Personal Stories Wedding

Queerly Beloved: Choosing Your Guest List for a Gay Wedding

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!

I grew up in a social system where church was center of everything. I attended innumerable wedding showers, ceremonies, and receptions for people at our Baptist church, and I always assumed I would get married by my pastor with hundreds of people in attendance.

Then I fell in love with a woman and agreed to marry her.

The mental image I had of my wedding had to shift dramatically. In the years that we were dating, I had thought about this in the abstract and assumed I was prepared. But when the engagement was official and wedding planning began, I was hit by a wave of grief that surprised me in its intensity. I couldn’t assume universal goodwill toward my marriage. I no longer trusted that the people who raised me and supported me for 30 years would want to celebrate one of the most significant moments of my life.

For me, one of the most stressful parts of this was that so much hinged on assumptions. I was lucky enough, I suppose, not to experience anyone explicitly cutting off our relationship when I came out. What I experienced instead was radio silence. People who used to be intimately involved in my life and relationships suddenly had nothing to say. In many cases, I had no idea how they would respond if I invited them to my wedding.

And that was the thing my anxious brain hated the most. There were a couple people who I knew would say no, and they did. That didn’t really bother me, because it was clearcut and I could prepare my heart for the disappointment. But the people whose decisions I wasn’t sure about? I imagined them having heartfelt conversations around the dinner table about whether attending my wedding would be a sin or not. About whether showing up at my wedding would be giving tacit approval of the “homosexual lifestyle” and how that would be perceived by others. It made me feel sick.

In the end, it was my bridesmaid Michal Ann who made everything very clear. “You’re an amazing person,” she said over the phone. “Anyone who doesn’t appreciate you for exactly who you are doesn’t deserve to come to your wedding. And it’s their loss.”

In addition to showing off exactly why I chose her to stand beside me on my wedding day, she helped me to reframe this decision. I’m the same person I’ve always been – silly and passionate and kind. If people no longer want to be close to me because I’m going to marry a woman, that is their loss! I don’t need to waste my emotions on wondering whether someone will want to be there on one of the biggest days of my life. I want to prioritize people who I know want to be there on one of the biggest days of my life.

We’ve chosen a venue with a max capacity of 50 guests. That necessity helps to justify why there will be fewer people at my wedding than I imagined when growing up. But I’ve come to appreciate how lucky I am that I know each of those 50 people loves me deeply and completely, just as I am. Those are the people I want to celebrate with.

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