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Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony [NOOK Book]


Comprehensive, fresh, and funny, Gay and Lesbian Weddings covers everything you need to know to plan the wedding of your dreams. Unlike other wedding planners, this one tackles the issues your heterosexual friends never had to consider. For instance, do you come out to Aunt Gloria before she receives the invitation and the shock of her life? Which father of the bride pays for a lesbian wedding? Who walks down the aisle first? Is it possible for members of the wedding party to be happy with what you force them to ...
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Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

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Comprehensive, fresh, and funny, Gay and Lesbian Weddings covers everything you need to know to plan the wedding of your dreams. Unlike other wedding planners, this one tackles the issues your heterosexual friends never had to consider. For instance, do you come out to Aunt Gloria before she receives the invitation and the shock of her life? Which father of the bride pays for a lesbian wedding? Who walks down the aisle first? Is it possible for members of the wedding party to be happy with what you force them to wear? (Okay, this is a universal problem.) Step-by-step and down-to-earth, Gay and Lesbian Weddings includes invaluable advice on

• the changing laws regarding gay marriage in the United States and abroad; the differences among domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage
• budget concerns: choosing your ideal wedding size and style
• finding gay-friendly printers, photographers, gift registries, caterers, florists (actually, if you find a gay-hostile florist, we’d love to hear about it)
• ethnic, theme, and destination weddings
• keeping the honey in the honeymoon
• sex—including how to keep the heat after the wedding night, as well as the facts on fidelity (can the two be linked?)

Plus: a handy Wedding Countdown Calendar, website resources, and true stories from same-sex couples who’ve gotten hitched without a hitch

Gay and Lesbian Weddings gives you straight talk (so to speak) with equal parts information, flair, and fabulousness!

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“If you’re going to tie the knot (so long as it’s not around your partner’s neck), this is the book for you.”

“I’m recommending Gay and Lesbian Weddings to all of my friends . . . especially the straight ones!”

“Thank goodness I don’t have to consult Amy Vanderbilt anymore!”

"While gay people's struggle to win the right to marry continues, weddings are already happening -- and gay couples, their families, and friends planning their celebration will benefit from the advice and stories in this fun-to-read guide." -Evan Wolfson, Executive Director, Freedom to Marry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307485373
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/19/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 393,531
  • File size: 3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

in the beginning

Cathy and Leah

Who: Cathy Renna, thirty-eight, and Leah McElrath, thirty-nine.

When: Saturday, November 22, 2003.

Where: Seaman's Church Institute, New York City. Eighty guests for a sunset family-style dinner

at the institute. A southern-Italian combination of steak, chicken, and pasta platters.

The Sound of Music: Pop singer Randi Driscoll performed. "She's a little like Sarah McLachlan,

but not as depressing," says Cathy.

The Sound of Silence: No DJ. "We didn't want someone announcing the couple," says Cathy.

First Dance: "You Are So Beautiful."

The Way They Wore: Leah wore a custom-made cream-colored dress, which Cathy didn't see until the day of the wedding. Cathy wore a cream-colored tux jacket with black slacks.

In Attendance: Cathy's sister and Leah's stepfather did readings.

Noticeably Absent: Maids of honor, bridesmaids, flower girl, ushers.

Holy Matrimony: The officiant is an elder with the Church of Christ in Washington, as well as an

ordained Southern Baptist minister.

Holy Surprise! He's also gay.

What They Overcame: Convincing Cathy's mother it was a real wedding. "As much as she loves Leah, when it came to a wedding she had to gradually accept it. Once she got involved with the planning, she started to come around. Then she turned into the typical Long Island Italian mother and wondered if we paid the caterer in cash, if we'd get a discount."

Afterglow: A simple Sunday brunch with close friends.

Honeymoon G-Spot: Two weeks at a beach house in Provincetown, dog in tow.

Parting Words: "The wedding wasn't political," Cathy says. "It was along the lines of Quaker

thinking, the idea that you ask for support from your community."

Chances are, there will be many different kinds of people picking up this book. Some of you will have, no doubt, already found the love of your life, and have just decided to cement your relationship with a gay wedding ceremony. Others will be somewhere in the midst of planning when you come to the realization that you need a little help along the way. There might even be dreamers among you, those of you who have either recently come out or are still struggling with your sexual identity, but know that a "marriage," legal or otherwise, is part of your life plan, like a house in the suburbs, two children, and a dog. Among you there might even be a parent, brother, or best friend of a gay man or woman who hopes that this book will make an honest, committed partner out of your gay or lesbian loved one. Finally, this book is for all of you, with love at heart and an open mind.

