Pride Week Open Thread: Planning Your (Gay) Wedding


And the unique challenges that come with them

by Kelsey Hopson, Writing Intern

Pride Week Open Thread: Planning Your (Gay) Wedding | A Practical Wedding

When you are planning a wedding, and you are a part of the lesbian/gay/trans/otherwise queer community, the planning has some particular challenges. I know. You’re thinking, “Kelsey, you big hypocrite! Weren’t you just talking about how gay weddings are just the same as straight weddings, and the term ‘gay wedding’ shouldn’t even exist, and so on and so forth?” And yes. I did say that. And I stand by that statement. However, I’m also going to stand by this other statement. There are things about planning an LGBTQ wedding that are different than planning a straight wedding. (Yes. I reserve the right to hold two slightly contradictory viewpoints at once.)

For us, it was me calling the hotel to reserve a room block, and having the saleslady ask me for my groom’s name. (She recovered quickly. I was impressed.) Or people forever asking Julie if her “hubby” is also working out hard before the wedding (answer: no, and no). It’s trying to plan our outfits, without knowing what the other person is wearing, hoping we don’t end up matching. (Worst moment ever to walk into a party and realize another girl is also wearing your dress.) Over here, we’re navigating our challenges by laughing at them (and appointing an outfit captain). But it’s not always quite that easy. Not to mention all the legal issues.

So today, it’s the LGBTQ wedding open thread. Sure, we’re planning a wedding just the same as everyone else. But… it’s not always just the same, to be honest. Let’s chat. What challenges are you facing? What solutions have you (or haven’t you) found thus far? If you’re changing traditional liturgy, or trying to convince your momma that songs that include the word “groom” are not ideal for a two bride processional, bonding over piles of we-can’t-get-legally-married-in-this-state paperwork, or simply waiting to see if your grandmother is going to decide to show up—then this one’s for you.

Kelsey Hopson

Kelsey is a California native, residing in Denver, marrying a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey.  Her perpetual conundrum is that life is short, but the world is big and there are so many interesting things to do in it.  To that end, she works full time as a social worker at an ‘alternative’ public high school, does contract work as an animal assisted therapist with her sidekick, Samantha the therapy dog, and has a part time job at a craft and stationery store.

read the comment policy before you post

  • Rose

    We’ve only been engaged for a month, and haven’t done any real planning yet. We’re still at the “Where do we do this thing?” stage. Our state has a constitutional amendement banning any recognition of any same-sex partnerships, so I kind of don’t want to spend wedding money there (plus, it’s currently illegal for a clergy member to officiate our wedding there), but it’s also the place where we’ve made a life for ourselves, and I’d like our grad school friends to be able to be involved and come. On the other hand, a few casual searches are coming up with fewer explicitly gay-friendly venues and vendors in our area. My parents live in Colorado, which has Civil Unions, which are pretty much legally useless to us as non-residents. Her parents are in New York, which seems like the obvious place, but other family and travel constraints make it a little less convenient for some other reasons. If we get married elsewhere, we’ll probably go to New York for a license, though. My mom (who is totally supportive and awesome in pretty much every way) is already pretty clear that she does not understand the point of getting married somewhere where it’s not legally recognized–although I think that if I point out that that would also effectively rule out Colorado, she might come around. She’ll be supportive either way, but it wasn’t the most encouraging conversation.

    Of course, I also can’t really figure out what it would mean to be married in the eyes of the federal government, but not the state. And I don’t even really know who to go ask for advice on that, or on the paperwork we should figure out so that we can be as close to legally married as possible. I suppose at some point I should try to find a good lawyer in our area.

    She’s entirely unsure of what she wants to wear (the style post yesterday was great!), but in a lot of ways that’s more of a wide-open opportunity than a problem. The main thing I’m concerned about in terms of the ceremony is making sure that we don’t default into more-or-less traditional wedding gender roles; just because she’s (maybe) wearing the suit, does not make her the de facto groom, and I don’t want to fall into that. Neither does she, so as long as we’re paying attention I don’t think it’ll be a problem. But I don’t know what to do about things like a processional (except maybe have the ceremony in the church I grew up in, which is a hexagon and has two aisles that come in at equal angles). I’m sure more specific things will come up as we get further into planning. I’m interested in seeing what else people are dealing with.

