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Ask Team Practical: Representing Equality at Your Wedding


Hey, friends! Liz here just to let you all know that I’ll be handing over the reins for ATP this week. Since Pride Week at APW is all about making LGBTQ voices heard, we feel the best way to do that is to have the entire week written exclusively by LGBTQ writers. So today I’m giving Ask Team Practical over to the very capable hands of Sarah! You may remember Sarah’s lovely and low-key outdoor wedding, or you may know her from The Small Object (see those cute folks by the cupcakes? She MADE them. Amazing!), but I remember Sarah as the articulate lady who made the case that everyone deserves a moment. Clearly, this one knows her stuff.

Ask Team Practical: Representing Equality at Your Wedding | A Practical Wedding

My fiancé and I are getting married in June (yippee!) and we want to make a charitable donation as part of our marriage celebration. We are both from Massachusetts (super proud of that fact, and super proud to be from the pioneer pro-gay marriage state), and so we have very strong beliefs that everyone who mutually wants to dedicate their lives to another person should be married (and recognized). In fact, we almost feel a sense of guilt for being able to marry each other so freely when so many of our friends aren’t able to experience the same joy and rights that we can so freely enjoy. We would like to announce this somehow at the wedding, but we’re pretty sure it would ruffle some feathers (some parents and family included). Just looking for another’s opinion, so should we say “F*ck it. It’s our wedding and this is our thing, so screw them if they think it’s wrong. Heck, we might educate a few folks in the process!” Or keep it quietly and humbly to ourselves knowing on a personal level that we are trying to make a difference in equality in this country?

I am so excited to help a friend in need! Let’s start with your first question since that is fairly easy. You want to make a charitable contribution to an organization working towards marriage equality on the national level. Fantastic! I would suggest Freedom to Marry or Marriage Equality USA.

The bonus question was whether you should announce this contribution as some folks might share a different viewpoint, spit in the wind, or scoff at the thought. (My words, not yours.) My advice, doing this is okay. With one caveat: that you make the announcement, whether verbal or written, from your genuine place of loving-kindness. Speaking from many years of personal experience, you hold unimaginable power to move the hearts and minds of those around you. The people who are in your life, presumably, already love and respect you as a person. Many are probably even incredibly proud of the person you have become and for you to be the one to stand up for marriage equality, to say to them this is so important that you both want to make it a part of your marriage celebration, then a few folks might just listen. You can bet they will also try to understand why you think this way, if they aren’t already there with you writing a check and spreading the word. That curiosity is powerful and implies an opening, however small, to hear why you might think this way. Additionally, if everyone knows you as a die-hard social liberal, it is likely they will not be so shocked.

How you incorporate this into your celebration would set the tone for how it is received. I know some couples (like Meg herself!) who have chosen to incorporate a statement into their wedding programs. If you have a table to receive cards or a guestbook, you could place the notification there. Alternately, depending on the type of service, you could incorporate something into the ceremony itself (APW already has tons of options on the table!).  My wife and I incorporated the quote Rasheeda used in her own wedding, “Law has not always caught up with the hearts of the people in its society. Marriage and Love perseveres through all things.” Or you could use this quote from Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And then you could add a short statement akin to “As we gather to celebrate our love to each other, together we share our love with all couples who deserve the same celebration and rights afforded to us today.”

At that point, if someone is still upset, let it roll. Someone may not approve of your destination or blame you that the hotel recommendation you made was crap. You may not spend enough time talking to your aunt or perhaps you not wanting to wear your mother’s wedding dress was met with disappointment. It will happen. But, for the things that are most important to you and your fiancé, those items are non-negotiable. And if you have a conversation with your parents that this really important to you both and explain how it will be handled, they might get on board. And if not, they might have a suggestion for how you could announce it that would be more suitable to them. You may not go that route, but it’s definitely worth a listen. At the end of the day, they are likely to be so overwhelmed by the joy of seeing you two get married that this will be a drop in a bucket that is easily forgotten.

The bigger point is this: If something is important to you, share it and don’t be afraid that other people may not approve or be on board the minute you show them the boat.This goes for things big and small. I have known nothing more toxic to a person than to hide who you really are from the people around you. It implies shame in yourself, and that shame will do more damage than any ruffled feathers. (And this is not just about marriage equality, obviously.) And granted, while your wedding is not the place to get into a long discussion on the topic, maybe down the road some interest may linger, and a discussion can be held in greater depth. Honestly, a lot of people simply don’t know all the legal rights automatically transferred to a couple when they are married.  Simply stating a few of those rights is enough to get some folks thinking. Many people I talk to still don’t understand why being able to get married at the national level is so important since we can just drive to New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont or New Hampshire to get married now. And, for those who still disagree, I say state your point respectfully and agree to disagree. We don’t all have to agree and we won’t all agree. But hopefully, we can come to a common understanding and mutual respect. The time is coming.

