Jason and Dimitri's New York City Gay Wedding

The week of Hurricane Sandy was one of my most professionally challenging weeks.  We had worked very hard for six months on an extraordinary New York City gay wedding for two amazing men, Jason and Dimitri.  We were in the home stretch, the last week of the wedding, when we all heard that Hurricane Sandy was going to be serious business.

I'm generally a pretty optimistic person so I was confident that the hurricane wouldn't impact our wedding, set to be on the 14th and 21st floor of the Chelsea Arts Tower, in a beautiful space called Glass Houses.  But like many people, I was surprised by the magnitude of Sandy's impact.  Glass Houses was fine, except for some flooding in the basement, but what we learned on Tuesday was that the power was out.  With a wedding on Saturday we didn't know when the power was going to return.  

Jason and Dimitri had many guests from out of town and also plans for a two week honeymoon in Brazil two days after the wedding.  Rescheduling the wedding would have been very difficult so we agreed to explore some alternate venues.  I presented some office space and a few cool raw spaces as backup options.  Unfortunately one of the raw spaces was over the bridge in Long Island City and the other was cost-prohibitive.  The bridge was daunting given the traffic that week and with subways in rough shape, we were looking at one option:  a pretty ugly office space.  

The cost of that was also quite high (about $20,000) so Jason decided to ask whether his law firm's conference floor was available...it was and I orchestrated the move from Glass Houses to a Midtown Manhattan office building.

We were very fortunate that all of the fabulous wedding vendors we'd hire were still available and committed to Jason and Dimitri.  The photographer's parents lost their house and were out of town, so she was personally dealing with that, but still made it to the wedding.  The DJ had no power and no gas in his car but he made it.  The bartenders' bar was literally under water but they made it.  The floral designer's warehouse was without power and inaccessible.  And on and on...I was so impressed by the efforts of this amazing team.

And the wedding itself?  It was great!  We beautified an office space with tons of uplights and pipe and drape.  We added a beautiful white dance floor, great lounge furniture - and you'd never know we were in an office building. 

I was so impressed not only by the vendors but that most of the guests were also able to make it.  We had a few drop-outs because of travel issues or hurricane damage but overall, most guests came.

The Huffington Post also tells this story with an interview with the grooms.

What do you think?

Special thanks to the amazing team:

And if you'd like to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, please click here to visit Occupy Sandy.

How to Get Married in Maine, Maryland and Washington

Now that marriage equality is the law in Maryland, Maine and Washington, here's the rundown on how to get married (note:  you must be 18).  Now, go gay weddings!!!

Maryland

  • First date to apply:  January 2, 2013
  • Waiting Period: 48 hours after license is issued
  • Witnesses:  None
  • Blood Test:  None
  • Divorce Decree Required:  Yes
  • Fee:  $35 and up
  • Where to Apply:  Circuit Court's office in the county in which you plan to marry

Maine

  • First date to apply:  December 6, 2012
  • Waiting Period:  None
  • Witnesses:  None
  • Blood Test:  None
  • Divorce Decree Required:  Yes
  • Fee:  $20
  • Where to Apply:  Town hall where one of the residents live, or if an out of state couple, any town hall.

Washington

  • First date to apply:  December 6, 2012
  • Waiting Period: 3 days after license is issued
  • Witnesses:  2
  • Blood Test:  None
  • Divorce Decree Required:  No
  • Fee:  $35 and up
  • Where to Apply:  County Auditor's office

Wedding Entertainment Can Take Many Forms

Not long ago, I blogged that gay weddings should never be boring.  Those grooms I was referring to in that post came back to me a few weeks later and announced that they had an idea for wedding entertainment.

Turns out that one of their guests was Yuri Lane, a world-renowned beat-box artist and husband of their friend, Rachel, the officiant.  Yuri provided about 5 minutes of entertainment in the form of a beat-box toast to the grooms referencing their jobs, their dogs, the wedding location (Provincetown) and all sorts of inspired elements.  

Yuri was incredible, deeply memorable, hilarious and brilliant.  I'm sure the wedding guests are still talking about this very unique form of entertainment. All it takes is 5 minutes to get everyone together, build a memory, then fill the dance floor back up for the rest of the night.  It's great advice for not just a gay wedding, but any wedding!

Here he is, doing his thing:

Two Days in Vermont

Jen and I returned today from two days in Vermont, hosted graciously by the Stowe Mountain Lodge.  What a place!  From the moment we arrived, I told them that this is an easy referral to clients.  They completely spoiled us and the service is extraordinary. 

We met other fantastic wedding industry vendors including our new go-to for Vermont floral design, Alan and Wayne from Wildflower Designs and a new planning partner, Amy and Eric from Storied Events.  Great people.


Picture courtesy Closed Circle Photo

Of course, we toured the property's fantastic venues for weddings and are very comfortable putting our trust in them with our clients.  They even have a venue built into a cliff, the Cliff House, which requires that guests approach via gondola - no cars!  Amazing!


