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