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9 things people don't tell you about planning an LGBTQ wedding.

One woman's experience planning a wedding shows how far we've come and how far we have yet to go.

9 things people don't tell you about planning an LGBTQ wedding.
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Modern Love

From the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew that I wanted her in my life.

I swear I fell in love with her in a single moment. We were standing at a table enjoying a drink together when she shied away from a compliment. I could feel something in me come crashing down; for some reason, I felt like I needed her to know how special she was.

And I knew I wanted to marry her just a month into our relationship. A year later, I sent her on a scavenger hunt with each clue leading to a different part of our house and a different moment in our relationship. The last clue led her to me, standing in the kitchen, holding the ring. She said yes.


Our "we just got engaged!" selfie. All photos used with permission.

Now, we are planning our June 2017 wedding together.

I’ll be honest: My friends warned me about the wedding planning process, but I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for how crazy wedding planning can be.

Add to that the fact that we are two women and it makes for an interesting ride.

As an LGBTQ community, we have made great strides during the last year. After all, it’s only been a year since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. But at the same time, we still have so much work to do. Our work is not finished until our trans* friends can exist without fear, until we can all have job and housing security, and until we can feel safe again in the wake of tragedies like Orlando.

So here’s some real talk about what it’s like to plan a wedding with two women.

It’s shown me that we’ve come a long way, but we still have a ways to go. We can all do better at making weddings a safe space for every kind of love.

1. People will probably ask, “Is your fiancée wearing a suit or a dress?”

This is a seemingly harmless question, but I find that it’s asked as a way to place us into gender roles. It falls along the lines of, “Who wears the pants in your relationship?”

But the answer: Both of us are wearing dresses. Because that's what we have chosen to wear. Not because that's what we're expected to wear.

2. People will ask you what day you’re getting married from the moment you’re engaged.

This is a normal one that most people face, but the day after I proposed, everyone asked me if we had set a date. Seriously? I was still nursing my hangover from the champagne celebrations! I was lucky I had put my clothes on correctly that morning, so no, we hadn’t set a date.

I finally found the woman I was meant to spend the rest of my life with — please let me stare at my shiny new ring in peace.

3. People will also ask: “Are you guys going to have kids? Who is going to carry?”

First, this is along the lines of asking me when our wedding date is right after we got engaged. Of course we’ve talked about kids a bit, but we haven’t even gotten married yet!

Second, this is yet another way of trying to place us into defined gender roles. But one of the joys of marrying a woman is that we get to challenge what marriage is “supposed” to look like. We get to make up our own rules.

4. You will have to decide what traditions are important enough to keep.

I want to have my moment in the sun and be the one to walk down the aisle ... but I also want to watch my fiancée walk down the aisle. As a compromise, I hope to walk first and then wait at the altar for her while she walks down the aisle.

And as a feminist, I struggle with the idea of my dad walking me down the aisle at all. I am not his to give away, but I also want him to feel valued. As a compromise, I hope to walk halfway down the aisle with him and then walk the rest of the way by myself. I am also entertaining the idea of doing a dance with my mom at the reception in addition to a dance with my dad.

I’ve realized that, for me, these traditions are important enough to keep ... but I want to put my own spin on them.

5. You will have to come out. Over and over and over again.

Coming out is never a one-and-done thing, but nothing compares to planning a wedding.

I often get caught between wanting to make sure a vendor is going to be accepting and feeling like I shouldn’t have to explain things because it’s 2016.

More often than not, I have to correct people after they’ve referred to my fiancée as “he” or “him.” And that is kind of awkward for everyone involved (#heteronormativity).

6. And even after you say there are two brides, they still might not get it…

This is an actual conversation I had with a caterer. I can’t make this stuff up:

Caterer: Are you the bride?

Me: I am one of the two brides.

Caterer: Oh, is it like a double wedding?

Me: No, I’m marrying a woman.

Caterer: What?

Me: I am marrying a woman…

7. But more often than not, people will welcome you with open arms.

From the moment I knew I wanted to marry my fiancée, I had our wedding venue picked out. After we were engaged, I contacted the location I'd spotted and told them a little about us as a couple and what kind of wedding we wanted.

They immediately responded by sending us an article about a wedding at their venue with a similar vibe and … two brides!

It was a really nice way for the event coordinator to show me that everything would be fine without saying, “We are cool with gays,” (which can be contrived and awkward). That pretty much sealed the deal for me. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the venue is everything I ever dreamed of and more.

8. Wedding planning is only as stressful as you make it.

We started planning really early, and we gave ourselves over a year to do it. Our venue takes care of a lot of the details (seating, dinnerware, glassware, etc.) and we are letting go of control on many other details.

For example, we chose purple, yellow, and gray as our colors. Our wedding party members will find a purple dress or a gray suit and purple tie. And each member of the wedding party can wear either a dress or a suit — whatever they are most comfortable in regardless of gender.

If I could give one piece of advice, it would be this: Find some things you’re willing to let go of and let someone else decide. You’ll thank yourself later.

9. And in the end, despite the roadblocks, it will all be worth it.

Next summer, I get to stand in front the most important people in my life, look into my bride’s eyes, and promise to love her for the rest of our lives.

And in that moment, the cake, flowers, dresses, food, venue, the weird heteronormative conversations ... will all have been worth it. Because this will be the start of our very own family.

As my fiancée and I plan a wedding against the backdrop of Orlando, loving each other loud and proud has taken on a new level of importance.

We will not let hatred stop us from being ourselves or from expressing our love boldly.

Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

True

This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

True

This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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