I was insecure about not wanting a traditional wedding—until now
I never dreamed of my wedding day as a child. Other girls my age, at various stages of childhood, would express dreams of their “Prince Charming,” the perfect white dress, a whole clan of bridesmaids, flowers, cake and special first songs. I truly never dreamt of any of it because I didn’t see myself fitting in with that narrative. At the time, I didn’t know why. If I could look back now and tell myself that there was a very good reason why I wasn’t interested in all of that, I think a lot would be different.
It’s sad to me that an alternative to a “perfect” white wedding with a groom opposite me never occurred to me. I grew up in a very traditional Irish Catholic family. No one —extended family included—ever stepped a toe out of line, to my eyes. Everyone followed prescribed societal rules about how to behave and with whom to spend your time. My parents never even talked about dating, let alone exploring oneself. No one ever talked about sex or sexuality. I didn’t have any gay role models in my life, and the idea that I could be gay never occurred to me, so I just thought that I never really would be enthused about having a wedding. Now I know that it wasn’t the wedding I didn’t want. It was the man!
I was insecure about the fact that I didn’t dream of my future wedding the way my peers did. Like many things about my adolescence, it made me feel like something was wrong with me, or that I was simply out of place. I was embarrassed about it because I didn’t have the language to articulate why I felt the way I felt about weddings. I couldn’t explain to someone why it didn’t fit my narrative; I just knew that I didn’t envision that part of my future in the way that I was “supposed to.” I never liked the idea of being given away to a man, changing my last name or going along with an expected performance of heterosexual femininity for the benefit of my guests. The concept of being a blushing, beautiful bride just wasn’t me.
Fast forward many years, and here I am engaged to a woman, someone I love with my entire heart. It truly is a future I never saw for myself, but one that I am so happy to be looking forward to. I am giddy with excitement about the idea of my wedding now because a whole world of possibility has opened up to me. I feel aligned with what’s possible for us now, rather than out of place like I felt growing up. I have a new perspective on some of the traditions that irked me before and understand now that I can ditch some of the ones that aren’t meaningful to me. I am looking forward to being one-half of the two blushing, beautiful brides at my wedding. That sounds a lot better to me.
It’s not lost on me that when I was younger and struggling to imagine my future wedding to a man, same-sex marriage was not legal in this country. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage is a reality. I also now live in Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage has been legal here since 2004; Massachusetts was the first state in our country and sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. I am so lucky to live in such a progressive place. I know that this circumstance makes the planning of my wedding much easier for my fiancée and I than it would be if we lived in another state, country, or time.
Maine on the other hand, where I spent the majority of my childhood, didn’t legalize gay marriage until December of 2012, well after I had graduated high school. The most exposure I had to homosexuality and gay culture were ignorant classmates yelling, “You’re so gay!” down the hall to each other as a reckless and insensitive insult. Being gay was never presented to me as a positive thing when it was ever mentioned, and it certainly wasn’t framed as an option for me or my future.
After several years of friendship and several more years of dating, my fiancée, Kelli, and I got engaged in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in April of this year. It’s a gay mecca, a place where LGBTQ+ people have been gathering for years to come as they are, with or without their partners, and to be themselves. It is the most welcoming and eclectically beautiful place I have ever been to.
Kelli proposed to me on a beach just over the Provincetown/Truro town line. It was sunset, and we had decided to go for a walk out to the water since the tide was extremely low. We could see all of Provincetown and the tip of Cape Cod to our right. It felt like we were the only two people on the beach, and in some ways, like the only two people on Earth. After the sun disappeared behind our view of Provincetown, we started walking back up the beach. As we were walking and talking, I turned to my right, and when I turned back around, Kelli had a ring in her hands.
We had been talking about getting engaged for a while, and I had known that it would be happening soon, but the moment itself took my breath away. We both had tears in our eyes as I said, “Yes, of course, yes!” The moment was so special—so peaceful and beautiful and “us.” We decided not to share the good news with anyone until the next day, and instead enjoyed the night to ourselves. We celebrated with a slice of Spiritus pizza and a drink at the Crown & Anchor in town. It was magical to be surrounded by Provincetown’s welcoming energy that night. It is a home away from home for us. Just being there felt like a congratulation.
Provincetown has been so important to us throughout our relationship, which is why it meant so much to us to be able to get engaged there, and why we have decided to get married there next year. We are so looking forward to welcoming our families and friends to the place that was the backdrop for many of the conversations, laughs and beautiful times that have made us who we are as a couple.
I also want to make sure that as my fiancée and I embark on the wedding planning process we remember what a privilege it is for us to be getting married openly, with the support of our country, our state and our families and friends. I am hopeful that we are going to have a tremendously fun and joyful time planning our special day, and I am so grateful to have that hope. Every couple, no matter their sexual orientations, ages, races, ethnicities or any other identities should feel left out of the joys of what a wedding can be.
I wish I could given my younger self a glimpse into the future that was going to unfold for her. I wish she would have known that it would have been okay to dream of marrying a woman, to not want certain heteronormative traditions, to live and think outside the box.
Now that I understand more of who I am as a gay woman, I’m thinking about my future wedding differently. There are things I definitely want to be part of the day, and things I definitely don’t. There are certain traditions I feel more comfortable with now, and some that my fiancée agrees that we don’t want to incorporate as part of our day. We are still in the early planning stages, but it’s a relief to know that we have the freedom to make this day be anything we want it to be. More than anything else, we want to make sure that our wedding is an event that celebrates us as a couple, as well as all of the people who have surrounded us with love and support over the years. It is going to be a big, beautiful party—for everyone.
I can’t wait to see what the next 15 months have in store for us as we make plans for our wedding and celebrate our relationship with the people who mean the most to us. I think that dreams I didn’t know I had when I was younger will finally come true.
Maggie Kilgallon is a writer and marketing professional. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her fiancée. Maggie is a graduate of Boston College, where she majored in English and minored in Women’s & Gender Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with empowerHER, going to concerts, working on her yoga practice and beachcombing with her fiancée.