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Brides, grooms and brooms write about their wedding-planning experiences, and wedding vendors share tales from their professional experiences.
I enjoy wedding planning quite a bit…so much so that it’s borderline grotesque at times. I worry sometimes about what I’ll do with all my free time after the wedding’s over—bring back Bedazzling? Make sculptures out of garbage? Repaint every room in my house? (Most likely the latter.)
Of course, wedding planning does not exist in a vacuum. There are plenty of moving parts that affect how the celebration is coming together: last-minute bridesmaids’ break-ups; the ever-changing weather forecast; which guests must be seated as far apart as possible; and, of course, my fiancée’s tastes (if it were up to me, our color scheme would be made up entirely of various shades of pink, but neither does a marriage exist in a vacuum, and I must plan strategically for a peaceful future).
Last night I sat hunched over our coffee table, every inch of which was taken up by some sort of wedding craft, while we got caught up on “New Girl.” I was printing our programs, burning CDs for the hotel’s welcome baskets that will greet our out-of-town guests, and hand-stamping welcome notes on said CDs. We bickered back and forth a little about the price of cardstock these days. Kristie and I have done a good job so far, I think, of battling back the details that threaten to take over our lives in the remaining days leading up to the wedding. Will our one-day liquor license be approved? Is each of our guests accounted for in the hotel’s block? What if it rains? What if we run out of alcohol? What if we run out of cupcakes? Will a shellac manicure really last as long as it’s supposed to? (God, I hope so.)
This morning, we both went into work late. We woke up together (a rarity, since I have to be at work so early), had a quiet breakfast, got ready, and drove into town to apply for our marriage license. We parked on Main Street, and while joking about how maybe the fact that we didn’t have enough change for the meter meant we weren’t supposed to be picking up our license that day, a woman seated nearby with a cardboard sign that read “Homeless Mommy” intervened.
“No,” she said, “You’re supposed to get married.” With that, she tried to hand us her change to use for the meter. Touched, we demurred, telling her to keep it and that we probably deserved the ticket.
True to form, we were in City Hall longer than expected, and assumed the car had been ticketed. By the time we made it back to our car, however, we realized that the woman we’d spoken with before had indeed added her change to our meter, saving us from a ticket.
People say the devil’s in the details. That might be true. Sometimes it’s hard to see the moments when the details fall away and people’s human goodness has a chance to take center stage—perhaps it happens when we stop constantly considering details and allow ourselves to be true observers of these flashes of beauty. Cupcakes, programs, color palettes—sure, they’re all moderately important when planning a wedding. But it’s nice to be snapped out of that with a simple gesture of human kindness. What really matters is that we’re marrying each other, that we’ll be able to witness the good together for the rest of our lives. That’s the most important part; the rest can all fall away.
This wedding has been a long time coming.
Kristie and I met seven years ago, when I was a student at Mount Holyoke College. She: (Wo)manning the register at a hip store downtown, sporting a butch haircut and confidence for miles. Me: Christmas shopping; nervous, having just discovered “The L Word” and my own sexuality.
I got her phone number that night—a miracle since I couldn’t actually speak one word to her as she rang up my purchases (nervous: see above). We met up in January for a night of tea, Snakes on a Plane (don’t judge), and careful attention to the bus schedule back to campus—as in, making sure to miss the last bus home and having to spend the night at her place.
Kristie was at the tail end of a rough break-up, certainly not looking for anything serious. I had recently sworn off women for awhile after my first tryst with a member of the same sex had ended unceremoniously, to my disappointment.
But the next morning, as we were sitting and talking in her kitchen, she made me chocolate chip pancakes. Six years later, as we were sitting and talking in our kitchen, we decided to get married.
Our wedding is in eight days.
Which is not to say it’s been an easy seven years. Like every relationship, we faced trouble and doubt, sadness and time apart. We had met and fallen in love at fairly young ages, respectively, and had to work hard to make sure we were in our relationship because of choice, and not because of the simple (but strong) inertia and comfort of having been together for a long time.
I’m so happy to be in love with her, and am happy for everything we’ve been through (from fears and worries to multiple surgeries, from moving across the state to now planning a wedding—no small task). But that’s the beauty of commitment, isn’t it? Enveloped within it is a promise that the relationship, the hand-holding future, is important to both parties, and they pledge to feed it, take care of it, make it work together.
As our friends and family members start to arrive from around the world, a dress will need to be ironed. Nails will need to be painted; a vest, taken in a little. Ninety bottles of wine and two kegs of beer will be delivered to our venue. Flowers must be arranged. A ceremony, rehearsed. And after a time that I’m sure in retrospect will seem shorter than a breath, two people will be married. I can’t wait for the sweetness of the title and all it brings—“wife,” hers and mine.
Let me start by saying that I am not gay and that my "coming out" story can in no way be equal to the kind of struggles many LGBT people face when going through the daunting task of coming out to their family and friends. I do not pretend to know what that is like, and my intent of sharing this story with you is in no way trying to make light of a situation you or a close friend may have gone through, nor do I mean to belittle the challenges many LBGT people face daily.
What I can tell you is the story I am about to share with you involves the darkest days of my life and the shame I felt during this time and continue to struggle with -- though I am getting stronger each and every day.
Last week, in a room full of more than 250 of my industry peers, colleagues and friends, I was awarded the “Shining Star Award” by the Chicago chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding. WUW (as it more commonly and affectionately known) is “the world’s first nonprofit wish granting organization providing weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.”
Since its founding in 2010, WUW has granted more than 50 wishes nationally to incredibly special and deserving couples who may not have had the finances, resources, or even the time, to have a wedding of their dreams while being surrounded by the friends and family members who stood by them through the trying times they faced – or continue to face – as a couple in need.
I am thankful for being part of such an incredible community of caring, selfless, and creative individuals who make other people’s dreams come true.
I am thankful that after only 3-and-a-half short years of being a part of this industry, I was recognized by my peers as one of “the most inspirational, motivational, and giving professionals in Chicago. A Shining Star Award candidate will have demonstrated an ongoing and substantial commitment to the community and have consistently demonstrated honesty, integrity, and the highest ethical standards in his or her profession.”
I am thankful because just four years ago, I would never have believed anyone if they told me that I would be thought of this way.
Four years ago, I was at the bottom of a hole so deep, that I thought I would never be able to dig myself out. After nearly 40 years of fighting genetics from both sides of the family tree, a strong Type A personality, and never being able to say “no” to anything that was asked of me, my world crashed.
Well, I crashed, actually. Though there were probably signs my entire life, the façade finally cracked. I went from being in a bad mood to being in the emergency room in less than two weeks.
I had a nervous breakdown. A real one. Like many, I had used that terms dozens of times – when my job was stressful, my kids were driving me crazy, or I just had a few too many things on my “to do” list.
But let me tell you. There is a difference. I lost seven pounds in three days, did not sleep for almost a week, could barely walk because I was shaking uncontrollably, and literally only saw the world in black and white.