****

Let’s hear it, Team Practical! How have you used your own weddings to further the cause for marriage equality? How do you explain your stance to those who might disagree?

Photo by APW sponsor Leah and Mark Photography.

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  • Meaghan

    There are things in life that are worth ruffling feathers. If they love you enough to be at your wedding, they love you enough to get over it (and maybe even change their damn minds!).

  • Amy March

    Depending on where you are getting married, your officiant may also have suggestions. My church is in turmoil over the issue of gay marriage, and I know some ministers who think about what inclusive Christian marriage means like its their job (because it is!) and probably have great ideas for how to work a statement of support into a reading, prayer, or sermon without making it too “preachy.”

    • Kaitlyn

      This is what we did – we got married at a United Church of Christ parish in New Haven CT, chosen specifically because of its inclusive nature. The pastor, following our wishes, said in her opening statement something like “Kaitlyn and Chris are so glad to be getting married in a state that recognizes all marriages as equal and in a church that is open and affirming of everyone.” It was important for the two of us to have this statement be made as many people in our lives are affected by this issue, not least my SIL who just celebrated her marriage to her partner of 10 years about a month ago (again in CT!)

      We actually had some friends who thought that the pastor had gone a little overboard and again, I was happy to have the opportunity to say that the statement was made at our wishes and in respect to our beliefs.

  • Molly

    I would also consider that being willing to ruffle some feathers or be personally uncomfortable for a moment around this issue is an act of solidarity itself. LGBTQ people who have planned a wedding have to become incredibly acquainted with that feeling without a choice, and have to combat it not only at the wedding, but for the year(s) of planning as well (imagine explaining your intention to make this statement at your wedding to your florist, your caterer, your venue, your chosen hotel, the surly, big-bellied and bearded men you get your kegs from, and anyone else on whom you depend to make your day as perfect as it can be). I think your choice to make a donation is wonderful, but a choice to face up to discomfort or judgement in order to take another baby step towards normalizing this stuff for all people might even be more powerful.

    • Laurel

      Yes! For me, both donations and ceremony mentions are really meaningful partly because they communicate that my friend cares enough about this issue to talk about it with potentially unsupportive family. Which also can genuinely contribute to changing people’s minds.

    • meg

      I love this comment so much.

  • Lizzie

    Freedom to Marry actually let’s you set up a donation registry. This worked really well for us — we just listed it among the other registry options on our invitation (I KNOW you aren’t supposed to put registry info on an invitation, but that etiquette rule feels outdated to me…), so we got to make a point and pre-ruffle any feathers that were going to get ruffled in the process. I think one cousin and her family may have opted out of the whole event as a result (she never supplied any explanation and I haven’t spoken with her since the wedding), but I have not lost any sleep over that. Mostly it was just a pleasure to watch a wide variety of people on our guest list make contributions.

    • Liz

      I won’t argue about invitation etiquette here, since it would just detract from Sarah’s terrific post. ;)

      • Lizzie

        Ha – yes, definitely not the main point of what I was saying, but on a different day, I will totally joust on the relevance of traditional invitation etiquette in the age of e-invitations, wedding websites, and weddings that come in all shapes and sizes. But be forewarned: our invitation doubtless broke all kinds of rules, but – I shit you not – it also prompted strangers to ask whether they could pay their own way to come to our wedding because it drummed up so much excitement, so I have strong opinions on the matter. :)

        What I was trying to say about getting the topic out there beforehand – whether via an invitation or a wedding website or word of mouth or whatever – is that it left no doubt about our stance on same-sex marriage and how much we cared about it, but it let everyone we invited make their own decision about how to deal with their reaction to our position outside the venue of the wedding itself. In contrast to my cousin who stonewalled on the whole event, my husband’s socially conservative uncle and his family came, celebrated, wished us well, and declined to comment on the donation registry. In either case, no one had to be further implicated in supporting marriage equality (however obliquely) than they were comfortable with, but everyone had to confront our stance on it and form a response.

        Another amazing thing about asking people to join us in making a donation was that, although we’re a straight couple, it absolutely felt like every donation was a little bit in support of our marriage, too. I was pretty skittish about marriage up to and partway through my engagement, and it was only by having a lot of discussions with my now-husband that I formulated a clear idea of what I wanted my marriage to be. I’d always been a supporter of same-sex marriage, but before I did my own soul-searching on the subject, it was in a pretty offhand, generic, civil-rights-for-all kinda way. Feeling like marriage was a matter that I could at least partly define for myself – and that it was something that had real value to me – definitely deepened my convictions about marriage equality, so then any support for marriage equality also felt like a boost to my new-found confidence in the institution. Wins all around! We had considered listing a number of other causes that we like to see people throwing money at (and which I’ve prioritized at other times), but none of them felt as important to us on this occasion.

