Volume 4, Issue 1

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Rainboww edding n etwork M A G A Z I N E “This Season’s Tips for Your LGBT Wedding!” Vol. 4, Issue 1 Spring 2009


Legally Marry in Canadian Waters

10 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Planning Budget Including Children in Your Special Day Theme Weddings for Gay & Lesbian Couples

It’s All About You!

$5.95 US ● $7.95 CAN

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This Season’s Tips for Your LGBT Wedding!

Spring 2009 Volume 4, Issue 1

p. 19 Destination: Detroit COVER ARTICLE | Detroit’s premier yacht company, Infinity & Ovation, offers LGBT couples the opportunity for a one-of-a-kind Destination Wedding: a legally recognized ceremony in Canadian waters. Guests, take note: No Passport Required! p. 36 Theme Weddings: It’s All About You! Feature | Tips & Insights from celebrated event designer, Paul Bott, following seven couples as they share the unique experiences of their theme-based weddings p. 23 Branding the Word “Marriage” | A Conservative Success-Story p. 07 Real Couples, Real Weddings | Derek & Jonathan – Two unique backgrounds, one committed future together! p. 16 10 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Wedding | Surprising Ways to Integrate Joyfulness & Elegance into Your Modern-Day Budget p. 52 Wedding Astrology | Will Your Relationship be a Match Made in Heaven? p. 48 Dedication to Our Children | Creative & Tender-Hearted Ideas for Including Children in the Rites & Rituals of Your Special Day p. 33 Elena & Liz | Life Two Years Later with one of RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine’s Real Couples! p. 46 San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus | 30 Years of Firsts, 30 Years of Song p. 14 Seasonal Spotlight | Bubbles n’ Bows – Trendy, Sophisticated Invitations for Gay & Lesbian Couples p. 26 RWN’s Person of the Year | Your Vote, Your Winner for 2008 LGBT Person of the Year p. 06 Letter from the Editor | A Clear Vision of Equality midst the Economic Crunch p. 27 The RainbowWeddingNetwork Orange Pages | Gay-friendly Businesses screened to uphold a policy of non-discrimination. Weddings, travel, community resources, gifts, honeymoons & more!

Photos provided by: Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters Sun-Dance Photography

RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine, PO Box 17596, Asheville, NC 28816 www.rainbowweddingnetworkmagazine.com A Division of Artistic Ventures, Inc. Published by Jemima Creek Signature Publications, a division of Artistic Ventures, Inc. Copyright 2009 Artistic Ventures, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of its publisher. RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine, its parent company, subsidiaries and advertisers will not be held responsible for any errors found in this publication. The publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by interviewees or advertisers, nor for the accuracy of photo credits. References to third parties contained within this publication, including but not limited to photographs, advertisers and interviewees does not imply sexual orientation.

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It’s economic crunch-time in the USA. So it’s good to keep in mind that one of our strongest assets, as a minority in this country, is our economic buying power. That boils down to basic dollars and cents, and in these times, in some ways the basics are more important than ever.

RWN co-founder & senior editor Marianne Puechl with daughter Kestin. Photo: Mary K. Wood, Atlanta


The annual buying power of the LGBT community is estimated at $600 billion. (That’s nearly a bailout, Folks!!) And these past several months here at RainbowWeddingNetwork, we hear from wedding, gift & travel-related companies all across America that they are challenged, often struggling, to remain in business.

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So now, perhaps more than ever, the collective choices the LGBT minority make everyday about where we spend our money can have a real impact. By ensuring that we choose to spend our money with businesses that uphold a policy of non-discrimination, we help those particular businesses to continue to succeed. Furthermore, by letting business owners know that it matters to us that they do, in fact, support equal rights, we can make the most of this opportunity. Today, business professionals need to understand that their active choice to endorse equality for LGBT consumers is equivalent to the basics: financial survival. It’s that simple. Equality

always has been and always should be a simple ideal: an absolute. There is no grey area, no matter what arguments may be spouted, or what political agendas may be claimed. These economic times strip away much of the distractions and the unnecessary rhetoric. So the opportunity awaits us: let’s recommit to educating American business professionals about what matters most, today and on into our brighter future. Marianne Puechl co-founder & senior editor editor@rwnmagazine.com

by Marianne Puechl

senior editor/RWN co-founder

“Weddings,” “civil unions,” “marriages”... The public sometimes flounders at the choice of words to use when describing the celebrations of commitment between same-sex couples. The couples themselves, however, do not have difficulty. At the heart of the matter is Love, any gay or lesbian partner will proclaim, without a moment’s hesitation. Our ceremonies and celebrations may not have a definitive legal name at this time, in this place, but they are as common and as stressful, as unique and as moving, as sacred and as wonderful as any wedding has ever been. Derek Tyus and Jonathan Garber have two very different backgrounds, yet find that they complement one another ideally. Says Jonathan, “The thing about relationships is that they are such a potent way to get grounded in your life and to reach the vision you have for yourself.” Today, the couple recently moved into a new home –a 100 year old house bulging with lots of space and history… there is talk of starting a family… Jonathan’s business is taking off and Derek is considering a new career. But they have not always felt quite so settled within their relationship together. Just a few short years ago, there was the initial chance meeting and then a full year’s silence before their story truly began.

How They Met… Both Derek and Jonathan are from Wisconsin, though Derek was born and raised in Madison while Jonathan moved there several years ago from a rural town further north. “I was looking forward to the city, where there would be more LGBT folks,” Jonathan explains. Immediately, he became very active in the Madison community. “I was an early member of the Prairie Fairies, a social group here… And I helped to start a grassroots radio show but didn’t stay with it as far as getting it into production.” Nonetheless the radio broadcast, “Queery,” was a success and some time later Jonathan found himself a guest on the weekly talk show. “We were discussing the Prairie Fairies and our upcoming retreat and the other volunteer work we did as a group…” Jonathan recalls. “So I was sitting in the booth and looking through the glass and then I saw Derek, who was an engineer that day. And I thought to myself, ‘I need to meet this guy!’”

Derek remembers it a little differently. “A lot of people with the show had quit around that time, so everything was kind of disorganized. I was the only engineer I think, and this guy in the booth just kept looking at me. And then he said ‘Hi.’ I didn’t think much of it,” Derek laughs, remembering. “And he asked me out to coffee. You know, a lot of people have asked me to coffee before; I didn’t know what his intentions were.” The pair went to the coffeehouse and chatted. “And then, when it was time to go,” Derek says, “he gave me a hug. Then I realized maybe he’d thought of this as more than just friendship – it was like a date!” “To me,” quips Jonathan, “it wasn’t any kind of huge thing.” “It was one of those hugs,” Derek claims, “where you didn’t want to let go for a long time. So I didn’t call him for a year.” ●● cont’d

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Real Weddings Adds Jonathan, “I didn’t know he was in a relationship at the time. He didn’t mention it.”

blossoms falling from the trees. We had a great dinner and talked all night long.”

After nearly a year had passed, Derek found his thoughts straying to the guest from the radio show. He was no longer involved, and considered looking up Jonathan once again. “But I hadn’t saved his number or anything. So I had to track him down. I looked for him on the internet… I had to do a bit of searching and then I found him and emailed.”

One characteristic that attracted Jonathan to Derek was his dedication to his family. Even today, the couple often visits Derek’s cousins or other family members on the weekends. “Even though he’s from a big city,” Jonathan remarks, “he has a family focus.”

Finally, as fate would have it, Derek and Jonathan met for their second meeting, and their first official date.

Getting to Know One Another… As it turned out, their date that evening was indeed romantic. Springtime in Madison, and the flowers were just beginning to bloom. “We walked through the university grounds,” Jonathan describes. “There were crabapple


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“We do have our different cultures,” Derek adds. “Jonathan is from up north and he’s Jewish. I’m from Madison and I’m African American. Our experiences are a lot different.” Lightly, he continues, “I think you’re kind of a product of your upbringing in some ways. And Jonathan is very trusting and I get the impression that if a new neighbor moved into the town where he was raised, everybody would bake a pie... You know, they don’t lock their doors at night. Whereas where I grew up, here in Madison, you didn’t even know your neighbors.”

Despite their differences, as the men began dating what struck Derek about Jonathan was his outgoing personality, his depth and his sincerity. “He was different than other people,” Derek says. “Jonathan didn’t like the typical bar scene kind of thing... You know, so many others are just shallow – it’s about presentation and such. Things that are important to you at 20 just aren’t important to you at 40,” he adds with a chuckle. “And Jonathan wasn’t like anybody I’d ever met. He’s just genuine and has a way about him. I’ve never heard him say a bad thing about anyone. He complements some of the things I have weaknesses in... and I guess I’m a complement for him too. “People say you meet your significant other volunteering or doing something you like to do – and that’s actually how it happened for Jonathan and me.”

Real Weddings The Engagement & Ceremony Planning… The couple’s engagement came with little fanfare. They had dated and moved in together, and at some point Derek says he simply looked at Jonathan one day and said outright that they ought to marry. “And he said, ‘Yeah,’” Derek recalls happily. “It just sort-of came out of my mouth and I just sort-of asked him.” Simply, naturally… after spending precious time getting to know one another, the men seemed meant for each other. “We were going to wait a year,” adds Jonathan. “We had the rings picked out and a few things set up, but then it just wasn’t the right time. That year got to be a really hard one: there were a couple of deaths in the family, including my sister… and then Derek broke his arm right before our ceremony. It seemed like a sign that it wasn’t going to happen.” Far from discouraged, the couple looked ahead to brighter times for moving forward with their wedding plans. They had considered traveling to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage had been legalized, but then the state began barring non-residents from taking advantage of the groundbreaking legislation. “Ontario (Canada) actually made more sense anyway,” Derek explains. “Going to Boston seemed so expensive and we’d have been required to stay for three days to complete the paperwork. Canada is really nice – you can do everything all in one day.” The following year did indeed seem smoother; a more auspicious time presented itself to the couple. They found a Canadian-based officiant and began writing their own vows; they chose organic fabrics and hired an African tailor to hand-sew their ceremony attire. And they decided to have a small ceremony in Ontario in June, then a much larger reception for family and friends back home in September. “My other sister lives in Michigan, so we got a minivan and filled it with seven friends… then stopped in Lansing so my sister and her husband could drive up too,” Jonathan explains. “It was

important that she could be a witness for us.” The evening prior to the ceremony, the group ventured into Canada and then enjoyed a relaxing dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant back in Detroit. The next morning, Saturday, the grooms prepared for their Special Day: the minivan was packed, all eleven in their wedding party loaded themselves inside and they traveled the short distance to the international border. “The night before,” Jonathan recalls, “it was no issue at all. Then on Saturday the Canadian immigration officials randomly stopped us. They pulled out all our luggage and everything from the van, but it wasn’t really a problem.” Adds Derek, “They were asking us about all our stuff and we told them we were getting married… and then we were just overexplaining… I think they were concerned we were smuggling in cigarettes or something.” He laughs, remembering. “After about half an hour, eventually they just gave up and let us through.”

The Wedding Day… On June 2, 2007, Derek Tyus and Jonathan Garber were married in Ontario, in a scenic park

overlooking the expansive river. The day was hot: instead of exchanging their vows in front of the picturesque fountain directly alongside the water, the grooms chose to move their ceremony into a cooler area of the park, shaded by lofty trees and surrounded by greenery. Topiary, sculpted into the forms of animals, provided a unique and magical backdrop. “Our friends threw rose petals along the pathway where we walked,” Jonathan describes. “And my sister had planned to bring her violin -she’s a violin professor at MSU- but she forgot it!” “We had the birds singing. And our friends… and a wonderful officiant. It was really a very sweet ceremony,” Derek says. The wedding included a Cherokee Prayer and a Loving Kindness meditation from the Buddhist tradition. Also a highlight was Derek and Jonathan’s Promise to Each Other, based on the Four Agreements from the Toltec wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz: speak with integrity and be impeccable with your word; refuse to take anything personally; communicate with utter clarity so as to avoid assumptions and misunderstandings; always do your best and you will remain forever free from regret. ●● cont’d

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Real Weddings The Honeymoon… Visions of Tuscany were on their minds, but Jonathan and Derek chose to postpone their honeymoon for nearly a year after the wedding day. The extra time provided an opportunity for extra saving, which was helpful as Derek and Jonathan had recently purchased their first home together. “And we still hope to get to Tuscany one day,” Jonathan says. “Well, maybe now with the economy it will have to be Costa Rica… But we did go on a really beautiful trip to Madeline Island for our honeymoon.”

It was a tender, intentional celebration. Afterward the small party gathered for lunch at a nearby restaurant, then ventured to a casino in Detroit to relax and enjoy the day together. Later, van brimming once again, they headed back to the house of Jonathan’s sister for a casual dinner. Three months later, in September, the newlyweds held a reception back in Madison. “Since we couldn’t invite everybody on a road trip to the wedding,” Derek says playfully. “…Ten different personalities in a van… There were no really huge fights on that trip, by the way, so it worked out well!” “The reception turned out terrific,” Jonathan explains. “We had our local food co-op cater the dinner, and the food and the chocolate were just fantastic. A friend of mine led the Israeli Dances. My parents were there, and they were very accepting although they were also kind of overwhelmed: so many people were at our reception, including many who’d known me and Derek all these years… Plus some of our friends are really outgoing.” “There were 200 guests!” Derek exclaims. “Despite the fact that it had rained all summer, and our reception was held outdoors and the bugs were just terrible. Two hundred people joined us and it was really a great party.”

