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contents up front 6 The wedding checklist

12 Looking back, looking forward A year of LGBT milestones BY ILY GOYANES

16 Don’t lose track of the big picture Staying sane when planning your wedding BY MARK DAVIS

20 Rice swap

Update a tradition with a fun, green option



24 Perfect match

How to find gay-friendly wedding professionals BY MEREDITH DELISO

26 Will you marry us?

How to turn a loved one into a legally ordained minister BY ILY GOYANES

28 It’s a snap

Wedding photo advice for gay and lesbian couples BY STEVEN ROSEN

32 Gays inn

Honeymoon hotels that specialize in LGBT hospitality BY ALI OSWORTH

34 Invitations with imagination Announcements that don’t rely on stereotypes



36 What suited us

One woman’s struggles with lesbian bridal fashion BY JESSICA BAEN

real couples 38 Boheme Brooklyn

Two globetrotters have a cool, wild wedding BY ELYSE WANSHEL

42 A celebration of improvisation

A wedding planned at the last minute turns out perfect BY MEREDITH DELISO



46 Free falling in love

From skydiving to an intimate, Brooklyn-spanning wedding BY ELIZABETH MICHAELSON

50 Birds of a feather

A couple has a peacock-themed wedding BY ALI OSWORTH

parting gift 56 Word love

Gay-friendly poems to read at your wedding BY ALI OSWORTH

Cover photo by Sarah Tew Photography Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014

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t is exciting to get down on your knee to propose to your future spouse — but the minute you do so, you start a countdown that won’t reach zero until you’re on your honeymoon. To properly plan, use our handy wedding checklist below:

12 months before the big day ■ First, decide on a ceremony and reception site.

her or him with your vision of the wedding day. Remember, that person also works for you.

Then, make sure it is in a state that allows gay weddings (a list that currently includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington).

■ Begin search for wedding bands.

■ Pick a venue that is gay-friendly. Some churches, synagogues, and other religious establishments are very accepting — others are not. Find a minister or officiant who weds same-sex couples right. This is your wedding and the person performing the ceremony works for you, not the other way around.

works for you, so make sure you are happy with the florist’s approach. A true pro will help you work out table settings, extra flowers for wedding party members, etc.

■ Hire photographer and videographer. Make sure that this person is comfortable with same-sex marriages, as the resulting photos will not capture the love you feel if the photographer does not feel it.

■ Look into wedding-day transportation. Do you want a limo, horse and carriage, limo bus?

■ Set the date.

■ Begin drafting your guest list.

■ Decide on a caterer if catering on-site is unavailable.

■ Keep it fun; wedding planning is stressful, but not

■ Begin shopping for your attire. Decide whether to wear a gown or suit at your wedding.

■ Start shopping for attendants’ attires. ■ If using a wedding consultant, meet and provide 6

■ Hire a florist. Again, remember that this person

if you’re on the same page and have fun with it.

6–9 months out ■ Decide who will play what role in the wedding. Continued on page 8 Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Steven Rosen Photography

Wedding Checklist

Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


■ Book wedding-day transportation. ■ Book hotel for wedding night, if applicable. ■ Select and order the cake. Be sure to have a samesex couple as the topper (unless you want the standard “man-and-wife” topper for some ironic purpose — remember, keep having fun with the process!).

■ Continue to compile a list of duties for key players. ■ Mail out hotel and city information to out-of-town guests.

■ Complete insurance issues, such as coverage for the rings, as needed.

■ Remind your partner to order gown or suit. ■ Let the DJ or band know of special songs you would like played at the ceremony and reception.

■ Purchase wedding favors. Brett Matthews Photography

2–4 months out ■ Get your marriage license application (following local laws).

■ Mail out invitations. Hint: make sure to number

checkliSt... Continued from page 6

■ Gather all necessary travel documents such as passports, visas, etc. Get immunization for honeymoon if necessary.

Who will be waiting at the altar, and who will be walking down the aisle?

■ Finalize menu.

■ Discuss the menu with caterer.

■ Finalize ceremony and reception music.

■ Finalize wedding-day transportation.

■ Finalize favors or create your own.

■ Book band, musicians, or DJ service.

■ Buy thank-you gifts for wedding party and key

■ Purchase wedding bands and engrave a special saying.


■ Set up your wedding registry.

■ Book your hair and makeup artists.

■ Purchase accessories, shoes, and undergarments

■ Book times for fittings. Bring your accessories.

for first fitting.

■ Ask friends to be key players. Key players are trustworthy pals on whom you can rely for crucial tasks. The key players are not part of the immediate wedding party since they will be busy with photo shoots.

■ Fine tune the guest list. Remember, this is your day, not theirs. You are under no obligation to invite anyone who would put a damper on the festivities.

■ Compile addresses of guests. Mail save-the-date cards to out-of-town guests.

■ Search for wedding favors. ■ Consider honeymoon spots. Call travel agencies for best packages. See our story in this issue about great gay-friendly destinations.

■ Keep having fun with the process.

4–6 months out ■ Begin search for hair and makeup artist. ■ Complete the guest list. ■ Order invitations and other stationery. Think about what “look” and wording you want. 8

each invitation because people often forget to write their name on the response card. This way, you can track it.

Aim to schedule hair and makeup trial on the same day to get a look at the complete package.

■ Begin finalizing seating arrangements. ■ Begin to plan receiving line, timeline, and itinerary of the day.

■ Purchase guest book, cake knife, champagne glasses, garters, etc.

■ Keep having fun with the process. It’s nuts! You are getting married!

4–8 weeks out ■ Tackle outstanding legal matters, such as name changes, if applicable.

■ Finalize list of must-have photos. Give a copy to photographer and key players.

■ Complete seating plan as RSVPs are returned. ■ Finalize songs for the ceremony and reception. ■ Get a pre-wedding trim and spa treatment so you feel your best during this stressful time.

■ Write your vows. Let the officiant know of any Continued on page 10 Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Steven Rosen Photography

checkliSt... Continued from page 8

readings or other special requests.

of emergency.

■ Confirm date for rehearsal.

One day out ■ Double-check that you have packed your clothes

■ Finalize list of responsibilities for key players and wedding party.

and other personal items for the next day.

■ Have a friendly get-together with everyone and

■ De-stress your body. Consider deep breathing and

distribute responsibilities.

other relaxation exercises such as yoga.

■ Book time for final fitting.

■ Allocate enough time to have fun with out-of-town

■ Arrange rehearsal dinner for one or two days before


the wedding. Invite wedding party and key players.

■ Enjoy your rehearsal dinner.

■ Confirm honeymoon plans.

■ Make time to spend alone with your partner. Soak

■ Make checklist of items to bring for the honeymoon.

up the moment together. Have fun.

■ Finalize receiving line, timeline, and itinerary of

Overall tips

the day.

No matter what kind of wedding you’re having, hundreds of years of human experience offers some tried-and-true tips for making sure your big day is the best day it can be. Here are some: • Trust your wedding party and key players. • Laughter is the best beauty tip. A smile goes a long  way. • Remember to implement the stress-buster techniques you and your partner agreed to use. • Always tell your partner why you love him or her. • Assume that about 20 percent of your guest list  will not attend, so invite extras accordingly. • Walk around in your wedding shoes before the big  day so that they are properly broken in. • Plan a special dinner with your partner without  any wedding talk. Just relax and enjoy a night together.

2–3 weeks out ■ Finalize seating plan. Call guests who have not returned RSVPs.

■ Have your final fitting. ■ If you have a gown, pick it up and hang it in a cool, dry place. Try to avoid sunlight.

■ Confirm details with all vendors. ■ Arrange times for key players to pick up items they are responsible for.

■ Write a toast for the rehearsal dinner. ■ Pack for the honeymoon. 10

■ Leave honeymoon itinerary with someone in case

Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride


looking back

(Clockwise) In July, Pope Francis shocked the world with his words of gay acceptance; same-sex supporters in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on March 27, 2013, before the court’s hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); In April, NBA veteran Jason Collins, became the first active player in one of four major U.S. professional sports leagues to announce he was gay; demonstrators in support of same-sex marriage shout slogans in front of City Hall, in Providence on Aug. 1, 2013.

A year of LGBT milestones By Ily Goyanes


he equal rights movement gave up its training wheels this past year. Triumphs came in the form of celebrities coming out of the closet, politicians speaking out in support of civil rights, and eight states — or was it nine? — legalizing same-sex unions. The LGBT community also won two major battles last year with the United States Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. So much happened, we barely had time to put our rainbow flags back in the basement before it was time to mark another victory. In the words sung by Kool and the Gang: celebrate good times, come on! Let’s take a look at the steps that have brought us closer to equality than ever before.

Jan. 1, 2013 The beginning of the year marked the first day that gay and lesbian couples could get married 12

in Maryland after same-sex marriage was legalized by popular vote in the Nov. 6, 2012 election.

March 2013 Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton came out in support of LGBT equality in a sincere, touching, and heartfelt video for the Human Rights Campaign, stating: “LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones. And they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship — that includes marriage.” The Supreme Court justices began listening to arguments in the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases, on March 26 and 27 respectively, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declared that the effects of DOMA “touch every aspect of life.” April 2013 Jason Collins, then a center for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, came out as gay in an interview with “Sports Illustrated.” His announcement was particularly important as he was the first publicly gay athlete playing in a major North American men’s team sport. May 2013 On May 2, Rhode Island legalized samesex marriage, becoming the 10th state to do so. On May Continued on page 14 Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Clockwise from top left: AP / Alessandra Tarantino, AP / Carolyn Kaster, AP / Steven Senne, AP / Mary Schwalm

looking forWArd

Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


news ruling be delayed pending the state’s appeal. Bowing to reality, Gov. Christie dropped his appeal hours later as same-sex couples began to tie the knot there.

November 2013 On Nov. 13 Hawaii joined the growing number of states recognizing the rights of same-sex couples. A week later, on Nov. 20, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

December 2013 On Dec. 19 New Mexico followed

Continued from page 12

7, less than a week later, Delaware became the 11th, and exactly a week after that, Minnesota followed suit, bringing the number of states recognizing same-sex unions to a full dozen. On May 23, the Boy Scouts of America also lifted a ban that had been in place for over 100 years against openly gay males joining the organization, though sadly the ban on gay adults serving the organization continued, an unfortunate smear left in place.

June 26, 2013 The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, was unconstitutional. The court also let stand a lower court decision that had overturned Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that defined marriage between a man and a woman in the state of California.

July 29, 2013 In a surprising move, Pope Francis told reporters during a press conference: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” The new pope’s tone was widely applauded, but debate continued as to whether anything had actually changed. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was among those who rushed onto the airwaves to say that Church doctrine regarding homosexuality remained unchanged.

Aug. 1, 2013 LGBT couples came out en masse as both Minnesota and Rhode Island began processing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the first time in history. The IRS also issued an announcement declaring that, in line with the June DOMA ruling, the department would start recognizing all same-sex married couples for tax purposes, regardless of what state in which they lived.

Sept. 27, 2013 Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that the Garden State must issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples beginning that October. Oct. 21, 2013 The New Jersey Supreme Court denied Gov. Chris Christie’s request that Judge Jacobson’s 14

January 2014 The New Year has just gotten under way and we’re already making strides. Virginia’s new governor, Terry McAuliffe, banned discrimination against LGBT state employees as his first executive order on Jan. 11 — the same day he was sworn in to office. On Jan. 14, Oklahoma’s Judge Terence Kern ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. As in Utah, the effect of the Oklahoma ruling has been stayed pending appeal. President Obama declared that his administration was working with “mayors, governors, and state legislators” on issues such as “marriage equality” during his State of the Union Address. Maine’s Supreme Court also made history on Jan. 30, when it ruled that administrators at a public school violated state anti-discrimination law by not allowing Nicole Maines, a transgender teenager who identifies as female, to use the girls’ bathroom.

February 2014 On Feb. 9, football player Michael Sam, a University of Missouri defensive end who was the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year this past season, came out as gay in an ESPN interview and a New York Times article. He is expected to be a top NFL draft pick for next season, which would make him the first out gay player in the league. And most recently, on Feb. 12, a federal judge in Kentucky ruled that the state’s refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states was unconstitutional. Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote that the same analysis would apply if couples were to challenge the state’s refusal to let them marry there. It looks like 2014 is going be another very good year for the LGBT community. Maybe we should just keep our rainbow flags at the ready. Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Associated Press / Gerald Herbert


suit, with Utah catching up the very next day, bringing the number of states granting same-sex couples marriage equality to 18 — twice the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage in the beginning of 2013. Dec. 23, Judge Robert J. Shelby, the judge who struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, denied the state’s request to prevent marriage licenses from being issued while his earlier decision is appealed. Two weeks later, however, after more than 1,000 Utah couples married, the Supreme Court halted the weddings while the state pursued its appeal. Utah officials are not currently recognizing the marriages that took place, even though the Obama administration is for federal purposes. Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America” came out as a lesbian on Dec. 29, declaring in an end-of-theyear post on Facebook: “I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.”

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Don’t lose track of

the big picture Staying sane when planning your wedding day


o matter how gorgeous your engagement photos might turn out, the process of planning a wedding will never be picture perfect. Same-sex marriage is a relatively new concept and we, at Wedding Pride, are trying to help guide you through the joyous (and occasionally jarring) journey of preparing for your big day. Yet, there are certain obstacles that same-sex sweethearts should bear in mind in order to maintain their sanity:

Be aware that people will expectations. 1. have Most people naturally expect a classic wedding scenario, which has been drilled into our psyches by countless romantic comedies. AnyContinued on page 18


Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

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thing different — like, say, a same-sex wedding — will always carry a whiff of freshness. For instance, the loss of the typical touchstones like the bouquet toss, bridesmaids, and, well, a man marrying a woman, means that peoples’ expectations can run wild. Keep in mind that your straight friends and family might have certain ideas of what a gay or lesbian wedding should look like, and those concepts may differ from the day you envision. Don’t let this bother, affect, or discourage you. It’s important that your wedding day be a reflection of you and your partner, not a reaction to others’ ideals.


Be aware that some family members may not be enthusiastic.

You may be planning a giant, blowout ceremony, but don’t be surprised if your extended family seems less fervent. Your closest relatives are probably thrilled for you, but cousins and uncles you see less often may feel uncomfortable at a gay wedding. Keep in mind that the fight for same-sex marriage is taking a while for a reason — not everyone is onboard with the concept yet. You know your family best, but don’t be shocked if they’re not as supportive as you would have hoped.

Be aware that out-of-town guests to be entertained. 3. need If you’re getting married in New York City, chances are you will have out-of-town guests. They will be excited to be a part of your big day, but most likely, they’re also looking forward to being in the Big Apple. Be prepared to spend some quality time with them outside of your wedding and to have a foolproof list of activities that will keep them busy when you have to run out for a weddingoriented errand. Some ideas include a trip to the Statue of Liberty, stroll around Central Park, visit to Chelsea Piers, or a Broadway show. Basic, fun Gotham activities will keep your friends and family out of your hair — and you from pulling yours out!

ferent. Maybe you want to dress casually, but your partner wants to don something a little more formal. Perhaps you think a champagne fountain is a fun and kitschy reception detail but your in-laws find it tacky. Find a comfortable middle ground if you can, but be upfront about what you are willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable.

aware that you have to audition officiates. 5. Be Officiates can run the gamut from traditional to dreamed up this very minute, so it is important to speak to a variety of officiates to learn what they envision in a same-sex marriage ceremony. You want to find the right fit for your ceremony.

Be aware that you will hear a lot of awkward but well-meaning 6. questions about your gay wedding. Take a deep breath — or as many deep breaths as you need. It may not be uncommon to hear a question like: “Should I address you as Mr. or Mrs.?” These kinds of jokes will come from friends and family, so give some thought to whether you are truly ready to grin and bear it — even after you have heard, “Am I a friend of the bride or the groom?” for the billionth time. You will also be asked more serious, though mildly inappropriate, questions such as whether you’re taking your partner’s last name or how you plan on having children. Make sure to speak candidly about your post-martial life with your partner, that way a question — or your intended’s answer — will never take you by surprise.

aware that you can make the perfect playlist. 7. Be You can hire the best DJ in the city (if you can afford her), but this is your day — do you really want to hear the hot new beats? You want songs that mean something to you and your partner, even if it’s a trashy ’70s disco song that always gets the two of you dancing. Make sure that you tell your DJ or band what vibe you want to create and songs you want. And only hire this person if she’s willing to adapt to your taste.