When I was diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder," I became even more depressed. This is part of the bipolar spectrum, a term that makes people think of people that are truly crazy. (Well, at least I always felt that people that were bipolar were crazy. Certifiable, even.)
I felt defective. I felt horrible about myself. What did I do wrong? Why did I "turn out" this way? How can I "change" myself to not make me this way so I could just be "normal?"
What would people think? Would they ever let my kids play with theirs again? ("No John, you can't go over to Jason's house. His mom is a bit... unstable.")
Would my husband leave me? He didn't sign up for this. He thought he was marrying a "normal" person.
To be perfectly honest, if I did not have two young children, I may not have made it. I lived minute-to-minute, thinking only of them.
With the help of an incredibly supportive husband (he did NOT leave me), top doctors I was fortunate enough to be introduced to, and the commitment of a few close friends with whom I shared my “secret,” I slowly began to rebuild – and reinvent – myself.
For over 15 years I had been known as either “Dan Bernstein’s wife” (my husband is a local radio talk show celebrity) or “Zoe and Jason’s mom.” I’m not sure some people I saw on a daily basis at my kids’ activities even knew my first name. I had no identity outside of identifying myself as “someone’s something.”
It took several months and the hardest work I have ever had to do, but I slowly began to climb out of that hole. I saw color again. I found joy in the simplest pleasures – reading my kids a story, meeting a friend for coffee and gossiping about the latest celebrity news, and taking a shower (that was a major accomplishment in the early days of recovery).
Then, just six months after hitting rock bottom, I received an email that would change my life. It was from a woman in Indianapolis who was getting married at the venue where I had previously planned, designed, and coordinated my son’s preschool fundraiser. She wanted to know if I could help her plan her wedding. She had seen photos of the work I had done and wanted to hire me. (I had spent the previous six years doing various fundraising galas while I was a “stay-at-home” mom after a decade-long career in advertising.)
“But I’m not a wedding planner. I’m a mom. Just a volunteer.” She told me that was fine – I knew the space, she was out of town finishing her degree, and desperately needed help.
With the support, friendship, and invaluable guidance of my dear friend Stephanie Pither (who owned and operated her own wedding planning business for 10 years), I helped Brittany & Dave make their wedding dreams come true. And though I gave them something, what they gave me was much, much more.
They put their complete trust in me, when I wouldn’t trust myself with anything more than getting my kids to school on time. They believed in me when I did not believe in myself. They gave me a reason to get up in the morning, take a deep breath, and say, “I can do this.” And I did.
Ultimately, they gave me my life back. They allowed me to see myself in a new light – as an individual with her own identity, not as a modifier to someone else’s.
Needless to say, that first wedding hooked me, and I wanted to do more. Again with the support of my husband, my family, and my close friends, I entered unchartered waters – this time facing the daunting task of building my own business with only one wedding under my belt.
Pretty sure I had nowhere to go but up (I had already seen the bottom and I would try everything in my power never to go there again), I followed the simple mantra from one of my kids’ favorite movies. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” from “Finding Nemo.”
And with a lot of help, it worked. I am truly humbled to receive the Shining Star Award and honored to be part of such an inclusive, supportive, generous, and talented industry.
I recently shared this story on my SQN Events blog and was very nervous about the reaction I would receive. Would my clients dump me, thinking I was unstable? Would my industry friends look at me differently and lose trust in me when we worked together? Would everyone think I was a complete fraud?
The response to my piece was just the opposite. People thanked me for sharing something so personal and almost every person said they or someone they knew had issues of depression or anxiety or an eating disorder, or something else that other people may judge them on. I hope that by sharing my story I can help at least one person get the help they need to deal with whatever it is they're going through, and that they have the type of support from family and close friends that I was fortunate enough to have.
So, what am I thankful for? Life.
Photos courtesy of Simply Jessie Photography
Tags: bipolar, borderline personality disorder, crazy, friendship, health, husband, mom, nervous breakdown, nervous breakdown, plan, support, weddings
That's G as in "guest."
As I mentioned before, our guest list has been shrinking exponentially over the past year. This is deliberate, on our parts, and unwitting on the parts of some who did not make the cut…but when all is said and done, it will be just fine, which is the point of this blog entry.
When we made out the first guest list well over a year ago, we felt we had to invite former co-workers; former bosses; “friends” (air quotes-friends-air quotes) from elementary, middle, or high school that we hadn’t seen since elementary, middle, or high school; and family members we hadn’t seen in twenty-plus years. It was a wedding, after all…and isn’t that what weddings were supposed to be: a convergence of everyone who has ever touched my life, however tangentially, with anyone who has ever touched his life?
I continue to meet newlyweds and engaged couples who tell me guest list horror stories. “My mother insisted that I invite Aunt Ethel and Uncle Herb!” Meanwhile, no one in the family has had any real contact with Aunt Ethel or Uncle Herb outside of the annual Christmas card/litany of health woes since Jimmy Carter was in office, but the bride or groom relented and Aunt Ethel and Uncle Herb were there, resplendent in polyester double-knit, regaling the guests at the reception with—you guessed it—a summary of every ache, pain, minor ailment, and major surgery they have ever had, might possibly need in the future, and will never need but fear anyway.
These are the same people who also gave in when their mother insisted on twelve bridesmaids and twelve groomsmen.
Well, our mothers were not consulted, so there will be no Aunt Ethel or Uncle Herb, but we did have the niggling voices in our own heads insisting that we invite that girl we used to hang out with and haven’t seen in ten years, or that guy we used to work with, or that couple that lived next door fifteen years ago. So, we made out our list of over seventy-five guests, and mailed off our save-the-date cards (which, while I am on the subject, are regularly referred to as STDs by any website or print publication pertaining to the wedding planning process, and I just have to ask: who in the gay hell decided that was a good idea? But I digress…). Then we had to postpone the wedding, and while it did suck, in the end it was a good thing…because over half of the people we invited the first time didn’t need to be on the guest list anyway, and when you have an entire year to really reflect on who you want to be at your wedding and why, you really learn a lot—not just about the guests, but also about yourselves.
In the past year, we really paid attention to who we kept in contact with and what those exchanges were like. Who did we see and actually hang out with, and what was it like when we spent time with them? Who, of those who lived in other states, did we keep in touch with via phone or email or social media, and what were those exchanges like? The results were surprising. I learned that I had a lot of acquaintances, but really only a solid double handful of true friends. I realized that some people I thought I liked actually irked the hell out of me if I had to spend more than five minutes with them at a time. And I discovered that I didn’t even attempt to stay in touch with some people, because you know the saying: “To have friends, you must first be a friend.” (That may be paraphrased, but you get what I’m saying.)
And Derwood went through the same discovery process, then we both came to the same conclusion: when you are making out the list of people you want to surround yourself on what you fully intend to be the happiest, most symbolic day of your life, why would you even consider—or allow yourself to be coerced into—having anyone there who does not play a truly vital role in your life? I mean, I don’t want to be exchanging vows and glance out over the gathering and have to gnash my teeth at the sight of an Aunt Ethel or an Uncle Herb or that annoying cow from the office or that guy I had that class with who asked all those annoying questions. I want to be happy and at peace and filled with positive thoughts and good energy. And why anyone would want otherwise for their wedding day goes beyond my comprehension.
