Brian, Toby and Madonna

The Associated Press wrote this great story contrasting the same-sex couples rushing to the altar to secure their freedom to marry in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with couples taking their sweet time to plan. Our clients, Brian and Toby (who had a wedding in a Broadway theatre) were prominently featured in the story. We love this story because it shows just how traditional (or not) our weddings can be. It's extraordinary.

The article was in the Washington Post, San Francisco Gate and others. I love the freedom we have with same-sex weddings to make up our own traditions and rituals or do as our parents did. It's very liberating and we had an awful lot of fun planning Toby and Brian's wedding.

Lesbian Couple's Guide Wins Gold Medal

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, June 3, 2014—Sellers Publishing and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) are pleased to announce that The Lesbian Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning by Bernadette Coveney Smith, is the Gold Award Winner in the LGBT category in the 2014 Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Author Coveney Smith has written the first wedding guide dedicated solely to lesbian couples who are planning their wedding. She is the founder and president of 14 Stories, the first company in the US specializing in legal same‐sex weddings. Her expertise on the subject has been sought after by the TODAY Show, The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and NPR.

The user‐friendly guide features a comprehensive 12‐month wedding countdown format, practical advice for a wide range of weddings for all budgets, plus more than 100 full color photographs of real weddings.

The IBPA is a not‐for‐profit trade association serving the independent publishing community for more than 30 years.

Jeannie and Lisa in The Knot

This week The Knot released its second ever LGBTQ wedding magazine (digital) and we are honored to be included in both the articles, as well as having one of our weddings featured. We just love Jeannie and Lisa's wedding from last year at the Bowery Hotel. Such gorgeous brides and spectacular flowers from Fleurs NYC!

You can read the entire issue of The Knot here and see some of Jeannie and Lisa's wedding in the images below!

The Provincetown-Boston Wedding

Crissy and Ellen live in Boston's South End and wanted 14 Stories to design and plan a chic, urban wedding, preferably with a view. These ladies don't love being the center of attention, so we actually had the short and sweet ceremony in Provincetown the day before the reception in Boston. The Ptown ceremony was just a small group of family + of course the dog, Murphy.

In Provincetown, the small group gathered at the Harbor Lounge which we closed for a few hours. We started with some drinks and the ceremony happened very organically with most of the guests standing. The photographer then followed the guests and brides around town while the ladies were congratulated by all the locals and tourists. Provincetown is, of course, one of our very favorite places to work.

The next day, we were at the Taj Boston for the reception. The venue, the Taj Hotel Rooftop, has these large black and white tiles so we decided to work with that, and add Ellen's favorite color, purple. While the view provided plenty of decoration, mostly purple flowers and lighting (and that VERY GAY cake!) really made the room pop!

Crissy and Ellen have a high-energy crowd of friends who were entertained all night by the DJ and even had a bouquet-toss-fight!

Enjoy the beautiful photos by Kate McElwee. Floral by Spruce. Lighting by Boston Uplights. Entertainment by DJ Addam.

Introducing the Destiny Chicago Package

One of our favorite things to do as a company is to work with same-sex couples from all around the world who travel to one of our locations and legally marry with our team of talented and brilliant professionals. Each year, we work with an average of 40 LGBT couples who are looking for a fun and easy way to get married with a small group of friends and family. We've worked with couples from most of the 50 states and about a dozen countries.

Our LGBT mini destination wedding experiences have been a big hit in Boston and New York, and we are pleased to now introduce the Destiny Chicago experience for gay elopements!

This new package for gay weddings in Chicago is so comprehensive and includes things like in person help getting your marriage license, photography, cake, flowers, a wedding officiant, wedding planning, a car service and much more!  It's booked right through our website.

You can read more about the Destiny Chicago gay wedding package right here. Don't forget to check out the FAQ!

photo by Julia Franzosa Photography

A Monumental Moment in Provincetown

I was thrilled to see the new issue of Bliss Celebrations Magazine featuring our clients' Anthony and Chad's beautiful wedding at the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown. That was an incredible day and we had a fantastic team. You can see the feature on the wedding in the images below or read more closely at the Bliss link. The magazine is annual so Anthony and Chad's beautiful faces will be inspiring readers for the coming year! We love our clients.

3 Days of Parties

Three days of parties.  That's my term for what most people call "the wedding weekend."  You know, where you have a bunch of out of town guests and plan something like a rehearsal dinner on Friday night, the wedding on Saturday and brunch on Sunday.

I think we can do better than that...that's very typical.  Let's have three days of parties.  Our clients do it all the time.

Think about it.  Your wedding is probably the only time in your life all of your loved ones are in one place - and they are there to celebrate YOU.  Might as well enjoy it all.  Here's what three days of parties looks like for many of our clients:

Day 1 - Guest arrival

  • Receive fun, whimsical and creative welcome basket upon hotel check in
  • If you're in a city, evening cocktail party with heavy passed hors d'oeuvres and a very fun, casual vibe.  We've done rooftops, boat charters, restaurant buyouts and more
  • If you're somewhere more remote, a casual cookout style event with a bonfire on the beach, s'mores, etc

Day 2 - Tourist stuff and wedding

  • If you're in a big city, arrange tickets to a game, tickets to a museum, tickets on some fun and cheesy tour with lunch.  We've even had Segway tours.
  • If you're somewhere more remote, coordinated group activities (kayaking, games, hikes)
  • If you're somewhere like Provincetown, group shopping and dining excursion, possibly a whale watch or Dune Tour
  • Everyone freshens up and the couple gets ready for the wedding
  • The wedding!
  • After party!