In a world that is not always so kind, we want to create something that is, above all, honest and positive. It's our goal to help you through the stages of what will, undoubtedly, be one of the most memorable times of your life. As you follow your heart on the way to wedded bliss, you'll be spreading positive energy throughout the world. Embrace yourselves, embrace your love, and enjoy the ride.

Let's get something, um, straight, right away. We're not going to tell you that relationships are perfect, or that getting married means you're headed for utopia. Which means, for starters, that we're assuming those of you planning a wedding have already slept with your partners. If you haven't, for God's sake put this book down and get to it. Just like you don't buy the car before taking it on a test drive, you never say "I do" until you can say "We've done it." And even if your union brings you memories to last a lifetime, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll spend the rest of your lives together. Sadly, 50 percent of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, and there's no indication that this statistic is going to change anytime soon. There's also no magical statistic we can give you to reassure you that the percentages will be any different for homosexual unions. And though much progress has been made in the past few decades-progress that needs to be celebrated and cherished every day-you'd be unwise to believe that, by having a wedding, homophobia will erase itself from the world, that those friends and relatives who haven't spoken to you since you announced you were gay will finally come around, or that you'll never again be discriminated against, be called a dirty name, or deal with any of the myriad other obstacles homosexuals face.

The good news is that, since you've made this decision knowing all of the above-it's highly unlikely you've decided to merge your lives because one of you is "in trouble"-you're making this decision because you're in love and truly do want to spend the rest of your lives together. This is not only the strongest argument for the support of legalized same-sex marriage, it's also the biggest reason why you should feel proud about planning a ceremony with friends and relatives. In one of the twenty-first century's first phenomena, gay men and women are becoming the New Romantics, the true pioneers in the next generation of married life.

So, Why a Wedding in the First Place?

Yes, you're in love, but why should that encourage you to celebrate with a wedding? Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in the United States, and you probably already live with your partner. Assuming you invite more than two people to the ceremony, and serve something other than pigs-in-a-blanket and beer, you're going to be spending a lot of money on this event. You're also going to have to deal with most of the headaches that "real" marriage planning involves. Besides, it's not as if Tiffany's will lock you out unless you sport wedding bands, or Sandals is on the verge of allowing same-sex couples to honeymoon at its Caribbean resorts. Finally, why on earth would you want to join a club that has, since the beginning of time, refused to have you as a member?

At first glance, it looks as if you're getting none of the perks and all of the pain. Yet judging by the numbers of same-sex ceremony notices in newspapers these days, the commitment ceremonies that have been recorded since Vermont passed a civil-union bill in 2000, and the remarkable dash-to-the-courthouse elopements in San Francisco, a heck of a lot of you want to get hitched.

The answers are more conventional than stereotypical views of gays and lesbians would lead you to believe.

Of all the couples we interviewed for this book, there were two answers

to the question "Why a wedding?" that sprang up most consistently. The

first was that a ceremony affirmed the relationship to family and friends;

you were publicly identified as life partners who would be there for each other in sickness and health. We heard reports from couples that, after their ceremony, their immediate families started treating their unions as "marriages," by, for example, including partners in holidays and other major events they might not otherwise have been invited to. Some couples told me that their spouses were now asked to attend office parties and company picnics. There were even stories of no longer dealing with annoying "water cooler" chatter like, "So when are you going to finally settle down?" (even though the ones they were "settled down with" were already known to everyone at the office). Marriage ceremonies, legal or otherwise, legitimize relationships in the eyes

of those whom many believe are the most important critics of all, friends

and family.