    • Steph

      As an almost-married gay lady lawyer, I have to just throw my two cents in to say that, yes, lawyers are great for this type of thing! I feel as though APW has probably done a post on this in the past, but for state/fed distinctions most people are really looking at issues of property and end of life care. For me, the most important thing has been making sure my partner has power of attorney. Straight married people get this automatically, but it means that she gets decision making process/should be able to actually visit me in the hospital should anything happen. (I think that all gay couples who want it should get this, even if you’re legally married in your state, because it might protect you if something were to happen out of state as well). The good news is, is that plenty of orgs offer lots of support for people who want to do this, so you probably don’t have to pay for a lawyer, or at least not a lot. There are plenty of online templates for wills and power of attorneys, and an LGBT community center or other org in your area might offer free clinics to help you file.

      But I am also a huuuuge proponent of anyone that’s not a cis straight couple looking to have kids speaking to an awesome LGBT competent family law attorney in their area, because shit gets real complicated real fast when it comes to kids.

      And now taking off my lawyer hat to say – good luck in figuring it out! You’ll totally get there. For us, location was the most difficult part, but once that is down, it makes a lot of the other decisions easier. And I feel you about not wanting to fall into traditional gender roles. I think that people are surprised that I am walking down the aisle first, as that is the “groom’s” role, to watch their partner approach them, and people assume that I am the “bride” of this wedding. But – I just really want to see her walk down the aisle, so I called dibs :)

      • Rose

        Thanks! I think my school has some free legal aid for students, so maybe I’ll start with them, or talk to the LGBT student center. Fortunately, we’re some years from even seriously thinking about having kids, and we’re hoping to be in another state by then. Ours doesn’t have second parent adoption any more either, which from what I understand sounds like a pretty precarious legal parenting situation. I’m glad you guys figured out a good way to do the processions–thinking about it, I can totally see the appeal of watching her walk down the aisle towards me, too.

    • StevenPortland

      I don’t have any easy answers for you. It is a challenge since your fiancee will be in a suit but you don’t want her to be the de facto groom. Perhaps have her carry a bouquet instead of wear a boutonniere? Some of the stylish feminine-style (sorry, for lack of a better word) suits would look great with a veil, but more traditional suits probably wouldn’t.

      I like the idea of having the processional with two aisles. That would look great.

      • Rose

        She brought up carrying a bouquet just the other day, as something she’d probably like to do. I think it could look really nice, too. I don’t think she’d want to wear a veil, but I have admiring the flower crowns I’ve been seeing around–maybe we could each wear one.

        • K

          I love the idea of suit + bouquet!

      • k

        Just one comment on the whole two-aisles thing… this results in your guests trying to look two directions at once, and also, you should consider whether photos of this moment are important, as you’d need two photographers.

    • Fiona

      My little sister is on the suit side of things and has talked about two aisles since she came out (she really wants to get married). I REALLY like the suit with a bouquet idea if your partner is up for it!

    • Annie

      Yeah, the “Where do we do this thing?” stage was a huge headache. We’ve having a ceremony/party in our home state. It’s what we consider our wedding, even though nothing about it legal. We unromantically picked a place to get legally hitched by making a matrix of flight costs + length of waiting period + cost of a hotel room. Because nothing says bureaucratic hoops like an excel spreadsheet.

      Totally get what you’re saying about being mindful about where you spend wedding money. I also wanted to mention that I found a lot of supportive vendors who weren’t explicitly gay-friendly. From my googling, I literally came up with nothing and was terrified no one would work with us.

      It took some legwork, but I emailed the vendors on our short list(s) and just asked if they’d be comfortable working on a gay wedding. Most people were thrilled and so enthusiastic. Only one person say no, and even they gave us a list of 4-5 other competitors (including the vendor we ended up using). We’ve been really happy to “reward” those supportive folks with our business. As part of my vendor thank yous / reviews, I’m planning to suggest that they make their support explicit. :)

      • Mezza

        Yeah, none of my vendors (in a red state without marriage equality) were explicitly gay-friendly, but they were all completely awesome and made zero fuss about it. Our photographer ended up asking if she could include us in a diversity portfolio she was working on, and the DJ mentioned that his brother was gay (you know that thing people do), but I don’t think the venue or the caterer ever said one thing about it being any different than a hetero wedding. I don’t even know if the florist knew – though I guess I did order 2 bridal bouquets.

