Lesbian Weddings and Why They Matter
By Ky Ventura
Confession: I am a wedding enthusiast. To date, I have attended and partied the hell out of more than 50 weddings, and it is still my favorite thing to do with a weekend. Dressing up, elaborate seating arrangements, free flowing booze, and a guaranteed awkward dance party? IN. Family tension, drunken cousins, photo booths, string quartets? IN. You can bet your spanks I am raring for wedding season when it gets going, and this spring is no different. Except that this spring is totally different, because the gays are making it legal in Washington, Delaware and Rhode Island, in addition to New York, Iowa, Massachusetts, and five other states. The gays are marching two by two through France and New Zealand, in addition to Canada and Argentina and about a dozen other countries. I love, love, and I love equality, and when the two get together, I am ready for a sincere and rambly toast by a teary dad in a seersucker suit.
Gay marriage, like gay relationships, are great for everyone, because freedom breeds freedom. Once you throw off the yoke of heterosexuality, all rules are more negotiable. Two brides open up all sorts of fun questions: what happens with walking down the aisle, wedding parties, bachelorette celebrations, cake toppers, parent/child dances, dress colors, suit options, rings?! All couples should feel free to choose from the buffet of traditions and make their own decisions, but the gays are better at bucking trends and inventing new ones. Plus, all the straights have so many questions. If at all possible, station yourself near the grandparents for the most offensive and remarkable line of commentary. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Engaged people (heretofore referred to as The Betrothed) love to talk about the party, and often shrug off the ceremony. They want all their friends and family to have a great time, and they get caught up in the food and music and flowers and questions about which lady is going to wear a tie. Like me, they are more comfortable with logistics than declarations of emotion. But the ceremony is important for precisely this reason: rarely are you given a stage to lay your soul bare. In our cynical times, weddings are a foolish promise that love will last forever. The Betrothed are given this unique opportunity to explain, in detail, what makes their beloved so beloved. And their guests have already brought their own tissues for how beautiful it is going to sound.
Not only do the Betrothed get to speak at length about their relationship, but everyone else does, too. Siblings tell their most embarrassing anecdotes; best friends attempt to make highly inappropriate stories slightly appropriate; parents (when present) get all weepy and recite their daughters’ accomplishments. Families welcome other families into their family – and at least for this day, they actually mean it! It is the last bastion of raw sentimentality.. How often do people weep openly in a room to the strains of Etta James? Not often enough.
Reciting wedding vows makes married people think of their own, and I am no different. There I was, three weeks before my wedding, at a bar in Flores, Guatemala, scribbling away at my first draft of vows. It was sunset, and two-for-one happy hour, and I got to reflect on what I love about my lady (in addition to her commitment to personal freedom that found me solita in Central America three weeks before my wedding), what I love about our relationship, and what I want from it going forward. I’m not a big feelings girl; I tend to defuse a conversation with humor rather than tell you about the depths of my profound love. What I ended up writing now serves as a road map for what I want from my marriage and what I am responsible for. The party was freaking amazing, but the promise is actually important.
Haters, we can talk about the institution of marriage, its roots in ownership of women, the continued heteronormativity of wedding ceremonies, the absurdity of the wedding-industrial complex, and the general belief that marriage is prison. I am not here to debate marriage with you; I am here to celebrate weddings as fabulous and colorful parties that do something we can all believe in: draw a circle around a group of people and encourage them to feel real emotions together, in support of something as foolish as life-long commitment.