About a year after their ceremony, the couple camped that first night on the pristine little island in Northern Wisconsin, on Lake Superior. The next morning, driving into town, they came upon a dog standing right in the middle of the road. Concerned, Jonathan stopped the car and knocked on the door of the house nearby. “The woman there told me it was her neighbor’s dog, and that it very unusual for him to go into the road…” As it turned out, the coincidental meeting led to greater things. “The woman then plainly asked me, ‘Are you two gay?’” Jonathan remembers. “I told her, ‘Yes, we just got married.’”

“Though somebody did tell my boss and he congratulated me.” At present, the governor of Wisconsin has said that he plans to pass domestic partnership legislation, though Jonathan isn’t sure. “It’s a tough year for it, because our state has a large deficit and Wisconsin is required to have a balanced budget.” “Some people at work,” Derek continues, “grumble about the cost they foresee with domestic partnership benefits. But there have been some newspaper articles about it recently, and some really sad stories. We’re hopeful it will pass; we look forward to that.” Currently Derek works on behalf of those with disabilities. “But I don’t work with people really,” he explains. “I see them on a computer. So I’m considering getting a teaching degree at this point.” “Derek is a very sincere person,” Jonathan pipes. “He has a very good heart. When we met, I was really attracted to his interests in social justice and ending racism. He has an African American Studies degree. I’ve always looked forward to the volunteer work we’d do some day, and now we’re very involved with our neighborhood. He ●● cont’d really cares for people.”

He continues, “She was an older lesbian, and she actually had a couple friends in Madison who are our friends too… She became our tour guide then for most of our trip. She introduced us to everyone; lots of artists. That’s the kind of vacation I like. The local people were just so welcoming.”

as read by Jonathan & Derek - June 2, 2007

Life as a Couple…

I promise to respect you as your own person and to realize that your interests, desires and needs are no less important than my own.

Jonathan, a yoga instructor and consultant, finds it easy to share with others the story of his relationship. “Being in Madison,” he says, “I’ve always experienced people being happy that we’re married. People seem comfortable. It’s a university town and it’s very progressive. There’s a real history of openness and acceptance.” After their ceremony, Derek didn’t always feel compelled to talk much about it to co-workers. “Sometimes,” he says, “I just didn’t want the trouble of explaining.” On other occasions, however, he recalls telling those who were curious, “I went to Canada…” emphasizing it with a certain look. “Then I’d walk away and let them figure it out,” he chuckles.

I Promise

I promise to give you the best of myself and to ask of you no more than you can give.

I promise to share with you my time and my attention and to bring joy, strength and imagination to our relationship. I promise to keep myself open to you, to let you see through the window of my world into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams. I promise to grow along with you, to be willing to face changes in order to keep our relationship alive and exciting. I promise to love you in good times and in bad, with all I have to give and all I feel inside in the only way I know how. Completely and forever.

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Real Weddings working not only with hospitals but also as a consultant for teachers, in bringing yoga into the classrooms. “As a couple we’ve been searching for stability,” he remarks. “And I honestly think we bring that to each other. Buying this house was a brilliant idea of Derek’s actually; and it would be so hard for me to have my own business without his support.” He is certain that choosing to marry, and to solidify their relationship through that rite, was particularly meaningful for his partner. It was Derek, recently, who prodded their investment in a new home. The 100-year-old house is filled with lots of rooms, ideal for the family the couple is now beginning to dream about. Jonathan has been transforming his business into a non-profit, and has begun


Derek agrees. “You’re bringing two lives together and forging a new path,” he says. “When I was a kid, or coming out... I wasn’t sure if I would ever get married... I wasn’t sure it would happen in my lifetime. I thought I might have to move to Spain or Holland or something.

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“So, yeah,” he adds, “I think it really does make my life complete.” He recalls a conversation with someone, shortly after the wedding, who told him that the marriage wasn’t legal; it didn’t mean anything. “’It means something to me!’” Vividly, Derek remembers his counter. Jonathan offers further reassurance to his husband, and further insight: “It’s the meaning you bring to it,” he says. “It’s not a piece of paper either. Marriage is what’s in your heart.” For more information about Jonathan Garber and his nonprofit business: YogaGoestoSchool.com RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine would like to thank Joe McParland, registered celebrant, for his assistance in introducing our publication to Jonathan & Derek - truly, one of RWN’s wonderful and inspiring Real Couples! www.civilmarriages.ca

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Seasonal Spotlight

Bubbles n’ bows B

ubbles n’ bows offers a trendy, stylish line of “accessorized imprintable” invitations, save-the-date cards, announcements and more. In just 5 years as a wholesale manufacturer, this family-operated studio has won two prestigious LOUIE Awards and services over 250 stationery/gift retailers. Gearing products specifically to the LGBT community is one of the studio’s cornerstones, to provide a refreshed level of creativity and availability to all its clients.

RWN Magazine (RWN): How did the concept for Bubbles n’ bows begin? Nicole Lopusznick, Designer (NL): After creating my sister’s engagement and wedding invitations, I took the leap from working in a secure job as a graphic designer for one of the largest communications industries in corporate America, designing jobs associated with million dollar business deals. Restricted by uniformity and conservative business mores, I longed to produce more creative designs and found my niche managing a graphic design studio. After designing invitations for large organizations, charities and distinguished individuals, I realized I was making my dream happen for someone else… thus, in 2002, Bubbles n’ bows custom invitation studio was born. RWN: What have been some of the highlights of building your own business? NL: My major in college was graphic design, but I never created an invitation until my sister’s wedding. I found inexhaustible fulfillment in the countless hours researching paper trends, the latest in invitation design and wording etiquette. It sparked a passion I didn’t know I had! Instead of shopping for clothes and frivolous things, I spent money on papers, envelopes and elegant fonts. This path has truly been rewarding. In 2006 we made our debut at The National Stationery Show in New York. Our collection for Life’s Shadows™ received recognition as one of the show’s top trendsetters. We’ve experienced many trials and tribulations along the way in this industry, but always feel rewarded to see how Bubbles n’ bows is continually growing. RWN: When did you begin crafting cards specifically for the LGBT community? NL: In 2006… sparked by designing my own engagement announcement, a new signature line of silhouettes was launched called Life’s Shadows™. Our studio’s vision was now emerging on a greater level. Upon entering the greeting card wholesale industry, we noticed


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an obvious absence of invitations tailored specifically for gay & lesbian lifestyles. Many hours were spent tracking fashion trends and analyzing consumer buying, prior to launching Life’s Shadows ™. We noticed a lack of availability for a creative and quality product with respect to LGBT cards, and we wanted to fill that niche. RWN: Were you just looking for a strong market, or was there more to it? NL: Actually, I feel like there should be products available for everyone and that the gay and lesbian community should not be excluded. Bubbles n’ bows wanted to offer something different and special for a community deserving of representation. Adversity can develop individualism; controversy can spark uniqueness; prejudice can teach acceptance. I have been inspired to attain my goals through perseverance and determination. Some of that is at the heart of Life’s Shadows.™

RWN: Would you describe for our readers what truly makes your cards different and exciting? NL: Life’s Shadows™ is a sophisticated line. It fuses the timeless elegance of a silhouette into a chic, fashion forward expression of style. Funky designs are created with specialty metallic paper and are embellished with the elegance of metallic foil accents. The series specifically designed for gay & lesbian consumers is created with the highest demand of style and detail which celebrates civil unions, adoptions, and posh parties. Cocktail soirée on the calendar? Life’s Shadows™ elegantly invites! RWN: And your other collections? NL: We have several other collections: Trés Chic is a couture collection of imprintables and note cards inspired by the latest fashion trends and catwalk divas. Confetti Celebrations re-invents the latest trends. Theme party announcements are created with a splash of color and an unexpected twist of

sassy chic confetti-sequins. Luau themed invites are accented by the sparkle of pink & orange hibiscus flowers, sand & seashells accompany a destination island save the date. RWN: What is your favorite design?

●● cont’d, p.54

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Ten Ways to by Rev. Donna Schaper

contributing writer


irst of all, don’t go overboard. We imagine this will be your only wedding – so why not make it special? ‘Specialing’ an event takes money. Don’t be stingy. Save in other places, if you can, thereby creating energy and resources for the big day. People “back in the day” often used the piggy bank approach to distinguish very special occasions from less special occasions. A coffee a week in the bank, instead of the mouth, won’t make that much difference but it will ritualize your intention to have a very special time on your special day. Think “Lay away:” again an old-fashioned concept, but simultaneously a material and spiritual preparation for your wedding. Lay away one purchase a week, like clothes or honeymoon, and you will find it more fun to buy and enjoy, in a slow and steady way. Secondly, take two years from the engagement till the actual marriage. That could double your time to save and prepare.

Fourth, have a reception at the largest apartment or house a friend has, country or city, or both. Saving your guests travel money by having two receptions could help.

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Fifth, you could also ask an under-employed friend to cater for you. You’d be surprised at how many good cooks there are out there. You might even cater the food yourself. I catered my own wedding and would recommend it highly. I even have recipes for 125 in a small bound book! Maybe you have not one friend who could manage the entire event – so ask five. One does the appetizers, the other the main dish, etc. Just about any good cook knows how to make appetizers for 125 and enjoy it.

“Don’t do anything that puts frugality as the primary goal in the wedding. Let feast be the goal – and let frugality serve that goal.”

Third, consider a double-up. Do you know anybody else who is getting married? Many banquet halls have multiple rooms. You could share the rent with someone; you could even have a double wedding if your friends and their friends enjoy each other. Likewise many officiants would be glad to “group” the pre-marital counseling with convivial people. They would also be glad to officiate one service at 4:00 and the other at 5:00, reducing the preparation of the space and the hiring of musicians and custodians and the like.


Saving gas and travel is a gift to guests and the planet. We often give our apartment in NYC away to people who need a large space. Don’t call or write: I am over-booked with friends and congregants. But you probably know someone who is house or yard-rich. Ask them for a wedding present. Or ask if they could use a little extra cash in exchange for use. Caterers are very good at catering in and are often much less expensive than a hotel or restaurant.

Sixth, consider having the sacred ceremony outside or in a church or synagogue or mosque where you attend. Most congregations will give a break to members. And if you don’t belong anywhere, find a friend who does. You might let that friend know that you are willing to barter your gift for their space. Do you design web sites? Own a country cottage some staff member of the congregation could use? Bartering is an under-estimated form of economic exchange. Clergy, for instance, are often quite interested in unusual economic arrangements. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Recession-Proof Your Wedding While outside services can be tricky, because of that funny way weather has of being itself, they can also be very beautiful and inexpensive. If you keep the group for the actual ceremony small enough, many public parks are ideal and don’t even need reservations. Those who do need reservations are booked way in advance. Consider Western Mass Electric’s site on the Connecticut River, with Pavilion. $100.00 will get it for you but you need lots of leadtime. Or Washington Square Park in New York. $25.00 under the arch. If you don’t want to book or can’t book, just show up and say what you have to say to each other. And leave before the cops come. Small ceremonies have an intimacy that is quite lovely all on its own. And you can still have a larger reception.

Seventh, evaluate all the parts of the wedding and see what you can do yourself. Can you hand write invitations? Can you find a friend with a garden for the flowers? Do you know someone who sings? Plays piano? Bakes a mean cake? Eighth, consider used clothing. Go online. Many people have already indulged themselves with one-of-a-kind and neverto-be-worn again clothing for the ceremony. Whole wedding parties are sometimes available. Size of course is an issue, as is style. But tailors are magicians when it

Photo ©Cindy Sproul

comes to redoing something beautiful into something beautiful that fits you. Recycling clothing is a mitzvah – which means good deed. Imagine the loneliness of a once worn outfit, stuffed away in a plastic bag in a corner of a closet or thrift store. Don’t put dry cleaners out of business: they live to freshen the under-used items of our wardrobes. ●● cont’d

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Ten Ways to Recession-Proof Your Wedding Do you know someone who sews or tailors? Maybe they will do what my sister did for me, for my first wedding, and make you an outfit. For my son’s wedding, I ordered two outfits from Beijing. You don’t want to know what they didn’t cost me. Ninth, consider a potluck wedding. Most public halls (but not hotels) will allow you to bring in food. Have an elegant potluck requiring everyone to bring their very best dish in their very best container. You’ll be surprised at just how good the food is and how it will make the rubber chicken of yore soon forgotten as the “norm” for wedding fare.

you really don’t have enough money to get married, elope. You can always have the wedding you want later when you can afford it. Think fifth anniversary.

Consider This... Donna Schaper is Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City. (212) 477-0351 www.judson.org www.DonnaSchaper.org

Tenth, I return to the beginning. If you can save on 9 items, you can splurge on the 10th. Don’t do anything that puts frugality as the primary goal in the wedding. Let feast be the goal – and let frugality serve that goal. If



Looking for creative ways to maximize your budget?

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Make your purchases over time. Buy the invitations this month, favors next month and so on. Consider a potluck reception. Stress the elegant tone you wish to create and you’ll be surprised and enchanted at just how creative your friends will be! A delicious and memorable option, and a unique way to include your guests in ritualizing Your Special Day. Be open to used attire. Most ceremony attire is used once. Buying gently used apparel for yourself or the wedding party can save hundreds and a talented tailor can do wonders to customize and polish!


