and joy to the world.
and joy to the world.
This was a fantastic and successful year for 14 Stories and for marriage equality – thank you for all of your support and belief in what we do! We absolutely adore our clients and believe more than ever in the power of their stories to change the world. So without further ado, here are 14 highlights from 2011, in no particular order:
1. We worked with 34 couples from 21 different states, producing beautiful weddings as small as zero guests to as many as 250. Congratulations to you all! We are grateful for your business and thrilled to have you as part of our 14 Stories family.
2. I traveled around the world to train wedding professionals all about gay weddings. I spoke to enthusiastic groups in Baltimore, Cancun, Phoenix, Vermont and Chicago! This is part of our mission to promote marriage equality and reduce homophobia in the wedding industry.
3. Along with that, this spring we launched the world’s first Gay Wedding Institute certificate course for those in the wedding industry looking to be more inclusive of same-sex couples and sensitive to their wedding planning needs. This intensive course (with homework!) was launched as a webinar and held 3 times in 2011 with great feedback and participants from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
4. We launched the country's first app for gay wedding planning. Our Gay Wedding Confidential app is available for a free download from iTunes and Android (but works better on iTunes!)
5. Marriage equality came to my home state of New York on June 24 and we were there, on Pride, that weekend to celebrate! Being a part of Pride the weekend of marriage equality was pretty incredible.
6. Civil unions became legal in Illinois, Rhode Island and as of next week, in Delaware and Hawaii. Same-sex couples in those states can now have statewide protections for their families.
7. The press we received in 2011 was pretty amazing! We were featured on the Today show, on BBC, on NY1, NPR (twice) and in countless print publications including this amazing article on the front page of the L.A. Times.
8. We signed a contract with a prolific and prestigious production company to develop and produce a gay wedding planning reality TV show….let us know if you want to be on TV!
9. We hired another wedding planner! Andrew is the first person on our team to plan weddings (besides me) and is fabulous, charming and talented. You can read more about Andrew on our About Us page.
11. I went to the Engage! wedding industry summit twice (once in San Diego and the other in the Cayman Islands) and connected with my peers from the wedding industry from around the world.
12. We opened our New York office in July and moved our family to New York in September. New Yorkers have welcomed us with open arms and things are going very well here!
13. One of our weddings appeared in the nationally distributed Destination Weddings magazine. Check out Deb and Michelle's story here!
14. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed. How amazing to see this discriminatory law go away and have our LGBT brothers and sisters be able to serve openly (and get married in uniform)! What a huge moment in our civil rights history.
I hope that the new year brings you and your family great happiness and success - and cheers to the hope of more marriage equality!
I wrote this post that appeared in the Huffington Post today. It tells you a little more about my own story. I hope you enjoy it and hope you have a fantastic holiday season and amazing new year.
Why I Love the Holidays With My In-Laws
In my business, the business of gay weddings, I meet lots of couples who don’t have their parents as guests at their wedding, lots of couples who have created a “chosen family” because their real family doesn’t accept them, lots of couples who aren’t invited to Christmas dinner.
My parents passed away a long time ago, before I ever came out to my very religious dad and before my mom ever met any of my girlfriends. She wasn’t so wild about the idea of me being gay anyway, but she eventually said the magic words every gay kid wants to hear: “I love you no matter what.”
After my parents died, there was this long period of time – most of my twenties, really - in which Christmas was especially depressing. My siblings are all much older than me and prior to meeting Jen (who I married), I felt particularly orphaned on Christmas. My siblings and I didn’t have parents to force us together, and sometimes we just weren’t.
I’m so thrilled to say that now I love Christmas. My in-laws are truly awesome and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support of our little family.
Holidays with the Coveneys are really fun. Even us adults get to act like kids. We all come down the stairs on Christmas morning where my mother-in-law has made gooey “monkey bread” for us all to pass around while we’re opening presents. We each have a stocking full of stuff – and every year, we each get Eddie Bauer shoe-shine and new socks. We take turns, one at a time, as we go through the stockings and all the gifts, oohing and aahing and laughing and just enjoying normal togetherness.