So, here we are, less than a month from our wedding day, and we have mailed out new invitations—sent, strategically, only five weeks before the day—to less than fifty people. At this point, we are at less than forty confirmed guests, and those are people we really and truly want to be there. Now, we really and truly wanted everyone we invited to be there, too, but life happens. As I keep saying, we’re keeping it small and cheap and very intimate. I know there are those folks out there who will accept no less than a ginormous wedding on the scale of the British royal family, and to them I say “Have fun with that! But don’t let me run into you later and listen to you whine about Aunt Ethel and Uncle Herb!”
Blog post sponsored by Restaurantware.com
Have you been planning your outside wedding reception recently? Is it time to decide on the catering aspect of the event? If so, this means you have to decide to cater it yourself or to have it catered by a professional catering company. There are many objectives to consider before you make this type of decision, like money, for instance. If you are on a pretty tight budget it might be smarter to have your family help you out and simply take on the task of catering it yourself. Although, you might be a little nervous catering your reception, the fact is, you shouldn’t be. It really can be a very exciting endeavor.
The excitement starts by preparing the menu. The easiest and most productive way to go about creating a great menu is to get together with your fiancée and combine your favorite dishes into the feast that your guests will be eating during your celebration. However, just remember to incorporate some recipes that showcase your outside theme. A few examples of this could be some sort of grilled meat, a green salad as a side dish and a variety of fresh seasonal fruit for dessert.
After you have decided on the menu, it will be time to pick out your catering tableware products. The key to this task is to use high-quality classy disposable catering items. The reason you should use striking disposable tableware is because it makes clean up a snap. In addition, this type of tableware can add depth and character to any kind of outside table setting especially if you mix different colors and styles together.
Here’s a little hint that might help you out with the purchasing of unique classing catering tableware products. Simply visit Restaurantware.com because they offer high-quality cleverly constructed catering items. Matter of fact, you can buy products like classy White or Seagreen Plates, earthy Bamboo Bowls, stunning Black Canoe Dishes, beautiful outdoorsy skewers and many other fantastic catering items. So finding the perfect products for your project of catering a wedding reception is very easy, indeed.
Think about how exciting it will be for you to cater you own outside wedding reception. Don’t you think figuring out the menu, purchasing dynamic catering tableware products and arranging it all in your own stylish manner is a great idea? Surely, it’s something worth considering for everyone who is getting married in the near future.
With no wedding date in sight, it’s hard to plan for a wedding as well as write for a wedding blog regularly, but it doesn’t prevent me from wanting to be excited about my engagement and weddings in general. I’ve changed my mind a million times about the vision of our big day since we got engaged. Now that we have no date, I feel that we will be starting from square one when we do decide.
In the meantime though, some exciting things have and will continue to happen. We have found an engagement photographer who is volunteering their services in trade for my delicious cooking. We have never had photos taken together, other than a few self portraits, so it is incredibly exciting to do a shoot with my love as an engaged couple. I feel it will make it more of a reality to us as well as our friends and family.
Another really exciting thing that has thrilled me beyond words, was getting a chance to meet Monte Durham from Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. I was a safety volunteer for the TC Pride Festival and so while roaming the festival I saw a handsome man I recognized. I must admit I walked right up to him and asked him if he was by chance Monte and he very graciously took a minute to chat with me. He even suggested that we take a photo together! He, then, very sweetly kisses my fiancée and I on the cheek goodbye, as he wishes us the best on our future marriage. While I could never afford one of those glorious dresses, I adore the Atlanta version of the show as well as Monte and Lori. I'm not one to drop names or brag but it really was one of my favorite wedding related moments thus far.
Lastly, while not a huge monumental moment, it was still special to me. My fiancée brought home two wedding magazine for me to browse through the other day. It was one of the most wedding-related things Clara has done lately. She wants to be involved but hasn’t had the time and with the lack of budget, she has distanced herself from the planning process. It was nice to see that we haven’t given up completely.
While I have a vision of our big day, and a celebration with all our friends and family, the important thing is that we are together. It doesn’t have to happen today or even next year, although I really hope it is not too far in the future. Clara made the point that being engaged is just another step in our relationship and therefore we should enjoy being in this stage. She is right of course, but don't tell her I said that. I love her and she loves me and as I said before that is truly the one thing that really matters at the end of the day.
Want to see something funny? (No, you don’t have to pull my finger.)
Tell people you plan on spending a grand total of $2,500 on your wedding and watch their reaction.
“But…but…I spent that much on flowers!” they’ll shriek, wide-eyed with astonishment. Or, “My veil cost $2,500!” Or, “So…you’re not having any guests at your wedding, are you?” This last one is my personal favorite; like I’d have a wedding and not invite anyone. (I have recently been called a “narcissistic groomzilla,” thanks to my blogging, so I certainly don’t want to risk my reputation.)
I have met entirely too many newly married couples who act as if they had no control over the cost of their own wedding. They present themselves as hapless victims of some unseen race of Wedding People In The Sky who, with the aid of fire and brimstone, decreed that there would be no wedding without a price tag upwards of $50,000. “I just had to have 12 bridesmaids,” laments the poor bride. “We just had to get married on the French Riviera,” grunts the groom, with a roll of the eyes.
Um. No, y’all didn’t.
Weddings have gotten out of hand, folks. When did memorable become synonymous with expensive? Let me tell you, I will never forget my first car—a 1979 Mazda GLC hatchback, the color of metallic diarrhea—but it was hardly expensive. As a matter of fact, I have a wool coat that cost more than that car did. But I digress.
Weddings have gotten out of hand. It’s turned into a competition, as has most everything in the world these days, thanks to the audio-visual plague of “reality” TV. Everything is a war: Cupcake Wars (it’s a cupcake, for the love of fuck; no one has to lose a limb!), Storage Wars, Whale Wars. Someone who makes the decisions at TLC or Bravo will, no doubt, see this and have a light bulb moment, and we’ll have Wedding Wars before the year is out, hosted by none other than that self-appointed protector of the sanctimony of marriage himself—Newt Gingrich. But, again, I digress…
My wedding is not going to be The Mother Of All Weddings. I am not Kim Kardashian, thank the sweet baby Jesus. I’m not flying the wedding party and guests to a secluded beach in Hawaii, and I won’t have 12 bridesmaids who I expect to pay an arm and a leg for a dress they will only wear once. I have a back yard and it isn’t going to cost me $5,000 to rent it for three hours, with a further obligation to use a certain caterer for another $5,000. As a matter of fact, I’ll be doing all the food myself, which really sends folks into fits of apoplexy. “WHY???” they wail. “You won’t be able to enjoy your big day!” Actually, I will be able to enjoy my big day, because I’ll be happy in the knowledge that I fed 65 people for less than $250—and no, I’m not kidding.
