One day not too long ago, my partner looked at me across the breakfast table, cocked her head to the side, and shyly asked, “So we’re going to get married… right?”
I went blank. I have no question in my mind that I want to marry my girlfriend. Hell, I thought we already had the commitment thing on lock. We have a rad partnership that includes building a home together and being deeply entwined/invested/engaged in each other’s lives. We navigate career challenges, family celebrations, and world travel together. She has my back and I have hers. #lovewins! But when it comes to the actual wedding, the pomp and circumstance, I have absolutely no vision for what I really want.
So when my friend Maddie invited me to dip my little toe into the vast ocean that is wedding planning by heading to a Crate and Barrel Private Registry Event, I was deeply wary. What can a registry offer two queer women who already have a life together? Did we even belong there? I’m a pretty non-traditional human who has never really bought into the trappings of conventional wedding planning. When marriage became legal for same-sex couples I was cheering, but not because I finally got to have a big old traditional wedding that mirrored the ones my straight friends had. I was just psyched on civil rights.
For me, being queer means creating my own rituals, traditions, and ways of existing outside of systems that have never really served me or the relationships I am in. But as the reality of getting married gets closer, I’m having to examine all of my politics and choices, and asking myself what I’m willing to remix if it means that someone more traditional like my grandmother has a way to participate in my ceremony.
So this got me thinking about what a registry remix might look like. I thought of what some friends told me they had done, like asking people to donate to a charity or chip in on honeymoon travel. One of the cutest alternatives I heard was two brides asking their guests to take themselves out to dinner in their honor. C’mon. Asking your wedding invitees to treat themselves seems like such a selfless, quirky, and deeply personal thing. It’s basically the opposite of asking for presents.
Despite my reservations, and because my girlfriend is way chiller and not on a radical tirade like I am, we went hand in hand into Crate and Barrel. When we walked inside, the store was refreshingly empty, a very calming harbinger of what was to come. The Crate and Barrel staff was warm and welcoming and the vibe was totally inviting.
I looked around to check out the other couples at the event, imagining that my girlfriend and I would be two queer Irish Coffees in a sea of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. But I was totally surprised (and totally embarrassed at my ignorant assumptions), when I realized that the majority of the couples there with us were… gay. “Is this… a queer registry event?” my girlfriend asked me. Did the heavens open? Were we privy to a secret Crate and Barrel pride event outside the designated month of Pride?
These couples were relaxed, loving, and moved around the store with a familiarity and ease that evidenced their pro-status at this whole wedding planning thing. So, I talked with them about some of my reservations about exploring these more traditional waters. Here’s what I learned:
LIFE AFTER THE MERGE
Part of the reason I assumed a registry would never be for me is because my girlfriend and I are already building a life together. We both used to live with at least four roommates each, so once it was just us, foraging for domestic needs was our way of creating a personal registry to celebrate our independence. Did we really need to ask for more stuff? One of the couples, Mark and Rick (who looked remarkably put together and wide awake for an early Sunday morning), eased my nerves. They told me they’d been together for nearly a decade, so they weren’t starting from scratch either.
Now that they were finally getting hitched after years of waiting, they were using Crate and Barrel as a way to supplement their stuff. For example, they were adding some new items to their blossoming Le Creuset collection. The classy cast-iron French cookware just oozes grown woman to me. My girlfriend, the real cook in the relationship, and I both ogled at the “Caribbean” teal set and agreed it would make it onto our list. It was starting to dawn on me—a wedding registry was a vehicle to grown womanhood and an opportunity for your community to help you graduate from the hodgepodge, I-found-this-appliance-on-the-street-and-it-still-works! taste. Maybe a registry is doing everyone a favor when they come to your house and don’t want to eat off a rainbow paper plate that was leftover from your housewarming.
It’s Not About You
My bigger concern, and the thing really nagging at me, was how the idea of a registry didn’t seem in line with my politics or my self-expression. At the same time, I’m aware that the idea of two women tying the knot and celebrating it is pretty foreign to most of my extended family. My larger family’s acceptance of my sexuality ranges from when are you two getting married already? to shoulder shrug to disapproving silence. So, the jury is out on which of my family members are going to support my wedding. But, I want to give them a way to opt in and show that they support my relationship.
I was beginning to come to grips with the idea that, even if I wanted to do a magical queer departure from some conventional wedding traditions, my grandmother still wants to buy me linens. Gifting can be a love language for some people, as well as the easiest and least complicated way for them to participate in your wedding, especially if they can’t physically be there. It’s a low-stakes way to say, “I support this!”
With this in mind, I eyed the most popular water pitcher in the Crate and Barrel collection. It reminded me of drinking iced tea in the summer with my grandparents, one of the longest lasting, love-filled marriages I know. I liked the idea of that tradition making an appearance in my own relationship.
doing it for the aunties
After walking out of the event, I felt a refreshing wave of clarity wash over me. My wedding didn’t have to be all one way or another. My wedding (and subsequently, my registry) can take whatever form feels good for me and my partner. If remixing conventional wedding traditions with new magical rituals makes everything more inclusive for the most radical and conservative people in my life that I absolutely adore, then let’s do this thing. I can pick my battles. In fact, I love the idea of my old Italian aunties feeling relief at gifting me an outdoor pizza oven and then hitting the dance floor with a gaggle of my gender non-conforming besties. It might take a few pitchers of limoncello to make it happen, but bottom line: I don’t need to change who I am and my self-expression in order to have a wedding with all the different people I love.
This post was sponsored by Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry. With Crate and Barrel, it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out, or if you’ve already built a home together, they’ve got something for every stage of your relationship. 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.