Be aware that you will have to 4. compromise.

Be aware that you will be out. 8. stressed

All relationships involve compromises, and don’t think that your wedding — that involves multiple relationships with family, friends, and your future spouse — will be any dif-

Weddings are taxing, regardless of your sexual orientation. Big events require a lot of work. Do not think that because you are liberated from traditional wedding conventions you will also be free from insomnia-induced stress. Even a dinner party requires planning, so every time you sit down to discuss a detail that makes your eye twitch, remind yourself why you’re doing this — so that you can stand in front of friends and family and declare your love for your partner. So don’t sweat the appetizers!

Your wedding arrives on the backs of tireless men and women who fought for the right to marry. You should enjoy your moment and have fun with friends and family, but make it a point to give back. There are still states where same-sex marriage is not legal and organizations dedicated to fighting for the same legal rights you enjoy in New York. Support them, or, at the very least, make sure the companies you’re hiring support gay rights.

Be aware that elopement is an option. 10. always Take a second gander at numbers one through nine — are you sure a quickie City Hall wedding isn’t for you? 18

Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

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rice SWAP

Update a tradition with one of these fun, green options



ou may want a bit of fanfare as you exit your ceremony, but if you’re the cool, trendsetting type who bends the rules and bucks tradition, the idea of having your friends and family chuck fistfuls of uncooked rice at you and your honey probably doesn’t excite you. You’re not a burrito bowl — you are a bride or a groom! So what to do? Don’t fret — here are a few fun, socially conscious, and eco-friendly alternatives to rice that will make your exit appear as unique as the two of you:

Ecofetti This biodegradable confetti dissolves in water, so it can be 20

Erica Camille Photography


hosed away if Mother Nature doesn’t take care of the clean-up. It also comes in weddingfriendly colors such as pretty pink, vibrant purple, and periwinkle. Best part? It is made from recycled materials and is safe for nosing wildlife living nearby.

Lavender Imagine making your getaway under a sun shower of fragrant, soft, and bright lavender? These buds make for a classy, colorful, and cool exit and can easily be found online in rich blue or delicate lavender colors. Lavender, of course, is biodegradable and won’t hurt the environment or any cute, little fur babies.

Seeds Not only are seeds biodegradable, they’re also food! Birdseed usually contains cracked corn, sunflower chips, and oats, and is a favorite of songbirds. So, apart from making your exit in style, you will also be feeding your tiny, winged friends. It is Continued on page 22 Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

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RICE... Continued from page 20

also inexpensive and can be bought in bulk.

High-float confetti Star Light’s high-float confetti is similar to Ecofetti — it is water-soluble and biodegradable. But each individual piece is much larger than Ecofetti’s and boasts a long, drawn-out, float factor, making it look fantastic in photos.

Plantable seed confetti Plantable seed confetti, like birdseed, also contributes to the environment. These tiny, plantable seeds eventually grow into wildflowers, leaving behind a long-term symbol of your union.

Flower petals Flower petals are soft, aromatic, and fall beautifully, looking gorgeous in photos. The only downside is cost. It will cost you a pretty penny if you want all of your guests to have a palm-full of pretty petals.

Herbs This new wedding trend involves items found in your kitchen. No, not tongs — herbs! Couples have taken to choosing thyme, rosemary, basil, and sage to be tossed about as they leave the venue after the ceremony. Earthy-smelling and as green as it gets, herb tossing no longer has to be something you do when prepping dinner.

Bubbles Who doesn’t love a well-blown bubble? Not only are bubbles a green way to go, they also lend an element of fantasy to your ceremony. Not to mention, bubbles are extremely photogenic, making for excellent wedding photos.

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How to find gay-friendly wedding professionals By Meredith deliso

Talk to your friends. Word of mouth is the triedand-true method of finding anything from a dentist to a mechanic, and the same goes for wedding vendors. If you have friends, or friends of friends, who are recently married gay couples, feel free to ask them which vendors they liked — or didn’t like. Talk to your venue. If you’ve found a venue for your wedding, you can ask them for suggestions. Not only can you find vendors that are gay-friendly, you will also likely find ones who are familiar with the venue. This worked well for Keenan: “Once we found our venue, we were given a list of recommended vendors who knew how to work with the rustic space we had chosen and we started there,” says Keenan. Keep in mind that once you find vendors for some of your needs, such as a photographer, you can also ask her who she recommends for the other services that you need. Google, Google, Google! Beyond word of mouth, Keenan also took to the Internet to conduct research on 24

Associated Press / Mary Altaffer


mily Keenan didn’t fit into the typical “bride and groom” box when she was planning her wedding two years ago. She belonged in the “bride and bride” category. So, when she was looking for wedding vendors, she wanted to find professionals who didn’t have a problem with providing services for a lesbian celebration. “It was important that the vendors we worked with thought that we were important enough clients that they wanted to make us feel comfortable and accepted,” says Keenan, editor of 4 Real Equality Weddings, an LGBTQ wedding blog. “We didn’t realize how much we were going to be working one-onone with some of these people, and as we got deeper into the process, we really began to realize how important it would be to have a positive relationship with them.” Because she was getting married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, Massachusetts, Keenan crossed her fingers and rightly assumed vendors would be cool working with two brides. But not every couple is so lucky — cases of vendors refusing to work with same-sex couples routinely make national headlines. In order to help you find vendors that will make you feel like any other bride or groom, here are a few pointers:

potential vendors. You can look for reviews of vendors on websites like Yelp, as well as check out the vendors’ websites and see if they’ve worked with same-sex couples in the past. Use gay-friendly vendor directories. There are an increasing amount of resources at your disposal, especially as more states legalize gay marriage. Several gay-friendly wedding websites also feature vendor and venue directories that you can search by type of vendor or location. Wedding Pride (weddingprideny.com), for instance, has a great directory of same-sex friendly vendors in New York. The best part is once you find one great, gay-friendly vendor through our website, such as a florist or bakery, they can lead you in the direction of another friendly and accepting vendor. Look for gender-neutral language. Language used on a business’s website can help tip you off on whether they are gay-friendly or not. If a vendor uses words like “partner” or “client,” as opposed to strictly “bride and groom,” that can show a consideration for same-sex couples. “It is so important that vendors realize how much the wording on their website and contracts affects potential clients,” says Keenan. “Couples want to see themselves accepted and recognized for who they are — whether it is bride and bride, groom and groom, client 1 and client 2, or bride and groom.” It is also important to see if the vendor has same-sex samples on their site. For instance if you are looking at a potential photographer’s samples, look to see if they have shot any gay weddings. Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

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Maybe you’re not friends with Fran Drescher, but you can help one of your friends be the one to do the honors.


marry uS?

How to turn a loved one into a legally ordained minister By Ily Goyanes


ptions for officiates can run the gamut from New Age-y to Presbyterian, and you don’t want to accidentally hire someone who is more interested in using the pulpit as a soapbox for their own agenda than overseeing the ceremony you are dreaming of. If you don’t have a family minster, rabbi, or justice of the peace in mind, why not have someone you love and trust perform what will be the most important ceremony of your life? By asking a friend or relative to officiate your wedding you can save time auditioning candidates and feel secure that the person who marries you is someone who


intimately knows you and your partner as a couple. Plus, the ceremony will be more poignant because your ceremony will not be another “gig” for your friend — it actually means something to her. Yet, in order to have a friend marry you, she must become ordained first. But don’t fret — the process is as easy as choosing her to marry you:

Step 1: Get collared Your friend’s first step is actually becoming a minister. Fortunately, several online ministries will ordain her for a nominal fee (see step 4). Some require short applications or other paperwork as well, but nothing too arduous. Most of the time, the process of becoming ordained is simply a matter of filling out an online form and paying a fee.

Step 2: Choosing your religion Some institutes are religion-specific, but you can choose from several nondenominational and interfaith groups as well. The most popular organization is the American Fellowship Church, which ordains someone Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Associated Press / Andy Duback

The day will be more poignant because your ceremony will not be another “gig� for your friend — it actually means something to him. can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of days to arrive, depending on the ministry.

