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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.

True
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.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

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2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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