On March 11, 2017, I married the love of my life in sight of God, family and friends, but it was not a great gay wedding.
Let me tell you what happened…
The day before the wedding, as our friends and family began arriving in sunny Florida, we headed over to a local nail salon with our brides’ maids to treat our gals to pedicures and manicures before the big day. When we arrived, we were shocked to encounter not only a sign on the door, but an environment inside that will not soon be forgotten. Apparently, knowing that two brides were on their way, someone had taped to the door a banner proudly sporting, of all things, pink hearts and our names surrounded by the flourish of a hand-drawn, hot-pink heart. As it turns out, Betsy’s sister had arrived before us to surprise us with a full take-over of the salon, complete with decorations, a sumptuous table of wine and tapas and silly party tunes. From that moment forward, our family, friends and even complete strangers were a constant source of joy!
My daughter arrived Friday morning, fresh off an early flight (after a late night doing whatever it is college kids do into the wee small hours) and she jumped into maid of honor with effusive commitment and care. She was by my side every moment leading up to the ceremony, taking good care of her mama with so much love and even a bit of much needed sternness. She encouraged me in the ways of clean eating and hydration, occasionally taking the Prosecco out of my hand and replacing it with water or fresh food. She was my roommate the night before the nuptials and early on the morning of the wedding led me in a meditation that made me weep and gentle yoga that relaxed my anxious mind and body. Applying my makeup, running interference when I was stressed and when the time came, standing by my side in the sunset on that Venice beach, my daughter was a constant vision of elegance and grace. She beamed as Betsy and I stepped into the light of our love and offered an authentic and tender toast at the reception and made sure I sat down to eat amidst the swirl of dancing and laughter into the night.
Betsy’s best man was both wise and wily, attending to his best friend by offering advice from his own married with child life AND goading Bets into doing bachelorette shots of Becherovka and Jaegermeister (shudder) in the late hours of her bachelorette evening. On the day of the wedding, he sweated his arse off assembling our chuppa-inspired wedding arch and made sure my beloved scarfed down some greasy hot dogs in the fleeting hours of her single life! And from the moment I stepped into the sand of our aisle, I saw him beaming with love and pride for his best friend’s new life. And to top it all off, he made me laugh and cry with his perfect toast as we stepped over the threshold into life as a married couple.
Betsy’s mom, well, she has been amazing for months! From the day she insisted that B propose with her great grandmother’s ring, to cooking and baking and sewing into the wee small hours before the wedding, she was the rock on which much of our wedding was built. She served our wedding party home-made meatballs and hand crafted pierogies to sustain us through our wonky little, pool-side rehearsal and celebrated every loving moment of the days before and after our wedding.
Betsy’s father held her hand, squeezing with love and excitement, as they walked down the aisle, sandals filling with warm sand, and left his daughter at the altar after a fatherly kiss, eyes brimming with pride and love.
My cousin, standing in for my departed father, and well, pretty much my whole family, drove 10 hours from Raleigh, NC (making the return trip the next morning) so he could escort me to the spot where I would take my beloved’s hand. My gratefulness for his presence, full of love and faithfulness, is beyond my capacity to express in mere words.
My pastor Susannah, coming in from Atlanta after barely settling in from her trip to Israel, deftly wrangled our motley crew the night before and the day of our wedding. From pre-marital counseling to her scripture choice and perfectly poised homily, she was a constant source of strength, faith and hopefulness as we stepped into the sacred space of our marriage.
Betsy’s dear friend Rob, a person she reveres as a good and holy man, was perhaps the most gentle spirit holding us all in the light from the moment he arrived in Florida. Opening and closing our sacred ceremony with the sounding of the singing bowl, his words of affirmation, reminding us how to be married AND honor our individuality were gifts second only to the delicate silk Buddhist khatas he placed around our necks before we took our first walking on air steps as newlyweds.
And our family and friends! Wow Deeply meaningful readings lifted our collective consciousness while those gathered around us vowed to support us in the hard work of a lifetime of living into our vows. Children threw rose petals and crafted art in the sand celebrating our love. And strangers strolling by along the shore waved and smiled, swept away for just a moment by our celebration of love.
At the reception, catered with out-of-this-world food by Betsy’s brother, our meal was blessed by a dear old friend, a catholic priest who loves to mercilessly taunt my Bets during football season. Then we ate, drank, danced until we were dizzy and hugged what felt like a hundred happy necks.
And as the sunset turned into twinkling stars on that breezy beach, and as the dining and dancing rushed by, and in the days following the celebration, not once have we heard, “what a great gay wedding that was!”
Instead, what we HAVE heard over and over again is…
“What a great wedding!”
“The readings and vows were so beautiful!”
“I cried nearly the whole time!”
“The sermon was just perfect.”
“You have such wonderful family and friends!”
“Holy cow, that food was amazing!”
and…even from a handful of our otherwise conservative family and friends…”that was quite possibly the best wedding I have ever been to!”
So you see, it was not a great gay wedding. It was an amazing wedding joining two people who have chosen to live as one in this life, ’til death do us part. It was a shining moment in time where Betsy and Kimberly came together to pledge love and commitment to one another asking only from our friends and family that they hold on tight and remind us of our love, vows and spirit of hopefulness they helped co-create on that day.
Love wins, y’all. Love wins.