The Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddingsby K. C. David, Experts at GayWeddings Com
"Get out your gay/lesbian rice and celebrate! Taking you from the wedding announcement to the thank you notes, this is the ultimate guide to same-sex ceremonies."
-Michael Musto, Village Voice
Your wedding team is here! Let GayWeddings.com help you and your partner plan a ceremony that suits your taste and budget without losing your mind in the process./i>
"Get out your gay/lesbian rice and celebrate! Taking you from the wedding announcement to the thank you notes, this is the ultimate guide to same-sex ceremonies."
-Michael Musto, Village Voice
Your wedding team is here! Let GayWeddings.com help you and your partner plan a ceremony that suits your taste and budget without losing your mind in the process. The absolute authority for same-sex unions on the web, K.C. David and his devoted staff of experts are at your side from the proposal to the honeymoon.
- Marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership: protecting your rights and assets together
- Finding gay-friendly venues, caterers, and yes, even clergy
- Tips for notifying friends and family, and which newspapers run same-sex announcements
- Ideas from folks who have already tied the knot
PLUS: A wedding timeline checklist, vow writing exercise, sample menus, budget worksheet and more.
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings
By K. C. David, WENDY PATON
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2005 K. C. David
All rights reserved.
and the Ever-Changing Legality of Gay Marriage
"I found out that love doesn't ever die. I know that's hard to believe, but it doesn't. It won't die as long as I let it reside where it rightfully belongs ... inside the heart."
NANCY, AFTER HER PARTNER'S EARLY DEATH
Most of us have the need for a long-term, committed relationship filled with sharing and love. In our society this type of relationship is called marriage. Historically, the institution of marriage and its laws have continually changed and evolved in the direction of greater inclusion and equality. In the past, most marriages were prearranged and the marriage vows reflected the idea that the wife was the husband's property. In the early 1800s, married women gave up their legal rights and were subsumed under the legal identity of their husbands. Only after the Civil War were African Americans allowed to marry in all of the United States.
The civil rights and women's liberation movements have made great strides toward equality by enlightening the world (most of the world, anyway) to the fact that all human beings deserve equal rights. The gay community is indebted to all minorities who struggled to gain and expand equal rights. It is this foundation of activism that encourages our community to work for the right for same-sex marriage.
The birth control pill blew away the idea that marriage was linked to procreation. In 1965 it became legal for married couples to buy and use contraception. (Did everyone really think married straight people were really just having sex just to have babies? Where's the fun in that?) Through the years, it became acceptable for married couples to choose not to have children. Remember that it was only in the '80s when the acronym DINKs (Double Income No Kids) was coined. And as late as 1967, sixteen states outlawed marriage between people of different races.
All of these changes were met with fierce opposition, but eventually our society recognized the inequities of such laws. We tend to forget that these commonly accepted norms were hotly debated issues at one time. We've come a long way, baby, but for same-sex couples these inequities still remain, and we believe that is unfair. Extending marriage to same-sex couples is the obvious next step.
Marriage is a fundamental desire of many loving same-sex couples who want to share their lives in long-term, committed relationships. They, too, want to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, until death do them part. Many same-sex couples are buying homes, raising children, joining churches, and contributing to life in their communities.
Same-sex couples simply want the right to be different, the right to be equal, and the right to receive all of the advantages that opposite-gender couples automatically acquire when they marry. Their needs and concerns are the same as for any married couple:
Access to spousal benefits such as Social Security, health insurance, and pensions
Access to family/medical and bereavement leave
Hospital visitation and medical decision-making for a gravely ill or incapacitated spouse
Child custody and visitation rights
Significant tax benefits, particularly with regard to owning a home together
Automatic right of inheritance
... and many, many other federal rights.
Civil marriage offers hundreds of legal protections and obligations, most of which cannot be obtained any other way. These laws provide the guidelines to maneuver through complicated legal and financial situations and deal with serious illness, death, or divorce.
Why marriage? Marriage is universally accepted as a public statement of love. Marriage brings legal benefits. Marriage protects and provides for children. The commitment of marriage helps to maintain the couple's union.
Civil unions provide only a third of the protections of marriage because they do not include many of the significant federal benefits, such as access to a spouse's Social Security. Civil unions are, so far, not yet recognized from state to state.
When Vermont passed the first civil union recognition laws, it was that legislature's attempt to provide broad benefits to the same-sex couples in conformance with the Vermont Supreme Court ruling. It was a step in the right direction — but our laws have a long way to go if they are ever to be recognized on a federal level.
Many states and cities have passed some kind of domestic partnership laws. They have been enacted in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, among others, but the benefits provided by these laws vary. In some cases they offer access to family health insurance, and others confer co-parenting rights. These benefits are limited and are in no way equal to the automatic rights that traditional straight couples in the U.S. automatically have.