The second answer that came up most was children. Gay men and women around the country expressed the notion that if they solidified their relationship with a ceremony, their children, current or planned for, natural or adopted, would feel more like they were part of a traditional or "real" family. That ring on your finger or that blessing from a rabbi holds an incredible amount of sway when starting a family of your own. Guys have told me that, after a ceremony, their children felt more comfortable calling each partner "Dad." The same goes for women, who are much more likely to be in a situation where one partner already has kids from a previous marriage. Once a "marriage" is celebrated, the children feel much more comfortable calling their new mother "Mom." Having a wedding celebration will not solve all of your domestic issues-children will undoubtedly face those times in their lives when other kids ask why "Suzie has two moms"-but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

There's another reason, however, that we suspect more and more gay

couples are deciding to wed. Traditionally, men and women are taught at

a very young age that, someday, they'll meet the man or woman of their dreams, fall madly in love, get married, and have a family. This ideal isn't

just a theory; it's expected. When parents and teachers and friends and relatives speak of this future, they speak of it in wondrous terms, the "rock" on which society rests and, most important, the single most critical criterion for becoming an adult.

So when these same children realize and accept that they are gay, many are torn not just by the immediate challenges-coming out, facing prejudice-but also by the other obstacles to fitting in that they will have to face. For many, this starts as early as high school, when other kids are dreaming about that first kiss, cheerleading and football practice, and the prom-all rites of passage in high school. True, many of you did participate in those activities, but most likely under the guise of a "normal" student. In other words, if you wanted to be a contributing member of society, you had to lie.

Marriage isn't all that different. While college tends to be a bit easier for gay men and women to cope with, not to mention a time to experiment-images of frat guys waking up with each other after beer blasts, and sorority sisters French-kissing as "practice" abound in coming-out stories-postgraduation life focuses more on the prospect of commitment. It's often the first time

gays and lesbians have to come to terms with their sexuality on every level. Sadly, the desire to marry, to have children, and to be offered what has been, indeed, promised to them keeps many men and women in the closet for

years. They often get married, have children, and keep their true sexuality hidden from their spouses, their families, and, to the extent that it's possible, themselves.

Gay weddings, and, if and when it becomes legal, gay marriages, are the first step toward allowing homosexuals the opportunity to lead "traditional lives." One of the most ironic things about the gay-marriage controversy is that this so-called scandalous and radical movement is, for many gay couples, a desire to be anything but scandalous and radical. Furthermore, the most outspoken opponents of same-sex unions are the same people who generally label homosexuals "degenerates" or "perverts," and who never tire of stereotyping gay men and women as promiscuous beings whose only goal in life is to have as many sex partners as possible. Gay men and women who seek commitment ceremonies, whether through civil unions, domestic partnerships, or just a walk down the aisle, simply want what they are entitled to-a husband, a wife, a home, a family. And they're on their way.

Dreams Really Do Come True

And they lived happily ever after is one of those expressions we've all heard since childhood. It's associated with the princes and princesses in those wonderful fairy tales where, after a long series of trials and tribulations, the couple finally unite for all eternity, with a castle for a home and birds chirping around their heads.

While this certainly describes Gay Day at Disneyland, to a certain extent it probably describes the two of you. You've made the commitment to have a wedding, you want to spend the rest of your lives together, and you've been through your own trials and tribulations, fights and doubts, perhaps even a breakup or two.

However well intentioned those fairy-tale notions are, they've left out the details. In short, you have to have a plan. One of the things most couples, gay or straight, realize after deciding to wed is that they have no idea how to proceed. They're aware that they have to pick a date and location, and they know they have to figure out who's coming, and that guests will probably expect something to eat and drink. As the wedding planning begins, however, a

million other questions start swirling around their heads. Should it be a big

ceremony? When do we book a caterer? How do we go about writing the invitations?

Since you're a gay couple venturing into uncharted territory, it's likely that you've got even more questions, and fewer resources to turn to. Who leads during the first dance? Who makes the first toast? Do your lesbian attendants have to wear dresses, even if, for some of them, it will be the first time they've worn a gown since the high school prom (ironically, the same night they realized they were lesbians)?

Not to worry: What everyone has in common while planning a wedding is that, no matter what route they go, whether a traditional church wedding with two hundred guests or a backyard bash with only twenty close friends, is that they want to do it right. They want to make sure everyone has a good time, and that they understand the proper etiquette so that no one is offended. Most important, they want it to be a beautiful affair that everyone, not just the two of them, remembers for years to come.