Legally marry in Canadian waters aboard your own private yacht!

by Marianne Puechl

senior editor/RWN co-founder Photos provided courtesy of Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters


A most unique destination wedding. Launching from downtown Detroit aboard your own private yacht, you and your partner exchange your vows in a legally binding ceremony in the sparkling Canadian waters of Lake St. Clair or the expansive Detroit River. Up to 300 guests join the celebration, witnessing Your Special Day free from concerns about passports or lengthy international travel time. That evening as newlyweds, surrounded by the exuberance of your wedding party, you and yours indulge in a festive private cruise, dining lavishly and dancing under the stars.

Since 1987, Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters has developed an impressive reputation throughout the Detroit area for excellence, style and professionalism. The company offers a winning combination of services, ideal for corporate events, fundraisers, private celebrations and, of course, for weddings. Blending an expertise in

the culinary arts, a commitment to energetic and impeccable service, along with the resources to provide full event planning, Infinity & Ovation provides couples a highly unique wedding experience with convenience and customized flair. Given the recent Proposition 8 legislation in California, and the fact that so few states throughout the USA offer full marriage rights for the LGBT community, Infinity & Ovation offers a niche that few other companies can touch. “We’ve found that today’s couples are busy people who want a one-stop shop,” says GM Steven Rybicki. “So we’ve become a full event planning company, and supply wedding packages. We’ve partnered with who we believe to be the best vendors in Detroit: flowers, cakes, DJs, photographers, videographers, guest accommodations... each package customized for each couple. If they like roses, we get roses. If they like sunflowers and jazz, we get sunflowers and jazz.” He summarizes pointedly: “Quality plus great service at a great price.” What’s more, gay and lesbian couples can actually enter into a legally binding union while on board. The Canadian marriage may not be transferable throughout the United States, but

it is transferable to some locales; moreover, it offers couples the opportunity for a much higher degree of legitimization regarding their commitment and their future together. Ceremony packages through Infinity & Ovation are affordably priced, and typically begin at just $65 per person. Most packages include several amenities: an open bar and the choice of ten different gourmet menus, in addition to the fivehour private wedding cruise aboard one of two beautifully outfitted yachts. “The views of the city skylines and of Grosse Pointe are breathtaking. And we have an unprecedented international waterway here in Detroit, which many people don’t realize,” says Rybicki. “For couples who want something different -not the same windowless banquet hallwe have a phenomenal alternative to offer.” And it’s a viable option for gay and lesbian couples who reside out-of-state and are considering a destination wedding. Compared with a similar weekend excursion to nearby Chicago, for instance, a couple choosing a package with Infinity & Ovation in Detroit might easily see a savings of 35-50%. ●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 19

The Infinity (above) is a spacious, 117-ft yacht with a capacity up to 145 guests. The Ovation (below) is a stunning 138-ft craft, designed to accommodate larger weddings & events, up to 300. Photos provided courtesy of Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters


Today’s Infinity is a fourth model yacht, built in 2007. Her capacity is 145 passengers, ideally suited to intimate wedding parties, engagement or rehearsal dinners, second weddings or other smaller private affairs such as Sweet Sixteen celebrations, bar or bat mitzvahs, business luncheons or nighttime cocktail parties. In 2005, the company moved forward into a new market, commissioning the building of the luxurious 138’ Ovation. With a capacity of 300, this craft is ideal for larger wedding ceremonies as well as celebrity events, corporate functions and largescale fundraisers. Together, the new yachts came with a price tag of app. $10 million. Both crafts are equipped with the latest technology, satellite tv/radio and full audio/visual capabilities.

Most menus are strolling menus, with stations attended by chefs who prepare the dishes directly. Beverage stations, featuring selections such as martini or daiquiri packages, are also available, and customized menus are always an option. “But our stations,” Rybicki explains, are so diverse that there is usually something to appeal to everyone in terms of dietary needs or preferences.”

There are many exciting facets to a cruise aboard the Infinity or Ovation, and the dining experience is certainly a highlight. Each yacht boasts a commercial galley, with a mouth-watering array of menus prepared by executive chefs. This year’s South Pacific menu features dishes such as: Mandarin Crêpes with Roasted Vegetables and Almond Pesto served with either Grilled Shrimp and Papaya Mojito Relish or Slow-Braised Pork with Black Bean Salsa… and to sweetly finish: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake flambéed with Coconut Rum, served with Coconut Ice Cream and topped with Caramelized Macadamia Nut Sauce.

The Infinity & Ovation culinary team, he says, is also prepared to help couples choose wines to best complement their menu selections. “Wine is becoming so much more appreciated here in the US. So we try to provide some unique blends for our clients and their guests to enjoy.”

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He continues, “In Detroit we are very diverse culturally, so every year our executive chef and cruise directors work together to create new menu ideas. We have an Indian menu, an Arabic menu… And we do our best to try to stay ahead of the trends.”

DESTINATION: DETROIT Beyond the dining experience, a cruise aboard the Ovation promises a romantic, luxurious adventure. The craft is outfitted in brushed nickel, mochas, sexy blacks and greys. The Second Deck, known as the ‘Admiral’s Lounge,’ opens to the views of downtown Detroit or Windsor, Ontario with wide windows overlooking the bow. A 22’ granite bar complements the lavish Italian furniture throughout, and the lighting is stunning. “It’s a fun, swanky, loungetype feel,” offers Business Development Manager, Ryan Angott. “And on the Second Deck as well is the bridal or grooms’ suite: a nice area for one or both partners to escape throughout their event. The suite is complete with vanity, restroom and a comfortable area to relax.” Heading outside to the Admiral’s Deck, guests find themselves beneath a covered deck with exposed sides, ideal for dining in the fresh air or enjoying a cigar later in the evening. This Deck lends itself to intimate musical entertainment, such as a duo or trio ensemble. Staircases wind to the third deck, offering excellent portrait backdrops for the wedding party. The Third Deck, or ‘Sundeck,’ spans 100’x27’ and offers an open-air view to the wide open sky. A gorgeous cherrywood bar with brushed chrome counters, hi-top and bistro tables provide a relaxed setting for cocktails, dinner dining and enjoying the night with the celebratory sounds of a full 10-piece band. “Here is the place,” Angott comments, “that our couples can dine, pamper their guests and dance beneath the stars.”

After leaving the dock in downtown Detroit or at St. Clair Shores, in just 10-15 minutes the yacht will cruise into Canadian waters. This offers gay and lesbian couples an utterly unique opportunity: to marry legally, surrounded by family and friends, without the challenges of traveling internationally.

Exquisite cuisine is just one facet of the luxurious service aboard both the Infinity and Ovation. The diverse menu is sure to intrigue even the most discerning of palates. Pictured above are some favorite selections: Grilled Prawns and Mahi-Mahi, Sea Bass and Seared Ahi-Tuna. In addition to an array of trendsetting menus, cocktails and wine selections, guests can choose to indulge in a variety of fresh fruits and cheeses, as well as sweet temptations, freshly prepared.

Prior to the wedding day, the couple must travel to Canada -specifically Windsor, Ontario- to file for their marriage certificate. Infinity & Ovation’s preferred ceremony officiant, Joe McParland, will help walk couples through the process. “For most same-gender couples it is easy,” explains Ontario resident McParland, a former Catholic priest who, in recent years became certified to perform civil marriages. Personable and extremely active within the community, McParland will do all he can to assist couples with

the license and other logistics. “The application for the marriage license,” he explains, “can be downloaded from my website, and the couple then drives to downtown Windsor, to City Hall… Each individual needs two pieces of identification, $135 Canadian dollars and it takes about fifteen minutes. After this June, passports will be required for re-entry into the United States.” He continues, “If one partner has been married prior, say a heterosexual marriage in the United States, there is extra paperwork and time involved. Previously divorced couples need to give themselves a buffer zone of about two months.

●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 21

DESTINATION: DETROIT “Our thunder,” adds Angott, “is that we are the closest venue west of Massachusetts that can hold your legal wedding ceremony and reception. We think this is a very powerful statement.”

On the Wedding Day: Guests arrive and park conveniently in Photo provided courtesy of downtown Detroit, Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters boarding the yacht about 5:30 for an “But one important thing: every same-gender evening ceremony. Walking up the gangway, couple I know who has gone to the City Hall in the wedding party is greeted by the crew and Windsor has been absolutely amazed at the level offered champagne (or non-alcoholic beverages) of respect… the welcoming atmosphere and and hors d’oeuvres. A strolling violinist or the courtesy they’ve been extended.” Couples ensemble plays, setting the enchantment of the report that they’re not sure they would have evening to music. experienced similar acceptance back in the USA. Adds McParland, “I often call the staff at City Hall At departure, about 6:00pm, the yacht cruises to commend them about that.” Lake St. Clair with views of beautiful Grosse Pointe and the city skylines. By 6:30pm, Realistically, a couple can travel from out-ofthe guests are led to the Sundeck for the state for a long weekend, in creating their own ceremony and exchange of vows. Small flags, destination wedding. With prior consultations vibrantly waving with the wedding colors and with Infinity & Ovation’s planning team, and with embroidered with the couple’s names and the prior attainment of their own passports for the date, adorn the bow. The couple’s officiant (if brief travel necessary to visit Canada to file for a they so choose, Joe McParland) leads a nonmarriage certificate, the couple can easily arrive denominational or faith-based service, perhaps into Detroit on a Friday and that morning meet including a special ritual, nautical in nature. in person with officiant, Joe McParland. The Oftentimes, couples enjoy fastening their hands brides or grooms can then drive that afternoon together with a nautical knot to symbolize to City Hall and file the necessary paperwork for their union. Or, as Joe explains, “One ritual I use their marriage certificate: the trip into Ontario quite frequently is the Sand Ceremony, which is, stresses Infinity & Ovation’s Ryan Angott, a many couples just love. They each pick out a simple half-mile commute. The ceremony would vase that is filled with sand of a particular color, follow on Saturday or Sunday. which represents them individually. A third vase is chosen, which remains empty until the ceremony. Then, as I speak, they empty their “To be part of this important wedding individual vases into the one: It’s beautiful how celebration experience in couples’ the colors blend uniquely, and the one can not lives, is just a blessing. I’ve married be poured back into the separate vessels… It’s a hundreds of couples these past years very moving and symbolic moment.”

and so many of them keep in contact. I’m very fortunate.” – Joe McParland, registered celebrant

Civil Marriage Celebrations Personally customized celebrations Faith based and civil celebrations Respecting the right of all persons to marry Email: joe@civilmarriages.ca Website: www.civilmarriages.ca Phone: (519) 919-1559


He continues, “This ceremony works really well too with kids, because then they can get involved in creating this new family unit together… And I have fun telling them, ‘Don’t worry, this is the one time you can make a mess in public!’ Most couples cherish this new vase of blended sand well after the wedding day – they set it upon their mantel or in another special place in their home.”

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After the couple is pronounced married, or spouses for life, the first mate radios the captain and he signals the horn. Immediately, the yacht is alive with exuberance and joy. “I would then mark the Record of Solemnization with the latitude and longitude,” McParland says. “The marriage certificate only requires ‘Windsor, Ontario,’ but noting the latitude and longitude is a wonderful memory to have…” And thus the event takes place in Canadian waters, so it is legally binding under Canadian law. Unfortunately, in most states back in America, the newlyweds’ union will not be recognized. If they are residents of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York or other locales with domestic partnership benefits, some options may be open to them and couples are encouraged to speak with their lawyer locally or city or county courthouse officials to best understand their current legal rights and responsibilities. The bubbling reception follows, perhaps first with a photography session and then cocktails, dinner and the cake-cutting ceremony and later, dancing. Popular bands include the Island Guys, The Kimmi Horne Show or a stylish local jazz ensemble. Rybicki says, “With many weddings, we’ve had a full band on the third deck, a DJ on the second deck and casino equipment on the main deck. And what’s nice about our yachts is that there are different places to explore. A lot of older folks might go to the Main Salon – where you can actually carry on a conversation and enjoy the views. It’s a lot different than at a banquet hall, where you may be locked at a table with the same ten people all evening, or the band is playing too loud... On our yachts there is something for everybody and lots of places to escape and explore.” Meanwhile, the yacht continues her five-hour excursion: Along the ¾ mile wide Detroit River into Lake St. Clair with views of Grosse Pointe, one of the most affluent areas in the country. The shore is dotted with sprawling estates of the auto barons and old Detroit money magnates. “There are beautiful sites for the guests,” offers Rybicki. “And this is about an hour of the cruise. We also view the skylines of Detroit and Windsor, and the Ambassador Bridge which joins the two countries.” Two islands come into view – Belle Isle and the uninhabited, pristine Peche Island – in the summer months speckled with anchored boats and kayakers. ●● cont’d, p.44

Branding the Word “Marriage”

A Conservative Success-Story...

by Cindy Sproul

RWN co-founder “Marriage” - what does this word mean to most Americans and what image pops up in their minds when they think of this word? Have the conservatives been successful in branding this simple series of eight letters to their particular ideas and political agenda?

nation. For it is true, with the passing of Prop 8, the conservative movement has gained momentum and a revitalized degree of legitimization for its cause. First and most important, our minority must decide together on a simple and concise meaning for our definition of Marriage. We must focus on a clear image of the word that embodies our own political agenda: Equality. And truly, a greater degree of Equality in our nation will only serve to bring the exact opposite of anarchy… instead it will serve to bring a stronger foundation of freedom and happiness for all our people. ●● cont’d

Has the word been inextricably locked into both legal and religious connotations, despite our nation’s division of church and state? Is there an effective way to transform this definition? With the tactics that were used to pass Prop 8, all of us were quick to learn that the conservatives wanted to brand the word Marriage to include fear, limitation and brutal misconceptions about the gay community. From their print ads and television commercials, conservatives injected an image that gay marriage would mean the tragic loss of their own ideal of “Marriage.” More than that, their message set out to convince voters that the loss of their definition of Marriage would surely lead to utter anarchy and ruin for our entire society. –The complete and irreparable undoing of the moral values within our country, shore to shore.