Even if civil unions and domestic partnerships provided all the rights and protections of marriage, many in our community would still cry out that it isn't fair to have same-sex couples delegated to a different category which is separate and not totally equal. Civil unions and domestic partnerships provide some tangible but very limited benefits to same-sex couples and their children. However, these options still keep our community separated from the mainstream of married society. Love should not be measured or defined in terms of sexual orientation.
Protecting Your Relationship and Future Together
If you sincerely love and care about your partner, and plan to build a life together, we strongly suggest that you look into the following to protect your rights:
Consult with a competent attorney who knows about partnership laws
Have a civil union wedding or a domestic partnership wedding (with witnesses) so your intentions to one another are made public
Draw up a will and power of attorney for each of you with your attorney
Make an Emergency Medical Card (shown here) and put it in your wallet
These four things, in combination, at least help to document your intentions for the courts should there ever be a situation where you have to prove that the two of you are in a relationship and consider yourselves more than just friends or roommates.
A ceremony carries symbolic value, in that you are publicly declaring your commitment to each other in front of witnesses. However, without a civil union or domestic partnership and a durable power of attorney with a living will, you have not taken an important step in documenting that the two of you are in a committed and recognized relationship. If you have no documentation whatsoever, unless the family permits you, you will most likely be barred from the hospital if your partner is ever in a coma, be unable to receive information about your partner's medical condition without a family member present, and not be allowed to participate in making any medical decisions on your partner's behalf. Speak with your attorney, since state laws vary, about what you both can do to protect yourselves from this injustice. Without a will, you or your partner could lose everything you've built and acquired together, including your home and any other assets.
These horror stories unfortunately happen all too frequently. We don't meant to scare you, but an hour of your time with a competent attorney can save a lifetime of heartache for both of you!
When it comes to partnership rights, remember that it does not matter how long the two of you have been together as partners. Most states will regard you as total strangers for the purposes of inheritance, medical decisions, and other critical matters. This is why documentation is so critical.
Generally speaking, your will is a written document that controls the disposal of your property (including real estate, money, other assets, and guardianship) in the event of your death. Your power of attorney is a written instrument that legally authorizes another person to act in your behalf. With health care provisions you can authorize another person to make decisions affecting your medical condition. Again, we cannot stress enough the suggestion that you both find an attorney to help protect yourselves, your assets, and any children that you may have together.
In addition to drawing up these safeguards with your attorney, it is also important to always carry an Emergency Medical Card with you in your purse or wallet. It will provide your attending physicians with your preferred family contact. Your Emergency Medical Card should include the following, and you should carry it next to your driver's license at all times:
Please note that the information provided in this book is not, and should not be construed as, legal advice. The laws concerning gay rights are constantly evolving and changing. What we are strongly recommending is that each person should consult their attorney concerning legal matters.
Do everything you can to protect your partnership. Keep up with the ever-changing laws and developing protections for the two of you, and above all, set up an appointment with that competent attorney who cares about the important issues that you and your partner are both facing.
We highly recommend that you consult the current laws of your state through LAMBDA, a nonprofit gay and lesbian community agency that provides a full range of community services. Their website is www.lambda.org. Find out what your city or state is currently offering in the way of domestic partnerships or civil unions, since the laws in each state are changing now at a steady rate. There will be gains and other setbacks as our community reaches for its dream of equality under federal law. As with any cause, sometimes it may seem like we are losing the battle, but we must always keep in mind that a setback is just one battle. We believe we will win that "war." Why? Because anyone who knows gay or lesbian couples realizes that they deserve all of the same protections and rights as traditional couples. This lack of equality strikes at the very heart of civil rights, no matter how much anyone tries to detract from it by focusing on morality or religion. You may also refer to the Resources chapter for additional community groups.
(Note: Understand that none of the "suggestions" replace your consulting a competent attorney.)CHAPTER 2
Love, Commitment, and Popping the Question
"Love at first sight can't ever be forgotten, but the love that lasts a lifetime ... now that's the greatest gift my partner could have ever given me."
Always keep in mind these three key words: Make it special!
Unless you fall into really bad habits — like Liz Taylor did at times — you're not going to be doing this "proposal thing" on a regular basis. So make it as memorable as you can. Even if it's not totally possible, try to make your proposal something that legends are made of, if only in its sincerity and the meaning that you draw on to create this special moment.
We've all heard of the candlelit romantic dinner, the ring inside a glass of champagne. Or maybe a moonlit night on the beach with the waves crashing. You turn to your partner and tell them how much they mean to you. They're caught off guard. You touch their cheek gently, and reaffirm how much meaning they've given to your life, how much you wish that it could last forever. You kiss them gently, looking deeply into their eyes. Slowly, you reach into your pocket, and as a sign of humility and love, you bend down to one knee. Your partner has a look of surprise on their face. They smile broadly, not sure of what's coming next. You pull out the ring, it flashes in the moonlight, and then you say those special words that you've rehearsed over and over. A sonnet written just for them, or words that have special meaning to you both. Words that would bring tears to the eyes of lovers around the world. (No pressure here!) You finish your proposal by saying something like, "I want you in my life. Now and always. I want us to be committed to each other. I want to face the world with you, to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?"
