“Any songs you want to request for our cocktail hour?” My fiancée asked. “The genre is ’40-60s singers, like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.”
“Come On-A My House?”
“What? Who’s that by?”
“Well, that’s the last time I ask for your input.”
“What? Do you know me at all??”
When I signed up for this wedding shindig, no one told me it would literally involve blood, sweat, and tears, as well as all my beer money. Or that it would slowly take over my entire life. Note that I’m writing a column on wedding planning and not sports news. Et tu, Andy?
After multiple trips up and down the basement stairs with boxes of fabric and paper flower bouquets, mason jars converted to candles, and painted books, arguments over whose third cousin once removed was more important to invite and which songs should be included on the DJ’s “do not play” list, I feel I’ve learned a few lessons that might be beneficial for those who also feel the urge to say “I do.”
Find Someone You Want to Spend the Rest of Your Life With
You’re on your own for this one, or at the very least – that’s another column, another day. It was kind of a shot-in-the-dark for me – thanks, PlentyofFish.com! Success story!
Lesson one: Online date and ask out the girl who doesn’t ducklip pose in the bathroom mirror.
Take a Long Engagement
As far as I can tell, there’s really no reason for us gays to have a shotgun wedding. Despite all of our efforts, it’s pretty hard for us to have an “oopsie” that would necessitate a trip to the Lil’ White Chapel. So, I would encourage you to take your sweet time as you plan your big day, unless, of course, you happen to trip and fall on a turkey baster. Or men, you happen to trip and fall on a surrogate. Oh, the horror!
A long engagement gives you time to scope out the best venues, have multiple tastings (hey, they’re free!), save money, and dilute the wedding planning stress over time.
Lesson two: Step away from the U-Haul.
Break the News
I took it as a good sign when my future father-in-law gave me proposal advice, which included taking a romantic walk and playing her favorite song in the background. I took one of his two suggestions and proposed in the dog park, because, stereotype. This all being said, different family members will react to your news in different ways. For our community, family reactions can be one of the major sources of stress. When you announce your engagement, it could be met with excitement, or it may be the first time your parents have to acknowledge (to themselves and to their friends) that you aren’t just living with your “best friend” or “roommate” waiting for the right guy/gal to come along! Give people the benefit of the doubt – you may be surprised at who comes out in support when you announce your impending nuptials. And everyone else? More beer for me.
Lesson three: Do not let your family find out via Facebook. Though it isn’t official until you announce it on Facebook and change your relationship status.
Choose a Venue
In terms of practical steps, choosing your venue is the first concrete decision that needs to be made. The venue not only provides the atmosphere on your wedding day, but also will likely set your wedding date, based on availability. Simultaneously working on a rough draft of your guest count is important. As much as I would have liked, there was no way our exceptionally large families were going to fit in a brewery.
Visit more than one location – I was dragged along went cheerfully to five. The good news is, not only are the Cities incredibly gay-friendly, but they are home to some of the most diverse wedding venue options, from refurbished warehouses, garden conservatories, historical theaters, to lakeside pavilions. Being the nerds that we are, we jointly agreed to be married among the books of the James J. Hill Reference Library in downtown St. Paul.
Lesson four: Let your fiancée choose something unique to her personality and taste, and your budget.
Nothing brings you crashing down to earth from the engagement cloud faster than being told how many acts are involved in the wedding circus. My illusions of putting on my monkey suit and simply saying “I do” were shattered as I was informed that we needed to decide upon a photographer, caterer, make-up artist, hair stylist, wedding planner, photo booth, florist, DJ, musician(s), officiant, seamstress/tailor, tarot card reader, fire-breather. Like the guy in the alley tells you, pretty much everything is available for the right price.
I mistakenly asked my fiancée if a photo booth was really necessary, and she politely pointed out my mistake in that tone of voice only dogs can hear.
Lesson five: To prevent headaches, defer to your fiancée for the previously listed items.
The good news is, usually your photographer throws these in for free when you book her for your wedding. The bad news is, all that time you thought you had to get skinny for the wedding has now been cut drastically short. My recommendation? Tapeworm.
Lesson six: Hire a photographer well-versed in Photoshop.
Since my fiancée has been a bridesmaid in at least twelve weddings, I was left scrambling for more brothers. Mom and Dad, why weren’t you thinking ahead? In all seriousness, asking people to be in your bridal party is a great way to honor close friends and family members, and to make sure there’s always someone there to hold your dress up when you’re peeing. [Spoiler alert!] Or hold my beer when I’m rocking our choreographed dance.
Lesson seven: Have more brothers.
Open an Excel spreadsheet and a large bottle of Jack. Prepare to barter. I traded two cousins for a college professor. She poured me more Jack and invited whomever she wanted.
Lesson eight: Stay sober.
Save the Dates
Since when do we invite people twice? No one is going to be able to convince me that a Save the Date isn’t the same as an invite. But guess what? We still sent them out and my mug is now hanging on refrigerators across the country.
Lesson nine: Learn that Save the Dates are not invites.
I’m sure you’re beginning to sense a trend in the above lessons, namely, “happy wife, happy life.” However, my monkey suit was going to be my monkey suit. In the previously approved color scheme, of course. Worried I was going to be the lesbian in the awkwardly fitting suit, I was fitted, and at least not as awkward as the straight male taking my measurements. Turns out I need more tapeworm.
Lesson ten: Put your foot down and use the Executive Veto. Wisely.
“Quit complaining. Helping me cut these isn’t going to kill you.” Cue blood splatter. Funny how much deeper card stock cuts than regular paper. That ought to scare the next person using the die cutter at the paper outlet. Quick relationship evaluation when your fiancée is seemingly more worried about the four dollars of blood-stained card stock than your own impending death by finger hemorrhage. The price of DIY is steep, my friends. Order your damn invites on the internet. Or get one of the twelve *%@!ing bridesmaids over here.
Lesson eleven: Carry Band-Aids. It’s a jungle out there.
I know this list isn’t comprehensive. There are always more lessons and probably more hoops, but the most important lesson to remember is that you have the freedom to make your wedding your own. The beautiful thing about gay weddings is that they aren’t traditional. (Or so they keep telling us.) We have the freedom to break traditions, play with traditions, and create new traditions that represent who we are as couples. While magazines, friends, and Pinterest are good resources, there is nothing you have to do. You don’t have to have a bride and groom. You don’t have to have a bridal party. You don’t even have to have guests.
And while I may have painted my wife-to-be as a bridezilla-in-present (tongue-in-cheek, mind you), the truth is, I’ll happily jump through hoops knowing that in two short months the stress will be worth it, the beer money well spent, and we’ll have made a tradition all our own. And I end up with a hot wife.