We must turn perception around, and this is no easy task. We must brand our own vision of Marriage and effectively communicate it to the voting public, so as to avoid another Prop 8, or worse: the continuing ripple effect that Prop 8 could potentially create in states throughout the

In my opinion, the American conservative movement has absolutely been successful in convincing the general public that bringing equal marriage rights to the gay minority = the ruin of our nation. How the conservatives have managed this task is certainly something to consider: perhaps we can learn from their successes. In fact, we must learn from their tactics, as sobering and souring as such may be. In order to do what is necessary to re-invent the definition of Marriage so as to promote instead our own clear vision of Equality, it will become necessary for us to take advantage of the strategies that the conservatives have proven to be effective. Does the average LGBT citizen realize just how important this truly is for our cause?

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 23

Branding the Word “Marriage” So how do we spread our message? We must not only decide together on the concise meaning, we must decide on the imagery that will communicate that ideal to the general public. Think metaphors, think 30-second tv commercials, think 15 word tag-lines. We must ally with our straight advocates. Our minority adds up to only 10% in this land. We need our friends in order to effectively enact real and lasting change. ..And why not? Many straight, liberalthinking people agree with our message for Equality not only for the LGBT minority but also for other facets of our society as well. We can all stand together, and thus stand strong. We must prompt one another to get vocal. Have you seen the faces of courageous


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couples, such as John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney out in California? They married under Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ruling in San Francisco in 2004; they married again last year prior to the passing of Prop 8, they’ve marched on Washington throughout the years and today continue to remain steadfastly visible in promoting the reasons why the public ought to rescind Prop 8 in California. They forward the cause of Equality, whenever they can, and have done so for years. It is this commitment that we must all be willing to take. We must realize our power. The LGBT community ranks among the highest as an American minority with economic power. If we all remain vigilant and invest our dollars with companies that actively stand up for Tolerance and non-discrimination, we will have an impact. Keep in mind,

during the boycott in Montgomery, AL following Rosa Parks’ landmark refusal on the bus back in 1955, the bus fare was only 10 cents. One thin dime... yet boycotters remained committed and refused to ride the buses, even when it was stifling weather or when there were bags of groceries to carry. And those dimes added up to a successful Supreme Court ruling. We must find ways to organize ourselves and spread our message. Like wildfire, once we agree on the concise metaphoric message of our definition of Marriage, we must create the imagery and spark our cause. And we must be wise about it. –Tie our image to local legislative action in our area and post flyers, take responsible action with our local equality group/s and purchase ad space in the newspapers and on the radios... Call our local tv stations and educate journalists about the issues.

Branding the Word “Marriage” And as ever, it is best if we take our actions respectfully and with integrity: this too will go far to promote our cause, in that the public will witness us making our ideals known in a way that is honest and educated and dignified. Remember, any action you take reflects back on the LGBT minority. You represent us all. The overall point is that we must take personal responsibility for our own desire for Equal Rights. And to be effective, in this political landscape, we must play by the rules that have been set before us. Again, this is not easy. The conservative movement has spent decades organizing ways in which to disseminate information and prod voters. It has mega-churches and call networks and fundraising arms and an underlying patriarchal system that lends itself to success when striving to spread an idea -whether ‘true’ or not- in promoting a particular issue. So we must organize as well and this is a basic step, vital to our effectiveness. To this end, I’d like to explain briefly the resources available through our sister initiative, Same Love, Same Rights.® I add comments here, not to self-promote, but because I honestly believe our initiative offers a strong framework of resources, that are urgently needed at this time. The goal of Same Love, Same Rights® has always been to bring the community together for successful dialogue. We do so in a variety of ways: producing LGBT Wedding Expos throughout the country, to bring legitimacy and a real ‘face’ to the issues... by offering a website with interactive forums and downloads for visitors to share ideas and connect... by providing a directory of Equality Advocates – organizations and businesses that stand up for a policy of nondiscrimination... and of course by providing additional resources through our parent company RainbowWeddingNetwork.com. The Same Love, Same Rights® initiative began three years ago, to help bring necessary tools to our community so that we could indeed become more politically cohesive and rally around a central message. In fact, at that time we proposed a Gay

Marriage Summit, inviting all the political and marriage rights organizations within the nation to join for one weekend to shape an effective and targeted campaign for equal rights in marriage, to find one cohesive voice to use not only to fight anti-gay amendments but to shape and brand our ideal (and nonthreatening) meaning of “Marriage” to the public. This was three years ago, and I’m sad to report that not one LGBT equality organization replied to any of our invitations. Not one. Their reasoning? I’m not sure. …They are too busy and under-staffed and therefore unable to commit to a nationwide campaign. Or perhaps they do not take us seriously: our parent company has been in existence now nearly a decade but is a for-profit company and that fact, unfortunately, has been scoffed at by many such equality organizations. Or, perhaps, there is another reason. I invite you to ask why. In your own town, with your own voice, week after week… Pose your questions! And at the same time, make use of all the resources that are available to you, including those through SameLoveSameRights.com: post in our Forum, visit one of our Wedding Expos, utilize our ArtShare Gallery to communicate with likeminded LGBT citizens and advocates so that, at a grassroots level, we as individuals can decide the course of our journey to Equality. It is, after all, our own individual responsibility. This is our chapter of history. We must take the initiative and commit to promoting our own worth and our own human rights. I look forward to hearing from you, and viewing your posts in the online Forum. Let me know your thoughts on the subject, as well as the actions you are planning to undertake in 2009 to forward our cause. www.SameLoveSameRights.com www.RainbowWeddingNetwork.com www.GayWeddings.us.com www.RainbowWeddingNetworkMagazine.com

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 25





of the year

In a recent RainbowWeddingNetwork.com poll site visitors were asked which individuals within our community lead the rainbow curve in 2008. The choice was difficult as so many have stepped forward in recent months to make a difference on behalf of the issues vital to LGBT equality. Included below is our profile of the person you voted RainbowWeddingNetwork LGBT Person of the Year - 2008. Congrats, Ellen


Profile: Ellen Lee DeGeneres Ellen Lee DeGeneres (born January 26, 1958) It was in the late ’90s during the fourth season of her hit self-titled sitcom that Emmy Award-winning American comedienne/ actress/television host Ellen DeGeneres came out to the world on an airing of the Oprah Winfrey show. That same season her on-screen counterpart “Ellen Morgan” came out before millions of viewers, again through Winfrey, who this time took on the role of her fictional character’s therapist. From that point forward the show went on to explore various LGBT issues: the coming-out process, dating, dealing with the everyday perceptions and judgments of those surrounding us. It was a defining moment for our community: Never before had the issues that affect us on an everyday basis been brought before a national audience in such a non-threatening yet thought-provoking format. Since that moment Ellen has waved the rainbow flag, so to speak, before the American public. She has remained active in legitimizing our minority and taken us strides closer to moving beyond the long-lived stereotypes which have for generations restricted LGBT individuals in America, and throughout the world.


In May of 2008 DeGeneres again took a courageous step forward by bringing the face of gay marriage before the American public with the announcement of her engagement to her partner of four years, actress Portia de Rossi (Ally McBeal, Arrested Development.) They were wed on August 16, 2008 at a small home-based ceremony in Beverly Hills. With the decision to share publicly such a personal aspect of her life, Ellen once again showed her ongoing commitment to the LGBT community. And she remained vigilant regarding the issue of gay marriage, working diligently to educate voters about Proposition 8 in California during the last months of 2008, contributing financially to the cause, and by welcoming important political players to her talk show in order to shed further light on the matters most important to LGBT citizens and our allies. So what’s next for Ellen? We can rest assured that she will continue to tell our minority’s story in a way that we can all take pride in, with humorous undertones and an overall message that LGBT Americans are not the social outcasts we once were… and that we too deserve fair and equal legal rights, protections and recognition for our relationships and our families.

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Polling Results Breakdown Ellen DeGeneres: 29.29% Rachel Maddow: 17.17% Del Martin: 14.14% Wanda Sykes: 12.12% The LGBT Community for their Post Prop 8 Rallies: 11.11% Cody Horton and Christopher Lewis: 5.05% Keith Olbermann - as a friend of our community: 5.05% Melissa Etheridge: 2.02%

RainbowWeddingNetwork proudly presents:

The Top 75 GLBTQ Friendly Companies of the Season Since 2000, it’s been our goal to screen wedding, home & family-related businesses all across North America for you & your partner. After all, planning your wedding, dreaming about your vacation or meeting the unique needs of your growing family should be FUN, free from awkwardness and instead filled with moments of sincere respect and excitement. Remember, the categories listed here are general guidelines. Many of these businesses offer several services, so be sure to call them directly or visit their website. You won’t want to miss any fabulous details!

Bands & Musicians/DJs DJ Raffi Pro Music & Lighting Productions No “Cheese,” fun, upbeat, polished performances, respecting all your wishes Serving all of new England (617) 923-9116 djraffi@djraffi.com www.djraffi.com Dynamic DJ’s Professional, knowledgeable, helpful, caring service for your special day… Serving New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware 2349 Hooper Avenue Brick, NJ 08723 (800) 378-3290, toll-free (732) 262-9555, local Spnj37@aol.com www.Dynamic-DJs.com The Elaine Dame Jazz Quartet Chicago, IL 60657 Serving Chicago, the Midwest and the Nation (773) 296-0831 elaine_dame@hotmail.com www.elainedame.com Ellen Tepper, Harpist Serving the Delaware Valley Area & Beyond (215) 887-3512 etepper@juno.com www.ellentepper.com

Banquet & Event Facilities/Reception Sites The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts 166 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT 06106 (860) 987-6044 cathy_stephens@bushnell.org www.bushnell.org

Castaway Restaurant and Banquet Center 1250 E. Harvard Road Burbank, CA 91501 Serving Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles (818) 843-5013 doc01@srcmail.com www.castawayrestaurant.com Courtyard Boston Downtown/Tremont Hotel Hidden Jewel of Boston Serving Boston, MA and the New England area 275 Tremont Street Boston, MA 02116 (617) 728-2114 anne.shin@marriott.com www.CourtyardBostonTremont.com Hilton Clearwater Beach 400 Mandalay Ave. Clearwater Beach, FL 33767 (727) 298-1482 jadams@luxuryresorts.com www.HiltonClearwaterBeachResort.com Hilton Garden Inn-New York/Staten Island Elegantly appointed Nicotra’s Ballroom, just minutes from Manhattan! 1100 South Avenue Staten Island, NY 10314 (718) 477-2100 X 235 Susan_anderson@hilton.com www.hiltongardeninn.com Massmutual Center Most Diverse Function Space in Western Massachusetts! Your Dream Wedding Awaits! 1277 Main Street Springfield, MA 01103 (413) 271-3235 mtomalonis@massconvention.com www.massmutualcenter.com

- Categories Bands & Musicians/DJs Banquet & Event Facilities/Reception Sites B & Bs/Inns/Honeymoon Getaways Cakes & Caketoppers Caterers/Restaurants Ceremony Sites Community Organizations & Networking Event Consultants & Coordinators Exploring Your Relationship Favors, Gifts & Keepsakes Financial Resources Florals Formal Wear & Apparel Invitations/Calligraphy/Albums Jewelers Kitchenware/Gourmet Gifts Limousines Marriage Equality Organizations Officiants/Places of Worship Photographers Travel Services Videographers Websites & Planning Resources

Directory Key ♥ SP-NATL

Indicates National Sponsor of Same Love, Same Rights® Expos

For more comprehensive information, photos & more, visit RainbowWeddingNetwork.com -over 5,000 businesses await you, each screened to uphold a policy of non-discrimination!

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 27

NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 GLBTQ-Friendly Companies

OHEKA Castle OHEKA Castle – Imagine the possibilities. 135 West Gate Drive Huntington, NY 11743 (631) 659-1400 kmelius@oheka.com www.oheka.com Quiet Cannon Montebello Quiet Cannon promises memories to last a lifetime. 901 N. Via San Clemente Montebello, CA 90640 (323) 724-4500 info@quietcannon.com www.quietcannon.com Ron Jaworski’s Valleybrook Country Club Tastefully appointed ballroom, exquisite cuisine, outdoor ceremonies and cocktail receptions. 200 Golfview Drive Blackwood, NJ 08012 (856) 227-3171 ext. 3 tracey_mullin@comcast.net www.valleybrookgolf.com Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites 225 Derby Street Salem, MA 01970 (978) 619-1110 Serving guests from everywhere as we are a destination location. agamble@salemwaterfronthotel.com www.salemwaterfronthotel.com WB Ranch A Secret waiting to be found. Totally Unique, Totally Texas, Totally Yours. 139 Private Road 214 Whitney, TX 76692 (800) 927-2624, toll-free evelyn@wbranch.com www.wbranch.com

B & Bs/Inns/Honeymoon Getaways Grape Leaf Inn Sonoma Wine Country’s Luxury Inn! 539 Johnson Street Healdsburg, CA 95448 (707) 433-8140 rkr3@comcast.net; info@grapeleafinn.com www.grapeleafinn.com


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Heritage Place Bed & Breakfast Host a Conference/Retreat here in the heart of the Prairies Hwy 43 East & Hwy 58 P.O. Box 717 Gravelbourg, SK Canada S0H1X0 (306) 648-3362 heritage.place@sasktel.net www.heritageplacebandb.com The Highlands Inn One of the most romantic lesbian destinations on the planet! P.O. Box 118 Bethlehem, NH 03574 (877) Les - B - INN (537-2466) vacation@highlandsinn-nh.com www.HighlandsInn-NH.com The Ink House Treat yourself to Victorian elegance in the midst of Napa Valley! 1575 Saint Helena Hwy South St Helena, CA 94574 (707) 963-3890 inkhousebb@aol.com www.inkhouse.com

Cakes & Caketoppers One & Only Figures Hand sculpted personalized cake topper looks like you! Serving Nationwide (626) 823-1841 sales@claymyfigure.com www.claymyfigure.com

Caterers/Restaurants Affordable Catering, Inc. 4125 Gunn Hwy. Tampa, FL 33618 (813) 962-1525 info@affordablecatering.net www.affordablecatering.net The Black Tie Company Maine’s premier caterer and event planner... The Black Tie Company 1 Union Wharf Portland, ME 04101 (207) 761-6665 theblacktieco@hotmail.com www.theblacktieco.com

NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 GLBTQ-Friendly Companies

Catered by Design Bringing your Events to Life in Chicago Chicago Metro Area (847) 965-4094 sales@cateredbydesign.com www.cateredbydesign.com Clambake Connection & Bar-B-Q 219 Culloden Rd. Stamford, CT 06906 (203) 967-3991 balestrierep@yahoo.com www.clambakeconnection.com Crumble Catering Mark’s Restaurant 861 N. La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 652-5252 chefwaynela@aol.com www.crumblecatering.com Five Crowns Restaurant 3801 East Coast Highway Corona del Mar, CA 92625 (949) 760-0331 mbrask@lawrysonline.com www.lawrysonline.com

Ceremony Sites Deer Creek Resort And Conference Center 22300 State Park Road #20 Mt. Sterling, OH 43143 (740) 869-2020 clay-susan@aramark.com www.visitdeercreek.com The Essex Conference Center & Retreat A simply exquisite setting with gardens, pond, waterfall and sculptures. One Conomo Point Road Essex, MA 01929 (978) 768-7374 ext 14 sales@eccr.com www.eccr.com Indian Meadows Where love begins and never ends - Indian Meadows Lodge. 29839 Poudre Canyon Hwy 14 Bellvue, CO 80512 (970) 881-2000 bernicec41@aol.com www.poudreriverweddings.com

Community Organizations & Networking ImGay.tv, Sp-NATL Your lifestyle. Your network. (727) 599-9787 cate@imgay.tv www.ImGay.tv PinkBananaWorld.com, Sp-NATL Bringing Your Gay World Together! Integrating your various online profiles into one site. Gay News, Blogs & Podcasts. (323) 908-3653 www.PinkBananaWorld.com

Event Consultants & Coordinators Events by Jessica A Wedding and Event Planning Company delivering superior quality events! 6421 Santa Catalina Ave. Garden Grove, CA 92845 (714) 642-7862 Jessica@eventsbyjessica.com www.EventsbyJessica.com Gay & Lesbian Weddings Southern California Weddings with style, distinction and respect. 1340 Mayapan Road La Habra Heights, CA 90631 (562) 858-9948 casamesexweddings@hotmail.com www.casamesexweddings.com Your Dream Wedding Events Proud Member of the Association of Bridal Consultants. 8835 N Rexleigh Drive Milwaukee, WI 53217 Serving Nationwide (414) 573-7853 catharine@dreamweddingwisconsin.com www.dreamweddingwisconsin.com

Exploring Your Relationship Lady of the Woods, LLC/ Rev. Layla Messner, M.A. Spiritual Counseling & Coaching: Love each other better and better. Phone-based Serving Nationwide (678) 200-7211 layla@innerauthority.com www.innerauthority.com

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NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 GLBTQ-Friendly Companies

Favors, Gifts & Keepsakes



Candles, Gifts & More, LLC Custom Candles and Personalized Gifts & Favors 1698 Courtney Drive St. Clair, MO 63077 Serving Nationwide (636) 629-0027 (877) 239-0027, toll-free info@candlesgiftsandmore.com www.candlesgiftsandmore.com

Belli Fiori Florist 1785 Golden Mile Hwy. Monroeville, PA 15146 (412) 380-0195, local (877) 411-2110, toll-free belli1783@aol.com www.bellifioriflorist.com

Arka Designs Fine Jewelry Engagement rings, Diamond wedding bands. Where diamond dreams come true!! Nationwide Service Available 523 W. 6th Street - Suite 140 Los Angeles, CA 90014 (800) 453-0501, toll-free vito@arkadesigns.com www.arkadesigns.com

The Fortunate Cookie Serving the World (802) 888-5706 (866) 266-5337, toll-free portico@stowevt.net www.thefortunatecookie.com My Gift Box Company Exquisite Favors for all Occasions Open by appointment only Los Gatos, CA (408) 395-6867 mygiftboxcompany@gmail.com www.mygiftboxcompany.com Wholesale Swarovski Crystal, LLC Rainbow Maker - just add sunshine! Swarovski crystal prism party favors. PO Box 754 Sooke, BC Canada V9Z 1H7 (877) 642-6745, toll-free crystals@weddingcrystals.ca www.WeddingCrystals.ca

Financial Resources JMH Insurance & Financial Planning Helping you with all your life insurance needs! 65 William Street Suite 310 Wellesley, MA 02481 Serving Nationwide (877) 564-4679, toll-free (781) 237-7222, local emeyer@jmhinsurance.com www.JMHInsurance.com


Flowers by Topaz Florist & Event Decorator 2831 Long Beach Rd. Oceanside, NY 11572 Serving from the Hamptons to New York City and Beyond (516) 678-0130, local (800) 791-2256, toll-free fbtopaz@optonline.net www.flowersbytopaz.com

Formal Wear & Apparel La Belle Boutique 154 Danforth Ave. Jersey City, NJ 07305 Serving most of New York & New Jersey (201) 434-4143 webmaster@labelleboutique.com www.labelleboutique.com Bridal Outlet World Offering brides designer inspired bridal gowns at low affordable prices. Serving Nationwide (877) 272-4781, toll-free sales@bridaloutletworld.com www.bridaloutletworld.com Friar Tux Shop 1711 S. Claudina Way Anaheim, CA 92805 (888) FRIARTUX (within CA) contact@friartux.com www.friartux.com

Invitations/Calligraphy/Albums OutVite.com, Sp-NATL Quality, stylish invitations & announcements for the gay and lesbian community. (866) 688-8483, toll-free CustomerService@OutVite.com www.OutVite.com

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Elizabeta Jewelry Jewelry with a Conscience Mankato, MN 56001 Shop online or by appointment (507) 380-3937 elizabeta@charter.net www.elizabetajewelry.com

Kitchenware/Gourmet Gifts Kitchen Kaboodle Everything you need to make your house a home. Serving Oregon and Washington at our 5 Portland-area locations and everywhere else online! (800) 366-0161, toll-free info@kitchenkaboodle.com www.kitchenkaboodle.com MyCoffee.tv, Sp-NATL A revolution has to start somewhere why not over a cup of coffee? Gourmet, rich custom blends for a cause! 877-MYOMYCOFFEE cate@myomy.tv www.MyCoffee.tv

Limousines Stretch One Limousine & Trolley Co. 647 N. County Line Rd. Jackson, NJ 08527 (732) 928-6031 hallimo@hotmail.com www.StretchOneLimo.com Super City Limousine 700 Lincoln Park Pinole, CA 94564 (415) 710-5466 info@supercitylimo.com www.supercitylimo.com

NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 GLBTQ-Friendly Companies

Marriage Equality Organizations Same Love, Same Rights® Sp-NATL Individuals all across America making a difference. Online Forums, Lapel Pins, Union Certificates, Petitions & more. Proud Producer of nationwide GLBTQ Wedding Expos – 25 events since 2003! (866) 251-1564, toll-free www.SameLoveSameRights.com

Officiants/Places of Worship Meaningful Moments Creating customized, unique ceremonies to mark your meaningful moments! Serving the Chicago Area (773) 919-1333 moments@meaningfulmarguerite.com www.meaningfulmarguerite.com

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Frumin Weddings with Heart Personalized wedding ceremonies for you on your special day! P.O. Box 68 Narberth, PA 19072 Serving Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (610) 667-8353 weddingswithheart@comcast.net www.elizabethfrumin.com Reverend Rita Atlas “Personal ceremonies that reflect your love for each other.” Serving the Central & Northern New Jersey regions (732) 672-1940 revrita@optonline.net www.reverendrita.com

Photographers Anna Crowley Photography Extraordinary Images! Exceptional Service! Woodinville, WA (206) 310-6897 Serving Western Washington anna@annaphotography.com www.annaphotography.com Caught in the Moment Let us capture your emotions when dreams finally come true. P.O. Box 41261 Long Beach, CA 90853 Serving Southern California and internationally (562) 397-5674 weddings@caughtinthemoment.com www.caughtinthemoment.com

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NORTH AMERICA’S TOP 75 GLBTQ-Friendly Companies

Christopher Kight Photographers Photographic excellence for 24 years. 3101 Fulton Ave - Suite 101 Sacramento, CA 95821 Serving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe (916) 484-1164 kightphoto@aol.com www.kightphoto.com

ZaZaCreative, LLC Your story is unique! I’ll tell it through dynamic photographs. 530 Beverly Road Teaneck, NJ 07666 (201) 357-4481 katzcreative26@mac.com www.zazacreative.com

The Creativity Company Personalized service that is both professional and friendly. By Appointment Only Serving the Greater Chicago area (708) 748-6771 larry@the-creativity-company.com www.the-creativity-company.com

Travel Services

Desert Island Images Candid style captures the fun and emotions of your event. Serving the state of Maine (207) 244-5957 photos@desertislandimages.com www.desertislandimages.com i Photography Studio Offering traditional and photojournalistic styles to capture Your Special Day. 2793 N. Blackburn Drive - C Orange, CA 92867 (714) 721-5610 ian@iphotographystudio.com www.iphotographystudio.com Michael Loeb Photography Preserving your wonderful series of moments Serving the San Francisco Bay Area, Nationwide, & Destinations Worldwide (415) 453-8755 (800) 263-1330, toll-free michael@loebphotography.com www.loebimages.com Robert Kaussner Photography Fine-art Wedding Photo Journalism with Heart and Soul 123 East King Road Studio #S-2 Ithaca, NY 14850 Serving Upstate New York, the Capital District, and Nationally (607) 273-1730 rkaussner@gmail.com www.robertkaussner.com


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All About Honeymoons Specializing in Destination Weddings, Honeymoons and all your travel needs. Serving Nationwide (914) 761-4464 donnab@allabouthoneymoons.com www.donnab.allabouthoneymoons.com

Videographers Avidus Rainbow Productions 27 Fernwood Road Bristol, RI 02809 (401) 440-4792 avidusvideo@gmail.com www.avidusproductions.com/ avidusrainbowproductions/index.htm Pix Photo Magic Our video artists will capture the romance of your day. P.O. Box 690515 Quincy, MA 02269-0515 (888) 749-7486, toll-free events@pixphotomagic.com www.Pixphotomagic.com

Websites & Planning Resources RainbowWeddingNetwork.com, Sp-NATL Your online wedding resource… since 2000. Fresh Updated Look to our site! (866) 251-1564, toll-free IDo@RainbowWeddingNetwork.com www.RainbowWeddingNetwork.com

Support the businesses that support you! Every company listed in our Orange Pages has been screened to be gay-friendly.

On February 23, 2007, Elena Cardona and Liz Quinones were one of the first couples in New Jersey to enter into a legally recognized civil union. They were also the first couple ever to be featured on the cover of RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine! 2009 finds Elena, Liz and their family anticipating another exciting milestone... Congratulations, Quinones Family! (Read the full interview -with all the wonderful updates- upcoming in the Summer issue of RWN Magazine!)

RWN Magazine (RWN) - Tell us a little bit about your relationship as it is today, now that you two have journeyed together through friendship, romance, a historic civil union celebration, life as newlyweds... and now look toward your future. Elena (EQ) - Since we had the ceremony for our Civil Union, life has just been wonderful. You never really realize how much one day (meaning our Wedding Day) really does mean to you until you have finally done it.

I will never forget how Liz used to tell me when we were just friends that she would never get married, but if you ask her that same question today her answer would be that she would do it over and over again if we could. It meant that much. Since the Civil Union I have changed my last name from Cardona to Quinones so we now have the same last name, we have combined both our medical insurance policies and auto insurance. We can now file our Surrounded by friends & family, Elena & Liz celebrate their civil New Jersey State Taxes together union ceremony in February 2007. One of the first couples in but not our Federal because our New Jersey to commit to each other under the then-newlyenacted civil union legislation, Elena & Liz planned their Civil Union has no holding federally. celebration in just six weeks. Photo: Lauren Guiliano of Ultrax We still have to explain what our Disc Jockeys, Photography & Videography Civil Union means to many people, because in New Jersey we do not have the EQ - The best way to describe our process title of Marriage yet. But we look at each of becoming pregnant is a long, scary roller dialogue as an extra opportunity to educate coaster, which we almost jumped off of people about the struggles that same-sex plenty of times! We are so happy that we couples have endured -and still do- in our had the courage to hold on. efforts for complete equality for all. It wasn’t long after our Wedding -actually March of 2007, to be exact- that we started talking and thinking about adding a little someone to our family. I have biological children of my own, who we are raising together and Liz has been in their lives for the last 14 years. But we had never shared the experience from the beginning & Liz has no children of her own. So we both decided that it would be the perfect completion to our family. So our journey began. RWN - What metaphor would you use to describe the process of becoming pregnant? What were some of the high & low points of the journey to your successful conception?

We don’t think that there was anything that could have prepared us for what was ahead. We decided to take Liz’s egg with a donor sperm and have me (Elena) carry the baby. This process sounds a lot easier then it really is. We both had to take shots in our stomachs everyday for about two weeks to prepare our bodies for the process. We were extremely blessed to become pregnant after just two attempts. But our happiness was cut short when, due to the stress of losing my only brother at just 27 years old, we also lost the pregnancy. We decided it would be best to take a break for a couple of months before trying again. We decided to switch doctors and start fresh. To make a really long and tumultuous ●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 33

Elena & Liz – two years later...

The image above shows the baby at 16 weeks. See outset image upper left for finer detail.

story short, after about 8 more attempts, several heartbreaks and so much more, our dreams were almost coming true. We found out that we were pregnant in July 2008!


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After over a year of trying we were finally going to have our Baby. But it wasn’t all happiness: the beginning of our pregnancy was full of up’s and down’s and we were told by the doctors not to start celebrating because they weren’t sure if the baby was going to make it. But here we are with only 9 weeks to go and thank God all is well. RWN - How do you both feel about the upcoming arrival of your new Little One? What are your hopes for your birth experience? EQ - Words can not come close to describing the happiness that we feel in our hearts. We have become so much closer during the whole pregnancy. I sometimes wonder who’s pregnant, me or Liz!

The reason I say this is because we are so close that she has developed sympathy pains for everything: She gets my heartburn, my backaches, my headaches, and best of all she has gotten most of my pregnancy weight gain. I think it’s just so sweet; it truly shows how much we are connected and live our lives as one. We are scheduled for a C-Section on March 08, 2009 by doctors’ orders. So we are just hoping for no surprises before then, and our only wish is that both the Baby and I are healthy. We can not wait to welcome our son into our lives and our family. It has been a long-awaited moment. RWN - What do your other two children think about their new baby brother? EQ - The kids could not be happier! They’ve also ridden along on the roller coaster,

Elena & Liz – two years later... right beside us. From when we lost the first pregnancy, through all the medication shots... to finally seeing my tummy grow and realizing that it is finally happening. My son is extra-excited because it is a boy, but he never forgets the one we lost. He often asks me if we are sure that this one will be okay. He loves feeling the baby kick, and talking to him every chance he gets. Both he and my daughter are counting down the weeks till the baby arrives.

RWN - Anything else you’d like to add? EQ - There were many times along the way that we didn’t think we were going to make it; as a matter of fact before we got pregnant, we had decided that this was going to be our last try. We were so drained, emotionally, physically and financially that we just couldn’t keep going. But our Faith and Love through it all kept us strong. We could not think of anyone else in the world that we would want to share this amazing, lifechanging experience with besides one another. ...And of our course our family at Rainbow Wedding Network Magazine! Thank you for giving us this opportunity once again.

To read the full interview with Elena & Liz, and the updated details about their son’s birth, check out the upcoming Summer issue of RainbowWeddingNetwork Magazine. Yearly subscriptions just $29.95, or GO GREEN! with an online-only subscription for just $9.95 per year!

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 35

“H awaiian weddings often convey a sense of nature’s beauty, wrapped in discreet, understated, informal splendor,” Oxnard, California resident Harris Berger says, referring to his and Michael Quick’s wedding. “We decided early on that theme.”

Today many couples want theme weddings, but event producer Paul Bott says that unlike Harris and Michael, couples rarely have a theme in mind as they begin the planning process. Paul, who plans wedding and events in such locations as New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, and Paris, and whose clients include Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and the producers of the Tony Awards, says “Usually couples do not come in with that plan. It just develops.” He advocates couples thinking about themselves as the theme. “Something will come up, such as ‘Our trip to Disneyland’, ‘Our love of dogs’ or ‘Our love of Venice’.” Whatever the theme, in addition to the inevitable high points and difficulties faced in planning any wedding, theme-based ceremonies can present challenges that are quite unique.

Hawaiian Backyard Tropics For Michael Quick, chef aboard a Marine research ship, and Harris Berger, Director of Development for the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance, their challenge was creating Hawaiian tropics in the backyard of their colonial revival-style home. To do so, Harris says they went on-line. “Mike shopped all the florals from Hawaiian online florists.” There, he found three-foot tall arrangements of giant long-stemmed red antherium, red ginger blossoms, purple and white dendrobiums, orchid sprays and exotic Hawaiian greenery.” The couple also shopped on-line for traditional men’s Hawaiian wedding shirts.


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by Susan Hart Hellman

A second challenge arose when their guest list outgrew their home, but the offer of a neighbor’s larger yard proved the solution for both issues: this property had lush tropic-like landscaping. “It was a natural setting for our Hawaiian /outdoor theme,” Harris says.

Photos by Megan Robbins

contributing writer

Hawaiian/Native American/Jewish Although Gilbert, Arizona couple Carey Powell, a Life Coach, and Michele Flamer, a sales consultant, went Hawaiian too, their reason was that Carey had lived in Hawaii. In addition to their main theme, Carey and Michele incorporated two cultures:

Ohio goes Southern Cal Culver City, Californians Chad Sandhas, TV Guide Network Communications Manager, and Maxwell Hessman, manager of Santa Monica’s Fritto Misto, chose an even more unique theme. “We decided to create a wedding experience that was reflective of our life in California,” Chad explains. But when Ohio family couldn’t travel, the couple moved Southern California east. Chad says of their Palm House venue, “We were surrounded by palm trees and plants, which you see everywhere in California.” Their linens were sand and taupe colored, representing Southern California’s mountain terrain and beaches, and florals followed the theme. “We love the smells and colors of the plants that grow naturally on the hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, so we chose lavender, rosemary and sage.” Their cuisine was SoCal too. “Our food was inspired by a favorite California Saturday morning pastime… brunch!” Chad triumphs.

This couple faced one more theme-related challenge - how to hand inscribe guests’ names, in both English and Hawaiian, on the front of 75 sand dollars!


Chicagoans Julie Jones, Acupuncture student, and Kate Rickenbacker, violin maker, chose another type of cultural theme: “homespun” farm/family/friends. They wanted to involve family and friends in all aspects of their Kinnickinnick Farm wedding. So they asked one friend to assist with arrangements, another to officiate, and Kate’s brother played the violin. The farmer’s wife donated blue and white check tablecloths. “Very farm like,” Julie says. Kate created centerpieces from wood they collected on hikes. Guests dined on cuisine freshly prepared from the farm’s organic produce, and Kate and her band entertained.

Native American, to honor Carey’s grandfather, and Jewish, Michele’s heritage, so they included readings of selected poems, and Michele’s father performed the Jewish wine blessing. Carey and Michele’s tables featured brightly-colored tropical flowers, and guests dressed “Aloha style.” A Polynesian group danced, and the evening’s signature drink was the “Carey & Michele’s Ke Aloha Cocktail.”

Julie summarizes their day. “We knew we wanted a sense of community, and that is what happened. Everything we did, we did with the help of our friends and family.” ●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 37

Theme Weddings chocolate linens and copper napkins. Guests received chocolate-brown handkerchiefs and Fall bounty from the couple’s property: pears, crabapples and kumquats. One themerelated challenge Paul and Gilbert didn’t have to face was dessert! Being professional bakers, Paul decorated the cake in vibrant Fall colors, and Gilbert created cream puffs with delectable chocolate Autumn leaves.

Sun-Dance Photography, CA

Fall For Paul and Gilbert Delagnes, owners of Camarillo, California’s Bread Basket Bakery, the season of Autumn became their chosen theme. “The colors, as the sun goes down, are prettier in the Fall,” Paul explains.


They came up with the idea of using Fall colors throughout their entire celebration, so they chose floral arrangements in burgundies, browns and golds: orchids, calla lilies and branches with autumn leaves. Chairs were adorned with foxtails affixed to gold satin ribbon, and tables featured

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Summer Beach Julie and Jennifer of Santa Clarita, California chose a Summer Beach wedding, held on a grassy knoll as the sun set over the ocean. “We both wanted to wear dresses,” Julie says. “I chose a black dress and Jennifer went with a more traditional yet casual white wedding dress.” But in keeping with their Summer beachy theme, they wore floral leis, as did those in their wedding party.

Sun-Dance Photography, CA

Theme Weddings

The wedding cake, which Julie describes as “a half white/half lemon cake,” was adorned with sea shells and tiny starfish. “Our names were written around the cake in simulated sand (cinnamon),” Julie adds. The wedding rings were affixed to a large starfish, and Julie and Jennifer spotlighted their names big and bold on the sandy beach.

Tri-Color Christopher and Mario of Miami chose a color theme for their destination Toronto, Canada wedding. Christopher explains, “It was based on three colors: Tiffany blue, black and white.” The blue symbolized a very special event. “My partner went to Tiffany’s to pick out rings, and asked me to marry him after 15 years.” The black and white was in response to a special situation Christopher faced, his father’s inability to attend the wedding. “Black and white came from what we wore in honor of my father,” Christopher explains. “We got married in white dinner jackets, like my father had.” Christopher says he used the color scheme in every aspect of the couple’s Gloucester Square Inn wedding. “-Even down to requesting that guests wear black and white too.”

Photos by Sandra Strangemore

Dreamland Many couples wanting theme weddings contact wedding planners, and Paul Bott receives hundreds of requests each year. One of Paul’s recent assignments was to create a wedding from the CD, Dreamland, described as an ‘album/radio show/stage musical, reminiscent of old-time radio with classic love songs.’ The story, written

by actor Brent Spiner (Star Trek’s “Data”) and Grammy winner mixer/producer Dave Way (Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera), is performed by Spiner and cabaret singer Maude Maggart, and Paul was asked to listen, then conceptualize a wedding based on what he heard. Rather than featuring just one of the CD’s themes - retro era, music, love story, romantic setting, dream-like atmosphere and narrative, and a little intrigue and ●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 39


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Theme Weddings fine classic black tuxedos, hair slicked back.

Photo courtesy Paul Bott

Then Paul ties in the CD’s romantic “I wanted to classic songs. “I hear and get visualized the to know the couple dancing Dreamland story to the beautiful before I thought Dreamland music, of anything,” he the part ‘Did you explains. “After ever see a dream Actor/singer Brent Spiner and club/cabaret singer Maude I listened again walking,’ as the Maggart recording their CD ‘Dreamland,’ inspiration for a and again, I started most romantic dream-theme wedding. 9-piece band developing some plays on the stage, ideas.” musicians in black dinner jackets behind dimly lit music First, Paul established the era, the 1940s. “I stands.” imagined the style of the event to suit the time period, then the story impacted me Then comes the romantic atmosphere. with regard to the ‘dreamy’ interpretation.” “The room is aglow with candles, soft upBut Paul says that at this point, he did not lighting, and pools of delicious light on the work on cuisine. “This story seemed lighter dance floor,” Paul says. “There is very little than air, ethereal… and I wanted to wait to light other than that, so the room seems put all the pieces together before I did food.” sensual, intimate, dreamlike, and somewhat Paul then visualized the venue. “I saw this mysterious, a little edgy.” His tables have wedding reception in a place that is more or floor-length, pearl-colored satin linens, less like a ballroom, but smaller and really silver chargers, silver flatware and exquisite like a club.” crystal glassware. “There are hand-written seating cards with silver embossing, and full Next, he turned to the ‘dream,’ an integral glorious bowls of soft-hued roses.” part of the theme. “I used lighting, and some ‘secrets’ to make this reception very At this point, Paul delves into the Dreamland much like a dream. Guests arrive into the CD’s sense of intrigue. “Now, I have the room; it is very ethereal, very cool – yet couple play a little trick on their guests,” he warm.” He visualizes brides in cream satin explains. “Guests think they are here just simple sheath gowns, a la Carol Lombard, for a formal sit-down celebration. But after with small trains, dancing as if on a cloud, the first dance, the couple stops, says how for their first dance. Or, were the couple to grateful they are that guests attended, then have been men, his grooms would be in tell how they fell in love, how this has been like a dream.” Paul adds, “They announce their decision to marry, and to marry right now!” An officiant appears, and then, after the ceremony, waiters in black dinner jackets serve tall champagne flutes on silver trays.

Ohio goes Southern Cal Venue Location: The Palm House at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus OH

suspense - Paul chooses them all. But, he didn’t formulate his ideas immediately.

Finally, Paul crowns the theme with the creation of an exquisite Dreamland menu. “After the toast, dinner is served!” ●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 41

Theme Weddings 1st course: “Caviar dream” with saffron blinis and baby potatoes

Hawaiian Backyard Tropics

2nd course: Ambrosia salad with dates and figs 3rd course: “Love birds” - braised breast of duck and quail with pomegranate syrup, baby beets and seared sugar plums 4th course: Individual angel food cakes with Persian apricot orange glaze, and fragrant pistachio brittle Guests dance between courses. “The music is all forties; the perfume in the air is a combination of orange blossom and jasmine.” Then guests depart, with gifts, splits of champagne and champagne truffles. An ethereal, effervescent dreamcome-true!

Thinking About Yourselves

Do you wish to provide your guests with a delightful experience; a one-of-a-kind affair? Or do you wish most of all to express the spark of your relationship, magnified and brought to life within the theme of your celebration, for all to see and enjoy, to honor and support the both of you as you begin your new life together? These are just a few preliminary questions to answer as you begin considering your own theme wedding. And budgets can be large or small: there is no need to steer away from a theme-based ceremony if it’s near the top of your wish list, simply because you feel limited by finances. There are creative and affordable ways to design nearly anything you can envision – enlist the help of friends and family, ask for others to donate previously used items that you can refresh and re-use... modify components with the help of your wedding vendors in order to make the most of your wedding budget.

Following are a few more ideas to consider as you and your partner begin “Photographing a theme wedding is indulging in overall easier and a lot of fun. The details your exciting in a theme wedding are very important, preparations:

therefore giving us the opportunity to use our creative eye - we use different lenses Location: As Paul advocates, Where your to photograph every detail - and then begin with ceremony or simplicity and change the images (black / white, sepia, reception will think about color, cross-process or vivid color) in posttake place yourselves when production to enhance every shot and make is a natural planning your own every photo look and feel different.” foundation for wedding theme. your wedding In addition to Blendi Reynolds, Owner/ Creative Director theme. If choosing favorite of Sun-Dance Photography yours is to music, such as the be a Stowe Dreamland CD, you winter can also build on wedding, bring the snow indoors. Fake the idea of a favorite movie or TV show. –Or modify concepts you and your partner have snow, that is, falling gently from the ceiling during your first dance on a shining floor seen and liked in the movies, to suit your designed to appear like an ice-covered lake. own wishes. For instance, envision bold backdrop designs to polish the look and ‘set the stage’ for your reception. Base ideas Community: Perhaps at the heart of your relationship is a strong sense of family, or on the architecture of your future Victorian community, or a commitment to equal dreamhouse or that white picket fence rights for gays and lesbians nationwide. If you’re creating together... or the bridge at this is the spark that fuels your love, build the park where you shared your first kiss. on it to create a tone and flair for your ultimate commitment to one another. 42

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Theme Weddings Creating Your Own Theme Wedding Basic tips from event producer, Paul Bott, on successfully creating your theme wedding.

1. Totally be in love with your theme. 2. Do not compromise on making it happen once you have set a realistic budget. 3. Determine which of your friends & family can help you with it. Chances are, somebody close to you has the same “passion.” 4. Outline your day, then look for

somebody to hire to help make it happen. Planning can be stressful and you will want to be sure to be able to enjoy your own Wedding Day.

5. Seek a venue that will be absolutely perfect to host the wedding theme. 6. Some companies will “sponsor” a wedding in part, for example, if

Meaningful, emotionally-based theme celebrations are often those most fondly remembered. Favorite Era: Do you and your fiancee love the ’60? Invite guests to slip into bellbottoms, fringed vests, tie dyed T’s, and leather sandals. Wear flowers in your hair and make huge peace symbol cutouts the focus of your décor. Tone it down or tone it up as much as your quirky and wondrous relationship will allow – remember, this is Your Day. Ethnicity & Culture: There’s no need to be a Macalister, Macdonald, or Macintosh to wear Highland kilts and sporrans, feature bagpipes and Gaelic hymns, and walk down the aisle to Highland Wedding. If you are Scottish by blood or simply in the heart,

“My advice is to really decide how far you want to go with the theme and how much money you have to do it!”

your theme is Hollywood, maybe you can get a film organization to donate movie posters, or celebrity photos. Name your tables after Brad Pitt, or Marilyn Monroe, and use the photos as table identification. Or maybe your theme revolves around the beautiful culture of Mexico, and perhaps a local restaurant will donate one of the appetizers. Or if you have a Champagne wedding on New Year’s Eve, perhaps the champagne can be donated.

7. Be sure to thank everybody who helps you, and find ways to acknowledge them. 8. Carry the theme through. Send thank-you notes with an enclosed photo from the Wedding. paul bott www.paulbott.com (877) 722-7895 (323) 791-1013

rest assured that all options are open to you. And as far as adapting ethnic rituals to suit particular tastes, again don’t allow yourselves to stress over limitations. Many rituals –whether religious, historical, ethnic or otherwise- must be adapted for same-sex unions. As long as your choices are based in respectfulness and integrity, the sky is the only limit.

Given that some of these couples’ ceremonies occurred several years ago, it appears that the memories of a great theme wedding, including yours! will just continue on and on. Happily Ever After. Susan Hart Hellman is a freelance writer based in California. susan@susanharthellman.com

Judging from continued comments

received by the couples above, theme weddings are worth every moment you put into the planning. Carey and Michele’s guests comment on the good food; Chad and Maxwell’s talk about their “heartfelt ceremony.” Julie and Kate’s friend raves that theirs was the “coolest” wedding ever, and Michael and Harris hear what a “laid-back” celebration they had!

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 43


Photos provided courtesy of Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters

●● cont’d from p. 22

“Our service and staff are impeccable,” continues Rybicki. “So it’s kind of like being on a large-scale cruise. Our crew is young and energetic, they’ll dance with guests if necessary. It’s such a happy time and it puts people in a great mood to be out on the water. Guests will sit on the bow the whole evening just to take it all in... Between the staff, food and ever-changing landscape, it’s the perfect mix for the perfect party.”

It’s true, the time may be at hand to name Detroit as a major wedding and travel destination. Beyond the gritty reputation of the city, and the economic concerns in the area with the automotive industry, the truth about Detroit is that it’s a dynamic locale with flavor and a transforming vitality. In the past decade, downtown Detroit has seen substantial growth and renovation, the Final Four is headed to the city this year, there are two new stadiums and recently constructed hotels with high-end


restaurants and flashy casinos. Film industry players such as Motown Motion Pictures and Wonderstruck are building studios in the area and the city’s tax incentives tempt much in the way of new growth. As a couple, whether residents or not, Detroit certainly has its draw. And Infinity & Ovation Yacht Charters has its niche as well. GM Steve Rybicki says, “I think what we have to offer is appealing to gay and lesbian couples because we provide innovative, sexy packages. They’re different. The events are private. We’re the right fit for people who think outside the box.” He continues, “The last eight years or so, it seems our country has taken such a positive stand; it’s so much more prevalent for people to open up to the LGBT community. In fact, most of the vendors we work with in putting together wedding packages are gay-owned companies. I’m happy that Infinity & Ovation can also reach out to the community and make all couples feel one step closer to being treated equally.”

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Infinity and Ovation Yacht Charters 400 Maple Park Blvd - Ste 404 St. Clair Shores, MI 48081 Phone: 586.778.7030 www.infinityandovation.com

Bookings Available:

May-October, temp/s ranging from 70° – 90° Season soon to be extended through January for holiday events

Infinity & Ovation gets active within the LGBT community! Recent donation of full cruise to the Affirmations Live Auction 2009. www.GoAffirmations.org

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 45

On November 27, 1978 San Franciscans witnessed two historic events. One, a tragedy, was the assassination of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to hold a major political position. The second event was one that brought some sense of peace to many that day, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’s rendition of Mendelssohn’s hymn, “Thou, Lord, Our Refuge” sung at San Francisco’s City Hall in honor of Milk and Mayor George Moscone who was also killed in the attack. This was the firstever performance for that initial group of 115 San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus singers, which recently celebrated 30 years of performances. According to San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) Executive Director Teddy Witherington, a former lawyer in his native London, England, since SFGMC’S inception 30 years ago, over 2,000 men have sung with the group. The Chorus in its entirety and its smaller ensembles, including the Lollipop Guild, the Chamber Singers, and Men About Town, have performed at thousands of concerts and private functions including weddings, commitment ceremonies, and civil

tradition, in June 1979 the group held the First Annual Gay Pride Concert. In 2000 the group was once again the innovator when Australian-born Dr. Kathleen McGuire was appointed the Chorus’ first female Artistic Director and Conductor of The Chorus. With a Doctor of Music Arts degree from the University of Colorado and a Masters of Music from England’s University of Surrey, she had appeared in major concert halls in England, Australia, and America. Concerning the advent of Kathleen joining the group, Teddy Witherington, himself the first-ever Executive Director of the San Francisco Pride Committee, recalls, “The appointment of a female Artistic Director in 2000 was a defining moment in the growth of the chorus, exploding the myth that a gay men’s chorus had to be led by a man.” In 1981, just after receiving the Key to the City from San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, the group embarked on its first National Tour with stops in Dallas, Minneapolis, Lincoln, Detroit, Boston, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Washington

Suite “NakedMan,” portraying stories of Chorus members, and in general, living life as a gay man, was first performed in 1996. In 1997 the group first presented its high-energy extravaganza, “ExtrABBAganza,” featuring the music of the Swedish pop group, ABBA. Another event that has also become an annual institution was the first “Home for the Holidays” staged in December 1990. In addition to special performances, many honorary guests have joined SFGMC over the past 30 years including Sir Ian McKellen, Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, Nell Carter, Megan Mullally, Sharon Gless, and Cris Williamson. The Chorus has been the subject of movies, television programs, and media features including a 1988 Foreign Television special featuring the Chorus and broadcast to over six million Europeans; recognition on its tenth anniversary, both in a New York Times’ front-page feature and as the subject of special segments on numerous television stations; and being the

SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS thirty years of firsts, thirty years of song

by Susan Hart Hellman

contributing writer

SFGMC Executive Director, Teddy Witherington

subject of a screenplay written by a UCLA film student.

unions. Among the most prominent of those weddings was the February 2004 marriage of Rosie O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter at San Francisco City Hall.

D.C.’s Kennedy Center, and the Seattle Opera House. Teddy says “The 1981 national tour was fun, inspirational, and it led to the formation of many new gay choruses around the country.”

The SFGMC was founded by Jon Reed Sims, who had also founded the San Francisco Lesbian/ Gay Freedom Band, and the first official concert was held on December 20, 1978. Since that time, highlights for the innovative group have included a lot of other “firsts,” beginning with that initial 1978 performance, which featured an original composition by a gay chorus, “I Understood” by SFGMC member Tad Dunlap who incorporated the words of Harvey Milk.

In 1981, the Chorus entered into the recording field with its first vinyl record, “The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus Tours America 1981.” In 1991, the SFGMC released its first compact disc, “How Fair This Place,” and that same year, a compact disc was issued to commemorate the group’s original 1981 vinyl recording.

Teddy Witherington comments on the future of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. “Our repertoire will reflect our desire to reach out to new and diverse communities and it is our hope that we take our message of acceptance of differences to places at home and abroad that need it.” He adds, “The chorus is a mirror for the community it serves. As the face of the community changes, so does that of the chorus.”

Through the 30 years of travel and performances across America and as far away as Sydney, Australia for the 2002 Gay Games, and at the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) of Choruses Festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, there have been many special programs as well. The Song

In serving as that mirror, the Chorus began its 30-year anniversary with a Harvey Milk/George Moscone Memorial Concert on November 28, 2008 with the group again singing “Thou, Lord, Our Refuge,” as it did on the night of the assassinations 30 years before.

In 1982 the SFGMC was joined by a dozen other LGBT choruses in the first West Coast Choral Festival, and in what has become an annual


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Current members of The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus outside San Francisco City Hall. Image provided by: Teddy Witherington

To commemorate the SFGMC’s beginning in December 1978, the 215 current members chose December 1, World AIDS Day, for their celebratory concert, which featured an introduction by actress Piper Laurie. That concert also marked the world premiere of “New World Waking – Songs On The Road To Peace, inspired by John Lennon’s Piano.”

Teddy Witherington may be contacted for further information on private events and concerts at 415.865.3650.

Susan Hart Hellman is a freelance writer based in California. susan@susanharthellman.com

Further commenting on SFGMC’s next 30 years, Teddy says, “The chorus exists to spread love and understanding.” Toward that goal for its next three decades, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus will continue to “spread love” and support those who are sharing their love, by continuing to perform at weddings, commitment ceremonies, and civil unions.

