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!
When Rachel and I created Roar Cat Reads, we identified six core values that we wanted to inform the experience. Those values have proved to be very useful in keeping ourselves focused on what truly matters, and we put them to use in planning our wedding.
This felt especially important as a way to resist the siren call of the wedding industrial complex. Because I am the event planner and dreamer of our partnership, I was the one with wedding Pinterest boards and a slew of wedding podcasts queued up. This was very useful in many ways, but it was also easy for me to start thinking, “We have to do this, because everyone talks about it like a done deal.” Luckily, Rachel has mostly stayed out of these spaces, so when I start to spiral, she will suggest a walk through Stanley Park where we talk and re-center ourselves in our values. The four values we keep coming back to are Integrity, Simplicity, Equality, and Community.
In the wedding context, integrity meant staying true to ourselves. There are a lot of assumptions about what is required for a party to be a wedding, and I found it difficult sometimes to find that balance between something that is meaningful for our relationship while still feeling recognizably like a wedding (which was important to me). Here are some examples of things we changed to fit our preferences and relationships:
- No dancing! Neither Rachel nor I like to dance beyond a chaotic de-stressing living room flail. Ironically, this was one of the easiest things we decided to throw out, but one of the most entrenched assumptions we’ve run into when talking to people about our wedding.
- Board game reception! In place of dancing, we’re gaming. One of Rachel’s bridesmaids told us to “plan a party you would want to go to,” and from there it was obvious that we needed to include board games in our reception.
- No giving away! I’ve never been a fan of fathers giving away daughters during the ceremony, but I do think it’s nice when families walk their kid down the aisle. However, that felt weirdly performative for us, since both of our parents live in separate countries and anyway, we’ve lived together for nearly three years. We’re going to walk down the aisle together, instead, to symbolize that getting married is just one step along a path we’re already on.
- Afternoon tea! Rachel and I love an afternoon tea. It’s one of our favorite things to do while traveling, and we’ve been slowly but surely building up the accoutremonts to host afternoon teas at home. So when we found out we could hire an afternoon tea caterer, we knew that reflected who we are and what we love.
I love planning, but that love does not extend to decorating. Thinking about how to decorate the space was literally the thing that caused me the most stress. Wedding colors? Flowers? Bunting? No thank you! Instead of decorations, it was important for us to find a venue that had enough character that we could get away with minimal decor.
I think simplicity also meant having a “good enough” mentality throughout the planning process. This was especially relevant in choosing our wedding outfits. We were both ambivalent about what we wanted, which is SO not allowed in the wedding world. There is so much pressure to have a magical moment with your clothing. Neither of us had that, but we did have a “that’s good enough” moment, which truly was good enough!
What simplicity did NOT mean for us was saving money to the point of not enjoying the party. We splurged when we wanted to, like when we decided to go with an afternoon tea meal. It also applied to hair and makeup; I figured I could just handle that with a good enough mentality, but my bridespeople said, “Would it feel fun to take advantage of the opportunity to be made up by someone else?” And you know what, I think it would!
We have some friends who are vegetarians and/or gluten free, and it was important to us to find food that would be appealing to everyone. More importantly, we didn’t want gf or veggie options to feel othering. Afternoon tea for the win! Because it’s served on tiered platters, special menus can be assigned without looking any different from other people’s food.
This is maybe a stretch to include, but I’ve always known I didn’t want to do a bouquet toss. I hated this tradition when I was single, as it made being single seem like a problem to be solved. We weren’t going to do anything in its place, but then I saw a stuffed cat toss that I really want to do instead! While I do not want to shame someone for being single, I DO want to shame someone for being catless, and whoever catches the stuffed cat will be the next person to adopt a feline friend.
This was, by far, the most important value that we kept returning to over and over again. The whole point of hosting a wedding (for me) is to gather the people I love in one place. Whenever I got lost in details or started worrying that something wouldn’t be perfect, this value reminded me that it doesn’t matter if something goes wrong. What matters are the family and friends who I get to celebrate with.
What values help keep you sane while planning a stressful event? What do you center your decisions on?
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