  • Becca

    There are lots of ways to be an ally for LGBTQ marriage equality. One of those ways is to open yourself up to some discomfort and be public about supporting the LGBTQ community. As an LGBTQ person, (and I only speak for myself) if I were attending your wedding it would mean more to me to hear a statement in the ceremony about equality than it would to see it on the registry.

  • Sarah

    I’ve been to several weddings where in the program or on the gift table, a pretty sign was made that said “in lieu of favors, a donation has been made to the March of Dimes” or will go into detail as to why, such as “we are donating to the Jimmy Fund, in honor of my aunt who could not be here today because of childhood cancer”. What you could do is say “in honor of our wedding, we are donating to [whichever charity you decide on], with the hope that someday all couples who love each other as much as we do can and will be able to legally marry in this country” and then if and when people talk to you about it, you can further educate them about the charity. If you have a registry, you can also set up a donation site for that as well.

    • Laura

      Oh! I kind of love the idea of spending what WOULD have gone towards favors towards a donation.

      • meg

        No favors y’all! They are so not necessary, you’re giving them a WEDDING. So cut that line item if you had it, and totally do a donation instead :)

  • Laura

    This post couldn’t have been more timely. Yesterday my fiance said to me, “I was talking to someone about the marriage initiative today,” (we live in Washington) “and decided I really want to somehow include marriage equality in our wedding.” To which I said “Great!”…quickly followed by I had no idea how to do this ;) I think subconsciously I’m worried about ruffling feathers. So…I probably just need to get over that.

    If we won’t be making a financial donation at this time…does anyone have any suggestions for wording to include? Is it inappropriate to mention it if we’re NOT making a donation?

    • Sarah

      Awesome!! If you want to display your solidarity, then you could offer white knots to be worn at your wedding. It’s discussed more in this post. Lots of other good ideas in the comments, too.

      • Audrey

        My fiance and I are getting married next week (!), and this was actually one of the first conversations we had.

        I stumbled upon whiteknot.org pretty early on in the planning progress, and loved the idea of wearing a symbol of marriage equality on my wedding day. After some discussion (and we re guessing that there will be some ruffled feathers), we decided to make white knots. We will: make enough for everyone, and have them in a little bowl as you enter the ceremony space. A simple small sign will say something like, “We support marriage equality. Today we are wearing white knots to symbolize our beliefs. We welcome you to join us. Love, Us.”

      • Claire

        In addition to using gender neutral language throughout our ceremony, we also went the White Knot route for our reception. We placed a bowl of the white knots right next to the guest book along with a framed sign that read:

        “EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO TIE THE KNOT

        The White Knot is the symbol for marriage equality. All loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows.

        Please wear a White Knot to show your support for marriage equality and full equal rights under the law for everyone.

        WE BELIEVE IN MARRIAGE EQUALITY”

        Nobody complained, almost everyone pinned one on (even several people who I totally did not expect), and it was kinda cool to look around the reception at a sea of white knots attached to the people we love.

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

          Amazing idea! This way you actually got to see your guests supporting you and your ideals. :)

    • meg

      The post links to the text I used in my program, so there you go.

  • Jes

    Just last night, my fiance and I were discussing making a donation toward marriage equality in honor of our wedding. Nothing like waking up to TWO suggestions as to where our donation would be utilized for just that purpose.

    Once again, APW and Team Practical to the rescue.

  • KTH

    We went the route of including it in our ceremony. I wrote the ceremony myself, and the opening part talked a lot about how marriage is a choice that you make — a big choice — and how everyone should have the right to make this choice in their life. Somewhat subtle, but it was, for us, the right way to express our support.

  • Class of 1980

    This brings up something that’s been on my mind. How you frame your pro gay marriage stance depends on your family’s background.

    If I used the Martin Luther King quote with the word “Hate” in it, the discussion would be dead in the water right there. My parents are Southern Baptists, and their denomination interprets the bible to be against homosexuality. If you aren’t from this background, you may not realize that being told that the reason you are against gay marriage is because you “hate” gays is bewildering to them.

    I don’t think my mother ever hated anyone in her life, even when the person did something horrible to her. She never says anything negative about gays, and she thought it was stupid when Southern Baptists boycotted Disney World years ago over having a “gay day”. She didn’t think it was a good approach.