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 47

Dedication to Our Children by Pat MacAodha

contributing writer Children have long participated in wedding ceremonies as ring bearers, flower girls, etc. – positions of service to brides and grooms on their Special Day. What if we make something more of our children on that special day? Instead of just presenting them in cute (and often itchy) garb as window dressing for a wedding, holy union, or handfasting, children of queer couples tying the knot can be included in something more lasting and important. A segment of the nuptial ceremony can include commitment of the adults to the children: a ritual acknowledgement of the full family-to-be.

Some couples have done this but, even in the hetero- culture at large, children are rarely a focus of the wedding. Based, as the marriage is, on the ritual recognition of a couple joining for the legitimization of children born to the union, as well as an alliance between families, there is really no room in the traditional rite to acknowledge an existing child’s presence.

How many times have lesbian mothers and gay dads endured jealousy between their children and a new lover, a painful “choose-between-us” element threatening to damage or destroy the whole relationship? Children need to depend on their parents’ commitment to raise and support them, emotionally as well as financially. They need to know the new spouse will be an addition to their lives, not competition for a birth parent’s love.

How healing and inspirational it might be to make a statement about the child’s continuing importance in the new family, publicly during the wedding, by adding a rite in which the child’s value and place is newly recognized and ritually blessed.


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In today’s world few first marriages last beyond five years, and children born during this period often end up with two or more additional step-parents. In the process of preparing for the adults’ union, the children of one or both newlyweds have already suffered the loss of at least one parent, and what should be a celebratory occasion of family blessing often takes place with the children of a previous relationship being somewhat ignored. Happily, there are many ways blessing the child’s part in the relationship can be included in the wedding, from a simple statement of inclusion or commitment, to a candlelighting ceremony added to that symbolizing unity of the couple. The children can be present, or not: the important element is that both individuals state their commitment to children one or both have brought into the world.

I promise, in the name of all I hold sacred, to do my best to be a good parent to you. I promise to listen when you need to be heard, to comfort you in times of sorrow, and to celebrate with you in times of joy...

Preparing for a child’s inclusion in the wedding can provide opportunities for the adults and children to bond over what the child’s piece will be. If the child is still an infant or toddler, a simple presentation and blessing may be enough, accompanied by an item symbolizing the event (A little silver cup, engraveable, is one possibility which will be a keepsake for the child in later years.) Older children can participate in more direct ways. The nuptial candle, integral to so many

Photo by Cindy Sproul

ceremonies, may allow for additional lighting from candles brought forward by the children of the immediate family, or the children can light their own candles from the nuptial candle, and place them in nearby holders. The holders, suitably engraved, later can be presented to the children as keepsakes. A child acting as ring bearer might also put the rings on the couple’s hands during that part of the wedding ceremony, expanding his/her status in the rite. Couples using communion liturgy

can include children, according to the practices of their beliefs (UFMCC, for example, welcomes children to the communion table as part of its regular ceremony, and some Protestant denominations include children or young teens.) Another method of acknowledging the interconnection of the family members is the braiding of multi-colored ribbons. The couple, along with the children, can have their hands symbolically joined by a rope of braided

colors as led by the ceremony officiant: a simple yet meaningful show that the individuals are this day forever blended into one new family. Later, the ribbons can be arranged in a special place on a personal altar or family corner at home. Statements of commitment and welcome can be worked out together by parents and youngsters, providing the adults an opportunity to re-state love and loyalty to their children, as well as offering the children a chance to say what they ●● cont’d

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 49

Dedication to Our Children In addition to ballroom dancing, folk or ethnic dances indigenous to either partner can naturally be included. Group line dances, like the Macarena, are also fun and fairly easy, yet just as symbolic. The parent/child ritual, the ‘Saying of Promises,’ can be performed at any time during the celebration, either at the ceremony itself or during the reception. It’s always best to resist forcing a child to participate, but by inviting her/ his input on what promises will be made, the rite becomes that much more meaningful and sincere. Encourage a supportive person outside the immediate family to help the child who wants to write her/his promises or statement of welcome. There should be no pressure on

Melissa & Amanda, wed Oct. 27, 2007 in Tennessee, present a ring and special vow to daughter Sarah.

need to about the new family configuration. Since most gay and lesbian households have already been in existence before a commitment ceremony is performed, both parents and children have had opportunities to think about and observe, firsthand, what they need from each other. Kerry Turner and Katy Coomer plan to include Kerry’s biological sons, ages three and nine, in their upcoming June 2009 wedding. “Katy wants to write a few lines to say to them,” Kerry writes, “she wants it to be something along the lines of how she promises to love and take care of them no matter what, that they are what makes our family whole and they will always be first.” Kerry and Katy also plan to have an inclusive candle-lighting ceremony. “We want them to feel like it is OUR wedding as a whole, not just Katy’s and mine,” and “...of course, we will each dance with them at the reception!” Dancing is a meaningful method of bonding parents and children at the wedding celebration.


the child, only encouragement and a sense of appreciation for her/his participation in the ritual. An example of what the new parent might wish to say: “I promise, in the name of all I hold sacred, to do my best to be a good parent to you. I promise to listen when you need to be heard, to comfort you in times of sorrow, and to celebrate with you in times of joy. “I promise to love you as a parent loves a child, to help guide your steps as you grow to adulthood, to never mistreat you nor betray your trust. You

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were not born a child of my body, but today you are reborn as a child of my heart.” The child’s words should come from her/his own manner of speech. Don’t put adult words in the child’s mouth. Let her/him decide what’s important to say on this special occasion. Symbols of commitment might include a number of items: rings are possible, or other jewelry. A piece of clothing, like a scarf or tie, possibly embroidered or otherwise marked with the child’s name and date of the ceremony might be appropriate, as well as culturally significant symbols, if the child is old enough to appreciate them. A small flag, with a representation of the family, or hand-drawn new ‘family crest’ might be ideally suitable for many children, boys and girls alike. Whatever choices are made, the care and respect that is put forth in finding a place for your child or children in your marriage celebration will have a lasting impact. Well into the months and years ahead, your children will carry that message within, knowing that you and your partner believed utterly in the importance of including them in your future together. They will be reassured that yes, there is a unique and special place for them too, within the ongoing circle of the family. Patricia L. MacAodha is a freelance writer based in Oregon. patmac31@juno.com

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 51

Wedding Astrology:

AA Match Match Made Made with with Heaven Heaven

Jeff Harman

contributing writer Despite the gloomy economic forecast, love lives on, and this springtime season thousands of newly engaged gay & lesbian couples will begin to plan their weddings. Modern day “Wise Men” (and women) otherwise known as astrologers are helping some of them to slow down and select auspicious dates and times for their ceremonies. This service is called Electional Astrology--the art of timing an important event. Astrologers warn that the moment of pronouncement after the vows cements the energy for the entire marriage, whether for good or ill. “I now pronounce you . . .” creates the chart for the marriage, which can be read out into the future. Electional Astrology has been around for over two thousand years, and is common in India, where having a family astrologer is like having a family doctor. Those in the know in Europe, the Middle East, and America have also used astrologers to schedule weddings, coronations,

presidential swearing-in ceremonies, medical treatments, and building construction. George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol building at an auspicious astrological time. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as governor of California in the middle of the night in order to take advantage of good astrological conditions. Shah Jahan, the emperor who commissioned the Taj Mahal, waited five years for a good wedding date. But modern couples don’t have to be that patient. Electional astrologers work with all kinds of limitations. Some clients allow months in which to search for the best energy the universe has to offer, while others just want to choose from the best Saturday afternoon in June. An astrologer will offer up a short list of possible dates, and then it is up to the couple to determine what compromises they are willing to make and select the date that strengthens energies they consider most important. Since humans can’t go up in space and move the planets around, there is rarely an absolutely perfect marriage chart. The astrologer will also want to look at the birth data for each person. Great wedding dates are not one-size-fits-all. Finally, the astrologer needs to know the location of the ceremony. Celebrity weddings offer a chance to examine the validity of this practice, but beware, the following analyses are limited, as only the dates--not times were made public: Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman on March 12, 1969 in London, when the Moon was in a soft sextile to the Sun, offering a sweet friendship kind of energy. Later, he married Heather Mills on June 11, 2002 in Glasgow, with Moon conjunct Mars, signaling lots of conflict. Bill and Melinda Gates enjoyed a very auspicious wedding on the Hawaiian island of Lanai on January 1, 1994. Planetary positions that were in force included: Moon trine Venus = an emotionally blissful marriage; Moon trine Mars = getting along


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well; Moon trine Jupiter = abundance of kindness and money; Moon trine Sun = smooth, flowing energy; Venus sextile Jupiter = wealth and generosity. Nicole Brown and O.J. Simpson were married February 2, 1985. Venus was conjunct Mars, indicating intense passion, but Mars and Venus were squaring Neptune, meaning deception and drugs would enter the marriage. Before tying the knot, gay & lesbian couples can opt for a compatibility reading to see how they relate on all levels, including spiritual, sexual, financial, emotional, and intellectual. They can ask what is called a Horary question of an astrologer, such as, “Is it in our best interest to get married?” An Astro-cartography reading maps a person’s energy geographically, allowing a couple to see the planetary energies affecting locations--useful when choosing where to go on a honeymoon, not to mention where to live happily ever after. Couples may also consult an astrologer for a good day to move in together, to buy or lease a house, or to begin construction. A vedic astrologer or jyotisha can prescribe gems for the couple who wish to create custom wedding rings that are powerful as well as beautiful. Gems are chosen based on a person’s strong and weak planets. Diamonds are not ideal for everyone, but correctly prescribed natural gems will balance the energies of the wearer. For couples planning to have children, astrologers can determine good days for conceiving a child of a desired gender, and find an ideal birth

window for a baby should the birthmother require a scheduled C-section. They can help with adoption and surrogacy plans as well. Working with an astrologer can help the marriage to go with the flow, so to speak. The couple should insist on someone with experience doing Electional Astrology. And just for fun, if one member of the couple was previously divorced, he or she can challenge the astrologer by giving the date, time, and location of the first ceremony. If the astrologer is any good, goose bumps will be the couple’s litmus test, as they listen to an accurate description of why the other relationship failed... and how they can now proceed to create a most auspicious union together for a joyous and lasting future. Jeff Harman is a full-service business and personal astrologer with clients worldwide. Besides scheduling numerous weddings for clients, he has first-hand experience using these techniques with his wife and son. He is second generation in the art-- practicing Vedic, Traditional, Kabbalistic, and Astro-location astrology. He is an Electional and Horary Astrologer. Jeff is a member of the American Federation of Astrologers, the Council of Vedic Astrologers, and the National Council for Geocosmic Research. Jeff has spoken for the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Tucson and Phoenix, and for the Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants. He practices in Beverly Hills, CA and Tucson, AZ, and is available in person, by phone, or by Skype. jeff@jeffharman.com www.jeffharman.com (310) 385-8459 (520) 743-1054

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 53

Seasonal Spotlight

●● cont’d from p.15

NL: There is one in particular from the Life’s Shadows™ gay/lesbian collection, which can be an adoption or pregnancy announcement. Two women are pushing a carriage, one is pregnant and the other is holding the shopping bags. It’s classy and sophisticated. RWN: Have you met with much resistance in terms of wholesaling the LGBT designs? NL: It’s been an interesting process since we’ve released the cards... We have had resistance from some retailers who are not receptive of the line… it varies in different demographic areas within the country. Soon we will be launching an online shop via our website, available to the public where orders can be placed directly through Bubbles n’ bows. RWN: I’m curious, where do you find your

inspiration? NL: I sometimes refer to various magazines such as, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Out. What inspires me is seeing how people live within different settings and lifestyles. I love keeping up on the latest fashion trends. As a family-operated business, we bounce ideas off of one another at our roundtable discussions (always with a cup or two of tea). RWN: And two LOUIE Awards in just five years?! That is quite an achievement – Congratulations!

see the LOUIE Award board and think to myself, “One day, if we could be up there, that would be such a great achievement.” We since have been nominated as finalists for four LOUIE Awards (the Oscars of the greeting card and stationery industry recognizing creative excellence) and two of which we are the proud recipients of. RWN: Any other exciting updates on the horizon for Bubbles n’ bows? NL: We have plans to add more single counter greeting cards, imprintables, and matching gift accessories... and our studio has Gone Green! Consumers will be happy to know select collections of our cards are manufactured by a certified green printer, using FSC certified recycled stock while employing the technology of eco-friendly soy-based inks. Bubbles n’ bows is a member of The Greeting Card Association in addition to the Central Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Throughout the years, a portion of the proceeds of our products have been donated to various fundraisers and charities such as: St. Catharine’s breaking the cycle of poverty for women, Riverview Medical Center Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness, Muscular Dystrophy, (EB) Epidermolysis and The Valerie Fund. RWN: Thank you, Nicole. All the best with your continued successes!

NL: Yes. I remember each time I attended The National Stationery Show in New York. I would


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All Rainbow Wedding Network readers will receive a promotional discount of 10% off their purchase from March thru and including May, 2009. Bubbles n’ bows encourages readers to sign up and receive the studio’s newsletter, keeping them updated on new product availability. Promo Code: RWN3409 Bubbles n’ bows PO Box 284 Holmdel, NJ 07733 Tel: (732) 264-2228 Web: www.bubblesnbows.com

Vol. 4 Issue 1 Spring 2009 55


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