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When Your First Gay Wedding Is Your Own Gay Wedding

It's Love Like XO

Jordan & Michael

People love weddings. They are so ready to show up and show their support for you. My partner Michael and I asked all our best friends and our entire family to travel from all ends of the Earth to meet in our hometown and celebrate that we had found one another and wanted to ceremoniously commit to each other in their presence. I asked my old roommate and two of my oldest friends to spend their entire day decorating a hall, making floral arrangements, and stocking the bar.

I asked my mom to wear animal print—and my dad bought a matching tie. We helped Michael’s mom pick out a gold ball gown and his dad a tan summer suit. Michael and I picked out matching-but-not-matching outfits mixing similar colors and textures. Our wedding party chose their own outfits as well, fitting within our summertime celebration theme. We purchased the ties and necklaces from the J.Crew Factory store to give them some cohesion. We were going to make this the DIY wedding of the year.

The love and support from our families, chosen and natural, was humbling and overwhelming. For most of our guests, including Michael and myself, it was our first gay wedding. There was quite a bit of anticipation. I think even being from the Will & Grace generation, we never really thought legal marriage was in the equation for us growing up. Unless we wanted to move somewhere like Vermont. I’m sure that our families did not have this happily-ever-after expectation for us when we first came out. Gay marriage is still not legal in either Michigan or Florida, where our parents live. And our wedding took place in the first six months that it was legal in Illinois. And we got to be a part of that.

Michael and I planned a beautiful garden wedding where our 160-odd guests would sit under the Chicago summer sky as our friend Jesse sang an acoustic version of “XO” by Beyoncé. The garden was an English-style garden in one of Chicago’s larger parks. Two stone pathways flanked the seating area with beautiful rows of planted flowers and a partially covered walkway encircling the garden. We knew an outdoor wedding was risky, but thankfully if the light rain from the day of our rehearsal spilled onto our wedding day, we could seat the guests in the back of the garden under the covered part of the walkway.

Our close friend got ordained online to facilitate our nuptials. He wrote the majority of the ceremony with the guidance that we wanted a spiritual, non-religious ceremony. We’re queer and know a lot of witches, and so we decided to have our wedding on a day that was also a full moon. We thought that the symbolic nature of the full moon as part of a life cycle was fitting for a spiritual element in the ceremony.

We planned to be announced with, “May the force be with you, may you live long and prosper, and may you now kiss your partner,” followed by Jesse playing Alanis Morisette’s “Head Over Feet.” Afterwards, we would bus everyone to our ballroom venue in a 150-year old building that was originally a bank. Now, it is a very beautiful vintage-feeling ballroom where we’d serve family style dinner followed by lots of drinks and dancing.

The big day got there, and I met up with my former roommate and florist at my neighborhood grocery store to purchase buckets of sunflowers, daisies, and spray roses for him to take back to his place to arrange for us. It was a cool morning for summer in Chicago, with rain in the forecast.

And then the sky opened up. Chicago was an extension of Lake Michigan that morning. Unsure of what the rest of the day would bring and knowing how muddy the garden would be, I rolled up my sleeves and wrote an email to our entire guest list informing them we were moving the ceremony to the reception hall and pushing dinner back an hour for the ceremony to take place. Michael said, “That’s what we get for putting an Alanis Morisette song in our wedding ceremony.” Actual irony. What’s more ironic is that we really didn’t plan for an actual downpour, hoping that the weather would be on our side.

So we had the wedding we didn’t quite plan for. Our guests arrived for cocktail hour and appetizers about thirty minutes before our immediate family who had come from a pre-party at our apartment. Our wedding party, Michael, and I arrived last to a cheerful scene, alive with all of our people in line at the bar or mingling among their familiars.

About a hundred chairs were set up on the dance floor, where the guests shortly sat down and awaited the ceremony to start. The hall looked absolutely stunning—a tribute to some of the best friends we could ask for. Many of the guests parked themselves at the gold and pink decorated tables on either side of the dance floor and awaited their first same-sex wedding.

With the lights slightly dimmed, the ceremony felt so intimate. Jesse’s version of “XO” caught me off guard, and I cried my way down the aisle. Standing in front of Michael helped me pull myself together. My sister read “Variations on the Word Love” by Margaret Atwood, and Michael’s brother read the intro to William Saroyan’s play “The Time of Your Life.” Our officiant and good friend owned the mood we were seeking. He talked about family and love, the full moon, and how lucky we all were to be together. Michael and I stood in front of that room full of people and incited both laughs and tears during our customized vows, borrowing bits and pieces of other people’s vows from an APW thread.

I (Jordan/Michael) take you to be my husband. Your love, compassion, and honesty inspire me to be a worthier friend, a more loving partner, and a kinder person.

Together, we shall shoulder whatever trouble, loss, and grief we may face, and we will share together the bliss with which life may privilege us.

I promise to love the things you love (even Baseball/Fashion) and to always be your biggest fan. I will always encourage your creativity and to say “yes” to you much more often than I say “no.”

I promise to work hard for the dreams we share and to respect the value of our differences. I accept you as you are, and I offer myself (naked) in return.

You, (name), are whom I choose as my partner, my best friend and my lifelong companion.

From this day forward, we will live our lives truthfully, together, and with the most sincere commitment to one another.

When we turned to face our guests hearing Alanis’ words through the beautiful vessel of our friend, I couldn’t believe the immense love coming off the crowd welcoming us with smiles and hugs as a couple of married dudes. Our DJ, who is also a friend, followed the ceremony with, dare I say, ***flawess playlists for dinner and dancing. We slow-danced with our moms and boogied with our cousins and our besties. It was easily the best party I could have imagined. It was so us and so special.

Just like the life we had planned for ourselves, or the ones our parents dreamed of when we were little boys, our wedding day did not go exactly according to plan. I know I speak for my husband and our families when I say, I wouldn’t have changed a thing: not my rained out wedding day or the two lives it brought together forever.

The wedding night flew by as everyone says they do. It’s so rare a thing to have that many people who love you in the same place at the same time. It definitely felt like something big, and the only way I could ever imagine kicking off a lifetime of hard work and happiness. A wedding certainly is more than just one day, but a whole process of change involving so many of the people you love.

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