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.

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: Leah and Mark Photography.

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