius group effort brings to mind one of my favourite quotes:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

  • Contessa

    AGAIN Meg, thanks to you and your team for using your voices to effect change. Person to person we can open minds and change this situation.

  • http://www.blushcelebrations.com bec

    Meg, Elizabeth, and all the vendors … you guys just rock! I’m so proud of you, and proud to be a part of Team Practical. I, too, am moved to tears just reading about it. To have been there must have been a little magical!! You guys rock!!

  • http://elissarphotography.com Elissa

    This sounds amazing. I want to hug this entire post. I can’t wait to read more.

  • Kate

    The event sounds like it was amazing!! Great work. I just need to give a quick shout out to Calin and Alessandro from Calin Peters Photography. They shot our wedding on August 20th and were amazing to work with. We all fell a little bit in love with them too!

    • meg

      I know, right? We were ALLLLL talking about how much we loved them. Boston ladies, I mean seriously. You have all the luck.

  • Marchelle

    I love you, Team APW. Y’all fucking ROCK.

    • meg

      We know you were there in spirit (though I kind of wish you’d been there in person, but details).

  • http://www.hibouphoto.com kandise

    You all kick ass.

  • http://www.koruwedding.blogspot.com/ Koru Kate

    Go Team APW! Yay New York sounds like pure wedding magic. I’m so excited for the day when we can celebrate marriage equality for our entire country.

  • http://lowbrowevents.com Ang

    There really are no words for YayNY. Cop out I know, but the day just came together beautifully, the weddings were heartfelt and special. I remember being out on the terrace, staring at the people in the apartments across the way and thinking. “They have NO idea what just happened in here. That’s so sad for them!”

    The party was just ridiculous (In a good way), and that’s all I’m saying about that.

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  • Cat

    This was beautiful. As someone ‘illegally’ married for almost two years (!! Time really does fly when you’re having fun) my heart is somewhere between breaking and thrilled when people really get why it matters.

    Wish I could have been there!

  • http://www.linseykitchens.com Linsey

    For the record (cause I’m sure Meg is building an updated stat on this–married two weeks and still reading APW, despite dropping all other “wedding” blogs like a boyfriend with herpes.)

    And this is why:
    “I realized how these legal marriages were about dignity. About respect. About civil rights.”

    Thanks for fighting for this Meg. For reminding us to fight. And today I wanted to write a thank you/congrats note to a colleague who made school an enjoyable place to be. And I’m going to quote you about people who do what they are meant to do and show up and play for a handful.

    I am proud to be a part (a tote-carrying member, at that!) of this little corner of the world. Long distance high-five, ladies!

  • Class of 1980

    MEG WROTE: “And suddenly I realized that we, as a country, were denying them a basic civil right… for no reason other than our own bigotry. I don’t know how it’s possible for something to hit you that hard emotionally when you already believe it, but I was almost blown over.”

    That’s because the fallout of all the stupid bigotry was sitting right across from you in person, in the form of two young men who bore the impact.

  • http://onwardfulltilt.blogspot.com/ Caitlin

    This is amazing. Coming to the recaps late as I was in upstate NY without power for the past few days-I am so sorry I missed this but so thankful it happened. Congratulations to all of you!

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