    But I doubt she’d vote for gay marriage for one reason – her devotion to her religion. If I approached her with the attitude that her problem is that she hates gays, she’d feel insulted because it’s not true. My only hope would be to invoke “separation of church and state”.

    Then I’d have a chance because it’s a civil rights issue; not a religious one. Giving someone their civil rights doesn’t mean you have to personally approve. Mom would consider that.

    I felt the need to bring this up because when North Carolina adopted that silly Amendment One, message boards lit up. I lost count of how many people against the amendment said the people who voted for it were driven by hate.

    Sure. I have no doubt that some people really do oppose gay rights out of hate. But I wish we wouldn’t paint everyone with the same broad brush. It actually hurts the cause and makes people shut down.

    Sorry to go off on a tangent, but I seldom see this point-of-view discussed.

    • Liz

      Good point about knowing your audience. I think that’s right in line with what Sarah was saying about gently changing minds and hearts.

      1980, what sort of statement would you make, then, that would get the point of solidarity and equality across without using language that would shut your mom down to the message?

      • Class of 1980

        Taking my family into consideration, I wouldn’t do it at my wedding.

        I feel that there is so much to the subject, that I’d rather talk in private when there is plenty of time. Knowing my audience, no sound bite would ever work. ;)

        That said, I was at a party a couple of years ago with a bunch of people in that denomination. Another lady there, whom I like very much, said something about gays or gay marriage that was vaguely negative. I took the risk of saying “Well, I don’t feel that way at all. Gay marriage should be the least of our worries.” (meaning we should not fret about it)

        To my utter surprise, she said … “Well I don’t really care either. After all, how can you stand in the way of love, when there isn’t enough of it in the world?” Color me flabbergasted.

        I find there are so many shades with people. I know a man in his early seventies who has done so much for so many people. Yet, he once or twice adamantly said he was against gay marriage. But this same man has a lesbian couple in his circle and they are invited to his parties. He loves them. Go figure.

        Personally, I think a lion’s share of anti-gay sentiment is simply going to die out in a generation. My brother and sister and I never followed our parents down the yellow brick road and we now range from age 50 to me turning 54 in a couple of months.

        Actually, my sister wears a tiny diamond in her ear that belonged to a gay male friend she knew from childhood who died of aids in his twenties before there were meds to control it. He was her best friend in the whole world and not a day goes by that she doesn’t miss him. BTW, my parents never blinked about this.

        • Class of 1980

          Oh geez, I didn’t really answer the question.

          I’d stick to the separation of church and state angle. I’d say that once you start denying rights to consenting adults, then don’t be surprised when someone denies rights to you.

          My mom was concerned once because she heard that in Canada, if a minister says anything negative about homosexuality, it’s considered “hate speech” which is punishable.

          I told her that with the separation of church and state, I didn’t see that happening here. I would say that she could still believe whatever she wants to personally believe, and still not deprive other people of their civil rights.

          It’s a nuanced position.

          • http://www.choosetheodd.blogspot.com Alyssa

            My conservative, religious family — and, if I’m honest, my conservative, religious SELF — didn’t soften toward gay rights issues until my best friend came out 8 years ago. He shared his story with me. Suddenly, those issues were no longer “issues” in the abstract, but horrible things that were hurting my friend.

            About most things, I find myself shutting down or tuning out when people tell me how I should think or feel. But if you’re going to tell me a story, I’m in. I’m leaning forward. I’m on your side. (I think that’s why it’s so powerful that APW is primarily a platform for sharing stories rather than writing political editorials.)

            I am going to quote Rachel Held Evans, a progressive Christian blogger and generally sassy gal:

            “In my opinion, the first step toward a life beyond the culture wars is to stop talking about LGBT folks and start talking with LGBT folks. So that is where we will begin.

            Because stories change everything.

            Stories challenge stereotypes and shatter myths.

            Stories build bridges and tear down walls.

            Stories forge unexpected paths to places of common ground.

            Stories free both the teller and the listener from the life-draining power of secrets.

            Stories help us identify one another as fellow human beings with whom we can laugh and weep and pray, rather than issues over which we must fight. ”

            (Original RHE post here: http://rachelheldevans.com/waging-war-washing-feet )

    • http://www.embracerelease.com aly

      Great point. My sister is like your mom, 1980: very religious, against gay marriage and LGBT rights in general, but not hateful. It took me a long time to accept that her beliefs weren’t coming from a place of hatred but from a place of deep faith in what her church tells her.

      • Class of 1980

        Yep. I really meant it when I said my mom never hated anyone. She has never been capable. ;)

    • meg

      Excellent point. It’s interesting, since I’m (also? among many other reasons?) pro-equality for religious issues (both within the Christian Church where I grew up, and within Judaism). So I tend to be very comfortable having long conversations with people about why I think the bible very clearly says we have to support LGBTQ rights. Which is another direct angle, and sometimes works, coming from another knowledgeable person of faith.