All these issues will be addressed in the upcoming chapters. What's important to know now, is that while planning might seem mind-blowing at first, you'll discover that if you stick to a schedule and devote a certain amount of time each day to your ceremony, you'll do just fine. And even though there seem to be ten million bridal magazines at your local bookstore, not to mention zillions of websites, it's really the meat and potatoes that you need to understand, and that is what this book is all about. Mainstream bridal books can be extremely helpful, and even gay people look at them for ideas. However, you should know that, while who leads the recessional at a Protestant ceremony as opposed to a Jewish affair might take up an entire chapter in a traditional wedding book, it's very unlikely the issue will be as imperative in a gay wedding. Also, many women who read bridal publications are doing so mainly to look at the ad pages for wedding-dress ideas, as opposed to the wedding tips inside.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

1. In the Beginning 3
2. Love and "Marriage" 21
3. Balancing the Budget 41
4. The Style Council 59
5. The Wedding Party 85
6. The 12-Step Wedding Planner 109
Step 1 Reception Food and Drink 112
Step 2 Cake 123
Step 3 Flowers 128
Step 4 Music 134
Step 5 Photography/Videography 140
Step 6 Formalwear 147
Step 7 Gift Registry 159
Step 8 Rings 164
Step 9 Transportation 167
Step 10 Invitations 171
Step 11 Announcements 176
Step 12 Grooming 177
7. Creative Wedding Ideas 183
8. Sex-Rated 193
9. Heavenly Honeymoons 205
Wedding Countdown Calendar 217
Resources 221
Acknowledgments 229
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    Loved the book, loved the photographs, and loved planning the wedding. David Toussaint was at an even I went to in New York City, and afterwards, I decided to purchase the book. He and Heather Leo helped us with everything--especially the budget. I didn't know that guests wouldn't freak out if we just had cake and skipped the dessert course. That saved us a bundle. We also decided, on their suggestions, to have our wedding on a weeknight--which cut our catering expenses in half! The only thing we didn't want to budget was the bar--I insisted on high shelf liquor for the whole affair. That worked because we had saved so much money elsewhere. I hope Toussaint writes a bigger book next time, with more about honeymoons. We loved the chapter, but we can't yet afford a real big vacation. Hopefully, when that book arrives, we'll be able to go to a fabulous place on our very modest budget. A great buy, and so much fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    To below

    I agree w/ u.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    Thanks, David Toussaint, for this first-rate planner. My girlfriend and I got it as a present last August and it's been a lifesafer. Neither one of us know the first thing about weddings; Toussaint does! At first we thought it would be terrifying, but it turned out to be fun. For us, the best part was the 12-Step wedding planner. The whole chapter is broken down into all the major aspects of planning, from the reception to the transportation to flowers (uggh), and it tells you at what time you should worry about what. Loved it. We're having a wedding in February in Colorado, and Mr. Toussaint, if you're free, we'd love to have you come! Your presence will be our present. Thanks!!!!!!! It was better than 'Cats'!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2004

    And Something New!

    I recommend this book completely. It is funny, but it takes the subject matter seriously, giving practical advice much of which is useful for any couple, straight or gay. The quizzes and style guides are fun, and the step-by-step wedding planning check list is enormously practical. Just reading the stories of other weddings is useful in itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    Whatever you do, before you get married, buy a book like this one! It sure beats the heck out of having to sift through those 3,000-page straight bridal publications. I was really happy to know that people wouldn't leave my wedding if I didn't put floral centerpieces on the table--I don't really like flowers, and they're really expensive. Also, we registered at Home Depot! I almost wanted to go with Crate & Barrel after reading about the real couple in this book who went there. The only reason why I don't want to read this book again? Because I've found the love of my life and never intend to marry another woman! Too bad, because it's a great read. Thanks to David and Heather. Keep it up. When's the next one?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2004

