By Tegan Grant
Originally published on Advocate.com July 18 2013 5:00 AM ET
As the day of our wedding clicked closer and closer (and there was a lot of clicking — we were engaged four and a half years, after all), it was easy to see that I was far more excited about the impending nuptials than my soon-to-be wife. To be fair, I spent the first two and a half years of our relationship with the understanding that she never wanted to marry, which is why I was surprised when she popped the question. I, however, spent my fair share of time envisioning the beautiful dress I would wear and walking down the aisle toward my prince (yeah, my coming out at the age 21 was a surprise to a lot of us, including me).
I wanted it all: the cake, the personalized vows, and, after watching my dad walk my sister down the aisle at her wedding after telling me he wouldn’t come to mine because it wasn’t real, I wanted the validation from my loved ones that our marriage was just as binding as anyone else’s.
This is not to say that my future bride was not into the idea of getting married – she did pop the question, after all. She and I even shared every aspect of the planning and decision making. It is just that the idea of a wedding meant more to me than it did to her. While she geeked out over the fact that we inadvertently were creating a wine-themed wedding, she didn’t necessarily need a ceremony, and the dress, and the cake to prove that she loved me and wanted to commit herself to me.
Me? I wanted the party.
I didn’t need it to prove my love. I didn’t want it for the gifts. I didn’t do it for the cake. To be honest, I hate being the center of attention (according to Myers-Briggs, I’m 86% introvert). But this party – this ceremony – it meant something to me.
I recently read an article called, “I’m a Gay Man Who Wants to Get Married: But How Do I Have a Wedding That’s Not So… Straight?” by J. Bryan Lowder. In it, he goes on and on about how he didn’t want a ceremony that essentially made it seem like he was buying into "straight culture" – as though two people standing up in front of their friends celebrating their love and feeding each other cake was a "straight thing" and not just a "happy couple declaring their love" thing. To me, the article seemed to discuss more the concept of simply not wanting a "traditional" wedding ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance. I wondered why weddings had to be a "straight" versus "gay" thing (which, of course, leaves those of us somewhere in the middle without a team to play on).
Yes, I wanted a wedding ceremony, but not just any wedding ceremony. I wanted this day to be a day of love — not just about the love between my soon-to-be wife and I, but the love we share with our friends and families, too. A relationship is more than just the two people in it, and that is what I wanted to celebrate.
I wore a dress; she wore a suit. Not because we were role-playing a "straight" couple, but because I wanted to wear a dress and she wanted to wear a suit. We drove six hours with the air conditioning blasting so that we could have the cupcakes we loved so much – and we didn’t lose a single one of them. Our friend officiated, we had the ceremony at my mother-in-law’s (not because we were too cheap to pay for a venue, but because it is such a beautiful location – 120 acres in the north woods of Wisconsin). Her uncle barbequed brats and burgers, my little cousin sang as we walked in, and we had guys and girls stand up on each side (not because we wanted to be chic, but because those people that stood with us are the people dearest to us). I wore flip-flops so that through all that girlyness that I normally do not subscribe to, underneath it all – I was still me.
Instead of the traditional guest book, we bought a beautiful wine box that holds six bottles of wines we love, and then gave note cards to our guests to fill out for us to read on our first, third, and fifth anniversary. Our program was a newsletter that told stories about how we met and talked about how this day was a day for all of us. It talked about the people that we are blessed to know and share our lives with. We made oil lamps out of wine bottles for centerpieces and sipped from a glass of unity wine during the ceremony. We made place cards out of wine corks (but just for our table – everyone else got to fend for themselves). We hand made our invitations. Our favorite singer sang a couple sets, and then she sang our song for our first dance. We ate vegetarian Italian sausage and vegan potato salad, along with traditional German potato salad and cheese cake.
My sweetie walked into the ceremony with her mother, and I walked into the ceremony with my father. Yes, he had come around and even teared up during my wife’s vows. She vowed to be my forever spider squisher, and I vowed to keep the freezer stocked with Dots. Our friend and official asked if we promised to share “in this journey of all the challenges, joys, smiles, rainbows, and Chicago Bears versus Green Bay Packers feuds that may come up.” We affirmed our vows.
In short, our day was us. It wasn’t straight. It wasn’t gay. It wasn’t pansexual. It was filled with the people we love and the things we love. And when all was said and done, my new wife got it. She understood why this day was, this ceremony, was so important to me. It was the support. The people we love came together to show us that they love us, too. It wasn’t about their names on checks or the new kitchen appliances (or, in our case, the gas cards for our Route 66 honeymoon); it was their show of support for us and our love and our relationship at a time when the outside world can be anything but supportive.
TEGAN GRANT has been writing stories since before she could hold a pencil. Coming from a family of storytellers, Grant has always felt most comfortable within the pages of a book. Grant currently teaches writing at the college level.