        I was also pretty happy to be planning a gay wedding in a city that surely doesn’t see many of them. I hope it helped to normalize the concept for everyone who was involved.

    • Emma

      I am so all for people wearing pants and not taking some kind of “groom” status as semi-mentioned in the comments yesterday. It’s definitely time to make it clear none of that sort of thing is associated with clothing, and the clothing is just what you’ll be happy in on your wedding day. I think in general hetero-relationship brides in pants might get pressure about changing their minds but this is definitely an area where I think brides in pants at two bride weddings have to deal with a much bigger set of weird assumptions.

    • lady brett

      we got married in a constitutional-ban state. because that’s our home, bullshit or no.

      but i was adamantly opposed to getting legally married elsewhere, and had to politely have that conversation with my soon-to-be mother-in-law (who really wanted us to get legal *somewhere*). i found two things to be (semi)effective: “i really don’t think it’s a good idea to get involved in the legal aspects until they are fully ironed out – any number of crazy things could happen.” and “well, marriage is about us and our community (and religion, if relevant), and i just don’t see how an official stamp will make that commitment more true.”

      • Rose

        Well, first I have to say somewhere that as of today and the ruling on Utah, Colorado is feeling the end of their Constitutional ban, and the County Clerk in the town I grew up in is ISSUING LICENSES!!! I don’t think they’ll be legally recognized much of anywhere quite yet, since the state’s ban is still in effect, and I wouldn’t want to get myself into that precarious of a legal situation, but it’s still exciting.

        My feeling on the subject is that the government can’t tell us if we’re married. We decide that, when we stand up in front of each other and our community (and God) and commit our lives to each other. The government gets to decide whether they recognize that marriage and grant us the rights it owes us. I do kind of want to get legally married somewhere, because I want that recognition too, but I’m thinking more and more that I need to do some more research on the actual effects of doing that, and maybe re-evaluate if it’s a good idea.

    • K

      This is not actually super relevant, but I want to throw this tidbit out there… for anyone who has the option of staying with a parent or friend and giving birth in Colorado, if you are married or civilized (civil unioned), your partner is listed as a second parent on the birth certificate. No adoption required. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/civil-unions-facilitate-gay-parents-on-birth-certificate

  • Annie

    My grandmother recently let me know that she won’t be coming. It wasn’t a surprise, but it still hurts.

    Mostly it’s hard because her pain is so raw. She cried through my entire visit two weeks ago. I’m trying to have empathy for her, but I’m also not going to change and we’re not going to cancel the wedding. I just wonder how to stay in relationship with her when she’s experiencing so much anguish.

    Harrumphf. I know I’m not alone re: unsupportive family members but dang, it’s really hard to balance loving her and caring for myself. I don’t think want to distance myself from her, but I also have to be really careful about not internalizing her shame.

    Here’s my related question: should we honor her during the wedding? We’re planning to honor our deceased relatives (7 grandparents and a sibling) by giving the altar flowers in their memory. I’ve been thinking of adding the boycotting grandmother – the only one still alive – to the honoree list. We would change the wording so it wasn’t “in memory of” if we included her.

    On the other hand, she’s not coming because she’s mortified about the whole thing so maybe it would be incredibly offensive to honor her at all. Or maybe there’s a way to honor her in our hearts or take her some leftover cake after the wedding or something.

    • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

      wow Annie I am so so sorry to hear that. I often wonder if my three deceased grandparents were alive this past year, how exactly everything would have gone down. (married a female two weeks ago) It hurts to think about, and it hurts in a weirder way to feel some sense of relief that they were already deceased…my mom’s dad is still alive, and I have no idea if he even knows I am in a relationship. We’ll be crossing that bridge, soon , though. Sending you internet hugs, I know it’s a heartbreaking situation.

      • Rose

        I kind of get the terrible sense of relief. My fiancee’s grandmother has Alzheimers, far enough advanced that she probably won’t be able to attend the wedding, and doesn’t really know that we’re in a relationship anyway. And while of course I’d give so much for her to be healthy, and I would have loved to meet her when she was still the person she used to be, there’s also a little bit of relief that we won’t have to worry about how she’d take it. Some of my fiancee’s more distant relatives probably won’t approve either, but they don’t have the same power to hurt her than her grandmother would have. It’s heartbreaking, but there is that little bit of relief.

    • Mezza

      This is really rough. My two living grandparents did attend my wedding, but their son (my dad’s brother) and his whole family (my aunt, 3 cousins, and all their kids) did not. I’m still sort of working on how to deal with them, almost a year later. We haven’t spoken directly since then and I haven’t attended any family events on that side. I’m not actually angry or very upset about it, but I also don’t want to just pretend nothing happened. I guess my only advice would be to give yourself time. You don’t have to make any decisions until you find one that feels right. I clearly haven’t gotten there yet.

      Regarding honoring your grandmother at the wedding – I specifically did honor my two deceased grandparents, even though I’m pretty damn sure they would have been boycotting if they were alive. Is there a way to honor her more quietly? Or even privately? I wore a bracelet that my grandfather gave my grandmother at their wedding, and while I explained that to plenty of people, it wasn’t, like, out in the open.

    • Fiona

      I really like the leftover cake idea. I’m sure she feels really conflicted about all of this. That way, you let her know you still love her and you’re not blocking her out. It acknowledges the admittedly complicated relationship.

    • StevenPortland

      Wow, sorry to hear about that. It is one thing for someone not to be supportive, but entirely different to also be face to face with someone crying about it. Yikes. Personally, I think you shouldn’t boycott her, but instead keep the flower portion of your ceremony a memorial to those who have died. She doesn’t belong in that group and so it isn’t a boycott at all.

    • lady brett

      i’m terribly sorry you’re having to deal with that – that is always hard. but perhaps you should hinge your decision of what to do in the specific wedding situation on how you would feel about it if she comes around. if it would still feel honest were she to come to accept y’all, good. if it would make you feel you had done something unfair or underhanded, don’t. just in case.

      because it is interesting to watch folks progress. my honey’s grandmother has been interesting to watch from a sort of outside perspective. when they came out 15 years ago, it was a big damn deal (to make the story short). 10 years later, she was still holding out hope that we were “roommates”. but we got our “no” rsvp to the wedding in the form of an “i love you and hope you are happy” note to my spouse. and after 3 years of marriage, i am now on the list of “grandchildren by marriage” for birthday presents. which – she’s not going to start thinking it’s good or okay, but she is getting more and more clear that this is…the truth, whether she likes it or not. and for her family is worth that, i guess. (which. not saying that will be your experience. but it seems worth putting out there as…a reference point or something.)

      • k

        Maybe it’s just me, but I find situations like this grandmother to be difficult. I have a close family member who is not supportive of my relationship and is not coming to the wedding, but other than a simple “I don’t support your choice” our relationship hasn’t changed and we avoid the subject. I assume that as the reality of my marriage sinks in, this person will be forced to acknowledge it similar to the grandmother in this story, without really changing their views. I guess that’s okay, but it’s certainly a more complicated situation than the more common flat-out rejection.

        • Helen

          This is happening for us. My deeply religious in laws have had varying levels of acceptance. Everything blew up when we got engaged probably because they couldn’t hope that it might all just be a phase any more. Now we’re married, they’re just sort of having to lump it. I’m family now and will act like it. They have the rest of their lives to find peace with that.

    • Class of 1980

      Annie, I have no advice any better than what others have said. I just want to say … as someone who was very close to her grandmother, wow, this is really truly tough. At least, I don’t think it will ultimately change your relationship because she obviously loves you.

  • Bonfire Girl

    A piece of Debbie Downer practical advice from a divorce attorney who works with the full rainbow of families in Vermont: when planning a legal marriage and considering where to do it, also consider whether you will be able to obtain a divorce in the unlikely event it doesn’t work out. Most states that allow same-sex marriage allow non-residents to come and get married but very few allow non-residents to obtain a divorce. (Google “wedlocked”). So if you go to New York to get married and then go back to Georgia, where you definitely cannot get (gay) divorced, you’re stuck. Vermont is a rare place where under certain circumstances non-residents who came to the state for a civil union or same-sex marriage can also obtain a divorce if they are not residents of Vermont at the time of filing. Hopefully, the wedded bliss is forever and/or the law will get with the times.

    • Christina McPants

      The District of Columbia will also grant divorces (and process second parent adoptions if you give birth in the city) if you’re not a resident for just this reason.

  • StevenPortland

    The Supreme Court (and then the Obama administration) really helped all of us last year in my opinion because now our weddings are REAL and RECOGNIZED weddings. Before that time it felt to me sometimes that people were humoring gay couples in going to their pseudo-weddings. So that has helped a lot.

    But to some extent I think our weddings still aren’t validated the same way. Our wedding last fall was tiny (only 6 adults invited). Our family Christmas card was a wedding announcement with a great photo from the wedding. We received very few wedding cards afterwards and while I don’t even want cards, it struck me that if we were a straight couple I think more of our family and friends would have responded with cards. But it is complicated I realize since we’ve been together 17 years and have 2 sons. Perhaps straight couples who get married at such a later stage in life see the same thing. I don’t know.

    What to wear is so much more difficult than with a traditional wedding. For us it meant finding two suits for us and two outfits for our sons that would coordinate but not look matchy-matchy. For those of who you don’t wear suits, it is harder than you might think. For us, two of us had bow ties and the other two had traditional ties.

    The other uncomfortable experience was setting up a registry at a local store. They were very nice about it, but it was outside of my comfort zone.

    • Fiona

      My little sister is always bracing for the worst when it comes to outing her gay relationship, and it makes me very sad. She’s always expecting a confrontation, and is glad when there isn’t one. Congrats on your marriage though! (Is that the one that was on here a couple months ago?)

    • ART

      I noticed at Macy’s the other day (was there for something totally different) that the giant directional sign in the housewares department said “BRIDAL REGISTRY” – I thought wow, I’m actually so surprised they haven’t changed that yet (and this was in the SF Bay Area). It would turn me off, and we are a hetero couple (and I’m a bride!)

      • Class of 1980

        I never thought about it, but you are so right! It should be called a “WEDDING REGISTRY”. Aren’t both halves of the couple going to benefit from the presents?

  • SarahG

    Happy same-sex wedding anecdote: I was the day-of-coordinator for friends this last weekend, and the wedding included one of the bride’s grandmother who for reasons of culture (Taiwanese) and age, nobody had thought would accept the relationship. She did! She was delighted, and a total joy the entire weekend (I think it took her a while to come around initially, but this was not evident on the day). I realize this is not everyone’s experience and that it’s incredibly painful when it isn’t yours (my grandma got dementia before I came out to her, but I strongly suspect that it wouldn’t have gone well). But I just wanted to throw some hope out there that sometimes people surprise you, and recognize when you are happy and want to celebrate your happiness.

  • Nell

    I feel really, really, really lucky that we have supportive friends and family surrounding us.

    The biggest challenge for me has been coming out at work. I am out to my friend-coworkers, but when people I don’t know see a ring on my finger, or I mention a wedding, they assume I’m engaged to a “fella.” I have a liberal work environment, and I am not worried that there will be negative consequences for coming out – but it feels like a big foam finger is pointing at me saying “she’s different!!!!”

    How often do others on this site correct people when they use the wrong pronoun for your person-to-be? So far, I only do it if I think I will ever interact with that person again. So, random cashier at the CVS? I don’t care if she thinks I’m marrying a “he.” Receptionist three offices over? I end up correcting her.

    • YOQ

      I actually correct people pretty often, because it’s important to me that the LGBTQ community have that visibility, that people realize that they’re making assumptions, and that they think twice next time. But your strategy makes sense to me also–invest the time and energy where the payoff is likely to be most useful.

      • Nell

        Yeah, I WANT to correct people – but as one of my awesome coworkers pointed out, once I start saying “my wife” instead of “my fiancee” – it’s going to be simpler to get the message across.

        • Valerie Day

          I love being able to say wife. What a relief. Partner was helpful. Fiancé terrible, for a gender neutral word it sure triggers heteronormatovity!

        • emilyg25

          But is it easier to correct them gently in the moment? As a person on the other side, if I said “boyfriend” or whatever and you didn’t correct me but I found out later you have a girlfriend (fiancee), I’d feel like such an ass. Which is not to say that it’s your job to make me feel comfortable or do anything that you don’t want, of course. But if you want to correct people, do.

          • k

            I actually get a lot of this “oh, I feel like an ass” type of response when I correct people (which I do by making a related statement using gendered pronouns following the assumptive statement). It’s somewhat entertaining, since most people would have no way of knowing otherwise (and therefore, in my mind, it’s a truly honest mistake the first time it happens). I guess I just like to assume that people aren’t trying to be hurtful or malicious.