    A Great, Funny, Useful Book

    A completely engaging and funny guide full of tips and well-needed guidance to pull of the perfect wedding. Smart, intuitive, and comprehensive, it's the only guide a gay (or straight!) couple needs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    I love this book. I was actually pursuaded to get 'married' by my partner, but when I started planning and found out about this planner, it was lots of fun--still stressful, but fun. There's some really funny stuff in between the serious text (I was laughing out loud over the Straight Answers to Gay Questions), and it made it all so much easier. Since we only had about four months to plan our wedding, we took the calender in the back and basically doubled up on the time limit. It worked! We pretty much got the space, type of service, and music we wanted. Keep it up, guys. You were a great help.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    As a mother of a gay man, I found Gay and Lesbian Weddings to be extremely helpful, and fun! I've planned many weddings in my lifetime (including my own), and, in a way, helping out with my son's was much more fun than the others--much of that has to do with the fact that the book was so easy to read, smart, and practical. I told someone recently that if I were to wed again, THIS would be the book I'd use. Toussaint is charming in his writing; and believe me, that's important, as wedding planning, when not done well, can be not only one of the most stressful times in your life, but one of the most uninteresting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    David Toussaint managed to pull together what I thought was impossible. Namely, a wedding planning book that's as helpful as it is fun to read. I showed this book to my straight girlfriend, S., and she loved it! She's reading the whole thing now, and she was married over 10 years ago. She said she wished they'd written books like that when she got married. I loved the 12-step planner the best because it went through each crucial step of planning, and told you how to do it cheaply and effectively, and how much time you needed to spend on it before the big day. The top ten lists and quizzes were a hoot.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2004

    G & L Weddings: A perfect gift for ANYBODY getting married

    I read Mr. Toussaint's original article on gay and lesbian weddings last fall in Brides, found it enlightening but wished there were more. I was delighted to learn that he'd put together an entire book! Love the real-life stories of couples at the start of each chapter -- found that they apply to anybody, gay or straight, who are getting married. That's why I've given copies to friends and family, gay and straight, whether they're planning on getting married to their mates or not. And I'd love to see if Mr. Toussaint can follow up with another edition -- I'm sure this is a book that can be updated regularly with new info and new real-life stories. I'll be looking forward to new editions, and I'll keep giving copies to couples as gifts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    Joe and I feel so much like a true married couple now, that I'm half-inclined to post our honeymoon pictures in Palm Springs. This is a great book, especially in that it seems to be geared toward everyone planning a wedding. In other words, the point doesn't seem to be whether or not you're gay or straight, but rather, but that you're in love, and you want to create an affair to remember. I had no idea about, well, anything, so it was especially great to have a Planner that counts down each section of your wedding, starting with the food, and ending with how to handle grooming problems on the day of. I didn't know about this book--and you can't find it in Alabama--until a friend loaned it to me. I had to go to the author's web site to get find out more. I'm just thrilled that you guys carry it and I hope other 'discount stores that shall remain nameless' will too. The stuff about what men toss and which woman pays is really just the icing in this delicous wedding cake book. Go inside, and you get filled up with all you need. Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2004

    Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

    Wow. I thought planning a gay wedding mean calling up some drag queen and taking our clothes off on the beach (don't worry, we did the latter on our honeymoon). No, Eric and I wanted a traditional affair. As he's Jewish, it was great to find out from this book that we could still get a rabbi to officiate (turns out she's done several gay weddings). This book also helped us decide where to register--he wanted Tiffany, I wanted something more downscale, and we ended up with Macy's. But I never thought those people would have even thought of us until I read Toussaint and Leo's chapter on registry. There's so much to think about when you're planning any wedding--especially dealing with my homophobic relatives--and it was all dealt with here. I hope all those wonderful people in San Francisco use this book to defy the courts and plan the most beautiful weddings in the world in the city by the bay--this book will show you how. I recommend it to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2004

    A Godsend

    My girlfriend and I actually looked at straightr magazines to help us with our wedding. It was so nice to find out that there was actually a book for US. Gay and Lesbian Weddings told us where to go for dresses, how to find flowers and caterers, and everything else we needed to know. It also told us ways to save! I'm thrilled to know that we can go to Niagara Falls for our honeymoon. They don't tell you that back in 'straight world.' We need more planners. How about one about buying our first home? Thanks, guys.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2004


    I love it I love it I love it SMAK dab in the middle

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2004

    Not only funny but helpful, too

    Let's face it: getting ready for a wedding isn't exactly a laugh a minute. The sheer stress of the endeavor is enough to make anyone slightly loopy. Gay and Lesbian Weddings to the rescue. Not only does this book answer the questions that everyone wants to know, it'll make you grin in the process. Every chapter of the book begins with the experiences of a real couple and then proceeds to give helpful advice on just about every topic you can think of. The beginning chapters even address political and social issues, making valuable insights that will aid anyone in defending gay marriage. The authors are experienced weddingistas (I think I just made that word up) who definitely know what they're talking about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews

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