Tuesday, May 31, 2011

At a (Potential) Vendor Meeting

Vendor: So what's your fiancee's name?
Diana: Lindsey.
Vendor: What's his last name?
Diana: Her last name is _______.
Vendor: Oh! I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed.


YES. That is exactly it.

Not "Oh...." (awkward silence while she stares at the form trying to figure out what to do)

Not "Oh! OMG that's so awesome!!! I have a gay cousin. I bet you know him."

Just a simple apology, and then we moved on. THANK YOU Katherine's Catering.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We Choose for Ourselves

Linds and I are so lucky to have a large community of supportive people who are thrilled for us. We will always be grateful for that. We also remain mindful that even in the more hurtful moments, we are far luckier than many others who can't even come out safely--let alone have a big gay wedding.

We know this. And still. Some of the questions people have asked about our wedding really surprised me. A sample:

"So you're not technically getting married, right?"
"Isn't that actually called a Commitment Ceremony?"
"Why are you having a ceremony if it isn't legal? Why not just have a party?"

What it comes down to, I think, is that many people--even people who are very supportive--seem to have what I've been calling a "lack of imagination" about the different forms a marriage can take.

This is the form ours is taking:

We are getting married here, in Michigan, where there will be no legal recognition of our relationship--as a marriage or a civil union. We are not going out-of-state to acquire a marriage license, because Michigan's constitution has been amended to block any and all recognition of same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states. We are having a marriage ceremony and reception, which we are calling a wedding. It will look very much like other weddings you've been to, except better. (Just kidding. Mostly.) It will be a little bit Jewish, entirely secular, and yes--very much gay.

And here's why we're doing it this way:

"Commitment Ceremony" feels dry and flat to me. It sounds like accepting a job, or signing a contract--but with cake. It feels like we're being thrown a bone. It feels like being picked last.

Linds and I are getting married. Those words, on their own, carry weight. They carry meaning and history. They tie us to our parents, who committed their lives to each other and created families out of that love. They speak to the hugeness (that's right) of the step we are taking together, to intertwine our lives and move through the world together, for always. A marriage ceremony gives us the opportunity to speak to that commitment, out loud, in front of our community. We think that ritual is important, and that marking our marriage with a ceremony is an important part of the accountability our vows will demand. And perhaps most importantly, we think that the power of that ceremony lies in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone there to support us--not in a piece of paper. That certainly doesn't mean that marriage is the only way, or the right way, to signify a committed relationship. But it's what's right for us.

There are two sides (many, actually) to everything, and this is no exception. I've read about couples who are intentionally staying away from language that includes "wedding" and "marriage" because they don't want people to lose sight of the fact that they have been denied the right to legally marry. I completely understand that, and to be honest, I'm a bit surprised that I'm not jumping on that wagon myself. I'm kind of the poster child for the-personal-is-political.

What I've realized while answering these questions is that our choices are political as well. We are smacking our relationship down on the table, right next to the Obama's and the Clinton's and the [insert fleeting celebrity marriage]. We're saying "We're married too." We're making that choice for ourselves, when it's right for us--not when ignorant fools decide to stop comparing it to bestiality, not when the wedding industry decides to give us some visibility, and certainly not when the government decides to recognize it. We will take our lack of tax benefits and lack of  protection just like we have taken everything else--together. And when things finally change, which they will, we'll stand in line to get that piece of paper--and it will be a very necessary and long overdue component of our marriage.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bullshit: Part One

Linds and I have been talking about last names, and trying to decide if we want to make any changes to our last names once we're married.

On a whim, I just googled "name change michigan" and found out that if either of us want to change our names, we need to pay $150 to file a petition to Washtenaw County's probate court. We then need to go get fingerprinted, await police clearance, and then schedule a hearing in which we explain our reason for the name change. The process apparently takes at least two months--and then, assuming our petition is accepted, we have the usual month-long stream of paperwork for things like driver's licenses, social security cards, etc.

For Linds and I to both change our names in Washtenaw County, we'll have to pay $300. A marriage license in Washtenaw County costs $20--name change included.

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Being Motherless

Heavy title, no?

Well. Not to be overdramatic, but planning a wedding without a mom blows. Or, perhaps more specific to my situation, planning a wedding without a mom once you move past the drama with the family members still living is really really shitty and hard.

When I first started talking to my therapist about proposing to Lindsey, she cautiously questioned me about how making these life changes might feel without my mom. It certainly was a valid question, but I didn't have much to say about it other than "I don't know". Grief is a funny thing that way--sometimes it creeps up for seemingly insignificant moments, and sometimes I'm surprised by how numb I feel in the bigger moments. For the first several weeks of being engaged, I felt only joy. Well, that's not true. I felt rage and hurt because of misunderstandings with some family members--but I was able to keep that pretty compartmentalized, and mostly felt only joy and excitement.

A week ago, all of those misunderstandings were cleared up. We're moving forward, and I felt so relieved to leave all of the hurt behind. I was ready for the endless stream of inane but oh-so-fun discussions about centerpieces and escort cards. I've spent so much time overwhelmed and sad because of the state of the world, and I'm excited to have an excuse (not that I ever needed one) to let myself focus on something happy--and yes, shallow.

And I am having those conversations. I'm obsessively consuming advice and inspiration from all over the internets, and throwing idea after random idea at Linds to hear her input. But I'm also sad. Really sad. I'm missing my mom more than I have in a decade. I'm used to tough days--Mother's Day, her yahrzeit, a holiday, a graduation. I'm not used to tough weeks. I'm not used to feeling her absence this profoundly. I miss her in a way that makes everything feel bittersweet.

But I also think this is good. It's painful and sucky and frustrating, but it's also comforting to know that she's with me through this--even if it's in a different form than either of us would like.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A farm wedding! Who knew?

As many of you already know, Linds and I have chosen a venue and signed the contract in blood (and by blood, I mean we used a pen and then handed over an obscene amount of money). And the venue is beautiful beautiful beautiful, and perfect for the pretty-and-creative-but-not-pompous-or-intimidating-FALL-themed celebration we have in mind.

FEAST YOUR EYES ON THIS BAD BOY.

Linds and I went to tour the grounds two weeks ago and were instantly sold. There was a touch-and-go moment when we were told that hard liquor is not allowed, but we recovered. They passed the bride-and-bride test (by which I mean they didn't bat an eye at the idea of a big gay lovefest), we passed the Laura test (by which I mean I frantically called her to ask if it was crazy to book the first venue we looked at), and then poof--we had a venue. And a few days later, we had a date (more on that later). And a lot less room on my credit card. But that's neither here nor there.

I love that this big decision is made. I love that the space reflects us as people, and is completely in line with the feeling we want for that day. And I LOVE that the venue is run by Ann Arbor Parks and Rec, and that I'll spend the next 16.5 months pretending the women who work there are Leslie Nope. They are welcome.

Oops.

Remember when I started this blog, emailed it to my buddies, and then didn't touch it for two weeks? Me too. Awkward.

I thought about it. I jotted down some ideas. There's a new tab in my wedding planning Google Doc for "Blog Posts". But I kept feeling that after the initial ease of the intro post, there was:

A) Too much pressure on the second post. I don't know where this pressure was coming from, but there was PRESSURE. LOTS. IN MY MIND.

2) A hailstorm of crazy happening in my family life regarding the wedding, that I at once didn't want to broadcast over the internets and also didn't think I could gloss over on the internets

D) A feeling that nobody actually cares enough about this process to remember to read a blog--so why bother? Not in a bad way. Why would you?

BUT, I'm over it. If this ends up being scattered and awkward and overdramatic, then it will just reflect my personality :)

ONWARD.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog Anxiety


I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while now. Sadly, I know nothing about blogging. I'm not a great writer, I don't know HTML, and I've had a really hard time focusing my ideas into anything even approximating cohesion. Then I proposed to my lady :) And after the Congrats! balloons deflated, I stopped telling the proposal story to everyone I saw, and we started Planning the Wedding, I realized that all of the things I'd been wanting to write about are all connected to this amazing and overwhelming process we're beginning--because you can't plan a wedding without dealing with family, and you can't plan a gay wedding without dealing with identity.

I'm gay. I have a gay sister. Sometimes this is complicated.

Linds and I come from very different backgrounds and have very different families. Sometimes this is complicated.

Strangers and even people we care about can be ignorant and hurtful. That's always complicated.

We live in Michigan, a state with zero protections for le gays. No marriage, no civil unions--not even an anti-discrimination law. This isn't particularly complicated, but it IS stupid.

Finally, we're planning a wedding! We are two relatively sane women trying to plan a meaningful, beautiful celebration on a tight budget in the midst of the madness of the wedding industry. And that is VERY complicated.

So please do me a solid and be patient with me as I try to figure out how to make this thing pretty, and forgive me if (when) my blog anxiety results in awkward attempts at humor/decent writing/wisdom. Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet!