When we first started planning our wedding as a queer couple, we had about a minute to celebrate the googly eyed joy of being engaged before we started sweating a few things. First, we both had to tell our grandmothers we were officially marrying a woman. They gave us so many blessings we felt silly that we had lost so much sleep over it. Next thing to tackle: a father-daughter dance. I didn’t want it. I didn’t get it. My parents met at a disco hall and my in-laws love ’70s rock, so we wanted to keep it funky and communal. So we agreed that our parents and siblings would join us for a rousing group get down to Earth, Wind & Fire. As long as everyone felt included and understood, the sentiment around our plans, our families would go with the flow. Then we worked to incorporate both of our cultural traditions while playing with ideas of gender (my wife didn’t want to wear a sari but instead a fabulous embroidered jacket and pants). And finally, we officially titled our wedding the “Eleganza Extravaganza,” to pay a subtle homage to our Patron Saint and to remind everyone that we were here for love plus a dance party plus fabulosity. (We figured it couldn’t hurt to set the tone nice and early.)
And people were getting it! By the time our wedding day came, our audience was fully on their feet and cheering when we walked down the aisle to Beyoncé’s “End of Time.” Our non-traditional ceremony—a mix of pagan-inspired language and tales of my partner and I meeting late night at a queer dance party—was led by our genderqueer nature fairy friend Tash. Any worry I had about my Catholic great-aunt’s reactions to our ceremony quickly dissipated when people came up to Tash confessing that they would join Tash’s cult if Tash started one.
But of all our deviations from capital-W wedding expectations, there was one thing that people needed help wrapping their head around: our registry.
No friends, it wasn’t the blue calcite crystals that we blessed and handed out to people, or the fact that our brothers were our “bridal party,” or that our after party was at the local dive bar aka the American Veterans Legion Hall—nope—it was our registry that raised eyebrows.
How Do You Queer Up a Wedding Registry?
I’m psyched that marriage is legal for same-sex couples because it opens the door for a host of crucial civil rights. But other than that, I had never fantasized about an actual wedding day, let alone the tradition of a registry. My partner and I had already been living together, making a home together with an eclectic assortment of items we’d collected over our decade in the Bay Area. I thought we were already adulting hard enough and didn’t need help “starting a home.” But to my Irish-Italian family, this was sacrilege. And it butted right up against their love language of getting you mopines (Italian kitchen towels) and a new set of pots and pans to make sure you are literally feeding yourself.
How would I reconcile these two views? It took a trip to a Crate and Barrel live event (which I wrote about for APW when we had just gotten engaged), a gaggle of gay strangers, and a loving partner—who happens to be a Libra—to show me that you can personalize your registry to reflect your values, while also giving your family a way to participate in your life as a couple.
So now that we’re on the other side, I have some pro-tips on how you can do you, RuPaul homages and all, while also keeping things uncomplicated for your fam:
Your Family is going to want to upgrade yA whether you like it or not
My wife and I have this amazing 1950s era, shiny white gas stove. It’s an impressive feature in our little kitchen and we love it. It’s probably the thing people comment most about in our home, including my mother. She had LOTS TO SAY about our stove, including how her wedding gift to us would be to replace it. She even suggested she could buy a similar style but new! It’s hard to not feel bratty when you refuse a gift like that, so instead divert! Our backyard, which is currently a plot of dirt and fertilizer courtesy of our puppy, needed some love. So we suggested she help us elevate that with lawn furniture and some succulents. She was happy to contribute to our home in a meaningful way and could still live out her HGTV fantasies without gutting our kitchen.
People will buy you weird stuff, so you might as well register for weird stuff you like
While we were waffling about the aforementioned registry conundrum and how we were going to do things our way, a few guests beat us to the punch by sending their gifts early. With no official registry for our guests to draw from, they went rogue. Which is why we have a giant ceramic sea mussel the size of our dog, sitting on our kitchen table. And because of that gift harbinger, we decided to spend a little more time thinking about housewares we would actually use and not something we would experimentally bake brownies in just to see if it withstood the oven (yes we did do that with said giant ceramic mussel). So we allowed our registry to reflect our luxurious adulting aspirations—just a teeeeeny bit. This manifested into a juicer, something we’d never spring for on our own, but now we use it every day. #RIPGiantCeramicMussel
You can remix your registry
As a wise woman (aka Maddie) once taught me, you can and should invest energy and love and sparkles into the aspects of your wedding you care about. With the stuff you don’t really care about that much—just let go! I thought that the registry was something we could just sort of let go of, except it turns out I actually cared a lot. We got married in 2017, which was a hard year on our community. We were feeling motivated to use an aspect of our wedding to have some sort of positive social impact. So in addition to registering for the previously described adulting luxuries, we also offered our guests the option to donate to three charities that represented the causes we were most passionate about and had a deep connection with. A lot of people enthusiastically donated money to these causes and bought us things like the glass terrariums we asked for. Even my cousin, who was initially confused about the idea of a registry remix (if you will) ended up adopting it for her own daughter’s wedding the following year.
Registries can be personal and fun! Get into it!
We have a lot of creative friends who had their own magical ideas of what a gift would mean to us. One group of friends commissioned a Ghanaian artist who paints vintage ’70s albums to paint a giant portrait of my partner and me on the steps of San Francisco City Hall (based a photo from our first marriage ceremony—I’ll tell you more about that over a glass of rosé). Another couple got us a giant Carrom board, because it is a Sri Lankan favorite (a shared heritage between my wife and this couple). But you don’t have to scour a flea market or fire up your craft corner to give a gift that is personalized. A lot of gifts we got were so meaningful to us and they were store bought.
Our mixologist bestie got us this amazing punch bowl because she designed the drinks for our wedding and knows we love a summertime soiree. Other friends bought us these outdoor globe string lights because they always join us on our back porch during full moon festivities.
While I was originally concerned that a wedding registry wouldn’t reflect our values, I’ve since learned that there are a bajillion ways you can queer your wedding to match your ideals, politics, and vision. For us, our registry ended up representing the ways we could be true to ourselves while also inviting our guests to participate in the Eleganza Extravaganza. So registries, you stay! Gifting anxiety, sashay away.
This post was sponsored by Crate and Barrel. With Crate and Barrel, it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’ve already built a home together, if you’re jonesing for traditional wedding gifts or are just trying to avoid giant ceramic mussels—they’ve got something for every stage of your homemaking. Plus, get like-price guarantee, free shipping, and exclusive pieces from Crate and Barrel’s artists and designers when you sign up for a Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry today. Click here to learn more or sign up for a live Crate and Barrel registry event near you.