    • Ashlee

      I’ve gotten myself into the habit of using a pronoun as soon as I can, just to get it out there. I still have that moment of nervousness each time, but I just make myself do it. Because I don’t want to have to correct people, especially since I think that many are making assumptions without even realizing it. Similar to what YOQ said, pre-empting it it hopefully makes people think twice next time. And if they make the assumption, I just use the pronoun as quickly as possible. I’ve not had to deal with an outright “Who’s the lucky man?” kind of question, though, and I’m not sure how I would react.

    • Rose

      I’ve had some really interesting experiences with the fact that, when spoken, fianc(e)é is a gender-neutral word. It’s a new thing for me to have to correct people–when I said girlfriend, they knew right away. I’ve let one person make the assumption because it was convenient (I probably would have just said friend instead of girlfriend to her anyway). In the past, if I didn’t want to come out, I just never mentioned any kind of relationship at all. But it’s weird, because my favorite way of normalizing our relationship is just to talk about it like it’s any other kind of relationship, so unless it comes up naturally that my fiancee is female, I kind of don’t want to make a point of saying it. But every time I just say fiancé and don’t explain, I feel like I’m leaving them with an image of a straight couple that’s just utterly foreign to how I see myself, and even with a stranger it’s weird. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

      • Jessica

        I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN. I’ve started saying “partner” instead of “fiancee” because it’s less gender-neutral, but it still doesn’t feel… right? Or sometimes I just come up with really awkward responses like, “Oh my fiancee? She’s a teacher.” I’m exactly the same in having relied passive mentions of my “girlfriend” to assert my queerness, but now I’m at a loss for words. Looking forward to using “wife” next year.

        • Rose

          Yes, I’m already looking forward to wife. I expect it will get some stronger (and probably more confused) responses than girlfriend, but I’m pretty excited about it.

          • Helen

            I was wondering about this – in NZ ‘girlfriend’ can be taken as ‘my female friend’ and straight couples use ‘partner’ all the time. Since I read as straight (if you get what I mean) it was always an odd thing to decide whether to feel like I was making a thing out of my same sex relationship, or feel like I was lying by omission. Now I just say ‘my wife’ and rip the bandaid. so freeing and people barely blink.

          • Rose

            Yeah, I tend to get read as straight too, so I never know. Here “girlfriend” can be just a friend, but if you say “my girlfriend” in the sort of context that people reference a partner, it’s pretty clear to most people. Gender-neutral can be convenient, but also strange. Like I said, I’m looking forward to wife.

      • Adelaidey

        I’m in the same boat! I began a new job not long after I got engaged, and there was an initial vaguery that I didn’t really know how to handle.

    • Violet

      Downthread you say you WANT to correct people, so I think that’s your answer. Go with what feels best to you. When people squee over the ring, would you feel comfortable saying something like, “Yeah, my girlfriend and I are getting married”? Avoid the fiance(e) word altogether? I personally didn’t like the fiance word so much, and I like making people check their assumptions anyway, so I usually say “partner” even though I’m a ciswoman married to a cisdude. (Plus I think “partner” is romantic, but I’m in the minority on that opinion, apparently.)

      • YOQ

        A friend of mine who teaches at the university level (in Texas, no less) refers to her husband as her partner when she’s talking to her students. I love that she does that. :) (It confuses them quite a bit, in a good way, I think…)

        • Violet

          I like confusion too! it usually means an assumption/expectation is being challenged. : )

        • Alyssa M

          I never realized how romantic partner could be until hearing the retired Dean of the college my partner works for calling his wife partner. This little old couple who couldn’t set up a printer to save their lives and always have fresh baked cookies using language of equality is just too fricken sweet.

        • http://www.moxiebrightevents.com Renee @ Moxie Bright Events

          I use partner instead of husband, and I also use Partner A/Partner B on all my wedding planning paperwork. It’s just nicer, I think.

      • Class of 1980

        A lot of straight people hate the word “fiance(e)” too. Some of us felt silly saying it.

        Why we need a whole separate word for the time between engagement and the wedding is beyond me. ;)

    • lady brett

      i *never* correct people. it’s not in my genes (it feels combative). but i *always* made sure to follow up with gender-specific terminology in responses and conversation (passive-aggressive is *totally* in my genes). “so what does your husband do?” “oh, she’s in school.” it doesn’t help at all with people who are appalled by the gay, but not calling it out does wonders for folks who are just a bit queasy about it. and it’s a great way to make supportive folks think about the words they use without making them self-conscious and defensive.

