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SAME-SEX CEREMONIES
                  INTRODUCTION THE BASICS  |  SPECIFICS I  |  SPECIFICS II               

INTRODUCTION  |  WHY A CEREMONY?  |  FINANCING

INTRODUCTION

This section is the raison d’être for our website.  At first, the site's primary role was to to give our guests a thorough idea of what to expect at our wedding so that they could feel as comfortable as possible attending such a unique event.   However, these pages now serve a much more universal purpose.

When we set out to plan our ceremony we were very much in need of resources that could provide us with some sort of established starting point.  While there were a fair amount of books and websites on gay and lesbian ceremonies, they tended to be too general and non-traditional for our needs.   Instead, we wanted examples from other couples of similar ages and tastes and luckily we stumbled on such a website.  We were so grateful for their efforts that we were determined to return the favour for other gay men in a comparable situation.  

The first part of this section explains the original reasons we decided to get married.  The001(O3).jpg (543217 bytes) second presents the fundamental philosophies behind our specific adaptations.  The final part details our specific solutions to the major gender and orientation-based customs.

In the end the adaptations worked brilliantly for us and we hope that other couples will be able to take advantage of our success.  All we ask is that you credit our site if you decide to reprint any of our ideas.  (Fearing that our conservative views would likely offend gays and lesbians who preferred untraditional ceremonies, we had originally asked that viewers keep in mind that these pages represent only our opinion.  However, it would appear that we were worrying needlessly as feedback to our site from the gay community has been nothing but positive!)

 

WHY A CEREMONY?

Marriage opponents point to the high divorce rate, the frequency of infidelity and marriage’s roots as a primarilyceremony_P&B&T_cropped.jpg (80509 bytes) economic union in their arguments against the institution.  “If two people are so in love what difference will a piece of paper make?” they ask.  “Wouldn’t a couple actually be more likely to work on their relationship if he or she knew that their partner could leave at any time?”  And when it comes to same-sex marriages, even traditional supporters of matrimony often think the concept is impractical if not downright immoral.  Not only that, but some gay men themselves can’t comprehend the appeal of lifelong commitment – many militants even believe that gays who marry are imitating their historical oppressors and betraying all those who fought for their liberation.  So, in light of the practical, moral and political objections, it’s easy to see why many people, straight and gay, would ask “why?”

In a nutshell, we saw marriage as the most rewarding investment we would make in our lives.  The personal equivalent of a multi-million dollar RRSP, if you will.  Like a retirement savings plan, we know that it will require years of 061(P1).jpg (519569 bytes) sacrifice such as forcing ourselves to work out problems that we’d rather just walk away from and foregoing the freedom of pursuing other partners as we please.  But, also like a sound financial investment, we know there will be handsome paybacks down the road: the evolution of love to a much more profound level, the support of a partner for potentially raising a family, the support of your families during difficult times and the benefit of a companion with whom to share all your experiences and - in the later years - all of your memories.   We’ve seen these rewards in the marriages of our parents and grandparents and because of them we look forward to our future together rather than worry about the possibility of living our our lives alone.  

The relative rarity of same-sex commitment ceremonies has meant that we’ve had to work hard to convey our motives to others.  The lack of a common reference was most obvious when we referred to the marriage preparation classes we were taking with our officiant.  Such a reference from a straight couple would usually result in a supportive response or a discussion of the merits of such a course.  However, when we mentioned the classes, the reaction was almost always incomprehension or subtle derision. Friends - both gay and straight - looked at us as if we were taking this whole thing way too seriously.  That look spoke volumes about how society, no matter how supportive it is, still regarded gay marriage.  

080(R15).jpg (559340 bytes)The lack of standard terminology didn’t help us explain our intentions either.  At first we would announce to friends that we were having a "commitment ceremony" as it is the most common euphemism in use (and “Relationship Covenant” or “Life Partnership Ceremony” don’t exactly roll off the tongue!)  But we quickly found that “ceremony” was a very limited term that meant little to people until we explained the context. Invariably their eyes would light up as they would realize “Oh, it’s just like getting married!”  So we decided it was much easier just to use the traditional terms ”getting married” and “wedding” as they carried with them all the customary implications of inviting guests, having an officiant preside, holding a reception and so on.  We hoped that using these recognized terms would have the added benefit of providing our guests with expectations concerning traditions like gifts and dress.  From any angle, using the standard terminology informally (we used “ceremony” or “union” in formal situations such as the invitations in deference to the institution) made perfect sense because what we were doing was identical to the straight ritual in every way except for the mixed genders and the marriage certificate . 

100b(R34).jpg (608692 bytes)Unfortunately, the certificate was the one thing that people seemed to focus on when it came to gay marriages, possibly because of the issue’s heightened profile in the press around the time of the ceremony.  Many couldn’t understand why we’d bother with all the fuss of a wedding when we were not entitled to what they seemed to think was its primary benefit.  The fact is we wanted to have a wedding for every traditional reason except the legal one!  We wanted to participate in a formal public ceremony to truly demonstrate to each other the sincerity and depth of our love and commitment.   We wanted to express our vows in front of friends so that they would honestly understand how much this relationship means to us.  We wanted to bring our two families together because we knew how important their support was to a lifelong relationship.  People who thought we were doing this for tax breaks have a whole lot to learn about marriage!  (We should mention that we were not doing it to be politically correct or because it was the current trend either.  Actually, if we have to be pioneers we’d rather be role models for gay marriage rather than for gay weddings!)  

So now that the wedding day has come and gone, what do we think?  Not only did our077(R11).jpg (576614 bytes) theories about the significance of the event prove true, we actually greatly underestimated the impact of the wedding on our relationship.  For example, we never realized that just planning a ceremony would strengthen our bond.  As Legal Affairs: Essential Advice for Same-Sex Couples so concisely points out, a wedding "inspires two people to (A) start thinking collectively and (B) start planning for a long term future." The same book aptly describes other significant effects of a wedding:

A commitment ceremony is a public statement, and the impact is incredibly powerful.  There are months of preparation and discussion between your friends and family about your ceremony and daily demands on both of you to clarify your intentions and declare your expectations.  As the day approaches there may be moments when you want to back out . . . but as you move through your anxieties and go forward with the event, you will have forever changed the way you experience your relationship.  You will also forever alter how others treat you, especially those present at the event.  You are stating very publicly that whether or not gay marriage is legalized, you consider yourselves married in your own eyes.  Every couple who goes through such an event reports that it has had an enormously positive impact on the way others treat them and how they treat each other.

 

FINANCING

Peter’s parents had already made generous financial contributions to us in the past and Brandon’s grandparents had supported him extensively during college.  For that reason we decided early on that we would pay virtually all of the expenses traditionally taken care of by the bride and groom’s families.  Considering our love of tradition and of the finer things in life,  we knew the cost would be substantial!  Nonetheless, we felt certain that the wedding would be well worth the expense for two reasons.  One was for ourselves because, unless we adopt a child, this would likely be the most important day of our lives.  The second, and more important reason, was for our friends and family because it would allow us an opportunity to thank them for their support over the years. 

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Page last updated October 06, 2013