Photo of the Week - the Biggest Horah Ever

Another horah photo - I do love the horah.  It's a great tradition but check out how big this one is, outside a gorgeous and huge private residence in Falmouth.

Photo by Gretje Ferguson

Getting Parents Excited About Your Gay Wedding (last step)

This is last part in my blog series about getting your parents excited about your gay wedding.  If you are just joining us, the first step is located here.

Step seven:  As the wedding gets close, distract your parents some more.  If your parents live out of state, when they come to town, keep them busy with projects.  This means that you should ask them to write out escort cards, bring gift bags to the hotel and tidy your house so it’s clean after your honeymoon.  They will have nervous energy, still with no expectations about a gay wedding and will be all wound up possibly worrying about what others will think.  Channel their energy to your own benefit. 

We had Jen’s mom assembling out of town guest gift bags and writing out escort cards.  We had her parents, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend over our condo loading up the car with everything and tidying our house so we wouldn't come home to a mess post-honeymoon.  Worked like a charm and everyone had fun with it.

These steps have been spread out in part because they take time to execute.  This is a gradual process but I know for a fact that these steps really work to ease your parents into the idea of a gay wedding.  Please leave a note in the comments letting me know if these have worked for you!

Getting Parents Excited About Your Gay Wedding (part six)

Your parents are starting to get really excited by now - now is the time to channel their excitement appropriately.  For a recap of earlier steps, start here.

Step six:  Give your parents a project during the wedding planning process.  Channel your parents’ new enthusiasm into a very narrow and specific project.  This is very important if you want to retain ownership over your wedding plans.  The trick is to distract your parents with something they would strive to be very good at.  Pardon my use of gender roles, but I've observed that moms like being a hostess so give them the project of planning wedding weekend activities for out of town guests. That’s my favorite thing to focus eager moms.  Also, if you are having gift bags to welcome wedding guests to your hotel, put mom in charge - she'll love the shopping AND the assembly. 

But maybe your dad likes to make homemade beer or wine?  Maybe he can make favors for your guests.  Or maybe he's very handy - can he build you a chuppah (if you want a chuppah)?

Jen’s mom was in charge of the bridal shower.  She also had a lot of input on the post-wedding brunch and the weekend activities.  She had stuff to do and for which to feel responsible - but this was channeled appropriately so we could stay focused on our own responsibilities. 

Getting Parents Excited About Your Gay Wedding (part two)

The second part in a series on how to get your parents excited about your gay wedding.  The first part is here.

Step two:  Gradually start sharing your excitement about the wedding plans.  Say things like, “We took a look around at venues today and it was really fun.”  or “I’ve been looking through bridal magazines for dresses I might like.”  And this is the best one: “I received the sweetest engagement card in the mail today from Aunt Mary!  She sounds so excited for us!” 

Say, normal, typical wedding planning things, as if it’s any other conversation with your parents.  Don’t make a big deal out of the plans yet but start to plant the seed that this is for real and that you are taking action.  And peer pressure is great - your parents will feel guilty if you received a card from Aunt Mary but not from them.

This is what I urged Jen to do with her mom.  Slowly start releasing information about your ideas, just in the normal course of conversation.  It piques curiosity!

Photo of the Week - Jubilation

You will hear me say it again and again but gay weddings are downright jubilant.  There is a very palpable feeling of rejoicing.  This photo from a 2004 wedding says it all - the brides are in the background leading the ceremony recessional out of the building towards cocktail hour and everyone else is, well, jubilant.

Photo by Michael Manning

Just Standing Around...

I've had many weddings recently where the 50+ guests stood around for the 15-20 minute wedding ceremony.  There was select seating for elderly family and friends but generally no more than 20 or so chairs up front.  These types of weddings have a nice casual vibe to them - almost like the marriage ceremony happens very organically. 

This can work well - and it can fail.  If you are considering this, here are some tips:

  • Truly keep the ceremony no more than 15 minutes long
  • Greet your guests with a drink (could be champagne, sparkling water, lemonade) when they arrive and plan for the guests mingling for about 15 minutes before your true ceremony start time
  • Don't mingle with your guests during that time or your ceremony will definitely start late!
  • Make sure you have a coordinator designated to clear the aisle or form an aisle when it's time for the processional
  • Place the ceremony musicians where they will be easily visible by your coordinator so the coordinator can cue the processional music when the time is right (it's sometimes hard to see when most are standing!)
  • Make sure the newlyweds have an escape route and destination after the recessional if there's no receiving line - otherwise they will get mobbed by their guests and a receiving line will happen spontaneously
If you follow those rules, this can work out very well and set the tone for a casually fun and upbeat reception.  Gay couples seem to enjoy this in particular because it breaks tradition and many of them don't want the grand entrance processional.

Are you having a wedding ceremony where the majority of the guests will stand rather than sit?  Do you have any other tips to add? Or do you prefer a more formal, seated wedding ceremony?