Step 5: Make sure to make it official

of any religion and allows its ministers to officiate nondenominational wedding ceremonies.

Step 3: Interfaith integrity The most important aspect of choosing which organization will ordain your friend is its legitimacy. Recognized online ministries include the Universal Life Church, Rose Ministries, Universal Ministries, and the American Fellowship Church. Double check the status of the organization with the New York State secretary’s office to make sure your union will be legally recognized.

Step 4: Tithe is easy Expect ordination to cost anywhere from absolutely nothing to about $25. Most online ministries accept credit and debit cards as well as PayPal. Your credentials

Now that your BFF is officially a minister, she needs to make sure that she includes the “Declaration of Intent� when officiating at your ceremony for your marriage to be legal. Most people recognize the declaration as the point in the ceremony when the official asks: “Do you take Jane Doe to be your lawfully wedded wife?� The word “lawfully� is actually the key word — it must be said in order for the marriage to be legal. Aside from that, the ceremony can be customized in a way that truly reflects you and your future spouse’s love and your personalities. A traditional wedding ceremony consists of a processional, welcome, the declaration, a reading consisting of poetry, literature, or religious text, the exchanging of vows and rings, the pronouncement, and the recessional. But the beauty of having a friend or relative officiate is that you can truly tailor every single aspect of your wedding ceremony to please the most important people there — you and your honey!

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Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


It’s a


Wedding photo advice for gay and lesbian couples By Steven RoSen


o matter the location or lighting situation, as a professional photographer with eight years of experience shooting gay and straight weddings, I have learned how to create beautiful images. Yet, the more challenging the circumstances, the more time it can take to create those great shots — time you might rather spend enjoying your big day. And even though a samesex couple’s love and commitment are equal to a straight couple’s, there are differences that need to be taken into consideration regarding your wedding photos. It pays to think ahead and consider your nuptials from all angles. Here are a few simple ways to help set the stage for a picture-perfect experience.

Boutonniere basics A groom traditionally wears his boutonniere on his left lapel. Yet, with two grooms or two brides, this can look a little lopsided. If you’re both wearing boutonnieres, consider breaking with tradition and wearing 28

Steven Rosen Photography


Many same-sex couples choose to get ready together, creating a new category of wedding images.

them on opposite lapels. That way, when you’re facing the camera together, there’s more visual balance. You should also consider wear and tear. For example, when a bride and groom embrace, the groom’s boutonniere rarely makes contact with the bride. When two grooms embrace, their chests are generally closer together and the boutonnieres tend to get crushed, flip upside down, or fall off. I have even had some grooms who, when hugging, have poked themselves with the pins. I recently worked with a pair that used magnetic boutonnieres. It was a brilliant idea. The magnets kept everything in place but could easily be moved or removed. So, if you intend on wearing boutonnieres, ask your florist for magnets.

Look beyond black and white A straight bride typically wears a white dress and the groom is in a black tux. This provides good visual contrast. But, when you have two tuxedos or two white gowns, you lose that contrast, so when the couple stand side by side or embrace, they can run the risk of visually blending together into a bit of a solid-colored blob. And it is safe to say that no one wants to look like a blob on their big day. Lighting can help, but even the best photographer will appreciate it if you help to create a little contrast in your outfits. If you’re both wearing white gowns (or white suits), consider slightly different shades, incorporating different materials or textures, or adding splashes of color with a ribbon around the waist, scarves, accessories, Continued on page 30 Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride


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locations and see each other in their wedding finery for the first time during the actual ceremony. There are some same-sex couples that follow this tradition, but many are opting to nix this tradition and get ready together. This has created an entirely new category of wedding images. Photos of grooms helping with each other’s ties or cufflinks, or brides getting their hair done side by side can be a wonderful addition to your day’s images. If you would like to have these kinds of shots, be sure to mention this to your photographer so you can work together to figure out the logistics of arriving early and capturing those getting-ready moments.

Steven Rosen Photography

It is all about timing

Wearing boutonniers on opposite sides creates visual balance in photos.

photos... Continued from page 28

or different colored ties or vests. If you’re both wearing black tuxedos, consider having one of you take the tux jacket off for some of the portraits, so you get that white against black contrast.

Getting ready Straight couples traditionally get ready in different

One of the advantages of getting ready together is that couples can schedule the group and couple shots before the ceremony, instead of during the cocktail hour, which is the time most straight couples have traditionally taken their portraits. This means you can actually enjoy your cocktail hour — and who doesn’t want a glass of champagne after one of the most momentous occasions in their life? If this is an appealing option for you, then be sure to discuss the logistics with your photographer. You will need to add an hour or two to your timeline between getting ready and the ceremony to make this work. You also need to make sure that the guests you want in your formal group shots arrive early. Steven Rosen is an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer from Brooklyn who specializes in same-sex weddings. He is a first-place winner of this year’s Top Knots wedding photography competition — the first time an image of a same-sex male couple has ever won. You may visit him at his website, stevenrosenphotography.com.

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Honeymoon hotels that specialize in LGBT hospitality By Ali OswOrth


o you’ve gone and gotten hitched. Now what? Why not bask in that post-nuptial glow and jet set, road trip, or even subway it to a delightfully gay-friendly destination? A honeymoon is a wonderful way to unwind after planning a wedding and if you’re truly looking to destress, it is imperative that you find a hotel that allows you to be yourself. Here are five swank spots where you’re guaranteed special treatment when you kiss or hold your same-sex sweetie’s hand.

Axel Hotel + Urban Spa This hotel chain, with locations in Barcelona and Berlin, which boasts the tagline “hetero-friendly,” prides itself on being open to everyone and providing a space where any person is welcome, respected, and valued. The resorts are conceived, developed, and designed for and by gay people. They offer a ton of amenities such as wellness centers and spas where you can get a deep tissue massage or a personal training session and restaurants where you can eat and drink goodness made with local ingredients. Each room has a king-sized bed, Wi-Fi, 32

plasma televisions, and bright, beautiful views. The staff provides lodgers with a calendar of gay events as well an iPhone app called AxelPeople Traveler that gives guests the mobile 411 on special offers, activities, and sights. Axel Hotel Barcelona [Carrer d’Aribau, 33, 08011 Barcelona, Spain, +34 933 23 93 93, barcelona@axelhotels. com] Axel Hotel Berlin [Lietzenburger Straße 13/15, 10789 Berlin, Germany +49 30 2100 28 93, berlin@axelhotels. com, www.axelhotels.com]

Crowne Pointe Inn in Provincetown The lovely Crowne Pointe Historic Inn and Spa is located in Provincetown, Mass., a seaside city that offers visitors a New England shore experience without any hassle. It is also home to a booming arts scene and large gay population. Crowne Pointe was built near the turn of the 19th century for a prosperous sea captain of the Provincetown Harbor and allows guests to check in dogs (of any size), so you can bring the whole family along on your romantic getaway. Guests can nosh at The Pointe Restaurant and Wine Bar, which has an award-winning wine list with more than 125 selections and a dinner menu that changes seasonally to utilize the freshest ingredients. Book massages, skin and nail treatments, even Reiki at its on-premise spa, Shui Spa. And while you’re in P-town, don’t forget to take a walk to Wood End Lighthouse or visit Hatch Harbor to see the seals. Crowne Pointe Historic Inn [82 Bradford St. in Provincetown, MA 02657, (508) 487–6767, www.crownepointe.com, welcome@crownepointe.com]

The Out NYC in New York City Do you want a honeymoon but don’t have time to travel? The gay-tastic Out NYC is a “straight-friendly” urban oasis and one of Fodor’s “Top 100 Hotels of 2012.” This upscale hotel homes Chef Dale Schnell’s KTCHN Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Restaurant, which offers modern American cuisine with Mediterranean influences. It provides honeymooners who stay for four or more nights custom “Groom and Groom” or “Bride and Bride” robes embroidered with the couple’s wedding date. Guests can wear these plush gifts to its spa, creatively named “The Spa,” for massages and detoxing treatments — which are welcomed after a rowdy wedding reception. The hotel also houses the brand new BPM nightclub for all your post-nuptial celebratory needs. There you might just rub elbows with James Franco, Justin Timberlake, or Anderson Cooper, who turned up when the club was known as XL. The Out NYC [510 W. 42nd St. in New York, NY 10036 (212) 947–2999, theoutnyc.com, info@theoutny]

