Whenever I thought about a wedding as a kid, I didn’t really think that I’d have two weddings to plan, let alone two in one year. It has actually become a bit of joke with our families. Alex’s mum has decided that with two women, you just have to have two of everything: two dresses (just for me), two rings (we thought about a ring exchange for both weddings), two bachelorette parties (one for each country), two cakes at each wedding, so on and so forth.
My mom and dad are blaming it on my birthdays: when I was 3 ˝ my dad started celebrating my ‘un-birthday,’ the day that marked when I was officially 6 months older. With a Christmas birthday, I think my parents felt a little sorry for me so I got a summer ‘un-birthday’ too—along with multiple celebrations in December with much of our family scattered around different parts of California. Regardless of our of multiple celebratory tendencies, Alex and I like a good party and, well, we want to celebrate our love with everyone we love—no matter which English-speaking country they happen to live in.
Aside from the long-distance complications, this brings us to another dilemma: how do you throw two unique ceremonies and celebrations that are at once relevant to the location and the people and retain the essence of who we are and hold as the center of the day that we are getting married? So far, we’ve attempted this balance by remembering the key words that come to us when we think about us getting married: love, acceptance, and people. (Dancing does come into that equation for me, too, although it is less a catalyst for how to plan a wedding and more a requirement of the day. I know that some of you might not feel this same way, but I’m not hitched ’til I get to dance afterward!)
Those three words breakdown what our day is about: our love manifesting through a union and a commitment to be with one another as a family; the acceptance of ourselves, each other, and others, as human beings and a same-sex couple; and the people in our lives who have made us who we are, share with us in our joys and sorrows, and who want as much time as possible with on such a momentous day.
If this is ringing true for you as well, I wanted to share with you how we’re shaping our two weddings—helped by a handy-dandy table (I tried to make some joke about four weddings & a funeral but the puns just weren’t coming to me!):
|UK Wedding||CA Wedding|
|Pre-Ceremony: We stayed apart the night before to enjoy more time with our families, got ready separately, and had a chance for a ‘first look’ before the ceremony. We wanted the morning to really have the feel of two families coming together celebration for and after the ceremony.||Pre-Ceremony: We’ll be holding a pre-reception with home-made, in-season breads & muffins, local apple cider, and live music by a local Celtic group. This is for two reasons: 1) we’re already married, and 2) with a guests list over 120 and flying over from the UK, we want as much opportunity to see, greet, and speak to people as possible.|
|Ceremony: Very early in the planning process, we knew that our ceremony would be outlined by the legal requirements of the UK Civil Partnership ceremony (we had watched her sister’s the summer before!) and knew that it would require us to pick different options and a few readings and show up. And yet, even with the legal parameters, it was a personal, moving ceremony—Yeah! Plus, we got to have our favourite poems by e.e. cummings (a sonnet) and Pablo Neruda (‘Sonnet 17′).||Ceremony: Also early in the planning process, we were not hopeful that California was going to re-legalize gay marriage. Around the time of our engagement, however, we hung with a few Irish friends of mine (I lived there for a year) and they told us about the hand-binding ceremony they did in their wedding. Thus, my childhood best friend with officiate over our ceremony as we ‘bind’ ourselves to one another anew and renew our vows from the UK wedding. Plus, we’ve chosen another poem: ‘Write it White’ by Carol Ann Duffy.|
|Champagne Reception & Afternoon Tea: Bubbly & Strawberries were a must for us, and getting to have it in the gardens of the hotel was a bonus. Not seeing the guests before the ceremony, we wanted the opportunity to mingle and say hello before we sat down again for afternoon tea & storytelling.||Cocktail Hour: Alex and I love a good cocktail and coming up with our own ‘signature cocktails’ was literally the first planning idea we had (after the wedded bliss, of course!). So, after the ceremony, we plan on trotting out our signature ‘Lovefest’ cocktails & mocktails (non-alcoholic) for some more mingling before dinner.|
|Procession: Processing through town was Alex’s mum’s idea—and we couldn’t have been more grateful for it. The procession really captured all of our themes: our love radiated, our guests and the people in town accepted us, and we were surrounded by people we loved.||Games?: I keep thinking that it would just be a lot of fun to play a game of some sort with our guests, be it Bingo, a pub quiz, or something else. It could bring the guests together in a common goal, and be an opportunity to share more of ourselves as a couple.|
|Dinner et al: The buffet got people moving around, the small space and rectangular tables had people chatting more and meeting more people than just those at their table. We had easy food to eat too: meats, cheeses, salads and breads. Simple, relaxing, food we love!||Dinner et al: Alex and I love the area of Northern California that I come from, including the food. So, as traditionally weddings go up there, we’ll be having Tri-Tip BBQ—and Portobello Mushrooms for our veggie friends (and me!).|
|The Evening: The dinner and toasts were preceded and followed by performances by family & friends. Our first dance was to ‘Heavenly Day’ and the final song of the night was ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’ Pretty much summed up the love we share, our experience of the day, and that we will always believe in love.||The Evening: This is probably the part of the day I’m having the most trouble visualizing right now. Do we have performances and a first dance again? Do I carry out my threat to do a lip sync routine & variety show? We’ll stil probably end with ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ (it’s our party staple), but mostly I just want to dance around and celebrate with people.|
|Favors: With two snacks, two meals, and a whole day of festivities we felt like that was a pretty good gift for our guests. Plus, without a theme and with same-sex unions legal in the UK, we just didn’t have any hot ideas!||Favors: Very early on, I knew I wanted our guests to wear and take home white knots for marriage equality. Going through the Prop 8 election in my small, ranching hometown, was a difficult experience and having our wedding there is somewhat of a political statement. Not wanting our day to be about pushing ‘acceptance’ though, we want to incorporate them as a subtle yet informative wedding favour. Plus, the jars of red goodness (jams, tomatoes, salsas, red wine vinegar) will also be something people can take home and think of us with, too!|
That’s pretty much how our day did and is scheduled to shape up. Any ideas for things I’ve missed? Something not make sense or seem not to fit? We’d love to hear from you! (Like I said, planning another wedding ain’t easy!)