Wedding Planning in New York City, Simplified

Sometimes we hear from same-sex couples who want to have more than 20 guests but don't want to fuss with fully custom planning, despite wanting a beautiful, luxurious New York wedding experience.  For them, we are offering a new service, the Destiny Maxi package!

The Destiny Maxi is a semi-custom wedding planning package for up to 50 guests.  Top-notch photography, flowers (including centerpieces), wedding cake, an officiant and a private indoor ceremony space are all included.  You even get options to personalize when it comes to flowers and cake.  Simply choose the option that makes sense for you, add food and beverage costs and we'll do the rest.  

All you have to do is invite your guests and show up!  Wedding planning doesn't get any easier than this.  

The Destiny Maxi can be booked online today through this link!

Fred and Dean's Wedding at the ICA

I was so excited to get the beautiful photos of Fred and Dean's wedding at Boston's ICA, taken by Avenna Studios.   I put them in our portfolio but wanted to share a few on the blog as well!  

Gay Weddings Should Never Be Boring

I was sitting with clients last week and we were talking about the flow of their gay wedding in Boston.  I have this four page questionnaire I go through a few months before the wedding with our big wedding clients.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Are you having a first dance?
Them:  Nope
Me:  Are you having anything tossed?  Garter and bouquet are the typical things.
Them:  No
Me:  Are you dancing with your parents at all in any formal, announced way?
Them:  No
Me:  Are you cutting anything on the dessert display (this wedding has no wedding cake)?
Them:  No


All of these are fairly common answers when we're planning a gay wedding, though.  After all, those are traditional elements and many of our clients love the opportunity to be non-traditional and reinvent what weddings should look like!  And you completely have permission to do so!

The problem with those answers is that when we take out so many things, there is a lot of dead space and time.  The guests get bored and heaven forbid, the wedding ends early.  I believe it's very important to add things back in that are conversation starts and memory makers...

Here are some examples that we've experienced, have recommended or are recommending:

  • photobooth (the obvious example)
  • drag kings/queens 
  • some dance performance (fire dancer, salsa dancers, tango dancers, burlesque etc) 
  • caricature artist 
  • casino 
  • psychic 
  • cigar bar (if the venue allows it) 
  • aerial artist

The experience doesn't have to detract from the wedding or all the time spent dancing.  If it's a performance, keep it short, 1-2 songs MAX and keep it upbeat and appropriate.  

What are you doing to add some conversation starters and entertainment to your wedding?

Keep Your Parents Busy

As I've mentioned before, there's definitely a trick to getting your parents exciting about your gay wedding plans.  The last tip in my series suggests giving your parents projects.  Here are some excellent projects to distract your parents that give them something to control that will keep them out of your hair:

  • plan and host the rehearsal dinner/welcome reception
  • plan and host a wedding shower
  • organize and assemble welcome bags for out of state guests (note: parents like being hosts so these three are very effective)
  • create a signature cocktail recipe
  • procure and assemble wedding favors (I once had a dad make homemade wine with custom labels - each couple received a bottle on their way out)
  • address and mail save the date cards and wedding invitations
  • write names on escort cards
  • organize guest transportation
If possible, avoid asking your parents to do your wedding planning.  As a gay wedding planner, I can tell you that the times I've dealt with moms and dads instead of the engaged couple, there's been confusion, mixed messages and a lot of wasted time.  Plus, your parents aren't always in sync with your own wedding vision.  Best to give them projects and a sense of control over the projects which aren't necessarily as important to you - while you deal with the stuff that you care most about.

What kinds of projects are your parents helping with, if any?

Gay Weddings at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park

I really want to give a shout-out to the fabulous Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, in lower Manhattan. This property is certainly gorgeous, with views of the Hudson and Lady Liberty. But beyond that, I am consistently blown away by their impeccable service. It really is a great spot for a fabulous and quintessential New York gay wedding, large or small.

The Ritz first reached out to me last summer about training their catering staff to be sensitive to the unique needs of same-sex couples. Shortly afterwards, they let the BBC in to interview me at Rise (their 14th floor event space with amazing views - picture below). After the BBC interview, their catering staff began enrolling in our Gay Wedding Institute course. To date, three of their staff have received the GWI certification and are really excited, proud (and highly educated) advocates for their LGBT parents.  Jocelyn, Melissa and Laura will all take fabulous care of you.

Now, this fall, the Ritz Battery Park and 14 Stories will be working together on our first wedding – that of two grooms who live in Atlanta and Brooklyn. We are thrilled with this partnership and even more thrilled to feel so very good about referring a property to our clients. Check out this beautiful place!



PS - I don't get paid for any endorsements!  This comes from the heart!

Gay Weddings in Washington State

Washington State became the seventh U.S. state (plus D.C.) to legalize gay marriage on Monday when Governor Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill into law.  This is very exciting but you may want to hold off on your gay wedding plans for a little bit longer.  Opponents of marriage equality still may try to stop it from going into effect on June 7 - so the matter is not yet settled - but this is a huge step forward.  Congratulations!