Colours Oasis in San José, Costa Rica This boutique hotel has Key West guesthouse charm. This hotel’s main concern is making sure you get to ex-

(Left to right) The cozy Crowne Pointe Lounge, Axel Berlin’s colorful interior, and OUT’s swank spa terrace.

perience all that Costa Rica has to offer while remaining comfortable with its extensive knowledge of gay and friendly destinations. The staff at Colours specifically recommends a tour package called “Fire and Water” for honeymooners experiencing Costa Rica for the first time. It provides a good overview of the country including the major sites of San José (which are quick cab rides from the hotel), the Arenal Volcano, and the popular Manuel Antonio beach. The staff at this hotel is also completely bilingual — pura vida! Colours Oasis [Triángulo de Pavas, Rohrmoser, San José, Costa Rica, (866) 517–4390, coloursoasis.com, info@ coloursoasis.com]

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with IMAGINATION Announcements that don’t rely on stereotypes BY MEREDITH DELISO

T 1

he invitation, of course, plays a pragmatic role in your wedding preparation — it imparts important information to your friends and family. Yet beyond serving a simple, functional purpose, it is also a great way to show off your personal taste and set the tone for your special event. There’s certainly no shortage of invitation styles to choose from — though options for same-sex couples are just beginning to catch up. You can choose something generic, such as a traditional eggshell white announcement with your names scrawled in calligraphy. Or you can choose an invitation that screams “gay” with rainbows or two mustaches, which may not be your speed either. Luckily, more designers are devoting their talents to creating wedding invitations that speak to same-sex couples. “For a long time, especially in the invitation world, gay wedding invitations were somewhat of an afterthought,” said Jennifer Cochrane, founder of the wedding invitation company Two Guys Wed. “I see the gay wedding industry fi nally starting to get its own voice.” Here are 10 invitations that that are perfect for same-sex weddings — whether your style is modern, classic, humorous, subtle, or simply your own.





Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride



suited us

One woman’s struggles with lesbian bridal fashion

By Jessica Baen


y wife Sarah and I designed our Catholic-Buddhist-secular-humanist-lesbian wedding ceremony in four days. Ours was a low-key, homegrown affair with a homemade cake served on paper plates. Yet, despite our laidback approach, it took the entire length of our engagement — seven months — to figure out what we were going to wear. I thought I was exempt from all that fuss — a bittersweet perk of my “lifestyle.” In fact, my immediate reaction when the topic first arose was: “Oh God, let’s just wear jeans and T-shirts.” This seemed like the easiest way to deal with an uncomfortable world of clearly defined gender roles, parental expectations, and thousand-dollar dresses.

The standard conventions no longer applied, but I felt more stressed than liberated. Plus, Sarah needed further convincing on the T-shirt front. “I mean, we’re not going to spend hundreds of dollars on outfits we’ll only wear once, right?” I asked her. “That would be insane!” We nodded in self-righteous agreement, never mind that straight people regularly engage in this sort of insanity without the least compunction. Why did we feel that we had no right to spend so much energy and money on something so superficial? Was it internalized homophobia? A principled boycott of the wedding industrial complex? A reluctance to beg for the scraps of a New York State-sanctioned marriage while the federal government at that time still refused to recognize our relationship? Tablecloths never even occurred to us until the church facilities coordinator recommended them gently — unless the mismatched Formica folding tables were “our thing.” Sarah and I settled on butcher paper but dressed it up with table runners we cut by hand from something akin to burlap because, in the end, our wedding was a big deal to us. And so were our outfits. But what does a lesbian couple wear to their wedding, anyway? Two suits? A dress and a suit? Two dresses? Xena Warrior Princess costumes? We decided to take a trip to a men’s formalwear rental store in lower Manhattan. It was a disaster. I looked like I was playing dress-up in my dad’s closet, outfitted in

Not just goWNs

Photos (left to right) AP / FirstView, AP / Jacques Brinon, AP / Jacques Brinon, AP / Francois Mori

Designers such as Isaac Mizrahi (left), Givenchy, Stella McCartney, and Maxime Simoen are offering a lot of options that don’t involve a big skirt.


Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

bought off the rack — at least not yet. We hired a wonderfully sweet, creative, and talented designer in Brooklyn who was referred through a friend of a friend we had bumped into at the New York City Dyke March. Our custom-designed clothes felt perfect when we tried them on because they were rooted in tradition, but true to our identities and relationship. The design played with gender subtly, combining men’s formalwear with a more feminine cut. The absence of suit jackets showed off our figures, not to mention reducing the cost significantly. The cream and white were a bride’s cream and white. We would wear these clothes only on this special day, which is good because I splashed red wine on my vest during a particularly moving toast. At the reception, a friend asked me, somewhat tonguein-cheek, if I felt different. I paused for a second. “Yes. Yes, I do,” I said. I know I would have felt the same warmth at my wedding that I would have felt wearing my favorite jeans with the hole in the knee, but I was so excited to be all dressed up. In the end, it didn’t really matter what we wore. And yet, somehow, it did.

Erica Camille Photography

something purportedly designed for a teenage boy. Women’s suits? They fit, but we looked like middle management. I didn’t want to wear business casual on our big day. “I think maybe I want to wear a wedding dress after all,” I said sheepishly. For some reason, a piece of the fairy tale wedding fantasy still resonated with me. So, we ventured into the J. Crew bridal boutique on Madison Avenue. I was drawn to one of the simplest and least expensive dresses on the rack. No lace, no ruffles, no train. Did I want something floofier? Sarah took off her T-shirt that said “stud” with a picture of a muffin on it and tried on a dress. “I feel like I’m in drag,” she said. I studied Sarah’s wool hiking socks and pondered butch-femme dynamics, gender expression, and societal expectations. Were we mimicking oppressive gender roles or reclaiming them? I worried that if I wore a dress and Sarah didn’t, suddenly I would be the focus of attention — I would be “The Bride.” But what of Sarah, with her sapphire blue eyes and well-muscled shoulders? We would both be brides that day. We ended up wearing cream-colored vests, white shirts, and cream slacks. That sounds anticlimactic, but they were much fancier than they sound. Sarah’s vest was made of light wool, mine of silk. Hers had clean, sharp lines and the shirt had a mandarin collar. Peeking out from subtly flared slacks strutted her beautiful, well-worn cowboy boots of deep red-brown leather. My outfit had flowing sleeves and a corset back tied with a satin ribbon. We pinned slightly wilted yellow flowers my best friend picked up at a corner deli at the last minute to our lapels. Rumor has it we looked fantastic. Our wedding outfits could not, of course, have been

Sarah (left), and Jessica on the day of their wedding.

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Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014




Two globetrotters have a cool, wild wedding By Elyse Wanshel.


Sarah Tew Photography

any couples in New York meet through OKCupid. Lara Rios and Nicole Guida had a real-life Cupid in the form of Lara’s cousin who emailed her “out-of-the-blue” to see if she wanted to go on a blind date with a high school buddy of his who had just moved to the city. Lara agreed.

Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


“He made us swear to not be in contact with each other,” remembers Lara. “Or to check each other out on Facebook. A true blind date.” Yet, Nicole, felt compelled to ask around and see what she was getting herself into. “The only thing I found out about her was that she was a lawyer that went to Yale, and I was like, ‘What am I going to talk to her about?’ ” says Nicole. “I’m in advertising and a homegrown kid from Miami! I thought the night was going to be a complete disaster.” Yet, Nicole decided to give the date a go and the cousin gave the women a time, day, and a place — the Bryant Park restaurant where he had an “in” with the bartender. The idea was that the two would sit outside on a lovely spring day and watch the sunset. But, what he didn’t anticipate was that the actual day of the date was an unseasonably cold day in May. “So I took it from there, jumping immediately into gear and emailed Nicole with three options,” says Lara. They settled on Xai Xai, a South African wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen. “It was cold and rainy and a glass of red wine sounded perfect,” says Lara. Yet, it was Nicole, rather than a glass of Pinot Noir, that warmed the Ivy League litigator’s spirits. “I remember walking in, seeing her, and thinking she was absolutely stunning,” says Lara. The two began chatting and realized that they had a lot in common, including a love for travel — Nicole had visited India and Lara was planning a trip to South Africa. Time seemed to stand still, especially when the straightforward Lara decided to make a move. “A glass or two of wine in, she asked if she could kiss me,” says Nicole. “But she never let me answer. She just kind of leaned over the table and did it anyway.” The ladies dated casually for the next few months and much of their courtship took place at odd hours of the night due to Lara’s busy work schedule. “It was fun to wander the city, being new,” remembers Nicole. “We would walk the Brooklyn Bridge or go to the Highline.” One of their late-night adventures included a trip to the steps of the James Farley Post Office after midnight where the women sat, chatted, and took in the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. It was a spot (From top) The couple’s announcements; framed photos of the women’s the women found themselves grandparents; a postcard table number. stumbling upon once again a

“We decided to blend old Brooklyn and our love for travel.”


few months later in the fall, after they decided to take things a bit more seriously. Lara told Nicole that the post office was open all night. “So we thought it would be sweet to send each other letters because at the time we didn’t live with each other,” says Nicole. The women went to separate areas and grabbed whatever they could find to write with and mailed each other a letter. “That was a very special moment for me,” says Nicole. “It was then that I knew I was falling in love.” Two years later in April of 2012 — after the women had moved to Spanish Harlem together and traveled to Mexico, Montreal, and Thailand as a couple — Nicole and Lara returned to James Farley Post Office. This time, however, it was so Nicole could propose. “My palms were sweating, my heart was beating fast,” says Nicole. “And I took out the letter she wrote to me and started reading it.” Nicole asked Lara to marry her and Lara immediately said “yes!” A month later, Lara counter-proposed to Nicole at Xai Xai, the wine bar where they met and had returned to every year since to celebrate their first date.


hey set a wedding for August 2013 and after quickly discovering the Green Building in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the couple decided upon a unique and personalized theme for their big day. “We both love to travel, and it felt like our venue had gone back in time with its speakeasy room in the back,” says Nicole. “So we decided to blend old Brooklyn and our love for travel.” They used retro-looking postcards for save-the-dates and table numbers, and for the tables they used postcards of places they had traveled such as Spain, Paris, the Dominican Republic, and even Woodstock, NY. They decorated the space with vintage suitcases the venue had on hand and Nicole rented an antique typewriter and typed a note for guests to read when they entered the building on the day of their wedding. The women also went back in time by honoring both of their grandparents, who are deceased, with framed photos of them in the venue’s foray. Both women agreed that they did not want to see one another until the actual ceremony. “And seeing her for the first time was a really special moment for me,” says Nicole. “I had to hold back tears because I wanted to begin crying right then and there.” After a very sentimental and romantic ceremony, the wedding kicked into completely different gear. “We told our DJ that our goal was that people left hot, sweaty messes,” says Nicole. “And that goal was accomplished.” Glasses were accidentally shattered, shots were imbibed, and happy guests joyfully chanted the women’s names… and that was just during dinner. After the raucous reception that included pork buns, mini burgers, Thai spring rolls, and a food truck, the women left for a two-week honeymoon in Bali. “Which was very awesome,” says Nicole. “We were both off-the-grid and I highly recommend it.” And what other bits of advice can the newlyweds dispense? “Planning a wedding sets the tone for how a couple really works together,” says Nicole. “Always remember to take a step back and don’t let the wedding become bigger than you. It teaches you to work together and communicate.” Take note — those are wise words from a very successful letter writer. Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Sarah Tew Photography

(Clockwise from top, right) Nicole, left, and Lara dance; the reception at The Green Building — before it got boisterous; Lara’s blooms; the typewriter that welcomed guests; the rings; the couple’s “best bichon” and ring-bearer Zeus; (Center) Milk Truck offered grilled cheese sandwiches to party-happy guests.

Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


a celebration of


A wedding planned at the last minute turns out perfect By Meredith Deliso

Ryan Brenizer Photography


he first time Martin “Marty” Mariano met Tom Tucker he knew Tom was someone he wanted to keep around. Maybe it was because they were both young, aspiring actors drawn to the Big Apple. Or perhaps it is because when a mutual friend introduced them to each other at the piano bar Don’t Tell Mama, they wound up chatting until dawn. Or maybe, just maybe, it was simply love at first sight. “I told Tom [that night], ‘I think you’re the one,’ ” says Marty. “I had never met anyone quite like him before. I felt this was the person I could spend my life with.” Tom was a little hesitant at first — he was only 23 when they met and had not officially moved to New York City yet. But Marty seemed to be on to something, because ever since the two met, they had become inseparable — and before they knew it — they had spent more than a quarter of a century together. Over the years, the men merged their lives. They moved to Astoria, worked together as servers at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, and supported each other as Tom continued his education and Marty climbed up the food and beverage ladder within Marriott. Marriage, however, was a milestone that had not entered the picture. “For people around our age, it’s not that we didn’t think it was possible,” says Tom. “It just wasn’t our path.” “We felt we were the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell


of the gay community,” adds Marty. “We’d always be together, but we didn’t need gay marriage.” That attitude started to change when Tom lost both his parents and marriage became a possibility in New York. “We started to think seriously about it,” says Marty. “We wanted our rights, and we felt it was important to say to the world, ‘Hey, we matter.’ ” Marty decided to propose. He wanted to do it while they were visiting London, Tom’s favorite city, and on 11/11/11, because the number 11 is special to them. The couple had to live apart for a couple years when Marty got a promotion in Philadelphia and because one of their favorite songs was Rufus Wainwright’s “11:11,” the two made it a point to call each other every day at 11:11, morning and night. Marty kept waiting for the absolute perfect moment to pop the question when Nov. 11 finally arrived, but the day seemed to fly by. Marty didn’t want to miss his chance, so while the two were at a bar waiting for friends, he texted Tom, “Will you marry me?” Tom texted back: “Yes.” The men were in no rush when it came time to set the date. But after being engaged for more than a year, they decided it was time. They went to City Hall and applied for their marriage license, then had 60 days to get all the details sorted out before their license expired. Marty knew what it entailed, having planned weddings for a living as the director of food and beverage at the JW Marriott Essex House Hotel. But he and Tom wanted to keep things loose and not too structured. “We wanted a relaxed, pressure-free ceremony,” says Marty. “We wanted to keep it simple and intimate.” Marty always had a fantasy about getting married in Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Ryan Brenizer Photography

(Opposite page, top to bottom) The men married in front of the Bethesda Fountain. (This page, clockwise) The grooms’ reception; Tom, left, and Marty; the soundtrack to their romp through Central Park; the men’s bouquets of irises.

Central Park, so they chose the Bethesda Fountain for the ceremony. “I feel like I’m in another world when I’m there,” says Marty. “It’s so romantic.” They picked Aug. 19 for the big day and kept the guest list to about 20 friends and family, which was a challenge. “We underestimated how important it was to particular friends of ours to see us get married,” says Marty. The grooms wore blazers and khakis for a Cape Cod feel (“Nothing too matchy-matchy,” says Tom), and they told their guests to wear bright colors for a bold, summer look. The men wanted a fresh-cut, garden vibe for their flowers, and toted bouquets of royal blue irises — Tom’s favorite flower. “I didn’t want to do anything we wouldn’t ordinarily do,” says Tom. “The sight of the two of us with little nosegays — it’s just not us.” A friend suggested the officiant, an independent Catholic priest. Marty found their photographer, Ryan Brenizer, by Googling New York wedding photographers. Brenizer was one of the top results that came up, Marty loved his work, and the couple was impressed by the fact that Brenizer saw himself not just as a photographer, but a storyteller, too. For the big day, Marty and Tom told their guests to be at the fountain at 10:30 am for the 11:11 ceremony. The men were aware that things could go wrong being that they were having an outdoors wedding in a public park in August: it could rain, be unbearably hot, or they could run into objectors. But the couple lucked out on all accounts. “I was prepared for a heckler or two, it’s a park,” says Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014

