Which Traditions to Keep?

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Gay Wedding Tradition: Pre-Ceremony Champagne

More often than not, and enough to call it a gay wedding tradition, guests to gay weddings are greeted with passed sparkling wine and water before the wedding ceremony.  Sometimes it's a cocktail and sometimes it's a full open bar but it's usually just some bubbly.  More

Traditionally, At a Gay Wedding

When I'm asked by a reporter, a prospective client, a curious acquaintance, or a stranger at a cocktail party, "What's the difference between a straight wedding and a gay wedding?", my response begins with, "Well, traditionally, at a gay wedding..."

That's right - there are gay wedding traditions, mostly at the ceremony.  Let me explain further.

There's a strong and palpable feeling of triumph and celebration at gay weddings.  But before that feeling actually sets in, many of the guests who have never before attended a gay wedding simply don't know what to expect.  So the guests start out with a great deal of anticipation, are a little nervous, excited, curious.  We like to help them relax.  Traditionally, at a gay wedding, guests are greeted before the ceremony with champagne and sparkling water.  This can last for 5-30 minutes before the ceremony begins and sets the tone of something a little bit different but definitely celebratory and fun.

Then comes the processional...and not your typical Wedding March, the Bridal Chorus or Trumpet Voluntary with a massive wedding party.  Traditionally, if there is a central aisle, the couple walks in together holding hands.  If there is no central aisle (often), the couple walks in from two different directions each accompanied by their family and/or wedding party, and meets in the middle.  And the music?  How about "All You Need is Love", "Ribbon in the Sky" or another contemporary piece with meaning to the couple?  Sometimes this piece is played live and sometimes it's the recorded version of the song.  Our processional is "Your Precious Love" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

example of a Foundation Covenant, designed by
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Top 5 Ceremony Readings for Gay Weddings

I say this all the time, but my favorite part of gay weddings is the ceremony.  We've fought for the right to legally marry, and the ceremony is the chance to truly celebrate that, in a personal and meaningful way.  Many same-sex couples travel to New York for gay weddings and I hope they take the care to craft a beautiful ceremony which brings out the waterworks in friends and family.  If you're looking for someone to help with that, hire a Celebrant to write the script for you and officiate! 

Here are the top five most commonly read readings at gay weddings in Boston, New York and throughout New England, based on my experience witnessing hundreds of gay wedding ceremonies:

5.  An excerpt from the Judge Vaughn Walker ruling which was the first judge to overturn Proposition 8:

“Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents. ...

The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law. Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals…  

They seek the mutual obligation and honor that attend marriage… seek recognition from the state that their union is ‘a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.’”  

4.  From Touched by an Angel, by Maya Angelou:

 We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

3.  Excerpt from Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, our celebrated gay writer:

The day when I arose at dawn from the bed of perfect
health, refresh’d, singing, inhaling the ripe sweet breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and
disappear in the morning light,
And when I wander’d alone over the beach, and undressing bathed,
laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on
his way coming, O then I was happy,
O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food
Nourish’d me more, and the beautiful day pass’d well,
And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to me 
whispering to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me, 
And his arm lay lightly over my breast – and that night I was happy.



2.  The Art of Marriage, author unknown

 A good marriage must be created.

In the art of marriage the little things are the big things –-
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once each day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right partner –-
It is being the right partner.

1.  Excerpt from the Goodridge v The Massachusetts Department of Public Health ruling (written by Judge Margaret Marshall) that first legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts: 

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations....Without question, civil marriage enhances the "welfare of the community." It is a "social institution of the highest importance." ...

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.... Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.

What readings are you having at your gay wedding ceremony?  More

Wedding Design Primer

When we are working with clients, we are often asked to transform a space from a blank canvas into something magical.  This is usually a collaborative effort between the client's vision, our vision and the team of vendors we pull together for each wedding.  From the stationery to the lighting and flowers, we can make everything custom and personal.  Below are some before and after photos from a wedding where we transformed a church hall into a contemporary and elegant wedding space.  More

Bernadette on CBS News

Here I am with my clients Michael and Greg along with their floral designer, Jessy from Fleurs:  More

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

Please join us for this great event on June 16 (includes wedding cake!)  More

Xanax for Gay Weddings

The funniest thing I've seen in quite awhile!  More

How to Get Married in...

Here's the rundown of same-sex marriage laws in the three new states:  Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota:  More

Your Parents and Your Same-Sex Wedding

Since the laws are rapidly changing (yay for Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota, not to mention some new countries), I'm going to resurrect some of my old how-to style blog posts.  This one is an oldie but a goodie: how to get your parents excited about your gay wedding.   More