After we’re all unwrapped, usually around 11 or 12, we eat a bigger breakfast, then lounge around and chill out. Some people watch “Elf”…again. My brother-in-law and father-in-law play Cribbage. Sometimes we do tastings – one year we did a whiskey tasting, going through everything from Canadian whiskey to Rye to Irish whiskey and scotch (the single malt scotch won, of course…) Last year we did a beer tasting (champ: the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA).
Then later on, we have dinner and, if we’re not too tired, play a board game like Cranium or Apples to Apples. It’s simply great and simply simple.
Now that I have a kid (my son Patrick is 14 months), I’m even more aware of how fortunate we are to have this togetherness, and be able to share traditions with our son – and create traditions of our own.
Lots of couples get engaged this time of year. Same-sex couples, too. It’s the season for it. And I am hoping that those that do can call their parents and say “Hey mom, hey dad – we’re getting married!” and receive the same kind of enthusiasm that Jen, Patrick and I get from the Coveneys. It’s the best gift any same-sex couple could receive – being treated equally, like one of the family, during the holidays, when they announce their engagement, on their wedding day, and every day thereafter.
As you may know, we make a donation to charity on the first anniversary of all of our full service wedding clients. We see this as very integral to our mission to promote marriage equality. In 2011, we are proud to have donated to the following wonderful nonprofit organizations:
Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2009 but Vermont’s history of LGBT rights goes back to 1993 when it became the first state to create civil unions. Vermont is one of the least populous states in the country, meaning there are loads of wide open spaces for your country wedding.
Where to Stay: Stowe, Vermont is a great choice as a home-base for gay wedding planning in Vermont and you simply cannot beat the luxury of the Stowe Mountain Lodge which not only has stunning accommodations but beautiful wedding backdrops as well. If you are looking for an even more rural experience, check out the Moose Meadow Lodge, a gay-owned inn and wedding venue.
What to Do: Vermont is all about the outdoors! Hiking, canoeing and kayaking, skiing and snowshoeing are just some of the possibilities. Great farm-to-table dining can be found in restaurants throughout the state. And don’t forget to check out the tastings at Cabot Cheese and Ben and Jerry’s!
How to Get Married: Simply apply for a marriage license in a town in the county in which you’ll plan to marry in Vermont. There is no waiting period, no blood tests and there are no witnesses required. The fee is $20.
Our Picks for LGBT Photographers: Kelly from Closed Circle Photo knows everything about Vermont and takes beautiful shots. We also love the other Kelly, from Kelly Prizel Photography who shoots throughout New England.
Our Picks for an LGBT Florist: Wildflower Designs in Stowe does lovely work!
Our Picks for LGBT Officiants: Greg Trulson (also owner of Moose Meadow Lodge) is openly LGBT.
With some major exceptions, Vermont wedding vendors are very welcoming of same-sex couples so you should have a great experience no matter who you choose. Don't forget about us at 14 Stories if you get stuck and are looking for a hand with all of your gay wedding plans in Vermont!
(photo by Jeanette LeBlanc)
This week in the gay wedding travel guide, it's Provincetown, Massachusetts (aka P-town), the tiny town on the tip of Cape Cod and a hugely popular LGBT tourist destination in the U.S.
For a tiny town, P-town offers world class dining, great shops and beautiful beaches. It’s a great place to plan your gay wedding but has very few wedding venues and is most suitable for smaller weddings. Also, July and August are tough times for weddings in P-town because it's high tourist season and many inns require 5 night stays.
Where to Stay: Gabriel’s is our pick for women with a great location near the center of town. The rooms are beautiful with great amenities, including an outdoor hot tub! For guys and mixed groups, we also love the Carriage House (also with an outdoor hot tub!) and the White Porch Inn. There are many, many inns in Ptown so you'll easily find a great spot.