Tom. “But without exception, people were just lovely.” A crowd had even gathered around their group during the ceremony and applauded and cried when it was over. A Japanese film crew, that just happened to be in the area, filmed it. Strolling through the park, pre-ceremony, made for other impromptu moments as well. A saxophone player serenaded them with “I Can’t Help Falling in Love,” while the men were on their way to the fountain. And on the way back, he played Tom’s request, “Moon River,” for the newlyweds. Marty made lunch reservations at A Voce, one of their favorite restaurants, for the reception. In what turned out to be a happy accident, they had to change the size of their party the day of the wedding and wound up in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the park in the Time Warner Center. Hot-pink dahlias sat pretty in fish bowls and after the meal, Marty and Tom invited their guests to their room at the Ritz-Carlton for cake and champagne. “We just took our shoes off and kicked back,” says Marty. “It was great.” The two can agree on one thing as they look back on those 60 days of wedding planning — the day went so well because they didn’t try to control every detail. “It was the wiggle room that made it work so well,” says Tom. “People really came through.” And as a wedding planner — and now someone who can speak from experience — Marty says it is important to just let the day evolve. “So many people get wrapped up in their weddings. Because everything has to be so perfect, they don’t let the day breathe,” says Marty. “If you don’t enjoy the day, you miss it. It’s going to be perfect no matter what.” 45

Free falling in love

From skydiving to an intimate, Brooklyn-spanning wedding By Elizabeth Michaelson


Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Steven Rosen Photography


ames and Brian Jackson went on their first date in June 2011, but just as casual dating was turning into conversations about making their relationship official that October, Brian was planning to go skydiving. “Brian said, ‘I’m going to go skydiving, and if I live we can talk about it,’ ” says James. Their romance jumped by leaps and bounds after Brian’s daring adventure, and the pair began referring to one another as “boyfriend.”


he following month the two went on a seven-day Caribbean cruise and the experience convinced them that they made a great couple. “We never tired of each other’s presence,” says James, who decided to pop the question a few months later — on June 22, 2013, the second anniversary of their first date. He decided to propose to Brian at the scenic Cloisters by presenting him with a romantic card wrapped in a small box. But when they arrived at a subway station near The Cloisters, they found they had missed the last bus to the medieval art museum and gardens, and the weather wasn’t cooperating. “It was raining cats and dogs that day,” James recalls. James didn’t want his proposal to be soggy, so instead he suggested getting a drink near Grand Central before their anniversary dinner date at The Place in the West Village. But when they arrived at Grand Central, James got jittery. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to propose in a bar!’ ” He instead decided to take the plunge and propose right then and there, in front of track 30. James presented Brian with the wrapped box. Inside, the card invited Brian to go ring shopping — and spend the rest of his life with him. Brian happily accepted. The two men decided to make their big day a local, intimate, 34-person affair in their neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. They chose to have their ceremony and reception at Alice’s Arbor, a restaurant around the corner from their apartment that serves seasonal, local, and organic food. The idea came to them one day while they were having drinks at the eco-friendly establishment and struck up a conversation with the owner. And though their decision to have their wedding at the lovely, rustic venue furnished with vintage barn wood seems spontaneous and laid back, it was anything but. “We started looking at venues in July, and we didn’t book until November or December,” says James of New York-area venues’ tendencies to book up far in advance. The duo worked with Ananie Momplaisir of C’est Mon Plaisir Events, who ended up being a lifesaver. “Planning, coordinating, and getting everyone together is very stressful, so having a wedding planner was really helpful for us,” says James. The day began with the grooms escorting their guests via subway from Brooklyn’s NU Hotel to the restaurant. The idea was to give the guests — many of whom came from out of town — a real New York City experience. Wedding photographer Steven Rosen documented the trip that also allowed the grooms’ families to bond preceremony. “Our families had never met, and we didn’t know how it was going to go,” Brian confesses. “But it was really fun.” Brian and James wore black tuxedos, silver ties, and patterned black vests. They walked down the aisle to Luther Vandross’s “Here and Now,” which was replaced by the disco classic “It’s Raining Men” once the


Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Steven Rosen Photography

pair reached their officiant, who stood in before all the grooms’ guests. An ordained friend performed the ceremony and Brian and James recited vows they had written. The men exchanged wedding rings made of polished tungsten carbide with koa wood inlays. “It’s wonderful to fulfill expectations, but it’s more important that your wedding means something to you,” says James of the couple’s personalized ceremony. “There’s no protocol for gay weddings,” Brian agrees. “So do what you want.” Guests and grooms enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before sitting down to dinner where everyone was given a wooden, customized menu that displayed the men’s names and three-course meal options. Tables were decorated with a simple, elegant arrangement of lush white hydrangeas and sprigs of herbs. A champagne toast was followed by slices of two-tier chocolate wedding cake with peanut butter buttercream and chocolate ganache from Madison Lee of Brooklyn-based Cousin John’s Café & Bakery. The cake was decorated with a shimmery silver drape as well as sugar and fondant roses, succulents, and greenery, which wowed the guests (and the grooms) with their resemblance to real plants. The cake also tasted as good as it looked. “Everyone agreed it was the best wedding cake they’d ever had,” James says. The celebration continued with dancing and everyone kicked up their heels. “My grandmother had turned 79 four days before the wedding and she was out there on the dance floor,” James says proudly. “Everybody had a great time. The whole thing was just like a dream.” Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014

(Opposite page, top to bottom) Brian, left, helps James get ready; an ordained friend performed the personalized ceremony; the men’s flashy rings; post-wedding bliss. (This page, clockwise from top) Guests were taken from their hotel to the wedding venue via subway; the couple’s beautiful cake.


Diana P. Lang Photography 50

Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Birds of a

feather A couple has a peacockthemed wedding By Ali Osworth


mily Rotella and Sheila Hicks met on OKCupid. Sparks quickly flew online, so the woman met offline and ended up talking for five hours straight. The ladies soon began to date and were smitten with each another. Emily fell hard for Sheila’s imagination, tenacity, and savvy when she created an elaborate get-up for Halloween. “She made this amazing peacock costume that had long feathers that went straight down,” says Emily. “But she had a pulley system, so she could pull them up and they would fan out.” The women spent that Halloween walking into random bars that were hosting costume contests and winning them all. Emily was awestruck.

Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014



was like, ‘This is the woman I love. She’s so adventurous, so creative, so exciting,’ ” says Emily. Sheila felt the same way, and after two and a half years of dating, she flaunted it colorfully — on Emily’s 28th birthday. The only thing Emily wanted was to watch a Redskins game at The Australian — a bar for Washington, DC football fans. It was a laid back request, so Sheila agreed that was a cool idea. Earlier in the day, however, way before the game, Sheila took Emily on a surprise sunrise detour to Belvedere Castle in Central Park. “There was a few tourists there, just chilling,” says Emily. “And I was like, ‘Whatever, that makes sense. Belvedere Castle. Sunrise. Tourists. Of course!’ Then, all of a sudden, I hear two [of the tourists] start to sing a song that I remembered telling Sheila I thought was romantic.” The song was “You Are the New Day,” made popular by British a cappella group The King Singers. Excited, the couple walked over to watch the singers when suddenly, Sheila let go of Emily’s hand, walked over to the duet, and started singing with them, which Emily thought “was awesome.” Another tourist, who just happened to be a photographer, started snapping pictures and filming the women. Sheila stopped singing and Emily proudly hugged her. Then Sheila got down on one knee and proposed. After the proposal, the women swung by the Bethesda Fountain to make some coin-fueled wishes about their future together. Sheila then walked Emily to the Central Park Boathouse. The iconic restaurant there was filled with Emily’s friends and family for a surprise birthday brunch, where the women announced, to their surprised guests, that they were engaged. Finally, to top it all off, instead of merely going to a bar to watch a Redskins game, the women drove to Washington DC to see the actual game. “It was the best day of my life,” Emily says with that