Maybe it’s because women have been planning their weddings since they were old enough to pronounce the word, and gay men have only recently gotten serious about marriage. We come to the altar with less outside expectation, so we can drape some tulle between two trees in our back yard, throw on a tie, invite a few close friends, and call it a wedding. Meanwhile, Pinterest boards are replete with wedding fantasies that would make Martha Stewart’s head spin. By the time most women actually float down the aisle wearing Louboutins, on a carpet of organic rose petals in a Vera Wang number with a price tag that could easily bankrupt a developing nation, the planning has been going on for 20 years or more. There is a battalion of bridesmaids and groomsmen, a flower girl and ring bearer dressed to look like the bride and groom, a carriage drawn by no fewer than eight snow white horses, a bottle of Dom Perignon at each table for the toast—and there are 30 tables with eight guests apiece, a full orchestra, servers in tie and tails… You get the idea.
Now, if you can afford a wedding like that, great! Have at it. Or, if your oil tycoon father is footing the bill, take the money and run. But most of us can’t afford a royal wedding, and that’s great, too.
I started planning our wedding the day after Derwood asked me to marry him, and within a month, it was done. We’ve postponed once, but nothing has changed, and we’re moving into the home stretch again. The most expensive things on our list are the Champagne (although…isn’t Prosecco cheaper, now that I think of it?) and the silverware and glass rental. I’m wearing jeans, a dress shirt, a vest, a tie and Vans. Derwood is wearing jeans, a dress shirt, a tie, a jacket and Chucks. We have four bridesmaids who get to buy and wear whatever they want, as long as they stick to our color palette. There are no horse-drawn carriages. Our guest list is small (and getting smaller as folks unknowingly remove themselves from it…but that’s a topic for another blog entry, so stay tuned!). Decorations are cheap, as I am hoping to grow all the pumpkins we’ll use, and the rest will come from farmers markets—you gotta love a fall wedding! Oh, and we may very well be handing out disposable cameras for guests to do the photography…although this is still up in the air.
So, like I said, $2,500. It can be done. And I’d rather spend money on the honeymoon, anyway. Also, there’s that whole thing about putting more into the marriage than putting too much into the wedding. This will be my only wedding, so I don’t want to jinx things. And maybe I can have a side career as a budget wedding planner. Now there’s a thought.
Many girls dream of long luscious locks on their wedding day, and lately me being one of them. I don’t know what had inspired this dream as I have always been content with my short, asymmetrical bobs, sexy shags and on occasion even a faux hawk. I have always been rather androgynous, never leaning too far one way or another when it comes to femininity. What is it about weddings that brings out this ultra-feminine, lock-loving, dress-wearing, alter-ego of mine? If I was going to dig deep into my soul, I would find a whole mess of emotions ranging from a need for societal acceptance to my own personal image issues. Almost all of the wedding magazines feature magnificent up-dos and cascading curls. Although enlightening, this story isn’t about all that. This is about my run in with sew-in extensions.
After coming to the realization I would desire long hair for my wedding, which was supposed to occur next month, I scoured the Internet for the best way to do extensions. After reading many reviews and hair articles, I figured the best solution would be sew-in extensions. They are temporary but not too temporary and less expensive and damaging than other methods. I decided on 14-inch human hair extensions as they would give me length and volume. I had them put in professionally, I might add. The first few days with them in were actually pretty great. It took some getting used to but I had the hair I desired and it looked really natural. Then all of a sudden, a few days later, a horrible itching began. Nothing I did would make it stop, I tried washing it, conditioning it, blow drying it, even at one point rubbing Hydrocortisone all over my scalp. It was awful! To make matters worse, this itch attack occurred every few days! After a few weeks went by, the itching subsided some but I discovered a new problem, the tracks had become loose and the hair had become unmanageably tangled. This where I stand now. I have a frizzy tangled mess that has seen nearly a half of bottle of conditioner over the last few days. It almost looks as though I have a critter living on my head! I thankfully have an appointment at the end of the week to have this mess removed, just in time for the Twin Cities Pride. Hopefully I can handle it until then!
If anything, this experience has given me a funny story to tell along with a new found sense of self-contentment. The grass isn’t always greener and I don’t need to conform to society's portrayal of what they believe a bride should be. My fiancée has loved me on the of best hair days and the worst of hair days and that’s the only thing that should truly matter at the end of the day.
First, I will start off with the exciting news, we are coming up on one year of engagement on the 22nd of this month! Now for the not so exciting news, my fiancée and I have agreed it is time to throw in the towel and announce that the wedding will not happen this summer as we have planned. It is already June after all and we haven’t saved a dime. Life has been crazy the past few months as I am trying to prepare to go to fashion school in August and Clara, my fiancée, after months of waiting has just now been hired permanently to her engineering firm. We needed to know if this was going to happen months ago. So simply put: Life got in the way.
What we have come to realize though through this process is what we really want/need is a vacation and so we have discussed the possibility of a destination wedding. Mexico was the first option we considered but my fiancée had been too many times to count and I really wanted it to be special. Then I remembered, Clara had never been to Hawaii! She has toured Europe, been to Mexico, various countries of South America, Jamaica, and even Belize but had never been to the Hawaiian Islands. To make it even better, after letting my grandmother know that we were sure the wedding was not happening this summer and we were considering Hawaii, she informed me that they already planned to be in Hawaii in May!
So what do these new plans mean? Clara and I now have to change the date, gather and save the funds, study up on which company offers the best services to LGBTQ couples, find flights, find hotels, rent cars, etc. But now that the day is 11 months away instead of less than 2 months, this seems way more manageable. It is a little disappointing but I know we are not the first couple to have to move the wedding to a later time and everyone is pretty understanding. So as of now I’m okay with these new plans as long as we don’t turn into the “5 Year Engagement.”
So, President Obama has come out in support of gay marriage on the heels on North Carolina voters passing Amendment One, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman—and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, please email me the directions to the rock you’ve been living under. Within seconds, Facebook lit up with praise for Obama from the LGBTQ community and scorn from Republicans…and don’t get me wrong—it was truly momentous for a sitting President to openly declare that he thinks gays and lesbians should have the same rights to marry as anyone else, and I’m glad someone over there on Pennsylvania Avenue finally did it, but what no one seems willing to admit is that all he did was state a personal opinion. His words: “…I think same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.”
Not “As of this moment, same-sex couples officially have the right to get married.”
Not “I have made it possible for same-sex couples to get legally married in every state in the Union.”
So we won’t be adding the President and Mrs. Obama to our guest list in the hopes that they’ll gift us with enough money to remodel our kitchen as their “regret only.” Thank you, Mr. President, but if it were just up to one person who, essentially, has no dog in the fight, we wouldn’t even be discussing this in 2012. Did he say it to win votes, as some people have declared? Perhaps. But how can you win the votes of the people who were going to vote for you in the first place?