      (it’s a *lot* more complicated with a genderqueer spouse, and i’m having to come to terms with just not being seen as queer sometimes…which is hard for me.)

      • Alyssa M

        My best friend’s partner is of a non-conforming gender, but presents as male, and the invisibility is her biggest struggle. I have nothing really productive to add, since the best I can do even for her is be a shoulder to cry on, but just… it seems to be a pretty common struggle for partners of genderqueer people. *hugs*

  • YOQ

    I think the hardest parts for me have been 1) the irritation with crossing out “groom” on so many forms — I get that these are ancient, photocopied forms and nobody even has the original electronic file anymore and so on, but even (especially?) coming from otherwise-supportive institutions (like the church where we are getting blessed), it takes its toll. I was so happy to to fill out the marriage license form and see that it designated us as “Partner A” and “Partner B.” And, 2) wondering about some of the members of my family who are not coming, and whether that’s motivated by their opinions about marriage equality. My cousin (nearly a generation older than me) was very enthusiastic when I told him on the phone that my partner and I were getting married, but then he and all his children and all their partners did not RSVP. And when I contacted them about it, they said they were not coming because of a trip they had planned (well after receiving my save-the-date, which was sent out by email approximately 9 months in advance). The worst was one who explained that they’ll have just driven back from another state, and their two daughters will be very tired, so they’re not planning to go out for the rest of that weekend. I want to believe that they’re just being lame, but it’s hard to avoid that their particular conservative religious views are keeping them away.

    • StevenPortland

      YOQ: good to read your post here. I had been wondering if you were still pre-wedding or if it had recently happened! We are getting RSVPs for our August reception. Rather I should say we are NOT getting RSVPs. It is always sad to get the “No” response from people. I’m not looking forward to having to follow up with the people who have failed to respond at all.

      • YOQ

        Oh goodness, the chasing down non-RSVP-ers was the worst and seriously damaged my faith in humanity. But that, I suspect, is a general wedding issue. The same-sex wedding just adds another level of guesswork and another insidious little voice in our heads, which I mostly managed to ignore…

        But yes–I’m still here! We’re inside three weeks, and finalizing the last few things… In addition to planning a wedding, we’re planning a move, and we’ve bought one house and we’re selling another–so it’s all been a little crazy. Thus far, I think we’re keeping our heads above water, so it’s all good. :)

      • Meg Keene

        On the other hand, I can’t WAIT to see pictures.

    • Sarah

      If I were gay I’d probably assume any no-shows were staying away in protest. However, I would err on the side of it’s just your cousin being lame. My husband and I are straight and we had some dear friends and relatives flake out on our wedding for all kinds of lame reasons. One was very similar to your cousin – just got back from a big trip and didn’t want to make another (much shorter) one for our wedding. Another uncle said that he just doesn’t go to weddings. Another cousin didn’t want to miss a high school homecoming. Lame. I love them, they love me, they love my husband, they are ecstatic that we got married, but they didn’t make the effort. So I’d assume in this case it might also be that. Certainly makes you wonder, but I’d give him the benefit of the doubt (if you’re not exhausted from doing that already)

      • YOQ

        Yes, I’m trying to assume the best. But there’s that niggling little voice that asks, “really? He couldn’t go across town for my wedding?” Mostly I try to ignore that voice.

        (Re-reading this, it seems kind of sad that “assuming the best” of my cousin means assuming he’s lame. But oh well.)

        • Sarah

          it’s especially frustrating, I’d imagine, because you don’t want to assume someone’s homophobic/thinks you’re going to hell/doesn’t approve of your relationship/whatever if that’s NOT the case – that’s totally not fair to them, and very toxic to the relationship between you and your cousin…but how can you not? And then like you said, best-case scenario is that your cousin is lame.

          Too bad RSVP cards didn’t say like,
          Attending? Yes __ No __
          If No, why not? I have a valid excuse ______ You’re gay ____ I’m just lame _____

          • YOQ

            *giggle* I like the RSVP options. Maybe in my alternate (read: fantasy) career as a gay wedding planner, I’ll start recommending this to clients. ;) (Of course, since this is an alternate universe, nobody in this world will follow my dubious advice…)

          • http://www.moxiebrightevents.com Renee @ Moxie Bright Events

            I so badly want to steal this idea for a same sex wedding I’m planning this January. I think they’d get a kick out of this. Only 10% of me thinks their family will hate it.

