If you are reading this, you probably have a wedding planned this year or next, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get legally married very soon via video conferencing. Governor Cuomo issued an executive order allowing legal marriages to happen via video conferencing apps in New York. As more information gets released about this order, other states will likely follow. But if you were planning to get married in 2020, and your wedding had to be postponed, now is the time to start thinking about your options.
Would getting legally married right now help bring you more financial security, health insurance, or make you next of kin and able to make medical decisions for your loved ones? Are those rights that might come in handy in the next few months?
Both / And
I know most folxs will have a knee jerk reaction: I want my REAL wedding to be when I get legally married! And that’s totally legit. However, this doesn’t have to be an either/or situation: Either I get legally married or I have a wedding ceremony. This can be a wonderful both/and situation: I can get legally married on zoom and have my wedding celebration later.
A legal ceremony didn’t negate or take away from a wedding ceremony or vice versa for me.
My Big Fat (Illegal) Wedding
When my wife and I had our big, illegal, Jewish, lesbian wedding, it was just that—illegal. We had no marriage certificate from the state but we had a Ketubah (our Jewish wedding contract), which mattered greatly to us. We were surrounded by our family of choice, our friends, and our community, that held up our relationship and celebrated it even though so many were working to ensure that it wouldn’t be. But we had to wait another year before we moved to Connecticut before we could go to the courthouse to legally get married. Both experiences were different, unique and special. I was actually surprised by that!
I thought after marrying my wife under our Chuppah with our Rabbi that the courthouse bit would feel… well, fun but no big deal. It was only when the justice of the peace asked me to raise my hand to swear me in that I felt like I had a stampede of antelopes running across my brain and chest. Was I in a TV court drama? This felt very serious and legal. A huge milestone. Not that my big, Jewish wedding wasn’t. But it felt different. One of my favorite photos from our courthouse wedding was me crying and Natalie laughing at the same time as we held hands, and became a legally married couple. It had a lot of emotion attached to it as an LGBTQ person who fought hard for those rights. But it also had it’s own separate magic.
Write Your Own Story
What I’m trying to say here is this: craft your own story. You can get legally married now. Or in seven months. Or wait till your larger wedding. Or not get legally married at all and just have a wedding without the legal stuff.
APW will talk about the logistics of legal virtual weddings as more details come out, because that’s what the team at APW does. But I want you to sit and talk with your partner about this issue. In this moment of crisis, would getting legally (virtually) married make you feel more secure, or stir up frustrations with wedding planning and stress you don’t need right now?
Whatever you answer is great. You and your partner might take awhile to get on the same page, and that’s fine too. And your answer today might not be your answer tomorrow or next week.
But whatever you decide, just know that having a legal wedding doesn’t take away from having a communal celebration. You may be surprised as I was at how both hold different spaces in my heart and both are wonderful memories.
And If You Want Pictures…
And, if you decide this is a thing you want to do, I’m offering 100% free facetime/virtual wedding photos or couple shots for front-line health workers, grocery store clerks, transit workers and nursing care staff now through June 1st pending availability.
For all other couples, I will be donating 50% of session fees from FaceTime weddings or couple shots to GetUsPPE.org through June 1st pending availability.
You can schedule your session and learn more over here.
Are any of you thinking about having a legal wedding while you wait for a bigger communal wedding? Are you going to do a virtual wedding if they become legal, or are you going to wait till you can head to the courthouse in person? What help and support do you need? We gotchu.