My point—and I do have one—is that it is the responsibility of those of us wanting to get married to make it happen, and we have to act like people who want to not only have a wedding but to actually be married. I know of several gay couples who proudly declare “We’ve been married for ten years!” who then declare, just as unabashedly, that they spend a week every summer in Palm Springs or Fort Lauderdale because, in their words, “the boys there are so yummy, and we can take our pick!”
I know a grand total of zero straight, married couples who spend summers in whatever heterosexual den of iniquity that may exist “taking their pick.” Do such couples exist? Surely they do, but from what I can tell, they are a minority, whereas I seem to meet more swinging gay couples than I do monogamous ones. And I used to be one of those gays. I honestly believed that I wasn’t gay enough if I weren’t running around, with or without my partner, taking my pick. I thought I had to be unfaithful and promiscuous in order to be a respectable gay man, because hey—we didn’t have the same rights as straight people, anyway, so why not? And, yes, I ran around demanding marriage equality even then. Go figure.
My other point is that we, as gays, can march around with our fists in the air, demanding that our marriages be viewed the same (that is, equal) to straight marriages, but until we make them the same, no one is going to listen to us. When what we say and what they see us do aren’t even the same, how can we expect to be taken seriously? And do we even know what we’re asking for when we ask for the same rights to marry? Do we really understand that we can’t just break up with a guy after three months, or six months, anymore for some half-ass reason just because we want to date other people? Because “breaking up” after you’re married is called “divorce,” and that requires a little more than packing your shit in a Target bag at 3 a.m. and going to stay with your BFF Ashley Amber until you can get your own place when you get paid. We all know those straight guys who sit, despondent, and complain that they lost everything in a divorce. And by “everything,” they mean everything.
Likewise, we all know those young, foolish straight couples who spent all their energy on their expensive wedding in The Bahamas and had nothing left for the actual marriage part of being married, who ended up divorced within a year. I know I don’t want to be a statistic…although, if anyone is feeling generous, I will take a wedding in The Bahamas.
But I digress…
If you’re gay and engaged, I wish you all the best in the universe, but know what it means—not just for you, but for everyone else at this moment, and for everyone who follows in your wake. We can get all the support from politicians and Hollywood that they’re willing to dispense, but in the end it’s up to us to set the proper example and show all those folks with one foot in the voting booth and the other firmly planted in the 1800s, that gay people can be married and committed just like straight people…only dressed better, and with cooler hair.
Last month, I wrote about the "B" word -- budget. Today I am going to talk about the "C" word. Commission. They go hand in hand. Like couples do.
It's a dirty word and one that is whispered often in this industry, but rarely spoken about in public. Especially to clients.
Recently, the highly respected wedding designer, Preston Bailey, blogged about this controversial topic.
"Let's say a bride is spending $100,000 for her wedding," Bailey wrote, "and the planner is getting 15% (the going commission rate) from all the vendors. The bride thinks she's getting a $100,000 wedding. But, in reality, she's being shortchanged. $15,000 is a lot of money and can make a big difference in the look and feel of an event."
Of course not every wedding budget is $100,000. But it still adds up. A $30,000 wedding would really be a $25,500 wedding. That money (which is going to the planner) would go a LONG way for the couple.
Aside from the moral problem I have with this issue (I have complete transparency with my clients), I think it leads down a very narrow path. As prevalent as this practice is, there are still many vendors (photographers, musicians, florists, etc.) who just don't accept this policy (good for them!) and have to turn away potential business. And the planners that only refer vendors who pay commission have fewer wonderfully talented, creative, and professional people to bring to their clients to create the best team for their wedding.
I use the word team because that is how I feel about my "vendors." (I don't even like that word too much because it sounds very impersonal.) It does take a team of people to make a wedding fun, memorable and seamless for a wedding couple and their guests.
Yes, I am good at my job. But I would not be able to do it without my team. I can't hang chandeliers or sing if my life depended on it. Flowers die when I look at them. My cooking skills are limited to the microwave and take-out. I can't even take a decent picture with my iPhone. I need my team to make me better at my job, and in turn, I make them better at theirs by eliminating stress and confusion on the wedding day. A happy team makes a happy wedding. Plain and simple.
I have 15 weddings this year and I have a different team for each and every one. Yes, I may be working with the same photographer or florist for more than one wedding, but the entire team is never duplicated.
It says directly on our website, blog and contract that "SQN Events does not accept commission from vendors. We pride ourselves on recommending and working with the best fit for our clients and maintain strong relationships with a variety of venues, caterers, florists, musicians, photographers, and more."
"Best fit for our clients." Not best fit for our wallets. We work with budgets and guest lists of every size. One size does not fit all. If I only worked with a handful of vendors because I knew I was going to get a kick-back, I would be doing my clients a huge disservice. No two weddings are alike. That's why no two teams I work with are alike.
Another reason this issue bothers me so much is that some planners who take commission (on the sly) have lower rates than I do. Well, of course they do! They are making their money elsewhere -- from the vendors they recommend to their clients. So, when a couple is comparing my proposal to another, I may be perceived as more expensive, when in fact I am saving them money in the end.
My tip for the day is to add this question to your list when interviewing planners.
Commission. It's a dirty word and a dirty practice. Let's clean this mess up.
Coming out is such a pain, right? Coming out to ourselves is often hard enough, but then having to tell other people over and over and over again gets really old really fast.
If you meet someone special enough to marry, you’ll find that coming out while planning your wedding is seriously annoying.
But one of the most important considerations to think of when planning your gay wedding is: how comfortable do you feel with coming out?
Did you know that the average wedding has 43 vendors? This means that you may come out more than 100 times throughout the course of your wedding planning – to the vendors you hire and the vendors you don’t!
As you begin your planning, it’s critical to work with vendors you trust. You’ll find that many vendors will be thrilled to hear from you and will be amazingly supportive. But you may find that some vendors will assume that you’re straight, put you in a box and otherwise make you feel really awkward and sometimes, downright awful.
When you call or email a vendor or venue, come out right away! Say very explicitly “this is a gay wedding!” Don’t give them a chance to assume that if you’re a female calling, that you’re marrying a male. Trust your gut instinct. If you get a weird vibe from someone, move onto someone else.
Make sure that all staff are comfortable, not just the person cashing your check. In my experience, this is especially true with limo drivers, servers and bartenders. Don’t be afraid to ask the caterer, “Is your entire staff going to be comfortable with this wedding?”
Remember – you’re going to be spending your hard-earned dollars on this wedding. Don’t take any chances with vendors who aren’t your ally.
On most first dates, each person is a little nervous, not sure what to say, and afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. As a wedding planner, this is also true of many of our initial consultations with couples. Everyone has a lot of questions, but wants to keep the conversation fun and upbeat – after all, we are planning a wedding!
But there are three important questions that I must ask in the beginning of our relationship that may make you a bit uncomfortable. But trust me, if we are to have a second date and ultimately sweep you off your feet “until death do us part” (or at least through the wedding day), we must be open and honest from the start.