Wedding Cake, or Not?

Warning: this post is going to make you hungry.

Recently I've had an increasing number of clients, gay and straight, opt for a wedding dessert other than wedding cake.  Now, this is not to say that wedding cakes have gone the way of the dinosaur - far from it - but about 1/3 of my clients are mixing it up a bit. 

With cupcakes (the obvious substitute)...

With pies...

Or strawberry shortcake...

Or miscellaneous cakes from their favorite bakeries:

Photos by, top to bottom, Michael Manning, unknown, Closed Circle Photo and Derek Goodwin.

The question is, of course, if you are of the mind that a cake cutting is a fun wedding tradition, do you instead cut the pie or strawberry shortcake?  If you wish, of course!

What's your favorite wedding dessert?  And are you planning a cake/pie/cupcake cutting ritual?

The Coveney-Smiths

Being married is wonderful!  We are very happy.  As some of you may have noticed, Jen hyphenated our names but I did not, though I still took her name, so that's our subtle difference.  Works for us.

We are back to work with a wedding on Friday for two lovely women from Michigan and their 20 guests and Jen is doing the flowers.  Fortunately, we very much powered down on our honeymoon in Aruba, doing almost nothing at all, really, staying at a tiny European resort, enjoying frozen drinks on the hot beach and otherwise allowing ourselves to relax (I was surprisingly good at it!)

Our wedding was just about perfect (I've promised not to obsess over the tiny things that were not) and above all, extremely fun (we are blessed with amazing friends and family who came with their dancing shoes on). Check out a few amateur photos (the professional ones are forthcoming):


More to come, but those are a teaser...

Hire Those You Trust

When I started my business in 2004, I had never planned a wedding.  I had planned many events and knew I had the skills but there was a natural learning curve with weddings.

So what did I do?  I interviewed many dozen vendors, figured out who I could trust, then I hired those people and let them do their jobs.

Fortunately, that philosophy has always worked out well for all.  There are occasionally times I have to micromanage vendors, often when I'm hired for day of coordination and haven't worked with the vendors hired by the client.  Or if I'm working in a new area of the state or region, I encounter new faces.

But the reality is that I am a professional wedding planner, not a professional caterer, baker, photographer or stationer.  And I don't pretend to be any of those things.  I know the right questions to ask and I know what to look for.  But most importantly, I know who I trust.

And that is the philosophy I'm relying on this week since my wedding is tomorrow and I'm not in charge.  We hired a day of coordinator to make sure our vision is executed, and we hired some of our favorite vendors.  I hope you check out their work and we'll post up a few photos after the big day.

These folks are the reason I'm relaxing right now, with the comfort that we're in good hands.  These are the people I thank because they make me look good...

Please support them as well!

Happy Independence Day!

-Bernadette and Jen

What's in a Name?

I was emailing with a couple last week who sent me a note on their ceremony draft.  One of the grooms wrote, "Jeff and I have been together for more than 14 years.  After a life of saying 'my partner' I'd love, at long last, to say, 'my spouse.'"

And so he did.  Language is a funny thing.  I know another unmarried gay couple together more than ten years who refer to themselves not as partners, but as lovers.  That term is not for everyone but it works for them.

This is a big decision for gay and lesbian couples.  I get asked all the time about how the officiant will declare them at the conclusion of the ceremony.  I now declare you...

  • legally married
  • lawfully married
  • partners for life
  • married partners
  • husbands/wives to one another
  • spouses for life
  • something else?
Jen and I chose "legally married" - and that felt right for me in particular because the legal bit is so important.  We live in a state where our marriage is legal and I want that word to be heard loud and clear.

And once you're actually hitched, how will you refer to your spouse?  Many couples I know initially cringed at "husband" or "wife".  Dan Savage still calls Terry his boyfriend even though they were married in Canada.  I had a hard time adjusting to fiancee and only in the past few months has that felt more natural.  Many couples still use the term partner because it's what's comfortable and what they know.

I honestly don't know what I'll call Jen.  Right now, "wife" feels cringeworthy but I suspect I'll get used to it.

And finally, what about the last name?  Many people keep their names, but I've had several clients and a friend invent entirely new names, some of which were not remotely similar to either of the old names.  That's kind of fun - as you begin a new life together, you do so with a new name.  And of course you can hyphenate.  Sometimes this works out if the names flow together but sometimes it's awkward.

So what is the gay wedding planner going to do?

I'll tell you that on Saturday, after our wedding and before our honeymoon, I'll be updating the About Us section on this very website with our new last names, which were well debated.  They are different from each other, but slightly and the only compromise we could reach.

How is your officiant pronouncing you at the conclusion of your wedding ceremony?  And will you be using the word husband or wife to refer to your new spouse?  I'd especially love to hear of any creative solutions to any of these dilemmas!  Please share!