How and where you ask this special question will be unique to you. Many couples go back to the original place where they met, or to a place that has special meaning to both of them. Some take their partner to their favorite restaurant or take a trip together and find a quiet romantic spot to pop the question.
If you're the one doing the asking, three words of advice here ... make it special! There's certainly some thought and planning to do beforehand if you are the one who will be doing the asking. Think about your partner. Ask yourself the question, "What will make this a memorable occasion for both of us?"
Deep down you know what touches your partner's heart. Move them with the sincerity of your love. If you're sincere, that's all it's going to take for them to know that what you say is true. You don't have to necessarily write it on a billboard or in smoky letters across the sky. Just try to make your proposal something that shows you've put your love and heart into it, and that you mean it with all of that heart.
No matter where you make the proposal, no matter how you do it, if you are sincere the proposal will become a lasting memory that lingers for a lifetime in the heart of your partner. And remember through all of this, it doesn't have to be perfect. Nothing ever is. Keep your sense of humor. The combination of love and humor is essential for making memorable moments throughout your life together.
My partner took me to my favorite local restaurant and chose a table off by ourselves. He prearranged it with the owner, telling her it was a special occasion. He knew that she knew us as a couple and that the table would be away from prying ears. He ordered champagne, laid a rose on the table, and said to me, "I know sometimes I don't say it often enough, but my life is so much more because you're in it."
I looked at him and he was smiling from ear to ear. I had no idea what was coming next, I really didn't. I just thought he was paying me a great and heartfelt compliment. I said to him that my life was richer, too, and that he helped to make me feel complete.
He put a ring box on my plate and I looked at him in confusion. The waiter started to come over, not knowing what was going on, and my partner said, "Please, not now, just give us a minute." The waiter nodded and walked away.
I said, "You didn't have to do that," or something to that effect, thinking that he had bought me a new pair of cufflinks for some reason. He told me to open the box. I lifted the lid, and there was this incredible ring with small diamonds around the band. I looked up and he had tears in his eyes. This big lump came up in my throat. You intuitively know what is coming next in a moment like this. "What is this?" I asked myself, already knowing the answer.
He then asked me to marry him. I think I said yes. I'm not sure because I was so choked up ... and suddenly, before I knew what was happening. I had the ring on my finger and I was hugging him!
I can honestly tell you that it was at that moment that I didn't care about anybody else in the restaurant looking. It was one of those rare moments in life when time stood still and I felt all the love the world had to give. Even as I write this and recall that moment, I still well up with tears. It's amazing how much a moment like that can stay with you forever. We had been together for twelve years and this was almost three years ago, and yet when I think about it, it still affects me deeply.
Excerpted from The Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings by K. C. David, WENDY PATON. Copyright © 2005 K. C. David. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
K.C. David founded GayWeddings.com in 1998, prior to which he spent ten years as a wedding consultant for both gay and straight couples at the inn he owned in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is proud to be the first openly gay member of the American Bridal Association. He lives with his partner in Bucks County.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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First off, I would like to clarify something to many people. I am a straight male, and even though this book is a guide to gay and lesbian weddings, it is also a really well written resource for those planning to get married - it appeals to EVERYONE. The author, K.C. David, knows very much what he is talking about and I think that the most compelling thing about this guide book is the fact that it covers every aspect about getting married and it covers many things that most people would not remember or even think about! All in all, I think that if you're going to get married, whether you are gay, straight, or lesbian, you and anyone else should pick up this book because it will blow you away with its content. It was very well written and it's very user friendly. I picked this up and finished it in a couple days - that's how much it pulled me in! Anyway, I think anyone that will be getting married should embrace this book like a Bible! Enjoy reading! :)
Even straight couples can find something in this book! It's creative and packed full of ideas, especially the section on 'Writing Your Vows'... if nothing else, it's worth the price. I hope they put this in the wedding section of every bookstore! It's about time they wrote one for gay and lesbian couples... but also pack it with so many creative ideas that traditional couples want to get it too! An inclusive book that is written for our community... which really shows how creative our couples really are! BRAVO!
This book is a really good helping guide. It offers a nice way to navigate potential ups and downs of being gay and getting married. However, all of the resources available in the book can be found with a few web searches. It also has absolutely no politics or principles in relation to current pressing debates about queerness, marriage and civil rights. If you don't have a perspective or thought about the current socio-cultural atmosphere in the US, this book is for you. Otherwise, I recommend we press our rich and powerful queers to take stances and publish information that will help us not only 'get married' (however unofficially), but also get rights and get more conscious. I think that David and staff mean well, though they also seem to be trying to corner a market rather than participate in movement.