Number One: The “B” word. It’s everyone’s least favorite topic, yet the most important. Budget. Knowing your overall budget for the wedding is the only way for us to make the most of our time together, bring you only the best options, and save you, your partner, and your families much of the stress that accompanies wedding planning.
Setting the budget sets the foundation upon which all other decisions are made. A good planner will only recommend venues, photographers, florists, etc. that you can actually afford, instead of taking you to site visits and meetings that may set your expectations too high and lead to disappointment later if they don’t work within your budget. This can easily lead to family strife – your parents really do want you to be happy and have everything you want on your wedding day, but it just may not be possible. Set the budget, stick to it, and I assure you that planning your wedding will be way less stressful for everyone.
Number Two: Make your guest list early. This actually goes hand-in-hand with setting your budget, as the number of guests dictates the size of the venue (and any necessary rentals, depending on if you are booking at a hotel or country club that has everything you need, or going with that cool industrial space that only comes with four walls and a floor) and the food and beverage costs – two of the largest line items on your budget.
The number of guests will give you a very good idea of the dollar amount you can spend per person on food and beverage. It also tells you how many tables you will need floral and linens for. Larger budgets don’t necessarily mean a more luxurious wedding. $30,000.00 can go much further when you have 100 guests versus 250.
Number Three: Set your priorities. Are you and your partner really into music? Do you want an 11-piece orchestra or an energetic DJ? These costs vary widely – a great DJ may cost only $1,000 to $2,500 while a band can be upwards of $8,000-$12,000.
Foodies? Do you have to have a full four-course meal with filet mignon and lobster? Or will food stations with pasta, salads, and crudite with some cheese & crackers suffice? (This also goes hand-in-hand with the overall vision you have for your wedding – more formal/traditional or a fun cocktail party vibe.)
Figure out what is most important to you and work from there.
Covering these three areas during the initial consultation with your planner will give them the key information they need to help you plan your wedding and make the process as fun, stress-free and productive as possible. So, don’t be afraid that you’re going to make a “bad impression.” After all, being open and honest is crucial to any good relationship.
Weddings are hard work. We haven’t completed much yet but the the planning is overwhelming. We are doing everything ourselves. With a little over 100 days until our special day, the pressure is beginning to build. Our budget is next to none at this moment in time, which just adds to the craziness. Some days this whole thing sounds so impossible. My solutions? I wrote to Ellen. Yes, that Ellen. I wrote to Ellen DeGeneres, and not just once. On my rare spare time, I also read blogs, wedding sites, scourer the internet for ideas, watch David Tutera, and enter wedding contests. I laugh at myself because I'm turning into one of "those brides."
Despite my lapse in sanity, I/we have actually been planning. We decided to have our ceremony/reception at my grandmothers house in Oregon, where most of my family and our friends live. We will do something small to legalize it as well either in Iowa or if everything is in our favor, Washington. Venue is one cost I am so grateful that we can avoid.
The next decision that has been made is that I am making our cake. I am an “all natural” nut! I snub just about anything with a hint of artificial, with an exception to a few weaknesses such as an occasional grape soda. Looking at vendors and quotes, I couldn’t find anything within my teeny tiny budget so I started looking up recipes and found an amazing one I adjusted a bit. It is an extra chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and chocolate mousse frosting. I have done a trial run and my fiancée fell in love with me all over again. I bought a new spring form pan and a few more cooking utensils that will hopefully help for the second trial. We are looking at around 50 guests so I think making our own cake shouldn’t be too unreasonable.
My take on peanut butter filling for a 9 inch cake :
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1/4 cup organic peanut butter (regular is fine)
- 1 cup organic whipping cream (originally called for whipped topping, ew)
- A smidge of raw sugar (2 TBSP confectioners sugar)
- The original recipe said to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the peanut butter and sugar; beat until blended. Add whipping cream. (But because I do not own a mixer, I used a blender)
Planning at times hasn't always been light hearted. When it comes to the topic of family, its quite complicated. To be honest, I have yet to tell my mother, or father for that matter, that I am engaged. I just don’t see the point with how everything has been in the past. Although with social media influence, I’m sure some of my more liberal family members have told them.
To make it a little more complicated, I am also adopted but have reunited with my biological family on my father’s side over the last few years. The good news is they have supported my relationship with Clara and have welcomed her into the family. As I mentioned earlier, my grandmother is allowing us to use her house. My biological mother is in Texas and I really have no clue whether she will attend or not. The way we see it though for the most part is that the people who need to be there will be and everyone else shouldn't matter.
On a lighter note, our next adventure will be deciding what our guests will eat. I am taking a trip to Portland next month for the first time since we decided on the location. Hopefully this trip and meeting with my family in person will help me be able to get more informed and organized as we make our final decisions. We still have a lot of work to do but we aren't ready to throw in the towel yet!
I need to know something.
When did a wedding invitation become the Holy Grail to straight, white, twenty-something women? Because if I have one more straight, white, twenty-something woman I don’t know more or less invite herself to my wedding, I will not be responsible for what comes out of my mouth.
And no, I am not kidding.
This is how it usually happens: I’m out somewhere (say, a restaurant) and I run into someone I know who is there with friends, and he/she will ask me how wedding plans are going, and I’ll tell him/her about it, and the next thing I know, some chick I don’t know is in my face, shrieking, “Ohmygod! You’re getting married? Ohmygod! I think that’s SO. CUTE! Can I come?”
Um. First, who the hell are you? And second, no. Make that hell no.
To begin with, this heifer just butted into a conversation of which she was no part. Rude. Furthermore, there are people I actually know who aren’t going to make it onto the guest list, so who does she think she is? I mean, really. Who are these people?
Is there some overpowering need, coded into human female DNA through centuries of evolution, to shop for a dress and shoes that drives this behavior? I can see the Facebook status updates already: “At the mall looking for the perfect little black dress to wear to a wedding! I love my life!” Or, “Found the perfect dress, but it was green and we all know how green clashes with my spray-on tan. Why does this always happen to me?”
Do all gay couples deal with these women who, for the sake of appearing socially evolved and politically correct, need to be the guest at a gay wedding? Because that’s usually the next thing out of their mouths—right after I haven’t responded to their demand for an invitation: “I think it is SO. BRAVE. that you guys are doing this. I think everyone should have the right to marry the person they love!"
(Insert a stare of utter disbelief.)
For the record, bravery has little to do with it. We aren’t digging trenches and firing missiles at an army of Bible-thumping religious conservatives bivouacked across the street. (Although, now that I think of it, that would make for a kick-ass bachelor party!) We’re having a quiet ceremony in our backyard with a small group of our friends, and it’s more a quiet declaration of our love and commitment to one another than it is a battle cry. And yes, I am aware that the simple act of doing such a thing at all in the Fascist state of Georgia is taking a stand of sorts, but honestly… I just want to marry my boyfriend.
