Nightmares Before Your Wedding

It's that time of year again - all the nerves about wedding plans creep into our of my clients was telling me about her nightmares.  

The dream I had the night before last was that we were all just casually hanging out at my sister’s place (who miraculously lived in Boston) and she told me it was 7:15 and I freaked out. I was in shorts and a t-shirt and we were due to get married at 7:30 p.m. and was nowhere near the venue or even close to being ready. Duff was the calming influence and just told me that the wedding would run late, but I was worried about cutting into everyone’s party time. It was an awful, awful feeling.

Most of my dreams have been like that one. Me realizing that I am not where I’m supposed to be or forgetting a huge part of something that was needed to be done for the wedding. In one dream, I had forgotten to pay for the venue and we got there and the venue was closed and locked…

What are some of your wedding nightmares?

Gay Weddings in Bed and Breakfasts

Most gay weddings are smaller than straight weddings.  The average wedding size of 14 Stories clients is somewhere around 75 guests - but many gay weddings fall below 50 guests.

For small gay weddings, a bed and breakfast or an inn can be a great place for a wedding.  We've worked in the Taylor House in Jamaica Plain several times and have a wedding booked at the Kemble Inn in Lenox later this year.  Like many inns, these have nice sized dining room and foyer spaces and provide options for a beautiful ceremony backdrop and magnificent outdoor gardens.

Some things you should consider when having a gay wedding at a B&B or inn:
  • the best style reception is a cocktail reception or food stations
  • you'll have to buy out all of the guest rooms - so be prepared to host some guests overnight
  • you'll have to bring in lots of rentals - typically tables, chairs, china, flatware, stemware, etc
  • you'll need to bring in your own caterer and bartender
Still, having your gay wedding at B&B or inn can be a very affordable and elegant option.

Taylor House

Kemble Inn

Would you consider an Inn or B&B for your wedding venue?

Then Comes Marriage

A funny thing has happened in the past six years.  Same-sex couples meet, fall in love, get engaged and then get married.  And at least here in most of New England and now DC and Iowa, getting married and planning for a gay wedding has become the "normal" next step in a relationship.  It's legal and a legitimate, common option for couples.

Two of our dear friends recently got engaged after a 18 months of dating and will probably be marrying sometime in the next year or so.  And to us, and to our other friends, this is just what happens now.  Marriage is legal and gay weddings are happening all over the place.  Most of these weddings have no overt political agenda - they're just about the love of two people. 

But the funny thing that happens is that guests at these gay weddings see the love story of the normal, happy couple play out, return to their neighborhood and tell their friends and co-workers the story of last weekend's wonderful gay wedding, leading to a ripple effect of positive momentum.  The stories get told and these are the stories that change the world.

What's my favorite part of a gay wedding?  All the tears of joy during the wedding ceremony, culminating in the phrase "I now pronounce you legally married."

What's your favorite part of a gay wedding?

Why I Do What I Do

One of the coolest things about my job is meeting amazing couples, many of whom come here from other states to legally marry.  It's one of the many things that makes my career as a wedding planner so fulfilling.  I love producing weddings and being the architect of it all - but more importantly to me, I know I am helping LGBT couples get their equal rights.

I had such an opportunity back in August when Frank and Matt from Arkansas hired me for a Vows plus package, which involved the license in one day, cake, flowers, a ceremony location (they chose a church in Brewster), photographer and dinner reservations for their ten guests.

Most of my planning with these couples is done by phone and email so meeting in person is always a treat.  One of the things that Frank and Matt shared with me is that they are one of the plaintiffs in a case brought by the ACLU against the State of Arkansas, seeking to end the ban on adoption by unmarried couples, which was a law passed last November by a voter referendum and was designed to discriminate against the LGBT community.

This week I was walking around my neighborhood and stopped by someone from the ACLU looking for my support and that young person mentioned this case.  I feel such a personal connection to this case because I adore these great guys.

These are the kinds of guys, who have returned home to Arkansas, legally married with a relationship legitimized by a government, who are changing hearts and minds about the issue of gay marriage - just by knowing them, hearing their story and seeing how in love they are.  Their decision to be part of that ACLU case is just a bonus.

Here they are on their wedding day - and by the way, you should consider supporting the ACLU:

Photo by Zoom-Photography.

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?