      But it really is about hearts and minds. And then sometimes it’s not. For us the statement in our program wasn’t a hearts and minds decision. In the end, it was something that was so important to us that we felt like we couldn’t go forward without it. And that’s important too sometimes, just needing to be who you are, without weighing people’s reactions. It depends.

      • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

        It’s great that you’re well versed enough in both Christian and Jewish beliefs to be able to speak to people about the ways that the bible DOES support LGBTQ rights. As an atheist, it’s like the conversation ender–I’m familiar with the bible but not near enough to explain alternate interpretations of it. I basically can only say, “Well, I believe in separation of church and state so there’s that…”

        • meg

          Yeah, I’m probably a bit of a rare breed like that (my parents are published religious scholars on the topic of gay rights, no kidding, so I can give you chapter and verse along with overarching theological arguments). But I mostly want to point out that it’s easy to see the faith argument as a stop sign,”Nothing you can say to that.” And my point is, there is a huge amount that can be said about that. I personally think Jesus is dead clear on the subject, and am always thrilled to talk about it with people.

          I have been since I was 11 or so, going to church meetings. Pastors LOVED me…. ;)

          • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

            I meant for that to come out as, I think that’s really cool that you DO know…and that there can be good arguments that way. Really really cool.

          • Sarah

            Ummm . . . Meg, I’m pretty new here but shouldn’t this be a post? I’m not currently very religious but I was raised religious and I would love someone to slightly dumb down one of your parent’s articles on how “Jesus is dead clear on the subject.” I know it’s a little off-topic from most of APW, but it would be super helpful in so many conversations I have/want to have.

      • Amanda

        I think it’s also helpful to talk about how these laws deny religious leaders their right to legally marry people in their congregation. This is a real spiritual issue for my minister, and something he really mourns.

      • Class of 1980

        My mother would listen with interest. Doubt it would work in this case. I wouldn’t say she marches in lock step with her denomination on absolutely everything, but I think she personally reads the bible as being against homosexuality for sure. It’s not by any means a hot-button issue for her; it’s just what she thinks it says.

        (She has been a Sunday School director for years and feels she is well versed.)

        As far as people of faith talking to each other, consider that some Christian denominations look at other Christian denominations as “not really Christian” … or at best, slightly misguided. ;)

        I gave my mom a book by Jim Wallis a few years ago. He is a progressive minister that really takes the Christian right to task for focusing on the wrong things. Well, she agreed with some of it and heartily disagreed with the rest, whereas I agreed with all of it.

        She wrote me a long letter laying out her thoughts about the book, and then she told me that if her letter irritated me, that I should tear it up.

        That’s mom. She will say what she needs to say, but at the end of the day, she hates offending anyone. ;)

        • meg

          You know, I hand it to people who will listen with interest, even if they’re not going to agree. Heck, I’m not going to agree with them either, so there is that ;)

          • Class of 1980

            Too funny.

            I honestly think a lot of religious people WOULD welcome a reason to be let off the hook about gay marriage. The truth is that few of them would have cared about it on their own. They’re just following what they think God wants.

          • Liz

            To Class of 1980, that might be half of it, but I think the other half (maybe more) is that people use religion to excuse The Way Things Have Always Been. I think often, people act terribly and then retroactively look into the Bible and say, “Oh, see? What I’m doing is fine because it says it here.” See: poor treatment of women chalked up to “submission,” poor treatment of other races chalked up to “the curse of Ham,” poor treatment of homosexuals chalked up to, “God’s wrath at Sodom and Gomorrah.”

            Exegesis vs eisegesis.

          • Liz

            NOT to say your mom was acting terribly!! But, that that’s how these habits are handed down. People form a habit of treating women badly, say, and somewhere down the line, someone says, “Hey! Look! The Bible says we’re doing it right, guys! Keep on truckin!” only perpetuating the poor treatment.

          • Class of 1980

            Oh, absolutely, Liz.

            I hate to say this, but how many Southern Baptists are even aware that the only reason there is a “Southern” Baptist denomination is because they split off from the northern Baptists over slavery.

            They never told us that in Sunday School. ;)

            The bible has been used to justify mountains of horrible things. Oh the mental gymnastics required to promote doing terrible things in the name of God!

  • Christina

    I think it’s interesting that none of the responses to this question begin by imagining being in the other person’s shoes. Despite being an extremely worthy and admirable cause (not here to debate that), what this question is essentially about is how to donate money to a cause that is sensitive for many guests on both sides of the issue.

    I think the best way to decide your course of action is to think how you would want a different couple to announce at their wedding that they were donating to a cause you find to be antithetical to your beliefs. If you can’t imagine someone donating on the other side of this issue, pick a different controversial non-profit (gun control, abortion, etc.) What method would most open you up to a dialogue of mutual respect? What would be hurtful to you?

    For example, I would stay away from cards that say “In lieu of favor, a donation has been made in your name to…” because I imagine guests could feel hurt/disrespected if their names were connected to a cause they choose not to support. I would probably feel most comfortable with a single announcement that clearly comes from the couple’s heart. Again, this is not to say that they shouldn’t do it (because of course you should stand up for the things that matter), but I always think the best way to make a good decision is to view it from the other side of the table.

    • Liz

      Yes! I think Sarah really articulately said speak, “from your genuine place of loving-kindness,” and thinking about it from the other side of the coin is a good way to do that.

      Opening dialogue rather than being hurtful and shutting it down is always the goal. There’s a balance to be struck between being kind and gentle without being concerned if there is a level of discomfort you can’t control or stave off.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      Wait, if you make a donation do you do it in your guests names? Or as a couple?

      I agree not to attach your guests names to something they wouldn’t support (and also agree that favors are BS) but if you wanted favors would you feel bad because your CrazyCousinConnie might object to the environmental impacts of whatever you chose?

      • Liz

        Yeah, I think it’s the “in your name” piece that makes it weird and tricky. So nix that, and the whole thing is fine. “In lieu of favors, we made a donation.”

        Like Meg mentioned, favors aren’t necessary. So, “We made a donation.” Period. Is also fine. No one will be looking around the room, “What the… where’s my mesh bag of jordan almonds?! There’s no note of explanation!!”

      • Liz

        I always assumed it was “Spouse 1 and Spouse 2, in honor of their wedding day,” no mention of guests at all.

        • meg

          Indeed. We made a donation in our own names (I always think donations on behalf of others are tricky). Honestly, ended up mentioning the donation in our statement in the program, but I didn’t feel strongly about that bit. What was important was that I made a donation, and that I said something. NOT that I said something about the donation.

  • efletch

    This exact question has been rolling around in my brain for weeks. Our best man and maid of honor as well as many dear friends who will be involved in our wedding are part of our LGBTQ. We plan to include Equality Maine in our registries (it was legal in Maine, and then revoked, and is now going to be on the ballet again), but I really want to include something as part of the day itself. So thank you for posing this question, and thanks for the awesome advice! I’m thinking we will include something in our toasts and on our guest book table.

  • Anon

    I love APW this week! So many great perspectives. On a somewhat-related note, I’m wondering how the community feels about marriage equality statements on vendor sites. Are they helpful or even necessary?

    • Laurel

      SO HELPFUL.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      As a straight couple who wants to do everything we can to support same-sex marriage (we live in Idaho so not much happening at the ballot box) it’s been really important to us to support vendors that are pro-marriage equality. (But then the two “vendors” we’ve used/chosen are APW sponsors so I didn’t have to worry much.)

    • meg

      VERY necessary.

    • http://www.embracerelease.com aly

      I second the SO HELPFUL. We’re looking for a photographer for our family portraits and it is a drag to scour websites for signs of gay-friendliness. When I don’t find them, I either look go onto the next site or, if the website is really compelling, I send an email asking directly. But I’m sure I’ve overlooked a lot of great photographers because of this.

      • Anon

        Thank you all for these replies! I am writing our FAQ section now and will include a note about this. :-)

  • Bethany

    I am getting married next month, and this issue was also extremely important to my fiance and I. We wanted the issue of marriage equality to be a part of our ceremony, but also dealing with the fact that his parents are very conservative and we didn’t want to overtly offend them. Our officiant came up with a fantastic line as part of the opening welcome:

    “In their love, respect and devotion to one another, they will unite in the sacred bond of marriage and dedicate themselves to their true love, happiness and well being as soul mates and life long companions, which we now celebrate as the equitable right of all humans.”

    We liked this a lot, because it shows our values without (I think) “ruffling feathers”. This line also works well for us because we live in New York, but I think it would work elsewhere as well – just because the government may not recognize it as a right, it doesn’t take away from the couples’ view that it is a right, not a privilege.

    • HH

      I just got chills thinking about that being said at our ceremony.

      Thank you!!

  • http://chrisandkatieswedding.wordpress.com/philosophy/ Katie Mae

    I was really concerned about this when we got engaged, too. It was a year after I wrote my big senior paper about legal and social meanings of marriage and I wanted to incorporate the views I had developed in that class and since. My husband, ever the critical thinker, was fully on board. Although we made a personal donation to a statewide marriage equality campaign, the main things we did were separate our legal and “spiritual/social” weddings and write an open letter about it to our guests (http://chrisandkatieswedding.wordpress.com/philosophy/) and a blog post on the day of our legal wedding (http://chrisandkatieswedding.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/state-recognition-gratitude-and-musings-on%C2%A0marriage/).

    We confused some people, but nobody got upset. I think it’s partly because even our more conservative family members are fairly tolerant, partly because they already expect to not understand us, and partly because we played up our guests’ role in legitimizing and supporting our union and that helped them accept all the nontraditional aspects of our wedding. Our parents, especially, handled it much better once we invited them to have a huge role in our ceremony.

    I’m not sure what kind of long-term impact this had on our wedding guests, but I hope that by shaking up their expectations, we helped them examine their own views on marriage and realize that their perception of “traditional marriage” isn’t all there is.

    • Liz

      This is lovely. And you’re a super cute couple!

  • amk

    In my May wedding, we used a passage from Goodridge vs Dept of Health, mentioned elsewhere on APW. I had initially suggested it to my fiance about 6 months before the wedding, and he rebuffed it a bit not wanting to make our wedding “political” even though we both strongly support marriage equality. However, when he started writing our wedding ceremony about 6 weeks before the wedding, he came across this reading and suggested it back to me. We had a friend, who also happens be an attorney, read it as part of our ceremony. Another friend read a poem. We decided to call the passage by name, but not specifically call out that it’s for marriage equality. After the ceremony, many guests complemented our inclusion of the passage. The beauty of it is that it defines marriage, and pretty much everyone agrees with it, without ruffling feathers. Sometimes baby steps are best.

    From “Goodridge Vs. Department of Health” by Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. 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, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.”

    Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it 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.

    • Angie

      We also used this passage in our wedding. The Rabbi (co)officiating our ceremony read it where he would’ve typically read from our Ketubah because we used language from our Ketubah as our vows. We also included a statement supporting marriage equality on our programs.

      There was some controversy with my parents over the statement on our programs because they were worried about how my conservative relatives would take it. All our guests only shared positive feelings with us about the reading and a few also mentioned that they liked the sentiment on the programs. I would say that people who didn’t agree with us respected our right to share our beliefs on our wedding day.

    • Jashshea

      To this day, I still get misty reading that one. Have been trying to figure out how to include w/o putting it in a program (I don’t want programs, no wedding party, secular ceremony, etc etc). I’m thinking maybe framed somewhere in the room? Officiant reads?

      • http://jessicaschillingphotography.com Jessica Schilling

        This was one of two readings at my wedding too and it went over great. We didn’t have programs (another thing to skip if you don’t want to worry about them!) so our friend just came up and read it. I don’t remember if she said where it came from, but it wasn’t necessary to get the point across. My LGBTQ relatives and my straight Boston relatives all came up to me at the reception to say how much they liked the reading.

        We also only had a charity registry, through the I Do foundation, and one of the five charities guests could donate to was the LAMBDA legal defense fund. It was there as an option for guests to support but there were also other options if another cause spoke to them more.

  • EE

    I had a tough time with the question of whether or not to recognize marriage equality (or the lack thereof, in most places) in my wedding ceremony last year, and ultimately decided not to include any mention of it. I wish I had figured out the right way to do it, but every version I wrote came across as either trite, insensitive, or overly P.C. Two of my brothers are gay and were in my wedding, and something about publicly acknowledging the fact that I can get married legally and they can’t seemed kind of like a slap in the face. (I kept thinking, if I were really so pro-marriage equality, I wouldn’t even be getting married until everyone can!) But to hear other LGBT folks say they appreciate the acknowledgment does make me wish we had put something in our program or readings.

    • Liz

      Ooh, that would’ve been the perfect opportunity to ask your brothers what they would have appreciated!

      • EE

        I actually did ask them, and they seemed a bit surprised by the question. Granted, they are only 20 years old (twins) and haven’t been to many weddings, so I don’t think the idea of acknowledging marriage equality at a wedding had ever occurred to them. They didn’t seem to care much either way, but I think they will as they get older ;)

    • Liz

      I don’t think you should feel guilty or a less than full supporter of LGBTQ equality because you chose to get married. Nothing about your marital status prevents you from fighting for social, legal, and economic equality.

    • Laurel

      Can’t speak for your brothers, but I don’t feel like my friends are less supportive if they don’t wait. Waiting doesn’t make my legal situation any better. On the other hand, talking about your support (at the ceremony, in the program, after, at family dinner) has the potential to change people’s minds, change the politics, and do some concrete good.

  • Alison

    My fiance and I are making a donation to whiteknot.org and putting out white knots at the tables for all of our guests. We also plan to have a small sign on the guest book table with a sentiment similar to what Sarah wrote in her post. It’s important to us, and I feel like enduring any possible “backlash” (which, to be honest, is unlikely from our people), is worth it to put the message out there that we are supporting this and will continue to do so until all couples can enjoy the same rights that we’re afforded.
    Thanks to APW for having such a great set of posts this week!

  • Jess

    My fiance and I asked our minister to include something in the service (ended up being this: “Both of you shared with me that this commitment is very real to you, and that you also feel strongly that all adults in loving relationships with one another should be able to make this same commitment, regardless of whom they choose to love.”), and we are including letters to our representatives on the guest book table. Here in CO, our local representatives came out against the most recent Civil Union bill, so we thought we had a great opportunity to tell them how we feel. We got that idea from offbeat bride – (http://offbeatbride.com/2010/07/gay-marriage-support-letter)
    Thanks to the APW community for giving us all a forum to talk about such an important issue.

  • meg

    You know, I will say, a few people at our wedding were a little cranky about the fact that we had a statement in our program (and you know, were married by out gay ladies, so there was some obvious stuff there). Turned out? I was fine with that. What ended up being far more important to me was saying what we both really needed to say on that very important day, honoring friends and loved ones who were there who had had a really hard road coming out (in some cases a road David and I had walked with them on, holding hands, as teenagers), and the folks for whom it was less deeply personal but clearly really needed it said. I’m so profoundly grateful we did what we did (statement in the program, donation).

    At the end of the day, the calculation is a bit different for everyone, but I’m sharing because I was SCARED of ruffling feathers, so it’s interesting that the feathers I ruffled didn’t end up bothering me. The positives so outweighed the negatives that I count it among the best, and most necessary, decisions we made.

  • Corrin

    Love, Love LOVE this post! The fiance and I are also having white knots at our wedding with a statement supporting Marriage Equality.
    I know that this will absolutely ruffle some feathers in my family, but they have ruffled mine in their lack of support (and general human niceties) for LGBTQ family members.
    My fiance and I are so excited to have the opportunity to show our support and we’re planning on making the knots with my Man of Honor, who got teary when I told him we had a special project for us.

  • Kathleen M

    For our (Catholic) ceremony, I wrote the prayers of the people, adapted from the suggested Catholic prayer. Instead of praying for all married couples we prayed for all couples who have dedicated their lives to each other.

    In our state gay marriage is recognized, but we thought this language would be more inclusive, especially since the Catholic church does not recognize gay marriage. We had a very progressive priest who probably noticed (and probably approved of) the wording. I don’t think our conservative friends or family even noticed the language in the prayer, but I hope that the gay couple present at our ceremony and my younger cousin who is struggling with her sexuality both felt included and respected.

    I don’t know if we did enough, but including that prayer felt authentic to what we believe as a couple.

    • meg

      APW Kate did exactly this at her Catholic wedding. It was lovely, and what she could do in the context, and it worked.

  • Miriam

    We put a statement on the first page of our program. If anyone thought anything bad about it they kept it to themselves and some friends commented on how much they appreciated it. It felt like the least we could do to acknowledge our LGBTQ guests and be upfront about our feelings on how everyone should be able to celebrate like we were that day.

  • Autumn

    My partner and signed up through the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) wedding registry and have a link on our wedding website next to our other registry info and it will be in our program. We haven’t worked out our ceremony yet, but I’m sure that she will help us include a statement.

    I know it may ruffle some feathers, but the fear of ruffling is outweighed by my need to have something said about how we know that is it wrong that we can get legal benefits and our friends (who are coming to the wedding and have supported us) cannot.

  • Breezy

    This year marks the 50th anniversary that anti-miscenegenation laws were repealed in my state. These laws prohibited certain marriage based on race, and, if still in existence, would have prohibited my own upcoming marriage. My partner and I plan to bring up the issue of marriage equality from the perspective of our own ability to wed.

  • leigh

    In our life, we have a slew of LGBT family and friends (his mom, my cousin, many close friends.) I also felt the guilt of how easy it was for us to get married and wanted to honor that publicly. So at our wedding, we had the 7 blessings, and then added an eighth one in to show our support of LGBT weddings. We had my brother and sister-in-law announce that the glass of wine could not be finished until all committed couples in love, throughout the country and the world, could share in the joy of marriage. We didn’t get any flack from even the most conservative folks.

    What makes this extra awesome is that my cousin was so inspired by our ceremony that she and her wife got married the following week on a family vacation in Massachusetts. Bless those states that have got it together!