Meanwhile, these women and their need to be at a wedding—any wedding—completely baffle me. They even do it to straight brides-to-be. I catered a wedding shower recently and the bride-to-be told me it had happened to her more times than she could recall. Seriously? Is it a result of all the wedding and Bridezilla shows on TV these days? Like the Olympics—do people see weddings on TV and vow to attend one before they die? I really can’t think of a logical reason, but if you or someone you know is one of these women, stop it. Now. It’s not pretty, and frankly, it’s just plain weird. Go find your own gay couple and demand they invite you to their wedding. And make sure they’re giving out prescriptions for Ativan as favors.
My husband is a sports radio broadcaster in Chicago. It must have been a slow sports news day last week, as I received the following text from a friend: “Dan is discussing tuxes and weddings. It’s cracking me up.”
Intrigued, I decided to tune in. (I don’t normally listen to him – on the radio or at home, for that matter.)
He was in an argument with his recently-married producer about whether or not all men in the wedding party should wear the same tux.
Producer’s opinion: "Absolutely."
Dan: "No. I own my own tux. I wore it in my cousin’s wedding before I got married, wore it for my own wedding, and have worn it to every other wedding I stood up in since. If I have my own, why would I have to rent one?"
Producer: "So you match."
Dan: "A tux is a tux!"
I agree with my husband (which is rare). A classic black tux is just that. Classic. If you want your male or butch attendants to all wear the same tie, that’s fine. Ask them to rent the tie or even better, provide it for them.
If you own a tux, it should come with both a cummerbund (for people who got married in the 80s) and a set of suspenders. So you can decide which look you would like all of them to have and those that own a tux can be consistent with the others.
The latest trend in bridesmaid fashion is for women to wear different style dresses so they can choose one that fits their body type best. Even wearing different shades in the same color palette is in vogue. If women don’t have to match, why on earth do men?
Unless you are going for a completely different look for the men than a traditional black tux (light blue with wide lapels circa 1978 perhaps), please don’t ask your friends and family to spend money on renting when they have already invested in purchasing one. (Which every man should do, but that’s a different post.)
Full disclosure: When my husband and I got married in 1999, I was informed that his cousin would be wearing his own tux in the wedding. It was double-breasted. I was 28, a complete bridezilla, and freaked out. “But no one else has a double-breasted tux! It’s going to look awful, just awful! He MUST rent one.” The response I received from Dan’s family was clear: Brian would wear his own tux and that’s that.
Guess what? He looked great because he was in a custom-fitted tux, it was black just like the others, and no one noticed it was slightly different. Not even me. I was too busy being blissfully happy, as I was about to marry the person with whom I would spend the rest of my life
A tux is a tux, but a partner for life is not as easy to find the perfect match for.
Photo courtesy of Garbo Productions
I was really thrilled to be asked to blog for Equally Wed. I’ve been in the wedding industry a long time—eight years—and have been planning LGBT weddings this whole time through my company, 14 Stories. It’s been so much fun to see the resources for same-sex couples increase—and the quality of those resources get even better. Equally Wed is totally unique and very well done, so I am proud to be part of it.
Sometimes people ask me, “Why does anyone need a gay wedding planner?” From my perspective, it’s simple. I really do believe that there is an LGBT culture, just as there is a Jewish culture, an African-American culture, an Indian culture and so forth. And with cultures come history, baggage, traditions, rituals, jokes and stories. Who better to tell those stories than someone who can relate?
We have clients who have been together dozens of years and can now finally legally marry in their home state. We have clients who have been living with HIV and have seen friends and role models die before them. We have clients who seriously debate whether or not their parents will be invited to the wedding. We have clients who have had commitment ceremonies and civil unions and legal weddings in other states, and are working with us to do it again! We have clients, who like myself and my wife, are raising children together.
Our community is super diverse and we all have stories to tell. I encourage you to find the story of your own relationship and find a way to tell that story in your wedding. It could be in the food you serve, or the way it is served. It could be in the first dance song. It could be in the words spoken during your ceremony. One way or another, tell your story, because I’m sure it’s lovely—and can really impact your guests.
One more thing I’m passionate about—having the right to legally marry is still rare for same-sex couples. Most places in the world it’s illegal. If you are getting legally married, please don’t take that right for granted. When you’re planning your wedding, maybe ask your guests to make a donation to support marriage equality in lieu of gifts. Or maybe you make a donation to marriage equality charities in lieu of favors. Or maybe there’s some acknowledgement during the ceremony that this is a moment that is historic, sacred and special.
Please consider those options or some others as a way to pay tribute to those who cannot legally marry the person they love. Love is the best thing ever, but it’s so much better when you are legally, equally wed.
When I was a kid, there were three things of which I was absolutely certain: 1.) that I was a member of a highly intelligent alien race from another planet, put on Earth as part of a long-term research project to study Human behavior, 2.) that girls were squishy and they smelled funny, and 3.) that I was going to marry Hoss Cartwright, from Bonanza
Well, turns out that Dan Blocker had died before I was even aware of who he was, but girls were still squishy and funny-smelling, and all this I would report back to my people when the mother ship returned for me…whenever that would be.
Clearly, I was a weird kid. Are all gay kids this weird? Maybe, maybe not. But that feeling of isolation, of being the only gay or lesbian or queer
person in the universe, certainly makes for some interesting coming-of-age stories. These days, I know that my story is actually pretty typical—although I do get interesting reactions when I mention my early plan of a life of wedded bliss with Hoss. I guess being a superior alien life form, it never occurred to me that I wasn’t allowed to marry Hoss…or, later, Ben (from The Waltons
) or Christopher Cross…or any man, for that matter.
As part of my ongoing research into Human behavior, I eventually grew out of celebrity crushes and on to the real thing. From silent crushes, I moved to dating…the wrong guy, more often than not. Then to living together, long-term—also with the wrong guy…two of them, to be exact. I lost faith in men, got it back, lost it again. Listened to a lot of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill
. In those days, we didn’t contemplate marriage
; back then, we planned commitment ceremonies
…then promptly abandoned them with each break-up.
Well, these days, we can call it what it is—marriage.
I met Darin in October of 2009, and he could not have been less interested in me. He swears he thought I was straight. (*side eye*) Well, I was
scruffy and wearing a camo John Deere cap with a fishhook clipped to the bill…but I like to think the fact that I was fawning on him in a most illogical manner unbecoming to a superior alien life form should have tipped him off. He was having none of it…until March of 2010, when he sent me a friend request on Facebook. My initial reaction was one of complete bewilderment: why in gay hell was he
a friend request? The answer—to stalk me for the next month before finally working up the nerve to flirt…then to call me, on April 15 as I was doing my taxes…then to ask me out.
We went for really over-priced Thai food and to see the remake of Clash Of The Titans
in 3D. The food was okay. The movie sucked. But he had blue eyes and dimples, so in the interest of my ongoing research, I was willing to continue seeing him. Then he cooked for me, and the decision was made—I was going to marry this man.
