A Marriage or a Wedding?

There have been 12,000 same-sex marriages in Massachusetts since they became legal in 2004.  That's a lot for sure, but I'm willing to bet (and I wish I had data on this) that many of those couples had a marriage ceremony, not a big wedding.  I met a couple this morning who like many couples, had a brief marriage in the Arlington Street Church that first week they were legal, when the ASC was holding marriage ceremonies every 15 minutes.  I've personally helped many couples with their marriages through my Vows package.

I've noticed this subject as a debate among couples, especially those who never grew up thinking it would be possible to marry, or never envisioned their own wedding.  I've met many couples who are unsure whether they want a wedding, or where one partner is trying to convince the other on the subject (I have a theory about this I'll save for another post).  In the beginning, back in 2004, many couples I worked with were in their 40s and 50s and there was enormous pent up demand for marriage.  In the past couple of years, many couples I work with are in their 20s and early 30s - which is around my age and the average age couples in general marry in Massachusetts.

So what do you do - have a marriage ceremony or have a wedding?  Jen and I can relate. We were talking about this topic this morning when we were discussing how our wedding planning would have gone if I wasn't a wedding planner.  She said that she would have tried to convince me to have a luxury elopement, just the two of us.  I said that even if I wasn't a planner, I'd never go along with that...the witnessing and validation by my friends and family is way too important to me.

Of course, weddings cost a lot of money, typically between $20-35K in Boston.  But I have a lot of experience with weddings and there is nothing more moving to me, still, to this day, than seeing a gay or lesbian couple stand up in front of their friends and family, and get legally married.  And the validation and support they receive from their guests is truly priceless.  The key word is validation.  Gay weddings are jubilant.  There is a sense of triumph. And I feel like there is no greater party.

I understand the desire to elope or to keep it small.  Many brides (or grooms) don't like being the center of attention or simply can't or don't want to spend the money or deal with the planning stress.  And I'll never try to convince a couple otherwise.  That validation from "community" isn't something everyone needs. 

So how do you reach a resolution?  It's such a personal thing.  Fortunately for me, I got my way, and I'll be sure to report how that validation personally feels after my own wedding on July 3.

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