          • Class of 1980

            It’s VERY funny as a fantasy … but since etiquette doesn’t require excuses, people would likely get offended.

            Anyway, if they really aren’t coming because you’re gay then good riddance to them, I say.

          • vegankitchendiaries

            Comment of the week!

    • Class of 1980

      I’d say that if your cousin was very enthusiastic over the phone, then take that at face value.

      He just sounds like one of those people who don’t understand how important it is to RSVP. It doesn’t seem like he makes an effort for weddings in general, and his kids have absorbed the same attitude.

  • Suz

    Both my partner and I have pretty supportive families (we feel incredibly lucky about that) so for us I think the main thing that was difficult with family was all the options. They keep thinking that because it’s a gay wedding that things will be really different! And mostly we’re doing things that seem pretty normal (city hall ceremony and backyard party) so the only thing different from a straight wedding is the fact that we’re both ladies.

    The real hardest part was figuring out what to wear. We’re both pretty middle of the spectrum as far as butch/femme goes with my partner leaning a little more towards the masculine (i.e. will not wear a dress) and me a little more toward the feminine (i.e. I own one dress that I wear once a year – if that). It was really excruciating figuring out what we should do and how fancy or not we should be. We finally sorted it out with the help of some really nice people at a very fancy department store but geez… it really brought up all kinds of teenaged angst for me (and I’m 39 so I thought that was long gone!). It sounds so lame that the outfits brought up that much stress but it really did.

    The only other thing I wasn’t prepared for is how grateful I feel that we live in a state (California) that has marriage equality. And that gratefulness brings up some other nastier emotions – why should I feel grateful for someone “giving” me the right to marry. Why should I feel grateful that everyone that I’ve told has reacted well and hasn’t been a jerk – shouldn’t that just be the way it is!? So I struggle with that a little bit but mostly I revert back to feeling grateful because this marriage wouldn’t have been legal 4 years ago and now it is and I get to celebrate with all the people I love most in the world.

    • Class of 1980

      Since I don’t believe government should even be in the marriage business, I think your resentment about having to be grateful for the “right” to marry is reasonable.

      Government marriage laws have a terrible history. The laws didn’t even exist until the powers-that-be started wanting to keep various groups down.

  • Nell
    • Mezza

      I am FREAKING OUT that my home state has finally managed to do this! My Facebook newsfeed is an extremely excited place right now.

      • YOQ

        Congratulations! And congrats to those in Utah, too–I know the decision there is stayed pending appeal, but still: forward progress…

        (As someone planning a same-sex wedding in Oregon, one bit of unsolicited advice: brace yourself for the appeals process, which can create a great deal of uncertainty and takes WAY longer than you think it should…)

        • Mezza

          Ah, I actually live in New York now and am already legally married here – but I do have friends who have gotten marriage licenses in Indy today and I hope the appeals process isn’t too hard on them!

          • YOQ

            Got it–well, still, congrats to your home state! :)

  • Bethany Coston

    The hardest part? Choosing to have a wedding in a state that doesn’t legally allow you to get married, because you live in NYC and then getting relocated by your job halfway through planning to a state where you can’t get legally married, and trying to find a date that is even semi-meaningful to you and your partner because your partner is now sad that your marriage license will just have “some random date” on it.

  • MyrandaG

    Has anyone talked about RSVP cards and wording to use? We spent a lot of time choosing the wording for our RSVPs. When you’re getting back those cards, every “no” can seem huge. I was afraid that I would end up spending too much time wondering if the people who weren’t coming were doing so out of protest, if they didn’t love us. This has the terrible effect of making you question EVERYONE, even the people who seemed supportive of your relationship before the whole wedding thing. So I very consciously chose wording that remained positive whether or not my people were able to attend. That way, when I opened an envelope, there wasn’t a larger-than-life NO staring back at me; daring me to guess what horrible things that beloved family member must be thinking of me. Because life happens. Sometimes people have graduations, they have vacations and commitments and lives of their own and not everyone is protesting, they’re just living. So choosing wording that was positive even if they can’t make it ended up being a huge step for my mental well being. It let me believe the best. We finally settled on “Party on without us.” And we did indeed party.