He proposed to me at my birthday party, four months later, in front of everyone I know. The ring was from Tiffany. There’s even a video of the proposal somewhere on YouTube. Originally, we set the date for November of 2011, but life got in the way and we moved it to October 2012. We’ll see. I want a Fall wedding, with leaves and pumpkins, and he was agreeable…until I mentioned having crows as part of the decorations and theme. That took some real negotiating, but in the end, I got my crows. We’ll probably disagree about music when the time comes, too. I’m sure he’ll strike down having Joan Jett on the playlist.
Or we may just run off to one of the states or countries where gay marriage is legal these days (Darin is from Washington, as a matter of fact), have a quickie wedding, then come back to Atlanta and have a party with friends. There doesn’t seem to be any real pressure to get it done, and that’s fine by me. Actually, now that I think about it, a London wedding doesn’t sound bad at all!
Clara and I met in September of 2009 through OkCupid, the dating website. I emailed her first. I was amused by Clara’s matter-of-fact attitude especially when I saw she wrote “sex appeal” underneath the “what do people notice first about you” section of her profile. After chatting online for a few days while she was in Minneapolis, we decided to meet in person the night Clara flew home to Portland. We agreed to meet at Pioneer Square after she stopped home to drop off her luggage and catch up with her roommate. We connected right away and spent our first date eating pizza side by side on her long board. We became inseparable after that.
Nearly two years, a move to Seattle, and a lot of patience later, I finally was able to say “I love you” to Clara for the first time. After that moment, I realized she was someone I wanted to grow old with. I spent many months searching for the perfect ring. Finally, in early May I ordered a simple ring from Tiffany's, something that truly fit her style. It was engraved with those three words that took me so long to say. To really personalize the ring, I even had it hand engraved with our initials on the inside.
I originally planned a proposal of long boarding, in honor of our first date. It was supposed to occur at Alki Beach in Seattle ending with a bonfire and two of our very good friends all at sunset. After a number of delays on the shipping of the ring, fate would have it that this plan would not turn out. The day I finally had the ring, June 22 to be exact, my excitement got the best of me. I decided to plan an impromptu date night for just us two at Salty's Restaurant on Alki Beach. Clara objected to going out at first, by the way, but I just simply would not take no for an answer. She knew she had better agree because in our entire relationship I have never really insisted on anything.
After finally getting the date together, making reservations and assuring Clara that this will be fun, I then remembered my friends picked up my ring for me while I was at work. Not only did my friends have the ring, they were clear across town! Therefore, the date continued as planned, while I waited anxiously. In Clara’s words, I was “acting like a nutter.” At this point though, she still had no clue what was going on. Then half way through dinner, when my friends finally arrived, I asked her to take a walk with me. I actually ended up leaving her on a dock in the dark to run to my friend's car to get the ring! I was freaking out at this point as I ran inside Salty's, out of breath and very quickly told the hostess to make sure the little blue box was delivered to our table with dessert. She took it with a very confused look on her face, as I raced back out the door to collect Clara before she saw me. We returned to the table and ordered dessert. I could relax a little now because I finally had the ring!
We settled back into our seats, with our incredible view of the Seattle cityscape. The table was famous for proposals and I could see why, the view was beautiful right on the water. The Space Needle was perfectly visible as well. Finally, dessert arrived and just as I thought he did not have it, our dear gay waiter turned back and said, “I have one more thing” and placed the little blue box in front of Clara. She began to open it. I stopped her to remove the ring myself. I attempted to get down on one knee, which is very hard in a dress I might add, and proceeded to ramble on and on about how I wanted to spend a long time with her. I forgot every word I wanted to say. Finally, after an adequate amount of making her wait, I stammered out "Will you marry me?” She of course said yes and told me rather impatiently to put the ring on her finger, which I was still holding at this point. We continued dessert and then had our waiter to take a few pictures of us. By the time we finally left, we were the only people in the restaurant. It was absolutely movie perfect when we opened the double doors and screamed “We are engaged!” into the dark night, just as the music came on. Even though the events leading up to the proposal were hectic, the actual moment was perfect!
Tags: beach, beach, dating, dating, engage, engage, friends, friends, OKCupid, OKCupid, proposal, proposal, ring, ring, Seattle, Seattle, sex appeal, sex appeal
I am thrilled and honored to have been asked to be a contributing writer to Equally Wed’s new blog section. Before I dive right in, I thought I would tell you a little about myself and one of the most memorable experiences of my career thus far (and arguably will be forever).
Same-sex couples were finally allowed to apply for a civil union license in Illinois on June 1, 2011. Dear friend and Life Celebrant Anita Vaughan wanted to celebrate this historic day in a meaningful and genuine way.
Together with Lauren Smith of Catalyst Ranch (quite possibly the most unique venue we've ever seen), Heather Vickery of Greatest Expectations and myself, Anita put the wheels in motion for "Under a New Moon" (UaNM). June 1, 2011 was a New Moon, which is considered a harbinger of good fortune and new beginnings—so fitting for this incredible milestone.
Six couples were selected from entries on UaNM's Facebook page and awarded a wedding at Catalyst Ranch sponsored by several of the top wedding vendors in Chicago.
The evening began at 10:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception featuring Americana late-night snacks from The Entertaining Company, including mac-and-cheese bites, mini sliders and other nostalgic fare. All rental items were provided byClassic Party Rentals.
At the stroke of midnight, I guided the six couples as they walked down the aisle with bouquets and boutonnieres from Pollen, while Etta James’ “At Last” played. At last, indeed.
Anita welcomed the group as a whole with a special and warm greeting and then called each couple up individually to exchange personally written vows and of course, rings.
Anita asked me to read a poem during the ceremony, “Moon in My Bed” by Paul Kelly. I am shocked I held it together to get out the words.
Moon In The Bed by Paul Kelly
I have the Moon in my bed
Every night down she falls
I have the Moon in my bed
I had nothing, now I have it all.
And I have the sun in my heart
When I rise by her side
I have the sun in my heart
Even through the darkest night
She can save me from myself
Make me feel like someone else
Where I hardly know myself
I have the Moon in my bed.
I have the sun in my heart
I have the stars at my feet
I have the moon in my bed.
The group sealed the deal with a kiss, recessed to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and off we went to a kick-$%* reception! With even more food from The Entertaning Company, a sweet table from Luscious Layers Bakeryand a to-die-for cake from Bleeding Heart, no one went home hungry. Toast & Jam spun the couples' favorite tunes, while Jeremy Lawson Photography and I Do Films captured every special moment. Nika Vaughan made sure everyone looked picture-perfect with fabulous hair and makeup.
I am so honored to have been part of this incredible night and wish all of our couples—Katie and Esther, Ron and Jason, Amanda and Katrina, Chris and Sam, Kimm and Jo, and Steve and Felix—the best for many, many years to come. I have stayed in close contact with each of the couples (Kimm and Jo actually babysit my kids on a weekly basis, and Amanda is a professional wedding photographer with whom I am working next month), and consider participating in this event as one of the highlights of not only my career, but of my life.
Learn more about SQN Events at www.sqnevents.com.
Photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography
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