Day 3 - Brunch and departures

  • Most of your guests will head out on Sunday but send them off with a really sweet brunch with bloody marys and mimosas to aid in recovery - and be sure to be present at the brunch yourself to say goodbye to your guests!  Oh, and don't forget to bring leftover wedding cake to brunch!

How are you planning to show your guests a good time?

(Photo by Jag Studios, of a bonfire and s'mores at a private vacation rental on Cape Cod)

Weather Plans

(sometimes you need more than just umbrellas)

I'm writing this on a snowy day with 4-8" expected.  I've already had a flight grounded this winter and it seems like the weather has become less and less predictable.  I mean, I had to move a venue a couple of years ago because of Hurricane Sandy!

So, let's talk about what you should do in bad weather situations, starting with things you can do to plan ahead:

1.  Always have a rain plan.  Always.  We have offices in Boston and New York where the weather is unpredictable, unlike say, California.  We are used to renting tents, dance floors, cook tents, generators and so forth.  Make sure your rain plan includes a location for the ceremony and cocktail hour, not just the reception and make sure your tent has sides! 

2.  Buy wedding insurance.  I like Wedsafe.  For a few hundred bucks, it's great for peace of mind.  Basically, in the event of an "act of God" such as a hurricane, you'll get the money you've paid for the wedding back.  If you live in an area where natural disasters or major storms are an annual (or semi-annual) occurrence, it's a good investment.  And hopefully, of course, you'll never have to submit a claim.

3.  If possible, avoid choosing a wedding date during obviously risky weather seasons, especially if you have many guests traveling to attend.  This is exactly why we have so few winter weddings (November-March) in New York and New England...our snowstorms are unpredictable.  Now, hurricane season is so long and hurricanes so seldom make their way this far north, so planning a wedding this time of year is completely reasonable.

4.  Review the "Force Majeure" clauses contained in most vendor contracts.  This clause protects everyone in the event of a natural disasters and explains the policy for rescheduling.

5.  Hire a wedding planner so you don't have to deal with any of this stuff yourself!

Have you ever had to cancel or reschedule a major event like a wedding, because of a storm or other weather issue?

Celebrants are Wonderful Officiants

As my regular readers know, my favorite part of a wedding is the ceremony because of its power and potential to change the world.

Whenever possible, I encourage LGBT couples to use a Celebrant to officiate their gay wedding ceremony.   Not everyone who is a non-denominational minister is a Celebrant.  Those who are officially Celebrants have taken intensive coursework on world cultures and traditions and been taught how to use stories to create custom ceremonies.  The curriculum is rigorous! 

Celebrants are ideal for couples who may be interfaith or non-religious but whom want a meaningful and powerful wedding ceremony that is more in-depth than what a judge or Justice of the Peace may provide. 

Our own wedding (July 3, 2009) was officiated by Celebrant Cindy Matchett of Meaningful Weddings.  Our wedding guests LOVED our ceremony which told the story of our relationship, shared some of our favorite things about each other and incorporated our cultures.  Later she officiated our son’s non-religious baby blessing.  We absolutely adore Cindy and she feels like one of our family.

If you are looking for a Celebrant, you can find one in your area by visiting  Celebrant Deb Goldman officiated Amy and Leigh's wedding in the photo above.

Using Your Home for the Wedding

In theory, there are some nice advantages to planning a wedding at your home or another private residence. The home could have a special meaning to you. You could save on a venue rental fee. You are not limited by an eight hour rental period and can set up and break down at your leisure. The party could go all night if you want.

But don’t be blinded by the advantages and think through these potential obstacles before making your final decision:
  • How is your septic system? Can it handle 50 or more guests? Do you have 2 or more restrooms that guests can use? Will you have to rent portapotties or a luxury potatpotty trailer? 
  • How is your parking situation? Is there enough parking for all of the vendors in the driveway. What about the guests? Will you have to hire a valet or rent a lot and provide shuttle service? 
  • Is the home big enough for everyone to be inside for dinner and dancing? Or will you require a tent? Are you prepared to deal with the damage that tents (and the tent delivery truck) cause to the lawn? 
  • Is there a good spot on the property for a wedding ceremony? What if it rains? 
  • Are there any noise ordinances in the city or town where the wedding would be held? Are there nosey neighbors or neighbors who would call the cops to complain about noise? 
  • Is there a large kitchen onsite? The caterer will have a lot of food to warm up or prepare and will need plenty of counter space and ovens. If you can’t offer that, the caterer may have to set up a catering tent and/or rent convection ovens. 
  • How many amps of electricity does the home have? Are there some circuits with available power? If you are bringing in a tent, the lighting and heating of the tent requires significant power. If you are bringing in a DJ or band, they require significant power. So does a nice portapotty. Find out if you have enough power to provide or whether you will need to rent a generator. 
  • Is the home in an area known to have poor drainage in the event or rain? Is it especially buggy in the summer and if so, can the property be sprayed? 
In general, unless it’s a very well equipped property or a wedding smaller than 50 guests, I advise against holding a wedding in someone’s home or on their property. The logistics can get very complicated and I would definitely suggest that you hire a wedding planner to make sure that all of these details are covered.

Please use a caterer for your wedding in a private residence. Don’t rely on your friends, family or let alone, yourself to prepare food. If you need to, you can prepare the food in advance and rent wait staff and bartenders to serve it – but please outsource at least some of this for your own sanity!

Are you planning to get married in a private home?