Welcome to Queerly Beloved, a series of personal essays about my journey as an LGBTQ+ person planning for my wedding in June 2023. Through this series, I’ll be sharing my thoughts, experiences, and advice as I navigate the joys and challenges of planning a wedding. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help make weddings for queer couples a little bit easier and a lot more fun. So whether you’re getting ready to tie the knot, have already taken the plunge, or just want to join me on my journey for a bit, I invite you to come along for the ride!
Why Get Married?
I’ve always been a romantic. One of my Halloween costumes when I was a kid was a bride. Not Frankenstein’s bride or something seasonally appropriate; just a bride with a white dress and a veil. I wore that costume as a nightgown until I finally outgrew it, physically if not emotionally.
I know marriage isn’t for everyone, but I grew up with couples whose marriages inspired me to look for something similar. My maternal grandparents in particular have the sort of love, loyalty, and care that I’ve always hoped to find for myself. So when I met Rachel, it was obvious that we would get married!
When I met Rachel, she was a year out from separating from her first wife. Although they remained amicable (and this was a huge green flag to me), she was understandably Done with romance. One of my first memories with her is watching season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her jeering at Spike for being so needy. “Oh no,” I thought. “I think he’s romantic!”
During our year as friends, Rachel began to date again and I came to terms with being queer. We individually flirted with the idea of polyamory, to the point that I took my shot by asking her out while she was actively dating someone else. She turned me down, which was an indication that she didn’t actually want an open relationship. Deep down, we are U-Haul lesbians who just want to hide in the safe harbour of our love!! What? I did start this essay by admitting I’m romantic.
A few months after we started dating, we had an open conversation about what we wanted long term. As a counsellor and as an anxious person, I’m a big believer in talking honestly about your relationship expectations sooner rather than later. “Getting married isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it is something I am interested in,” I said. Rachel thought for a minute, then said, “Getting married isn’t something I’m interested in, but it’s not a deal breaker.”
That’s where we were for over a year, though we also moved in together and opened a shared bank account. I felt more settled with the idea that commitment doesn’t require legalizing the relationship with an expensive party. Rachel healed from her previous relationship and admitted that she is just as much a romantic as I am, if not more. I learned of this change when one day she turned to me and said, out of the blue, “I’m going to marry you someday.” I’m not sure exactly what my response was, but it probably entailed me physically leaping on her and demanding, “Are you serious!?”
Okay, so I still really wanted to get married.
Over time, it became accepted that we were on the Marriage Path, but it wasn’t until we were engaged that we attended couple’s counselling and identified why we wanted to get married. For both of us, the legal and formal aspects weren’t important. Our relationship was just as valid whether we were partners or wives. It’s the symbolism of marriage that made a wedding desirable.
I won’t speak for Rachel, but for me, there is something uniquely special about gathering friends and family together at a wedding to say, “This relationship is special. This person is special, and what we’re building together deserves celebration. It’s also going to require flexibility and hard work, so we’re asking you to be our community of support, both individually and as a couple.”
Putting on fancy outfits and hiring a caterer doesn’t fundamentally change our relationship. But it does change the feel of it. Ritual adds weight to a thing, and the ritual of a wedding gives our relationship solidity. It’s not necessary, but it’s beautiful.
As of this posting, we are five months away from our wedding. I would love Rachel the same even if we never got married, but I’m excited to layer our relationship with the symbols of marriage and the label of wife.