And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Leanne and Anne’s wedding (half) graduate post. The ladies (as we’ve taken to calling them around these parts), are getting married in just three weeks in Philadelphia, and they’ll come back with the end of the story then. But for now, they talk about the personal and political nature of Yay New York, what it felt like, what they learned, and what they have to say to you, the APW community. You might want to get out your tissues. But what I have to say to Leanne and Anne is simple: thank you for trusting us. They took a leap of blind faith; we told them the wedding would be amazing, they just had to show up. Not many people would put such an important moment in our hands like that, but they did, and I’m still overwhelmed by the honor. Photos are by the amazing calin + bisous photo (APW Sponsor) out of Boston, who along with her husband Alessandro, outdid herself. Enjoy.
Now that we’re into our first whole week of married life, we’ve had a chance to reflect on what we are calling our first wedding, but which many of you know as Yay New York! Our experience of this day has been so hard to put into words because it was such a multilayered day. Emotions, politics, family, legalities, rings, community, confetti, logistics, history, promises, and the love that we have for each other and felt from every person in that room and every person who was following along on APW were all layered up on top of each other like that beautiful, delicious cake that was made with such care for us by a person we’d never met. This has been very difficult for us to write, but we are going to try to sum up our experience for you.
Our day started off rocky. Our bus from Philadelphia to New York was late due to a turnpike accident, and while we waited we were drenched in a torrential downpour. Our suitcases, including our fancy wedding clothes were soaked, and so were we as we sat on a freezing cold bus for the two hour drive to New York.
We were anxious to be starting our wedding day late and soggy, but we made it to our hotel with just enough time to take a hot shower and blow dry our clothes. (Our weekend didn’t end any more glamorously, as we were run out of town by Irene who ended the mini-moon early with evacuations and public transportation shut downs instead of a nice dinner and a Broadway show.) When we arrived at 320 Studios with our families, it was a whirlwind of activity—flowers, cameras, people who were familiar and strangers all at once, piñatas, string trios, cake, aisles to walk down, excited family, introductions, rainy day light streaming through the windows, marriage licenses to sign. It was all so much to take in, and it still is.
I don’t think that the impact of last Thursday really hit us until it was over, and it sinks in a bit more each day. Now that the excitement has settled, we are starting to appreciate the scope of what happened. We had a general sense of the forecast and what to expect—walk down an aisle, say a vow, exchange some rings, and you’re married! That’s it! People have been married for centuries, weddings happen every day. But this was no typical wedding. We had no hand in planning it—we’ve been talking over every detail of our Philly wedding. We had no idea how beautiful the space would be, that we’d walk down an aisle hand in hand while a string trio played, what it would be like to see Anne’s mom happily ring bells as we were pronounced married by our officiant—these were all surprises for us however well planned and thought out they were by those carrying them out.
Our wedding was atypical, too, because we were going to be married not once, like most people aim to do, but twice! Last Thursday was our first wedding in New York to make it legal, and on September 25th we’ll have our second wedding in Philadelphia with our families to seal it with love. We knew that our New York wedding would have a major impact on us because of the legal contract we’d be entering with each other. It had an impact because rather than it being a private event shared with just our closest friends and families, we were experiencing it in the moment with all of you. But the biggest impact of what we did was that we made history—our own personal history, APW history, New York history, and gay rights history.
To be married in New York was exciting and deeply satisfying in a way we didn’t anticipate. Our legal wedding has brought with it a profound sense of gratitude and gravity. At the same time, however, it left us feeling a little hollow because we know that the commitment we made to each other last week is not honored throughout our country, nor in our home state. We live two short hours away from New York, but here in Pennsylvania we’re a lot farther away from marriage equality.
It’s our hope that in our lifetime it will not only be legal for us to get married in Pennsylvania, but that the right is realized across the country (realized and not granted, because who should get to give us a basic human right?). To have had the opportunity to claim equal status, and the dignity that comes with being equal, not separate but equal, was truly a blessing. Unfortunately, it’s not a right that many people will get to exercise, and it’s just one of many injustices faced by LGBTQ individuals. So while we’re very proud and grateful for this step toward equality, we also feel more driven to continue our fight for equality for all.
This wedding has allowed us to take more steps towards fostering equality and understanding in the lives of those around us. Because of the very unusual and public nature of our Yay New York wedding, the inherent excitement in “winning a wedding,” and the fact that we were suddenly taking days off work to head up to NY to apply for our license and again to tie the knot, we have had the chance to talk more about our marriage, our relationship, and marriage equality in general with our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers who are varyingly attuned to the challenges faced by LGBTQ individuals. Had we not been invited by all of you to get married in New York, we may never have engaged in those conversations, to answer their questions, to dispel any myths or rumors, and to put a face on what can often seem like a vague political endeavor. We may not have been so challenged to think about what this means to us. Why get married at all? Why bother getting married twice? Why get married in New York if it doesn’t count in Pennsylvania? Which is the “real” wedding?
These conversations have been the cornerstone of us formalizing our commitment to our relationship and our future together, come what may. Through this experience, we’ve learned again and again that this is at once a deeply personal experience and a very public and political action. The great thing is that now the political is personal to you as you’ve shared in the experience with us. We ask that if you take anything away from our first wedding day, it is the power and passion to continue celebrating love and fighting for equality for everyone, not just lucky ladies like us who got to have an awesome Yay New York wedding!
Looking back, with the wisdom we’ve acquired over these many days (OK, so it’s been like a week), there are things we wish we’d done a little differently even though we did everything we could with that precious day. We wish we walked more slowly down the aisle, so as to give us that final moment to honor the scope of what we were about to do. We wish we’d held hands and looked at each other during the ceremony, and that we’d looked around during the ceremony to see our families who were there with us, cheering us on. I wish I’d eaten more cake (it was even more delicious than it was beautiful) and drank less champagne (bubbles may have interfered with my in-the-moment-ness).
I wish we’d have been goofier in the photobooth. We wish we danced more and got in on the limbo games our friends started with piñata poles. Anne wishes that she knew to really, truly cherish every moment because a few days later you will look back and realize how quickly it all went by.
We wish that we’d met every person who made that day possible and had a chance to individually thank them. Thank you for your time and effort. Thank you for crafting a beautiful, ethereal space out of a concrete room. Thank you for adding shimmering piñatas. Thank you for playing gorgeous, evocative string music. Thank you for crafting a ceremony that honored our love for each other while simultaneously recognizing the great political statement we are making in expressing that love in a marriage. Thank you for making that delicious, multilayered pink cake. Thank you for refilling our champagne glasses before they were empty. Thank you for the beautiful photographs and for asking us to sit down and document our thoughts and feelings on the day. Thank you for your comments on the APW posts to date, for buying the tote bags that helped pay for our wedding, for donating to LAMBDA LEGAL, and for excitedly following along during the liveblogging.
Thank you to Aaron and Cory for sharing their wedding day with us. Thank you for the glowing ice sculpture. Thank you for writing us wedding cards at your regional parties. Thank you for the popsicles and wine. Thank you for the handcrafted cake topper, and delicious candy, and that gorgeous poster and tote bag to commemorate this event for all of us. Thank you to Meg and Elizabeth, for dreaming this up and making it real. Thank you to our friends and family and new community who traveled near and far to be with us that day and later that night. Thank you for dancing your faces off. Thank you to our families, who have loved us unfailingly and with all of their hearts, no matter who we are and who we love.
What we just did was big. It was huge. It was magical. And it was all because of YOU. You are magic. And the APW community made some serious magic happen last week. When we look back on our wedding day, people who were strangers to us on Wednesday are now blended in with our family and friends, instant fixtures in one of the most important days in our lives, as though they were supposed to be there the whole time.
We can’t imagine our wedding day without any of you who were there, without the support of the readers that are a part of the APW community, and without the actions and activism of all of those people we’ve never met who have fought all these years for our equal rights.
As we get closer and closer to our September wedding, we are hopeful that we can continue to share the love we felt that day, and that our growing community can continue to honor the love we all share. And truly, it was out of your love of love that we were lucky enough to be invited to the best first wedding we’ve ever had. We hope our next wedding involves just as much confetti. Thank you.