big smile on her face. A week later, at the Grand Canyon, Emily proposed to Sheila right back. “It was sunset at the edge of one of the canyons,” says Sheila. “Emily’s college friends are taking a picture. And they’re like ‘Okay, let’s do an over the shoulder shot, back to the camera.’ They all turn around and they’re holding signs that say: ‘Say yes.’ I’m sweaty, my hair’s in pig tails, and she’s like, ‘Ta-da! I call it ‘the proposal and the counterproposal.’ ” The ladies’ wedding was a mix of personal and conventional traditions. For instance, Emily always wears a baseball cap to weddings, and this was everyone’s chance to give her a taste of her own medicine. “I wear flat-bills. That’s my thing. I’ve worn one to every wedding I’ve gone to,” says Emily. “And my family friends who don’t appreciate that threatened to wear hats to my wedding. And I was like, ‘Yes! That’s what I want!’ ” So Emily told everyone that the reception was flat-bill friendly, and her sister and brother-in-law customized a white, New York Yankees hat for her to wear to her own reception. The women also decided to incorporate a peacock theme, resonant of Emily’s ardent appreciation for all things Sheila. The flowers, outfits, decor, and programs were shades of blue, green, teal, and purple. Even the guests wore the colors. Emily is Jewish, so Hebrew traditions were included in the ceremony, as well, such as both brides walking down the aisle with both their parents. They gave the Jewish convention of seven blessings a personal twist, by turning it into seven wishes — alluding to the women’s trip to Bethesda Fountain when they got engaged. “We had seven of our friends come up and write these wishes [for us],” says Emily. “Which almost felt like mission statements for how they wanted us to be as a couple, family, and individuals together.” Sheila paid homage to her African-American background by embracing the tradition of jumping the broom. “The broom is like a home and hearth thing, and during slavery, slaves were not able to enter into any legal contract, including marriage. So jumping the broom became important,” says Sheila, alluding to a tradition that can also serve as a metaphor for marriage equality. A friend crafted a peacock-color jumping broom that now adorns the couple’s home. Everyone at the wedding yelled mazel tov after they jumped — proving that the two women, when combined together, create something as unique and beautiful as a peacock’s plumage. They truly are birds of a feather. Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride

Diana P. Lang Photography

(Opposite page) Emily kisses her lady’s hand during the ceremony. (This page, clockwise from top) Sheila, left, and Emily embrace the African-American wedding tradition of “jumping the broom”; Sheila and her bridesmaids show off their beautiful blooms that keep with the couple’s peacock theme; Nassau’s Distinctive Wedding Floral Design added feathers to the ladies’ bouquets for a touch of elegant whimsy.

Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


Advertiser Index We would like to thank all of our advertisers for their continued support of Wedding Pride Magazine and the LGBT community.


Chelsea Piers Weddings .....................................................................37

Bay Ridge Subaru .................................................................................5

Classic Harbor Line............................................................................22


Edison Ballroom .....................................................Inside Back Cover

World Mall Bridal Dreams ................................................................31

ENTERTAINMENT Havin’ A Party Productions ..............................................................23

Faculty House at Columbia University ..............................................2 Fairfield Inn and Suites........................................................................4 Grand Oaks Country Club ..................................................................9 Hotel Pennsylvania ............................................................................17


Houston Hall ........................................................................................7

Genesis Fertility & Reproductive Medicine.....................................15

Il Fornetto ...........................................................................................30


Lucky Strike Bowling & Event Space ................................................13

Dr. Biro, Cosmetic Dermatology ......................................................19 Emergency Medical Care...................................................................21

The Picnic House in Prospect Park ....................................................4


Russo’s On the Bay .............................................................................15

Henry’s Florist ....................................................................................31 International Garden .........................................................................29


ReBar Wedding Space ........................................................................11 Tio Pepe...............................................................................................25 The Vanderbilt at South Beach ...........................................................9 Yacht Owners Association .................................................................21

Anna Sheffield Bridal & Commitment Jewelry ...............................31 Brent & Jess Wedding Bands .............................................................27



Florida Keys/Key West....................................................... Back Cover

One Fine Day ......................................................................................29

REAl ESTATE SERVICES Accurate Building Inspectors............................................................22

RECEPTION SITES & CATERERS Alger House in the Village.................................................................15 Casa Pepe ............................................................................................25 Catering by Fairway ...............................................Inside Front Cover

Show Your Pride


e can use your help! We’re already looking forward to our next edition of Wedding Pride, and we’re always updating our site (weddingprideny.com). So, if you’re a same-sex couple we has recently had a wedding or is planning one in New York, we would love to speak to you! You can be the talk of your family and friends — and have a great tale to tell the grandkids — by having your big day prominently featured in our groundbreaking publication. If you’re interested in showing your Pride, contact us at ewanshel@cnglocal.com.

www.WeddingPrideNY.com 54

Ace World Travel ................................................................................33

WEddINg EXPOS Bosco’s Wedding Expo.......................................................................29 One Love Two Hearts Luxury Wedding Showcase .........................25

WEddINg MINISTRY Christ Church Bay Ridge ...................................................................25 St. John’s Lutheran Church ...............................................................21

CONTRIBUTORS Sarah Tew Photography www.sarahtewphotography.com (917) 374–4346 sarahtewphotography@gmail.com

Erica Camille Productions www.ericacamilleproductions.com (920) 539–8212 erica@ericacamilleproductions.com

Steven Rosen Photography stevenrosenphotography.com (718) 625–7076 steven@stevenrosenphotography.com

Ryan Brenizer Photography ryanbrenizer.com (917) 232–1058 ryanbrenizerphotography@gmail.com

Diana P. Lang Photography www.dianaplangphotography.com (609) 462–1519 diana@dianaplangphotography.com

Lisa Berry Photography www.lisaberryphotography.com (812) 331–7889 lisa@lisaberryphotography.com

Brett Matthews Photography www.brettmatthews.com (516) 621–4242 Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride



2014 646 452 2496 | FRANCESCO@GAYCITYNEWS.COM Wedding Pride • Spring–Summer 2014


parting gift

which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time Gay factor: Frank O’Hara, like Walt Whitman, was as straight as a circle. His poems are informal, conversational, and sprinkled with a ton of humor. If you’re going for a more laid back vibe while reciting your vows, Frank O’Hara is an excellent choice. Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road” Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live? Gay factor: Walt Whitman is considered one of the seminal gay poets in the literary world, as well as a formative poet in general. This excerpt from the “Song of the Open Road” is perfect for an adventurous couple that lives to wander the earth together, hand in hand. The complete poem is also quite long, with plenty of pretty passages to choose from.


Gay-friendly poems to read at your wedding By Ali OswOrth


t can be hard to break from the ceremonial wedding tradition of uttering, “Love is patient, love is kind.” It almost feels as if reciting the popular Bible verse is expected and if it isn’t said, the marriage doesn’t count — screw the certificate! And sure, First Corinthians is a romantic passage that describes a beautifully idealistic type of love, but what if it doesn’t really sum up who you and your fiancée are as a couple? What if you’re gay and have had a complicated relationship with religion? Or what if you are simply planning on having a secular wedding? You may not want a Judeo-Christian passage to represent your love. If you are searching for a few queer-friendly readings that are far from expected, here are a few plucked from the literary landscape: Frank O’Hara, “Having A Coke With You” I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick 56

W.H. Auden, “Foxtrot From a Play” The soldier loves his rifle, The scholar loves his books, The farmer loves his horses, The film star loves her looks. There’s love the whole world over Wherever you may be; Some lose their rest for gay Mae West, But you’re my cup of tea. Gay factor: Auden was a little bit gay. Or a lot gay. In fact, Auden called his relationship with fellow poet Chester Kallman a marriage. They even took a cross country journey they called a honeymoon way before gay marriage was even on the horizon (we’re talking 1939). This poem is also quite whimsical with a sing-song tone, making it perfect for ceremonies that include a couple’s kids. Gertrude Stein, “Two Love Letters to Alice B. Toklas” Dear dainty delicious darling, dear sweet selected [enemifier?] of my soul dear beloved baby dear everything to me when this you see you will have slept long and will be warm and completely [loudly?] loved by me dear wifey, [your?] baby —yb Gay factor: This is a love letter from Gertrude Stein to Alice B. Toklas. Stein met Toklas in 1907 on her first day in Paris. They would go on to do very fabulous things together, like Stein introducing Toklas to Pablo Picasso and surviving German occupation in World War II. They remained partners until Stein’s death and they loved each other deeply.

Steven Rosen Photography


Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese” You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Gay factor: Mary Oliver is considered one of the best American poets out there, having won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. And she was with her partner, Molly Malone Cook, for over 40 years. Nothing says “I thee wed” like a poem by a person who said of her partner “I took one look and fell, hook and tumble.”

Spring–Summer 2014 • Wedding Pride


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