The moment the federal court decision allowed same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, Michael, my partner of 17 years, proposed. We had talked about eloping in Elkton, Md., in the past, but decided to be wed only when the state where we lived would recognize our marriage. As such, on May 20, 2014, we were engaged.
Mike and I then looked at the calendar and decided to get married on June 14. We wanted to make it legal at first opportunity, and that date was best for our family members, the rabbi who would officiate and our guests — 30 people in all.
Planning a wedding in three weeks requires some quick decisions, which also means some sacrifices and flexibility. Because we kept our plans modest, we had few critical decisions to make. Our wedding was not going to be a big, lavish black-tie affair at a fancy hotel. We were not planning a reception with an open bar, seven-piece band and seating for 200. We love to attend weddings like those, but we’re much more low-key when it comes to celebrating our love.
For the dress code, Mike and I decided to get married in suits, not tuxedos. This was not a $10,000 wedding that required black tie, but a casually elegant affair that required a suit for the grooms and appropriate attire for the guests. We bought new matching French cuff shirts, and our close friend Dan, in the United Kingdom, sent us penguin and goat cufflinks for the shirts as wedding gifts. (He was with us in spirit, if not in person,) On my mother’s sage advice, I bought a snazzy bowtie “to have a special look on a special day.”
We did not need music and dancing; the only music we played was k.d. lang’s “Simple” to signal the start of the ceremony. We opted not to walk down an aisle, as we had no need to have a traditional procession.
And this is what is so great about same-sex weddings: You can tailor them to suit your needs. “Queering” the traditional ceremony and rituals is not disrespectful. Rather, we planned to do what felt right for us and what would make our guests comfortable. For most of them, this would be their first same-sex wedding.
We didn’t have time for engagement cards or engraved invitations. But thanks to www.postmark.com, it cost us $12 for 50 evites.
Because we wanted an intimate ceremony, we chose not to book a rental hall, hotel or synagogue, but held the wedding in our apartment. The small space also allowed us to incorporate our guests easily, and having them take part in the ceremony was important to us. We asked two friends who were photographers to take photos of the ceremony and the guests. We did not need to hire a photographer or videographer; we preferred candid photos that captured the moment.
While I do subscribe to the advice that it is unwise to ask friends or family members for favors to save money, the exception to the rule is that if your friends or relatives actually are photographers, caterers or calligraphers who would be happy to help, you do not necessarily have to hire professionals. Yes, there is the risk of damaging a relationship, but given the small scale of our ceremony, asking and incorporating these talented individuals to provide their services made our day special.
Although we considered serving a catered buffet, we opted to have a price-fix, three-course dinner with wine after the ceremony in a private room at a favorite nearby restaurant. My sister-in-law, who does calligraphy, agreed to make name cards for the tables.
We decided against having a wedding cake, because it was unnecessary for us. Dare I suggest, in a moment of romantic sappiness, that getting married made our life sweet enough?
Because our dinner was in a private, candlelit room at a restaurant, we did not need to get centerpieces or have flowers on every table. We did not need to hire a florist, but we did splurge on getting boutonnières with irises, our favorite flower, for us grooms, as well as my twin, who was my best man, and our friend Jennifer, who was Mike’s best person. We ordered an additional bouquet of irises for a vase at our ceremony to provide a splash of color, and a guest of ours unexpectedly sent a celebratory arrangement of flowers, which brightened up the room.
These personal touches made our wedding all the more meaningful to us. It was a fabulous celebration, with a champagne toast in lieu of a cocktail hour.
With a little thought and some careful planning, you can pull together a quick and reasonably priced wedding. Our efforts allowed us to truly enjoy the day with our friends and family. We are still smiling.