What to Do: Stroll the many boutiques and galleries of Commercial Street. Check out the Provincetown Art Association and Museum in the East End. Explore the Pilgrim Monument museum to see what P-town was like when the Pilgrims landed (it’s where the Mayflower Compact was signed). Hit the beaches by bike, car, cab or bus. Herring Cove is a more accessible and family-friendly bay beach. Race Point is a more adult beach on the ocean side. You can rent bikes and ride the paved trails through the dunes. Enjoy cabaret and drag shows at night or hit one of the town’s nightclubs.
How to Get Married: You can apply for your marriage license at Provincetown City Hall for $35 but keep in mind that, in Massachusetts, there’s a 3 day waiting period. If you are in a rush, you can have that waived by a court order if you drive to Orleans, Massachusetts. We suggest, however, applying for and picking up your license in Boston instead since the courthouse and City Hall are near each other. We can help with this process through our Vows package.
Our Picks for LGBT-owned Florists: Wildflower of Provincetown is our pick especially for more contemporary designs!
Our Picks for LGBT Officiants: Rev. James Mack can officiate your religious or non-religious ceremony.
P-town’s wedding vendors are very welcoming of same-sex couples so you should have a great experience no matter who you choose. Don't forget about us if you get stuck and are looking for a hand with all of your gay wedding plans in Provincetown.
This is the first part in a new series every Monday for the next few weeks. Each week we'll be spotlighting an area where same-sex marriage is legal and providing you with some great travel tips and our picks for top same-sex wedding professionals.
This week, it's New York City, the most popular LGBT tourist destination in the U.S. New York has it all. The world's best shopping and finest restaurants, beautiful green space and tons of venues with spectacular views.
Where to Stay: Start with Kimpton Hotels (our fave when we travel). Kimpton properties are known for their gay and dog-friendliness, their evening wine hour and contemporary aesthetics. Our personal favorite is Ink 48, located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen and featuring a beautiful outdoor terrace. If you’re headed downtown, the Ritz Carlton Battery Park is a stunning option with its amazing views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Ritz is the only 5 star hotel in downtown New York.
What to Do: Where to start?! Stroll the boutiques and galleries of Soho. Walk the High Line. Dig into the wares at Chelsea Market. Sip coffee in the West Village. Check out one of the hundreds of museums. Hit the clubs in Hells Kitchen and Chelsea. Hold hands on a stroll through Central Park. You’ll never get bored.
How to Get Married: Head down to City Hall in lower Manhattan during normal business hours and spend $35 on a marriage license. It will be valid 24 hours after you receive it and then you can legally married by a licensed officiant. More details are here.
Our Picks for LGBT-owned Florists: Spruce in Chelsea rocks the clean, modern look. Fleurs NYC and Anthony Brownie (both in the Flower District) are our picks for bigger weddings (note: neither have retail space)
Our Picks for LGBT Officiants: Rev. Louis is an absolute sweetheart. And our own Rev. Andrew is top-notch!
New York's wedding vendors are, by and large, very welcoming of same-sex couples so you should have a great experience no matter who you choose. Don't forget about us if you get stuck and are looking for a hand with all of your gay wedding plans in New York!
I was speaking to a groom recently who was confused by our statement on our services page that says that we no longer offer "Day of Coordination." He thought we planned the wedding but didn't actually show up to run it.
No way. We're there all the way through for our clients.
But I figured I should probably do some education on Day of Coordination. It's a wedding industry term so I apologize if the jargon is confusing.
Most wedding planners offer a service called Day of Coordination or something similar. In reality, it's more like "Month of Coordination." Basically the engaged couple plans the wedding themselves and a Day of Coordinator steps in about a month out to visit the venue and understand the flow and design of the wedding. He or she contacts the wedding vendors to introduce herself and confirm everything. He or she creates a schedule and then actually sets up and runs the rehearsal and the wedding day.
14 Stories doesn't actually offer this service. We used to but stopped a few years back. I'm a bit too much of a control freak to let someone else plan the weddings we're involved with.
We do, however, recommend great professionals who do offer Day of Coordination, and in fact, specialize in it...if this is the service you seek, check out our outstanding colleagues below: